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Re: AT extentions: my .02c
A month or so back someone wrote asking the official length of the AT.
Many people responded, some of which denoting the gradual lengthening of
the trail over the years. Was there an incredible tumolt when the trail
was lengthened by X miles in year Y, or B miles in year Z? Was the lack
of complaint (if indeed, this was true) due to the fact that the relative
additions were so minor, adding very few additional days to the overall hike?
I think that the political points, the practical points, and the
realistic points that have been made hold great merit. However, I still
hold to a trail running the full extended length of the physiographic
unit...whatever/wherever that is. I still hold and have heard/read no
arguement to dissuade me that "you set your OWN goal" (Ga ---> Maine, the
1966 version of the AT, the newly extended AT from Canada -----> Ala, the
AT + connecting trails to Timbucktu, or simply the AT through GSMNP).
A good example of this is the Highpointer's Club that I am a member of.
We celebrate/denote if a member has 1 highpoint to their credit, 10
highpoints, 47 highpoints, and particularly 48 (all of the contiguous ones),
and 50. Each one is an achievement and a demonstrates a willingness to
set out and conquer a goal. There are various ways to accomplish
conquering highpoints. There are some members of the club that will only
reach highpoints that they can easily reach...or drive up to...I don't
dismiss them. For myself, my goal is to walk up each and every
highpoint....i.e. start from the bottom of Mt. Mitchell/Clingmans's Dome
and hike up...not to take the road and walk up the last 1/4 mile.
The trail and the goal is what we determine it to be....and the
conquering of..... or at least a good attempt at...is when/where we should
acknowledge and celebrate.
Given the many considerations that Mr. Owen has presented perhaps it is
impractical and unworkable to lengthen the trail. Perhaps, then the
goal of a thru-hike becomes relatively unobtainable. I just don't think
this is a good enough reason not to extend it. Now, if we consider the
expense, the politics, the inability to upkeep as the REALISTIC/PRACTICAL
obstacles not to extend............that works for me.
Let's consider an example. This is something I wanted to do when I
was a child.....motorcycling the Oregon trail. Where do I begin? I
know where I end....no denying that one. Should I start at
Independence, MO.........the accepted beginning of the trail? Should I
start at St. Louis...after all the people had to come from somewhere to
get to Independence? Should I start all the way back from New England,
or Roanoke Island because that's where we ALL started from, perhaps I
should start from Mesapotamia?
Northern Canadian migratory raptors and occipitors, travel the length
of the Appalachain chain during their migrations. It's a natural airborne
superhighway.......they illustrate/demonstrate the TRUE AT. It is us humans
that have drawn an arbitrary line in the sand and determined the ends to be
Kathadin and Springer.
The best point I have read...was the more trails the better
(provided we can keep them up, pay for them, manage them, etc...).
Call them connecting trails rather than an AT extention. I could live
Speaking of the Chic-Chocs.....I'll be hiking up there this summer and
will tell folks I was up at the Northern end of the Appalachian chain.
Sorry to have caused such a hubbub...although I suspect that it was a
healthy calamity for all of us to engage within.
Regards to all...
Jerry Curry 17047 Martel Rd.
Research Associate Lenoir City, TN
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37772
Oak Ridge National Laboratory