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Re: [CDT-L] [cdt list] water in new mexico

Karen - 
I smiled when I saw your response this morning.  If someone's gonna
misunderstand me, it's better that it should be a friend than a stranger.
 So let's correct a couple of the apparent misconceptions here.  

On Sat, 19 Feb 2000 12:23:02 EST KBerger466@aol.com writes:
> When Dan and I did the CDT (if this were a movie, our voices would be 
> crackling with age and memory) there were lots of places where we got
> about every 20 - 25 miles. That was just the way it was. 

And it's still that way.  Why would you think otherwise?  

> But I did want to address the issue of water. 
> I do think, Jim, that it's just unfeasible and not realistic to demand
> to exist as a trail, there has to be guaranteed water all year at
> intervals. If that were the standard, there would be no PCT in southern
> no Arizona Trail, no trails in the Grand Canyon above the river -- need
I go 
> on?   

Hmmm -- really?  Different trails, different requirements - you're only
confusing the issue by trying to compare the CDT to other trails.  I
realize that's not your intent - but it IS the result.  If you're gonna
talk about the CDT - then talk about the CDT.  The PCT is an entirely
different situation.  And that's another discussion - later.  

Standard?  No - that's not a "standard"  - it's reality - and it actually
does apply to ALL trails - including the PCT and AZT.  But to keep on
subject - if this section of trail is built as a 40+ mile waterless
section, who do you think will use it?  For how long?  How long do you
think it will take for future hikers to find out about it - and avoid it.
 Especially when there are at least two other reasonably well-watered
alternatives.  How long will it continue to exist as a trail if it gets
zero use?   

At  least 9 of those thruhikers who finished this year avoided the Chain
of Craters route in favor of alternates.  That means a maximum of 4
thruhikers may *possibly* have gone up that way - and, of course, they
used the road through that area because there wasn't a trail at that
time.  I haven't been able to check on the other 4 so they're still in
question - but I have talked to the 9.  Even given the choice between the
road through that section and the trail that's being built - how many
thruhikers will actually use the trail?  Not many of the ones I know.  

Do you really think just because a trail designer is stupid that
thruhikers are or should be stupid enough to blindly follow their trail? 
There are those who believe that - I don't happen to be one of them.  

I didn't *demand* anything - I did very bluntly state my intentions - and
I meant exactly what I said.  What others do about it is their problem -
not mine.  

> As you mentioned, most of the trail in this section is used by
> and long-distance section hikers. Those folks can handle 20-mile (plus)
> -- if it's a 40-mile dry stretch, there only needs to be one reliable
> source smack in the middle of it to meet thru-hikers' basic needs. 

Agreed -and it doesn't even have to be in the middle.  We've done 30 mile
days to get to water - just as you have.  But I have yet to see or hear
any real evidence that such a water source exists - in the middle or
anywhere else in that section.  

> I'd give a little credit to the person out there building trail if he
says there 
> are/will be water sources. 

I do - but have you ever heard the expression "Trust - but verify"?  I
know that unless he's actually *seen" those water sources (and I mean
actual water) - not just the *seasonal* sources as shown on the maps -
then he knows no more than anyone else on this list.  Has he been there? 
Even he hasn't indicated that he's actually seen water.  Sorry, Karen -
and Tim - but I've been a trail builder and maintainer for a number of
years now - and as a friend of mine puts it (and his life depends on this
at times) - "Thou shalt not assume, for Assumption wilt surely make an
Ass-of-U-and-Me".  Show me - I'm not a believer.  

And remember - official policy is to do as little "improvement" as
possible - in treadway or water sources. Why should this be different
from the rest of the trail?

> The fact that national park and agency personnel 
> don't know comes as no surprise to me, based on many years of trying 
> to get information from such sources. The fact that that info isn't 
> available to the public is just typical (unfortunately) -- but I guess
that's what we 
> all get for hiking a trail before it's in place.  

Mostly true - but not all agency personnel are stupid - or uninformed. 
At least one of them confirmed our infomation about water sources along
the route we took - and gave us information that we didn't already have. 
He was one of the ones who recommended the route we took. Nor are the
locals ignorant - some of them have been in that area since Christ was a
corporal.  And we got the same story from them.  

> Also, Jim and Ginny, I know you guys are hiking the PCT this summer 
> -- you're going to have some 20 and 30 mile dry stretches there, too,
> only seasonal water (not even through October -- if you're lucky,
> July). The difference is, the PCT is more established, there are
> guidebooks and the info hot-line from the PCTA keeps track of water
> so you always have at least some current info. But even on the PCT,
> one place where if a local guy (Jack Farir) closes shop, there would be

> no water for god-knows- how-many-miles. Is that acceptable -- to depend
> one private citizen to supply hikers with water? It doesn't make for
> hiking, but that's the desert for you. There's a 25-mile dry stretch
> 5000-feet elevation gain, exposed, and hot (climbing into San
Gabriels). And I 
> don't know how southbounders handle the 20+ miles and 7,000+ elevation 
> gain from the water fountain near San Gorgonio Pass up into the San
> I never experienced anything like that on the CDT! Does that mean the
> shouldn't exist?

