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Re: AT extentions: my .02c

     I was going to give a lengthy reply to this but Roland took care
     of most of what I had to say. Nontheless I will add my opinions.

     I don't think the ATC or whoever is planning these extentions
     should give a damn about thru-hikers (even though I intend to
     become one this year). The trail was not designed with thru-hiking
     it in mind and that should continue to be the case. The trail
     serves purposes different from our own.

     I'm surprised Jim that you would place importance on hiking between
     two points laid out by some planners. As long as God did not ordain
     Springer and Katahdin as the endpoints of the path to true
     enlightenment etc I try not to place too much importance on the
     'whole thing' aspect. Springer to Katahdin is what I have
     set out to do and I will do my damndest to do it. But I didn't
     have to make that my goal. Maybe I could have had only 2-3 months
     and decided to go from Springer to a landmark like Harpers Ferry.
     Or I could decide a one-way thruhike wasn't enough of a challenge
     and decide I must yo-yo and do it twice to reach my goal.
     Either way it would be something worthwhile.

     Think about this Jim, what if you had broken your leg in Monson, ME 
     and not been able to do the last 115 miles. There would have been
     some disappointment of course, but would it really have nullified
     everything you had done to that point? There are other
     things I'm hoping to get out of my thruhike than just reaching
     a man-determined endpoint. Striving for this goal is just a
     vehichle to accomplish other things for me.

     I've done two week-plus bike trips in the last two years. One was
     from Silver Spg, MD to Asheville, NC on Skyline DR and the
     Blue Ridge Pkwy. The Blue Ridge was a road I always wanted to
     ride on and doing it all the way to Cherokee would have been ideal
     but time constraints said to finish in Asheville. This year
     I did a similar trip from Nashville, TN to Jackson, MS along the
     Natchez Trace Pkwy, but couldn't finish the Parkway to Natchez
     because I only had a week. Do I feel particularly bad about
     only doing about 80% of these roads? Not really.

     I've also done two cross-country bike trips. In a way, these
     endpoints ARE a bit God-ordained, you can't start any sooner than,
     or continue past the shorelines! Yet on the first one I didn't
     actually reach the Pacific (Vancouver-Seattle), and the second
     I had to hitch 30 miles in Colorado due to elevation sickness/
     some bacteria wracking my digestive system. These events didn't
     exactly ruin the trip for me.

     Following what I said about coastlines being God-ordained endpoints,
     I actually like the idea of the official AT extending from the
     Gulf of Mexico in the FL panhandle (or AL or MS) to the
     Gulf of St Lawrence or the mouth of the river. They seem to be
     more logical endpoints. As far as complaining about endpoints
     being at a highway, they essentially are anyway. Who gets airlifted
     to the top of Springer?

     Like Roland said, the AT and all that goes with it does not happen
     overnight. Did the original planners run the trail to Georgia
     because they had volunteer shuttlers in Atlanta who could
     transport thruhikers to the trailhead? When Earl Shaffer did
     his 1948 thruhike shelters were 250 miles apart in some places!
     If the extensions go through, I'm sure there are hiking clubs in
     Alabama and Quebec who will take on the challenge of maintaining
     the trail and building shelters (indeed if there aren't the trail
     will never be built to begin with!). I'm also sure that friends
     of hikers will spring up and offer services ranging from shuttles
     to hostels to serving as a maildrop.

     A traditional thru-hike could still go from Springer to Katahdin
     (I can't imagine why they are intending to route the extension
     around Katahdin though). Or you can go further if you wish.
     It doesn't really matter. The journey is the thing and I think
     we all really know that.

     However I'll concede Jim that you've done it and I've yet to.
     So maybe I'll adopt some of your perspective. We'll know in
     6 months.

					       --- Ron K ---

     PS - One thing Jim mentioned that I wanted to touch on, that was
     about people not carrying tents, or at least a tarp to string
     up between trees. They're idiots. I don't plan to stay in shelters
     much but on a rainy night when I don't want to pitch my tent
     and there is space in a shelter, I am not giving up my spot to
     someone who arrives later to find the shelter full and starts
     crying that they need a space because they don't have an
     alternative. And they're not borrowing mine.