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Re: [CDT-L] water



Tim - 
I'm gonna try to keep this simple.  First - if we're "high profile"
thruhikers, it was - and is - purely unintentional.  We thruhike in great
part to get away from the high profile stuff .  Our communications from
the trail were meant to share the experience with friends and family -
but only to the extent that it didn't interfere with our hike.  Truth is
that we became hermits out there.  It's taken us over 2 months just to
get active on the email lists.  And for us, a crowd is 3 people -
including us.   

As for "clout" - I wish I did have some.  There are more than a few
things I'd like to change - about the CDT as well as other things.  What
I do have - as do you - is a voice to express my opinion, and a bone-deep
concern for other hikers, and for thruhikers in particular.   

You should also understand that Ginny and I are trail builders and
maintainers - in fact our last weekend on the East Coast will be spent
with a trail crew.  We understand what good trail is - and what it isn't.
 And how it gets that way.  And we understand very well that building a
viable trail requires that you nail down reliable water sources - FIRST. 
Not later, not next year, not "will try to get permission" - but FIRST -
before the first trail crew is assembled, before the first trail marker
is installed.  If they don't have the water sources nailed down FIRST -
then it's not a serious trail, it's a political game.  

As for "venting" -- I can't be bothered.  What I'm doing is 'defining' a
problem - as I have done for most of my life in everything I've been
involved with.  I spent 35 years finding problems and inventing solutions
for the space program.  I'm a top-notch analyst and problem solver.  And
that talent applies just as well to trail problems.  I'm a "thruhiker" -
I analyze a thruhike the same way I'd analyze a spacecraft/ground control
system.  And that's what you're getting here.  Has nothing whatever to do
with you, CDTA or your efforts in building the trail.  

Now - I didn't mention CDTA or Jim Wolf - nor am I gonna pursue that line
of thought very far right now.  What I'm talking about is "trail" - and
what makes or breaks a trail.  You may be building trail, but - and I
don't know how to say this gently - if there's no reliable, year-round
water sources then that trail is NOT a trail that will be used.  You
should also understand that the "users/clients/customers" for the trail
are thruhikers and long distance section hikers. They're the only ones
likely to even attempt this section.  What weekender is likely to attempt
a 40 mile dry section across the lava beds?  The dayhikers we met on the
Zuni-Acoma Trail turned back after a mile or so. As one put it - "This
isn't fun.  We're going where we can enjoy our hike.".  

You should also understand that it wasn't CDTA who made the decision
about the location - that decision was made before CDTA was even born. 
The real "perpetrators" here are NOT CDTA - or Jim Wolf, but the
government agency managers who made the decision.  The maps we got over 4
years ago showed the Chain of Craters route - before CDTA even existed.  

I WILL say this - if, as you imply, CDTA supports this route without
those water sources, then they will have failed in their Mission.  (See
their Mission Statement on their Web page)  Quite simply, without
reliable water, the majority of hikers (thruhikers or otherwise) will not
use that section of trail.  And if nobody uses it, then, by definition,
it is not a trail and CDTA will have failed to complete a useable - and
travelled - trail.  If they support that kind of trail, then they have
perpetrated on themselves the most common of organizational errors - not
understanding who the true stakeholders are - not recognizing the real
clients for what they're doing - not understanding the requirements of
the customer.   And the customers - the ONLY customers - for much of the
CDT are the long distance hikers/thruhikers.  I don't know if CDTA has
done that to themselves - nor am I gonna worry - or even think - about it
right now.  

What doesn't seem to be recognized except by Jim Wolf is that there are
hikers (and horsemen) out there every year - and that telling them that
there'll be a trail "someday" just don't cut it.  Telling them that the
guidebook will be published "next year" don't cut it.  Hikers, and
thruhikers in particular, need information NOW.  When we were planning
our hike we were stonewalled - by CDTA, for the most part by the
agencies, even by those who were CDTA volunteers who were "scouting" the
"official" trail.   The only one who consistently provided good, helpful
information - the only one with a "current" guidebook - was Jim Wolf. 
Your comments about Jim Wolf are misplaced and incorrect.  

You said:
> however, i feel that their comments about the el malpais were not very 
> objective, since they in fact bypassed it, and relied on what others
said about that 
> area.  

Not quite - we went through the Zuni-Acoma part of the malpais.  One of
many reasons we didn't go through the Chain of Craters area was simply
what I stated above - a total lack of information and lack of cooperation
by anyone who'd know anything about it.  There was zero, nada, zilch,
zed, NO information available re the Chain of Craters route - nor is
there now.  But there are people who know what the trail is and what it
isn't, and how it came to be, and why you're out there building a trail
that would be unuseable for the hike that more than half of this years
thruhikers did - even if it were finished.  And we talked to those people
- and listened.  

I'm NOT putting you down, Tim - I'm telling you precisely what the
situation is with respect to thruhiking and the Chain of Craters route. 
And I'm telling you that those who send you out there to build that trail
don't have a clue.  And I'm telling you that if we weren't going hiking
in 2 months, this would be the start of a long and dirty war to change
the trail into what it should be.  There are people who should be
thankful that I don't have time for that right now.  But I'll be back.  

As a final thought - as I stated before - unless and until I have
reliable information about reliable water sources along the Chain of
Craters route, I will personally advise hikers to take another route. 
When and if the water source information becomes available, I will
happily re-evaluate the situation.  At the moment - you're the most
likely source for that information.  

Well, I didn't manage to keep it simple.  Maybe next time.  

Walk softly,
Jim
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