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Re: AT extentions: my .02c

Roland and Ron -

I'm going to answer you both here because your objections are interlocking.
Obviously, I stirred the mud - again.

Let's start with intent - there seems to be some confusion about mine.  It's
simple -  I'm not totally against the southern extension and I have no problem
whatever with building a second long trail from Katahdin into Canada - or vice
versa.    But when people start blowing sunshine in my ear (yes, I'm being nice
 here), I get suspicious and start smelling rats in the woodpile.  And I get
"really" suspicious when people want to change things just for the sake of
change - it usually means they have no idea what they're doing.  That's when
I start asking questions.  I'm a systems engineer - I ask questions.   You'd be
surprised at how often nobody has answers.

On this subject, I see a lot of questions, few answers and a lot of sunshine
being blown in people's ears.  People say "we ought to do this", but I have yet
to see any reason that's not pure opinion or emotion, including mine.  Quebec,
the St Lawrence, the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama - they're all either opinion or
emotion.  Not a hard answer in the lot.   From a government point of view,
this is a "project" that some of you want to spend millions of dollars on.
You'll need a lot better answers than I've heard yet to get the government
to spend tax dollars on it.  So I'll ask the question again - To what purpose?

A couple comments -  First, you missed a point - the "rampant blatant
 nationalism" was mine - not theirs.

Second is the Chic-Chocs.   As you said -
>They are beautiful mountains, beautiful and spectacular enough to finish a
>long hike.

No argument - but a better solution would be to have a "second" long trail (the
SIA/IAT?) anchored in the Chic-Chocs on the north and at Katahdin on the
That way Katahdin would be at the end of 2 long trails rather than just one.

OK - some answers for you, the first of which is that  by bureaucratic
logic - if there's one trail, there has to be one agency (international).
If there are two agencies (US and Canada) administering the trail, then
there are two trails - by definition.

On a practical basis, what makes you think either government would allow,
let alone sanction, an open, unrestricted pipeline for drugs, gunrunners and
illegal aliens?  I did mention a border station, didn't I?

Then there's the change in the northern terminus.   Some people are blowing
off Katahdin as if it's just another mountain.  Is there anyone out there who's
been on Katahdin and wants to change it?  Maybe, but I haven't heard from
them yet.   For those who do want to change it - you should realize that this
isn't a philosophical argument - you're messing with my religion. Explanation
time - Katahdin is the Indian name for the mountain and it means "Great
Mountain".  The Indians knew, as did the white men who followed them that
Katahdin is a Power Place - sacred ground.   Every thruhiker who stands
on Katahdin feels the power.  They may not think of it in that way, but it's
there nonetheless.  Anyone who can climb  Katahdin and not feel that power
is spiritually blind and should be pitied, but never followed.  That might be
a good test for our politicians - before we elect them.

The Chic-Chocs may be beautiful and spectacular, but Katahdin is beautiful
and spectacular and a superb ending to the AT - and powerful.   Trading
Katahdin for the Chic-Chocs would be like trading my 94 pickup truck for
an 83 Chevy - a bad deal.

Personal opinion?  Yeah.  But I'll fight for it.

Next, you said -  >  Maintanance issues will be
>solved clearly before any trail is actually constructed.  The resupply
>problem in the Maine wilderness is a problem, but not insurmountable.
>It's not as though we don't have guide-bookks, maps, etc here in Quebec.

Uh-uh - the trail IS being built and I haven't seen any answers to these
questons.  Have you?  I'll repeat - who is going to maintain the trail that
these people are building?   Both of you have overly optimistic
views about trail clubs maintaining hundreds of additional  miles of trail.
How much time do you think it takes to maintain a trail?   I spent 7
weekends on trail maintenance  last year.  If we're lucky, a trail crew
can clear 5 miles of trail in a day.  If we're not lucky, we might do less
than a mile.  Plain fact - I hike a lot of the PATC trails and they have a
"premier" rep for trail maintenance - and  I see where their trails need
work, where they're not being maintained , where they're disappearing
in some cases.  There's a  lot more enthusiasm for building "new" trail
than there is for maintaining what we've got.   Bottom line - where are
all the people who hike these trails when it comes time to maintain them?

