So is tree sexism a thing or not?

Also: Hiking in Utah; downplaying heat wave devastation; & what's wrong with the zombification of the climate crisis

A few brief thoughts upon returning from a quick jaunt to Utah for a wedding, where we also made time for some hiking:

  • Even shorter hikes can be challenging if you’re starting at an elevation above 8,000 feet (and your usual stomping ground includes the lowest point on the Appalachian Trail)

  • Running is nearly impossible

  • If there’s a free chair lift down the mountain that could save your knees some discomfort and pain, or even if it just gets you to lunch faster, there’s no shame in taking it

  • Backup/second choice hikes can still be pleasurable and rewarding

    A post shared by @jessimckenzi
  • It’s difficult to determine whether a headache, fatigue, and general malaise is due to altitude sickness, a hangover, caffeine withdrawal, or some infernal combination of the above

  • There are trail signs in addition to street signs throughout the downtown Park City area (mostly for cyclists’ benefit, but still)

  • Public transportation in Park City is free (and maybe all public transportation should be)

Notable wildlife sighting: The vibrantly-colored Western Tanager


Thanks so much for being a reader of Pinch of Dirt! This is a gentle reminder that you can support the newsletter and my writing here, and elsewhere, by becoming a paid subscriber. (It’s my birthday month, so there’s never been a better time!)

If you already subscribe, are currently unable to subscribe, or are new here and just getting to know me (hi!), sharing the newsletter with friends and family who might enjoy it is also a big help.

Share Pinch of Dirt


Reading list

The heat wave in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia earlier this summer killed 800 people, but the images that illustrated those stories downplayed the devastation in favor of showing kids and dogs playing in water or banal household objects like fans (Michael Shaw for the Columbia Journalism Review). The best place to ride out the climate apocalypse is probably an island, according to a new ranking by the Global Sustainability Institute, to minimize the risk of mass migration (AJ Dellinger for Mic). But before you try to compete for New Zealand real estate with billionaires like Peter Thiel, consider this thread on why the zombie-apocalypse narrative and overall project is so fucked up:

Speaking of rich people, apparently the latest craze is status crystals, like giant thrones made of amethyst or white quartz destined for mansions and yachts (Andrea Chang for the Los Angeles Times). I’m all for cool rocks, good vibes, and seeking healing power wherever we can find it, but maybe it’s time for a wealth tax? If you’re not on TikTok—or if you are, but not in my corner of TikTok—then maybe you haven’t heard the story about why spring pollen counts are increasing because of tree sexism (Sabrina Imbler for Atlas Obscura). Well, crop scientist Sarah Taber says that’s all bullshit in almost all cases (ginkgoes being a notable exception), and that the guy (Thomas Ogren) who has perpetuated this idea is a scammer:

If you, like me, thought the first story was plausible and shocking—it’s ok Arthur Chu believed it, too, and the reporter who wrote the Atlas Obscura story is now on staff at the New York Times, so there’s hope for us all, no matter what is true and right. All that said, I am only like—80 percent convinced by that tweet thread. I’m honestly a little flummoxed, mostly because Ogren himself wrote about this phenomenon for Scientific American in 2015, and I thought they fact-checked everything so….I’m gonna need some other experts to weigh in, please! What do you think?

Leave a comment

Finally, a fascinating series on environmental justice and the gentrification of the Adirondacks; read part 4—my introduction to the series, since I need to backtrack and read from the beginning—here (Eliza Jane Darling for the New York Almanac).