Scrolling up a mountain counts as exercise, right?
In their never-ending quest to turn humankind into spineless blobs of submissive fat, Google has digitized hiking.
Using their Google Street View map team, the evil empire sent hikers equipped with bizarre photographic backpacks to trek trails in the Garden of the Gods, climb the stairs at Red Rocks and scale the ironic Flatirons. Specialized cameras in these backpacks took 360 degree images of the surrounding scenery, creating a virtualized hiking path people can now access from the lobotomizing glare of their personal computers.
Google has even done the same thing with a handful of Colorado's top tourist spots like the Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo, where you can now zoom right into a living gorilla's face from the sedentary comfort of your own home. No zoo lines, no Botanic garden allergies. Just pure, unadulterated virtual living to stoke your inner decaying agoraphobe.
These new digital tours and hikes will function exactly the same as Google Street View, which allows you to remotely experience a place without actually having go to there. But although the new virtual venues are entirely less exhausting than the real deal, you still can't just zip up to the top of a mountain like a nuclear Batman. You have to climb the stars, or the trail, one chunk at a time. You don't want to go and make online hiking too easy now, do you?
No, you don't. After all, this kind of semi-difficult virtual reality is what we're all looking for when it comes to hiking and tourist attractions, isn't it? You want to see what's there and experience it for yourself, but you also don't really want to move. Or stand in line. Or apply sunscreen. Or pretend you're not scared of bees. One time, your Dad got a bee sting on a hike 40 years ago. That was scary. That fear lives in your blood. Now you're afraid of the outside. But now, you don't have to be, because these Google tours allow you to be there without actually being there, bees or not. Incredible.
"Imagery has come to be an expectation for people," said Susan Cadrecha, communication manager for Google Maps. "It's part of our overall mission to be more comprehensive."
This virtualization of nature isn't unique to Colorado though; the Grand Canyon was one of the first locations to get a street-view tour. There, the Google Maps team snapped 9,500 images of the national park to map out 75 miles of hikes. However, since Google will be moving thousands of tech nerds to Boulder to populate its new campus, they figured they'd digitize all of Colorado next so their employees could at least pseudo-enjoy their new surroundings given they'll be too busy turning physical activities like hiking into sedentary mouse clicks to actually enjoy the sights and sounds of our great state for themselves.
We can't tell if it's good or bad that Google has virtualized hiking. We mean, it's lazy as all hell. And it's cheap. We don't think you can say you actually hiked the Flatirons unless you actually hiked the Flatirons. But, on the bright side, maybe it'll help keep the massive influx of Google techies and nu-Boulder lushes off our trails? And maybe, when we're homesick halfway across the country, we can take a little shameless online hike up the mountains we grew up in in an attempt to form some semblance of a connection to nature and our home?
Only time will tell.
Today, 32 of these off-street tours of Colorado's hiking trails and tourist attractions went live online. Here are all the trails and tourist traps Google made computer-able … to vist one of them online, just type the name into Google Maps and tah-dah!
Vista South Trail
Shadow Canyon Trail
Doudy Draw Trail
Spring Brook Loop South Trail
City Park, Denver
Civic Center Park
Colorado State Capitol
Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield
Denver Botanic Gardens (partial)
Garden of the Gods- Time Machine
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
South Platte River Trail
Wild Animal Sanctuary
Lake Estes Trail
Estes Park Riverwalk
Knoll Willows Trail, Estes Park
Rocky Mountain National Park:
Sprague Lake Trail, Estes Park
Bear Lake Trail, Estes Park
Lily Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
Deer Mountain Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
Forest Canyon Overlook, Rocky Mountain National Park
Toll Memorial Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park