The Nation: Packed Peak

Q. What's the world's tallest rubbish heap?

A. California's Mount Whitney, 14,495 ft. high.

With Americans returning to the wild as never before, backpacking their way home to nature, the main trail up Mount Whitney has become about as lonely as Times Square on New Year's Eve. Last summer some 15,000 people made the trek, most camping overnight along the way. Verdant stands of timber were denuded by ax-happy hikers hunting for firewood, and trails became littered with trash.

This year, faced with the prospect of another onslaught of Americans setting out in a fit of peak to make it to the top of...

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