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[at-l] Elitism, Wilderness & Through*Hikers

OB wrote:

<< << By no definition can one suggest that through*hiking (registered
 >  trademark?) is even a substantial minority of the trail's use.
 > Please
 >  go back and read some history on McKaye's work and Avery's work. The
 >  trail is still serving the main groups that were targeted - casual
 >  hikers out for a break from civilization. It isn't wilderness. It
 > isn't
 >  an alpine or Arctic expedition. It is a challenging groomed trail
 > within
 >  a few hours drive of 75% of the country than even little old ladies
 > and
 >  some disabled folks can use. 
      *** I replied: 

     Not true. If viewed only by percentage this would appear
 > accurate, 
 > but it is a deliberately skewed statistic. It is like saying major
 > league 
 > players are a vast minority of all ball players. True, but they don't
 > put the 
 > others on the air or have a World Series for them. Please don't reply
 > with 
 > that elitism response, that isn't the way I meant it. 
 >      Your reference to MacKaye & Avery is very important to my
 > attempt at 
 > explaining traditionalism or AT theme etc. OB, I really wish I could
 > make a 
 > shot on AT*L at simply explaining my opinion on a very fragile
 > concept of AT 
 > existence as I interpret it without being a large target being
 > dragged over a 
 > field of flame shooters. 
 >      What you say is true, but through*hiking (or long distance
 > hiking) has 
 > come to replace the long term enclave residencies intended by
 > MacKaye. These 
 > people are exposed the longest to AT wilderness and have become the 
 > replacements for those persons who would have occupied the
 > self*sufficent 
 > communities. That MacKaye's original concept was compromised from the
 > start 
 > all the way to now is not unknown. I feel that those who force the
 > scenario 
 > back down to majority of non*ideological corridor users are ones who
 > are 
 > doing their best to avoid living up to a higher Trail purpose. 
 >      Even worse, it is my reading in between the lines that leads me
 > to 
 > believe that wise MacKaye really wanted to preserve large tracts of
 > land for 
 > the sake of greenways. He needed to have a reason to put people in
 > there 
 > because back then just preserving land for wilderness sake in the
 > East would 
 > be laughed down or quickly dismissed. He knew that modern man,
 > according to 
 > his own understanding and what he would buy or reject in philosophy
 > or 
 > politics, would never consent to leaving large mountain tracts
 > unresourced 
 > for one purpose or the other. So, the mountain retreat needed to fill
 > a need 
 > or serve a social purpose. From reading MacKaye, it is clear the vast
 > undisturbed tracts were the real prize, and seeing how rare they are
 > today, 
 > and the problems we face with world environment, it is clear he was a
 > visionary. That this key imperative is just another post for deletion
 > amongst 
 > the Trail interested is a tragedy. It even was for MacKaye back then
 > too. 
 > That is my purpose in these posts is to try and impress the critical
 > higher 
 > purpose the Trail represents today in relation to this history or
 > tradition. 
 > I feel too many don't even realize or care what the Trail stands for
 > in this 
 > regard. If not the Trail, then what? When you reduce the Trail's
 > definition 
 > to majority usership you discard all this precious background and
 > reduce the 
 > Trail to a national campground. From its birth it's more than that and 
deserves to be respected for it.  
 >    OB:   The millions who use our trail each year may admire 
 > but
 >  most share Avery's disbelief and his certainty that such folks are
 >  pretty much "out there." This is raw elitism to claim that
 >  through*hiking is the central use of our trail, that standards are
 > to
 >  be maintained, and that some website out of Hot Springs possesses
 >  credibility over these issues. This isn't promoting true or false
 >  propaganda (propaganda only became a dirty word in the past 60
 > years).
 >  Your elitism is only patently absurd.
 >   *** Once again, through*hiking is happening out there believe it or
 > not. 
 > Strictly denying its importance for the sake of other
 > users only 
 > detracts from a greater involvement and higher experience in AT
 > existence. 
 > Shelters are spaced at through*hiking intervals, services have
 > cropped up 
 > catering to long distance use, etc etc. To reduce this phenomenon to
 > a 
 > definition of elitism is to ignore a wonderful sub*culture of AT
 > wilderness 
 > inhabitants immersed in the furthest definition of AT existence. This
 > need 
 > not exclude other types of users, but don't use this as an excuse to
 > not try 
 > and establish some sort of desirable wilderness ethic amongst those
 > furthest 
 > involved. It is obvious that through*hiking has evolved from Avery's
 > day and 
 > it is not as weird now to hike for 5 months as it was then. With this
 > in mind 
 > I assert that there are certain immutable standards determinable by
 > almost 
 > anyone who can pick up the torch of wilderness attempted by MacKaye.
 > This is 
 > not in relation to Hot Springs, but to what the Trail was intended to
 > be 
 > mostly by its formulator MacKaye. You can refer to Avery's cynicism,
 > but 
 > remember he would not have been out there if not for MacKaye. 
 >       "Most" also believe in the slow attrition of wild lands and
 > development 
 > into the hills. To quote the general public in regard to the AT is to
 > take 
 > the side of those who the Trail was designed to counter. The Trail is
 > there 
 > only to keep the common understanding of the status quo from building
 > up over 
 > EVERYTHING according to their understanding. You can see the views of
 > those 
 > who think through*hikers are "out there" in the anti*Trail comments
 > from 
 > ignorant citizens in the Saddleback commentary. This is why I post.
 > Elitism?
 >  OB:   I do not understand your motives in attempting to paint HYOH as a
 >  licensuous barbarian rabble pillaging and plundering countryside and
 >  village. There are far many more correct ways than the One True Way,
 >  whether dictated from Hot Springs, Harper's Ferry, Washington,
 > Atlanta
 >  or some other little place. Western Civilization will not end based
 > on
 >  the latest tantrum of an AT drama queen. You might enjoy the trail
 > more
 >  if you consider the smashmellow in your hand, and chew on it for a
 >  while.
 >     *** Simply because HYOH, when used to go no further into AT
 > involvement, 
 > is a replacement of higher wilderness responsibility and a false
 > ideal. The 
 > "one true way" comes not from Hot Springs, but from the AT itself
 > where 
 > nature determines what is fit for her. Trail behavior should always
 > conform 
 > to a pre*existing respect for that in regard to the larger project.
 > Just as 
 > well, a campfire should not be used as the one true AT ideal and
 > equally 
 > should not be used to stifle persons trying to impress a higher AT
 > ideal. A 
 > campfire is pretty harmless, but when it is used as the ultimate
 > Trail symbol 
 > it can serve to prevent greater Trail achievements from happening by
 > making 
 > everyone stay put. The original project had some very
 > valid 
 > goals that are even more applicable today. It should be sustained and
 > carried 
 > on with equal ambition.
 >     I hate to see these posts ridiculed because I feel they are
 > critical to 
 > the Trail and should be in the minds of those on her. This is even
 > more 
 > important as the numbers attracted to the Trail start to change its 
 > appearance.
 >  >>