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[at-l] R 'n R's Apology For Traditionalism



In a message dated 6/13/01 12:26:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time, 
spiriteagle99@hotmail.com writes:

  *Snipped for brevity*

<< On a personal level, I'd like to congratulate you on the evolution of the 
 "tone" of your posts.  I had to learn about that when I first got here - I'd 
 spent some time on rec.backcountry and it took me a while to adjust my 
 attitude.  I'm not sure this has been said before but I'll do what I should 
 have done a while ago and welcome you to the campfire.  Pull up a log - I 
 think Red has the smashmellows - and we still have a few things to talk 
 about.

     *** Oh thank you Jim! And I too congratulate your improvement on 
answering points instead of using objections over "tone" to avoid having to. 
We won't mention the unmentionable avalanche of "tone" I received from AT*L 
in order to keep my "tone" level acceptable. Thanks for the offer, but I'm 
avoiding overly sweet items for now.  
 
 
 Agreed with the first part.  But the turn-off for us is specifically his 
 insistence on controlling others - and his inability to tolerate any 
 viewpoint or opinion that opposes his.  That's why he left ALDHA. And why he 
 left at-l.

    *** No doubt Wingfoot is a non conformist, but you could miss the fact 
that he might feel he is guarding important principles that cannot be 
compromised for the sake of group relations. He sees himself as spearheading 
a direct agenda. From his track record I find him well qualified, if not 
strongly opinionated to a "fault".
 
 
 >     When through-hiking began there was an innocent respect for completing
 >the entire Trail as a worthy achievement. The goal was to strap on a simple
 >Kelty and somehow walk up the entire Trail while roughing it in the woods.
 
 That's an idealistic view that has little basis in reality.  Go read
 Ed Kuni's account of his two thruhikes and then tell me how his quest for 
 beer and his relationships with the people along the trail fit with your 
 image.  Go talk to Earl Shaffer.

   *** Who is fooling who? I would only point to the era in which the ATC 
required a verifiable accounting of the hike to prove that it was taken more 
seriously back then. There are many more reasons now a days to adapt a less 
than 'traditional' hike. Many of these forms of hike have been identified as 
more likely to induce the Trail negatives currently occurring. 
 
 
 >This has transformed now a days with encroachment and improvement of
 >facilities on or near the Trail. People are different too.
 
 The first is true to a large degree.  But the people haven't changed that
 much, if at all - that's a convenient excuse, but not true.  < snip>  In 
point of fact, the drive to convert the AT to "wilderness" is 
 depriving today's thruhikers of the opportunity to meet the people along the 
 way.  That's just one part of the long term damage that WF is perpetrating.  
 And he's being aided and abetted by the ATC.

    *** Helping people form a goal of doing the entire Trail is not a sin. I 
do feel that much more approving of socializing hikes is encountered on 
websites by people intending well by accepting all forms of hike but not 
realizing they are lending assistance to lowering Trail standards. Touchy, 
but new and true.
    As far as ATC aiding in damaging the social aspect I can't disagree more. 
The social aspect is the expendable element in the AT's sphere. It is nice 
and a positive thing, but it is very definitely a pleasant side effect 
compared to the need to maintain wilderness. Make no mistake that the Trail 
is a wilderness corridor first before a social meeting place. I find 
Wingfoot's view more true to AT ideals in this case. Solo seeker archetype, 
not Trail party. 
 

  Some of the people on the Trail have changed - simply because it's becoming 
 easier.  As it becomes easier and more information becomes available, more 
 unprepared hikers will gravitate toward it.  And Trailplace is one of the 
 contributors to that situation.

    *** Which would validate a push for traditional approach.
 
 I guess
 >traditionalism would best be described as keeping such a level of new
 >interest in the Trail controlled to the point that it doesn't interfere 
 >with
 >what the Trail is. It is a difficult task of reverse osmosis to try and 
 >keep
 >these changes from happening.
 
 It's been said before - but WF is and has always been a part of the problem. 
   His publicity efforts in 1987 (personal appearances in the towns along the 
 way, newspaper interviews, etc.) to increase awareness of the AT in 
 celebration of it's 50th anniversary brought about an immediate jump in the 
 numbers of thruhikers. I think the numbers almost doubled between 1987 and 
 1989.  What he has done with TP has added to the increase.  Now you want to 
 say "enough" but it's too late.  Saying, "we've had our hike but you can't 
 have yours" seems awfully selfish to me, especially when he continues to 
 publicize the trail and thruhiking.  You can't have it both ways.

