The Appalachian Mountain Club has an excellent piece online (right here) debating the role of cell phones when hiking in the White Mountains and wilderness areas of the Northeast. It’s well worth a full read.
The story includes an interview with Lt. Jim Kneeland of NH Fish and Game, whom I’ve interviewed several times over the years on the topic of back-country rescues. I loved this part:
Sometimes Kneeland will tell a benighted hiker to wait for another person to come down the trail with a headlamp, or to enjoy a night in the woods and self-rescue when the sun rises. That rarely goes over well. “They’re going to call me every five minutes,” he said. “Quite often they keep you up half the night, so you might as well go get them and be done with it so you can go back to bed.”
The article arrives at no simple conclusion – neither “keep them out!” nor “make cell service ubiquitous!” – because it’s a complex topic.
Having said that, if I’m above treeline in the Whites and pass you while you’re yakking on your cell phone, I’m going to give you *such* a dirty look.