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Re: [CDT-L] cdt, nm malpias area

On Fri, 18 Feb 2000 01:23:47 EST Timshaffer@aol.com writes:
> well thanks jimandginny, really appreciate the encouragement for 
> those many 
> trips from albuquerque to grants to work my ass off on the cdt!  
> blaze

TIm - 
I'm really sorry you got caught in the crossfire here.  One of my life
principles is to never hurt anyone unnecessarily.  But the key word there
is "unnecessarily".  And the determination of what's "necessary" is one
of the hardest parts of being - or becoming - "fully human"  -  a "real"

Knowing what I know about the country and about that section of trail -
and about how it was determined where it should go -- I'd be remiss if I
encouraged anyone to hike through the malpais without some understanding
of what they were doing.  I'm sorry, my friend, but it's better that I
hurt you than that I allow others to hike through there without warning. 
There are those who will hike there anyway.  Cool.  That's their choice -
but I think they should at least know the problems before they make that
decision - not when their sorry a-- is in deep kimchee because they're
out of water and 20 miles from nowhere.  

There were thruhikers who went up that way this year - someone does it
every year.  And it is beautiful.  But every hiker that I know who's gone
that way has made it because of the kindness of strangers who stopped and
gave them water.  But those those hikers were walking the road through
there - and the people who stopped were in cars (or more likely, trucks).
 Now you're telling me that you're constructing trail through the
backcountry - which means there won't be any people (in cars) to offer
water.  You also said there are stock tanks back there.  Maybe.  We found
one young lady (ranger) who claimed there was water back there - but she
had no (read zero) knowledge as to where it was located.  There are no
viable stock tanks or wells on any of the maps we used - and we used
every map we could lay our grubby little paws on.  There are a lot of
"seasonal" water sources on the maps - but in 2700 miles we found few to
none of those that contained water - or that had contained water in the
last couple years.  And the knowledgeable trail personnel in the area
stated specifically that there was no water along that route.  So ---- if
you do find water sources, I'd really appreciate your letting us know
about them.  Not just that there are stock tanks, but the quality of the
water, distances between water sources, what types of water sources
(well, spring, windmill, rain-dependent, etc), specific locations,
landmarks, and any other specific information that comes to mind.  

You might also want to think about the fact that 7 of this years
thruhikers went through that area in November and none of them took that
route.  That's all of this years southbound thruhikers. I believe a
couple of the north bound hikers did take the Chain of Craters route
(along the road) - I believe out of ignorance of the conditions and
alternatives.   And someone will undoubtedly correct me if I'm wrong
about that.  What I do know is that the northbounders made sure that the
southbounders knew what the trail conditions were - so the southbounders
wouldn't make the same mistakes - and vice versa.  The trail grapevine
lives on.  

For those who are wondering what all the fuss is about - it's WATER.  In
the desert, water is life - and hiking (or horse packing) without
reliable water sources is worse than dangerous - it's foolish, possibly
even stupid.  And seasonal water sources (i.e. - Mar through Oct) are NOT
acceptable because they're not "reliable".  The very fact that they're
seasonal means that in a drought year they'll be dry.  Correct me if I'm
wrong, but your post implies that those stock ponds are NOT well, pump or
windmill fed.  That means they'd be rain-dependent, cow-churned mud pits
at best --- with a very high probability of being dry when a hiker needs
them.  A trail without reliable water sources is NOT a trail. 

What I'm saying here is that, unless I'm totally wrong and there are
reliable year-round water sources along the Chain of Craters route, the
people who have insisted on putting the route out there are deliberately
putting future thruhikers at risk - for their own political reasons and
gain.  I will even grant that they're doing it out of ignorance with
regard to hiking - but that makes them no less culpable if a hiker dies
out there.  

I don't know what the solution is for you, Tim - only you can determine
that.  Nor will I tell you what I would do - that has no bearing on your
decision.  But I will tell you very plainly that until I learn of
reliable water sources along the Chain of Crater route, I will make a
practice of telling anyone who's interested to find alternative routes
through that area.  

As several people have said - the "official" route is not always the
best, most scenic, safest or most advantageous in any way for a
thruhiker.  In that regard - hang onto your jockstrap cause I'm not
finished yet.  I have a few things to say about a couple other CDT routes
as well - next week.  

Once more - I'm truly sorry you got caught up in this, but I care too
much about the thruhikers to stand by and be silent about something that
puts them at risk.  Especially when the only real purpose is to satisfy
the political ambitions of people who have not and will never hike the
trail that they perpetrate on others.  Nothing is impossible for those
who don't have to do it.  

Walk softly,
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