    *** Never the less there is a reality that must be dealt with. A stronger 
constituency will only help preserve the Trail. Too bad more effort is put 
into castigating Wingfoot than rallying support for the AT.
 
 
 >I look at traditionalism as a contemporary healthy, vigorous renewal of the 
 >original project and its heady goals.
 
 Again - exactly who is defining those "original goals"?  And what filter are 
 they using? Whose vision - Avery's or MacKayes?  Do you really want to go to 
 country camps and work and play with your fellow city dwellers?  Sounds 
 awfully tame to me - might as well go to a "dude ranch". I thought you 
 wanted to hike from Georgia to Maine in one year?  That certainly wasn't 
 part of the original plan.

    *** Sorry Jim, but these sound like grasping at excuses to avoid 
confronting the obvious. Let's start with through*hiking being an accepted 
modern method of Trail use. I think it is time to stop using the lack of 
through*hiking at the time of the Trail's formation as an excuse not to 
support it. There is no reason to not take up the original Trail cause with 
this new form of use involved. Earl isn't publicly recognized because 
through*hiking isn't considered extraordinary.  
 
 >So it is an injury to the AT to view "traditionalism" in a negative light
 >when this version is true to the Trail's original definition.
 
 That depends entirely on what you define as "traditionalism".  And, I 
 suspect, on whose version of the "Trail's original definition" you're using.

   *** We'll start at the form of serious hike that ATC once took as 
important enough to require proof. The next would be one that promotes 
behavior true to the Trail's definition by ATC as a primitive place to be 
upheld. 
 
 >I would be all for numbers control at Springer. We are now indirectly told 
to ignore
 >the cranks and go crowd if you like. That can't be good for the Trail or 
 >anything else for that matter.
 
 Now you'd better get specific - exactly who is advising that?  And who told 
 you it was true?  And where do they get their facts?  And what ARE the facts 
 that back it up?  I know the ATC has been promoting non- traditional 
 itineraries - has Wingfoot?

    *** Every time I see AT*L posters write "and WF is even trying to control 
the Trail by imposing quotas" I see serious tacit suggestion that not doing 
anything is the best way here. There is a problem. Something has to be done. 
Even worse is that Wingfoot disagreed on me with this and was against quotas. 
So, it was my idea not his. You can't replace a spring season traverse. NPS 
controls numbers elsewhere, why not the AT? Or do we just crowd it over until 
we wreck the quality of the experience?
 
 >The rest of traditionalism goes into recent trends that have lead to
 >problems with incompatible Trail & town behavior. These suggestions become 
 >touchy when they hint at the original archetype of solo wilderness seeker 
 >being replaced with "hike your own hike" packs that have created a negative 
 >effect for the Trail.
 
 If you had any understanding of what the "Hike your own hike" philosophy 
 was, you'd know how ridiculous that statement is.  The very idea of "hike 
 your own hike" packs is a violation of the concept.

    *** My inference was that most often I see HYOH as a way to avoid 
confronting the legitimacy of particular types of use. Touchy, but Trail 
affecting never the less. The Trail will see many types of use anyway, but 
let's not condemn suggestions of best use.
 
 >Hostels were never trashed and towns were not put off
 >by through*hikers back then, so what has caused it?
 
 And that statement is pure-dee BS.  Haven't you ever read Cindy Ross's 
 account of her AT hike?  Care to ask Sloetoe whether the thruhikers got 
 drunk and disorderly when he hiked?  Or maybe some of the others on this 
 list who thruhiked before WF ever heard of the AT?  More than one trail town 
 was 'closed' to hikers before we hiked the trail, for a lot of different 
 reasons.  I'm not so old I'll start blaming 'the younger generation' for 
 screwing things up -- are you?

    *** The Dalton Hostel was closed due to a bad pack in 1985 too. How many 
hostels were closed in the sixties? There is no reason not to try and 
reintroduce such a Trail atmosphere. This is traditionalism. What is wrong 
with that? 
 
 >So, traditionalism can sound like an attack on the Trail community, but I 
 >see it more as a defense of original Trail tenets.
 
 I'll ask you to specifically spell out your concept of "original Trail 
 tenets".  Then we might have something concrete to discuss.

    *** A wilderness corridor to be approached as a kept primitive place. A 
place designed to draw wilderness respecting attention. Trail behavior 
conforming to exposing oneself and appreciating wild nature without 
interfering with its existence.
 
    There are statements in your own post that reveal an ignorance about the 
 Trail and its history that's entirely correctable, but is surprising in 
 someone who has hiked the Trail, is involved with it from the maintenance 
 end, and apparently cares for it as much as you do.  But I'll guarantee that 
 you're not alone - it seems to be endemic in many of those who frequent atml 
 and Trailplace to the exclusion of other sources.

