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Re: AT extentions: my .02c

Jay -

I'm only gonna comment on a couple of points here.

>    I think I can answer some of your questions.  I recently spoke with
>Mike Leonard, the Alabama Trails Association's Govermental Relations
>Chair about the trail into Alabama.  He referred me to an original 1925
>map by Benton Mackaye (which I am trying to locate) that called for the AT to
>run from Cohutta Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Washington in New
>Hampshire.  Spur trails are apparently indicated on this map to run from
>Mount Washington north to central Maine, as well as south from Cohutta
>Mountain into east-central Alabama.  It would be interesting to find out
>how the original northern 'spur' trail ended up being an actual part of
>the AT.  Nonetheless, it did so thankfully.  The southern spur trail was not
>pursued until Spring, 1990, when Mike began speaking with Margaret
>Drummond, who I believe was the chair of the ATC at that time.  Mike even
>presented a seminar on the proposed southern section at a 1993 ATC
>meeting in Dahlonega, Georgia.  The southern 'spur' of the AT is the
>only section included on the original 1925 map that, prior to this time,
>hadn't even been addressed.

I've heard rumors about this map before - maybe the ATC has a copy?

I believe the northern "spur" was incorporated because Myron Avery was
from Maine and pushed real hard for the AT to end at Katahdin.  MacKaye's
vision of the AT ran from Mt Mitchell to Mt Washington.    Benton MacKaye
was the dreamer, Avery was the doer.

>> Same kind of question about the shelters - are there any?  And who
>> will do the maintenance on the Trail in Alabama?
>There are probably less than 6 shelters on the 100 miles of Pinhoti as it
>stands now.  The Alabama Trails Association, the Forestry Service, and
>numerous hiking clubs currently do all of the maintenance, and will
>probably do so in the future.  The Georgia Pinhoti Trail Conference will
>be responsible for the trail in Georgia.

This is one of the places where my ambivalence about the southern
extension comes in.  On one hand, I'd like to see as many starters as
possible finish because I know what completing the AT means to a lot
of us.   On the other hand, the AT is literally being "loved to death".
And used to death.

The "loving" part comes largely from the people who maintain and
constantly "improve" the trail.  They build bigger,  better, fancier
shelters, add more services, put in more switchbacks, etc.  And the
more they improve, the further behind they get, because every time
the AT "improves" 1%, the number of thruhikers increases 10%.
I'm not sure how much more "improvement" the trail can stand.

The "used to death" part is simply due to the increasing numbers of
thruhikers.   Take a look at the Kushman's trail log that Kathy Bilton
is putting up here.   Four years ago I left on March 16th and I *never*
saw the numbers of thruhikers that they ran into in their first week.
I stayed in just three shelters that were full before Damascus - and only
one of those was so full that anyone had to sleep outside.  The Kushmans
left on March 2 and are already running into overfull shelters.   How
many people will be out there 5 years from now?

I'm not complaining about the maintainers - or about the numbers of
thruhikers.   But this has already led to a situation where the ATC
is becoming a "Trail management" organization.   I'm not gonna chase
this any further.  Enough to say that at some point in the future, you
may have to get a thruhiker "permit" in order to walk the AT.   I don't
like that.

The solution?  I don't know, but I'd personally like to see the AT head
in a different direction.  Possibly, the cessation of shelter building
and maintenance.   Elimination of the shelter system would also help
with other Trail problems - as I recall, all 7 of the murders on the AT
have occurred at shelters,  there's been an increasing number of
homeless taking up residence in shelters over the last few years,
the shelters are the places where"shelter parties" take place and if
there were no shelters, presumably, less people would start the Trail.
Maybe making the AT a little longer would also help keep the numbers

I'm not overly enthusiastic about these as solutions - but I know that
if the Trail community doesn't solve the problems, the government
will - and we won't like their solutions.   Anyone else have any ideas??

As I said - ambivalence.

>So, I hope I have answered some of your questions.  Who knows, maybe by
>the year 2000, our spur will become reality, and with God's help will
>indeed become AT.

Yes, you did answer some questions, Jay.  Not all of them, but at
least it's a start.  Thank you.