As for resupply - that has to there before the first thruhiker goes up the
trail -
it's not something that gets put in afterwards.  Comments about the early days
of the AT don't help, because the commenters don't seem to understand what
the AT was in the early days.  Do I?   Yeah, I was hiking the AT in the
early 50's.

>So, I don't see your point.  People do the PCT and the CDT and I
>assure you the weather they see can be quite a bit worse than what the
>typical AT hiker sees.

Have you been there?  But you've never hiked during hunting season, eh?

>Again, I say so??  I'm not too sure that I see why the trail should
>not be extended just to appease the egos of people who see another 400
>miles ahead of them.

What does ego have to do with it?  Tell me how your knees feel about an
extra 400 miles when you get to Gorham - or when you get to Monson.
The AT is a ridgetop trail - that makes it a lot rougher than you believe.
And by the time you get that far, your knees WILL be talking to you.

>Again, so?? I don't want the AT to be an eletist event, but I don't
>want to see "less people will do it because it becomes too hard" as an
>excuse either.

What excuse?  That was a reason to DO the southern extension.
What I said was that lengthening the trail WILL make it more of an
elitist event.   Plain hard fact.  Why?  Because only those who are smart
enough or tough enough at the BEGINNING of the trail will make it.   We're
talking about thruhiking here - that means walking the trail end-to-end.
It doesn't mean walk until you're too tired or bored or hurt or sick or it's
not fun anymore.  It means all the way.  Add 400 or 650 miles and the
only people who will make it will be those who are so tough or macho or
"smart" that they're beyond the norm.  What does "smart" mean?  It
means they're smart enough right out of the box - mile 0 - to be carrying
30# packs.  It means they're smart enough to know and do the things
that'll give them the highest odds of finishing.  It means not doing 15-20
mile days in the south, so your knees don't blow out.  It means not trying
to keep up with faster hikers to stay with a group.  It means knowing
your body and how to take care of it. It means being in top condition and
already trail hardened.  And a lot of other things.  All at mile 0 - no time
or space for learning or making mistakes or recovery.   It means you're
a pro when you start or you don't make it. Do you think that's not elitist?
Think again.

Tell me after you finish the Trail how many of the finishers, how
many of your Trail family would have made it under those conditions.
How many of them will need the first 100 or 300 miles to get their
act together?  Lengthen the Trail by 400 or 650 miles and they won't
have that luxury.   The time and weather constraints become too restrictive.

>What's the purpose of hiking the AT in the first place.

The purpose of hiking the Trail is different for everyone who walks it -
only you can find your purpose.

>     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.

I don't know whether God ordained Springer, but I know about Katahdin.
I also know about the " path to true enlightenment".  I've experienced
satori, and the Void - and the infusion of the Holy Spirit.   And one of the
things I learned is that you don't get there without commitment.

This is something I wrote in a private post some time ago  -
"My commitment was to climb Katahdin the long way - from Georgia.
I don't understand partial commitment - not in my personal or professional
life, and not on the Trail.  So I can't tell anyone how to hike that way."

I set out to thruhike the Trail - all of it - and end my hike on Katahdin.
I'd have done that if I had to do the last 115 miles on crutches, but I
would have done it.  That's me - no one else has to accept or adopt my
level of committment.   But if I accepted any lesser level of commitment,
I'd have a hard time living with myself.  If you think it's a personal problem,
at least it's mine - and you should thank God you don't have to live with it.

This is something that I learned more recently, but it fits my life -

>How do you follow the Way ?
>Go where you are sent
>Wait till you are shown what to do.
>Do it with the whole self.
>Remain till you have done what you were sent to do.
>Walk away with empty hands.

Some day soon, I'll walk away from this list - with empty hands.  But until
then, I'll continue do do what I'm shown to do - with my whole self.   And
for me, that means commitment - total commitment.

Enuff - I wish you both the best on the Trail. I hope you have the sunshine -
and the rain.  And that you both learn whatever it is you're going out there
to learn.  But I should warn you - all of us (thruhikers) learn, but few of us
learn what we think we're going to learn.

Walk lightly,