    *** I think I've seen enough of the Trail in my time to know, thank you. 
If anything, these trite responses inure me more to WF. 
 
 >In any case, I see them as good suggestions. I guess some would argue that 
 >it was Wingfoot's own fault that he chased people from being able to 
 >understand and absorb this through his "orthodoxy".
 
 Again - who told you that WF's views and philosophy are either "orthodox" or 
 "traditional"?  And again, there are things that both lists can agree on.

    *** My own senses.
 
 >I won't comment, because it could be this same "demon" that is responsible 
 >for
 >him being bold enough to try and force some good for the Trail.
 
 One of the things WF hasn't learned yet is that if you try to "force" 
 anything (particularly change) on humans, they'll rip your heart out and eat 
 it.
 
    *** Fine, but such an encouraged reflex could lead to innocent victims 
being mobbed or valid Trail positions being ridiculed and rejected.

 >Anyhow, traditionalism can't be that bad a thing.
 
 Depends entirely on your definition of "traditionalism".  What you didn't 
get 
 around to mentioning was the atml views on purism, guns, cell phones and 
 number of other subjects.  It is not traditional to the AT to say that there 
 is only one way to hike the trail -- far from it.  Reread the Rodale Books - 
 you'll find 40 ways to hike the trail, and each of those "traditional" 
 hikers had their own views of why they were out there and how they would 
 accomplish it.

    *** Look at it, then, as taking a stand where the honoring of all views 
has lead to a down*turn in quality of use. 
 
 
 >My whole point here was that when a new member looks at AT*L he sees 
 >Trailplace traditionalism and conservation drives being assaulted and 
 >maligned.
 
 There are certainly some parts of "Trailplace traditionalism" that are held 
 in common between the two lists.  We all want to preserve the trail. We may 
 differ on the methods to do that, but I think we all are interested in what 
 is being done, or being proposed, to do that.
 
    *** So, when you are not concentrating on dodging it you do recognize it 
then? 

 
 The kind of "traditionalism" you seem to champion says there is no room for 
 disagreement. "My way or the highway."  That is not the kind of tradition I 
 would ever choose to follow.  A tradition that teaches intolerance, that 
 says there is no room for discussion of other ways of looking at the world, 
 is not tradition, it's a dictatorship.  It certainly isn't the norm on the 
 AT - past or present.

    *** The important thing I am suggesting is, just as well, there are some 
things that have no room for tolerating disagreement. To set a rote standard 
of all acceptance will only tolerate further deterioration of these pressed 
subjects. In this regard you offer a damaging oversimplification. In this 
case you should be asking if you are adequately backing the Trail's needs 
instead of rejecting intolerance? 
 
 >I only wanted to suggest that an objective sense of Trail commitment be 
 >responsibly maintained on any website preferring to call itself Trail 
 >related. If you can't deal with Wingfoot OK, but please don't leave a 
 >scorched earth landscape for Trail advocacy as a
 >result. Somebody has to do it.
 
 For the most part I think we agree about this - I think, though, that we may 
 never agree about a lot of details - or about the methods - or in many cases 
 about exactly what is actually "good" for the Trail.
 
 I'll say this again - I think it's a good thing to discuss this.  Maybe you 
 can present some sides of "traditionalism" that we can all agree on.
 
 Keep in mind that while I may disagree with you - you still have the right - 
 and maybe the responsibility - to present your views.  And to argue with me 
 - and to prove me wrong if you can.  And if you do so, I will publicly admit 
 to such.  Been there and done that - more than once.  :-)
 
  >>

    *** Jim, Jim, Jim, I can only say that I find your answers more 
conforming to the deliberate confusing of the issue experienced in a 
courtroom cross examination than honest Trail inquiry. If you set out with 
the goal to discredit Wingfoot I would say you did very well. However, if you 
wanted to involve an honest reckoning of all the Trail encompasses in its 
universe and use it to form an understanding of what will best serve it even 
if we have to bite the bullet and contribute some sacrifices to the Trail you 
missed the mark and an aire of disingenuousness pervades your post. Your 
remarks appear to me to resource a scattered logic that give merit to the 
concept "there is an alternate side to everything" before responding to what 
the Trail requires to be upheld. This is exactly what I am referring to when 
I assert that the scale tips to Wingfoot in this matter as having gotten to 
the point despite his unpopular methods when others were busy splitting hairs 
on exactly who was opening their eggs correctly.  I feel there is a greater 
weight or onus you are avoiding for purposes of community politics, or list 
pandering, rather than Trail advocacy.