Yeah - the PCT has some long stretches - but if need be there are a LOT
of water sources within reasonable (1-3 miles) walking distance of the
trail.  Not something I want to do - but those sources ARE there if
needed.  Even Jack Fair isn't the only possibilty for water in that
section.  And 30 miles isn't that big a deal if you work it right.  I'm
not saying it's easy - but it's doable.  Care to try that over a 40+ mile
stretch - without even the possibility of off-trail water?  And without
the possiblity of even getting water from a passing truck?   Maybe Dave
Patterson can do 50 miles without water, but I sure don't want to try it.

Fact is, the PCTA recognized the danger of those long waterless
stretches, and rerouted the trail north of Burney Falls and along the Hat
Creek Rim to shorten the extremely long stretches. According to the
guidebook, the BLM is planning to put in water at San Gorgonio Pass.
Local volunteers put out water for thruhikers during the season at
Scissors Crossing and elsewhere. And still, every year, hikers are
hospitalized for heat exhaustion and dehydration.  In Southern
California, getting help isn't too difficult. In parts of New Mexico, it
could be a very long walk to help.

> I agree that the route should be chosen with the needs of hikers (and,
> least theoretically, horsemen, although we didn't see any horsepackers
> N.M.). Of course, the route should not have a political-compromise
> And it should stay off paved roads -- Those things should be
no-brainers. And 
> yes, water is a crucial  consideration. A 40-mile dry stretch is indeed

> unacceptable. I don't see how anyone could argue with that. 

Again - we agree.  No - we didn't see any horse packers in NM either -
but the trail is theoretically supposed to accomodate them.  I'd like to
see the rationale for how they're supposed to get across the Zuni-Acoma
Trail though.   :-) 

We'll get to the "paved road" discussion another day.  We're going hiking

As for the "needs of hikers" - I've neither seen nor heard any evidence
or indication that the "needs of hikers"  are of any concern at all.  Not
with respect to this section - nor to any other section of the CDT.  In
fact, just the opposite - the hikers have NO voice in anything that's
being done with the trail.   

So - I want to know what YOU think can or should be done about the
political-compromise location that Tim is out there building?   Because
that's precisely what it is.  
Or didn't anyone else see Jim Wolf's post?  

> All I'm saying is that I think your criteria are not appropriate for
this dry 
> land. Is the solution water fountains every five miles with little CDT
> on them? I would hope not.  

No, Karen - we aren't looking for water fountains and white blazes.
However, the criteria are perfectly appropriate.  The official route is
not appropriate - for anyone.  But as I told the list - I have detailed
water information for the alternative that we used.  And our route
involved a whole lot less "paved road walking" than the "official" route
- as well as being 20+ miles shorter (and ALL of that extra mileage is
"paved road"). 

You also may not understand that in terms of trail design and
construction as a "project" - one of the first things that should ALWAYS
be done is to determine water sources - before starting construction. 
I've been an engineer for 40 years - and if I'd ever  done something
analagous to starting construction before determining the status of 
project-critical information, I'd have been fired - for good reason.  I'm
not that stupid - and frankly, I resent your implication that I should
accept that level of stupidity in someone who's spending *our* tax money.
 But I'll live with that.  

> One of the things I loved about the CDT was the constant adventure of

Again - we agree.  If the CDT were to NEVER be *finished* we'd be a lot
happier.  Adventure doesn't consist of following white blazes - and
freedom doesn't mean following CDT markers.  Those things are a result of
making your own decisions - and living with the results - and the

One of the best parts of hiking the CDT at this time was the fact that we
had so many choices.  Creating a unique route was a large part of the
attraction. However, one of the prime criteria, all the way up and down
the trail, was whether there was water along the way.  That never
changed.  When you and Dan worked out your route, I'd bet that it was
also a prime consideration in your planning.  You're too intelligent to
risk your lives unnecessarily. That's why you carry maps. Less
"adventurous" than going without - but a lot smarter.

> And I'm sure glad there was no hiker grapevine the year I did it. 

But there was - if you met any other thruhiker - or read a trail register
- that IS the grapevine, Karen.  Just like on the AT and the PCT.  If you
didn't meet anyone, then you just missed it.  But it was there - it
always is.  

Fact is that we're worried about the PCT.  We're not all that worried
about how *hard* it is - we expect that.  But we're really worried that
it might be too crowded - and too civilized.  So don't be too surprised
if we decide to switch back to the CDT at some point.  We loved the land,
we loved the trail - that doesn't mean we think it was perfect. 

Walk softly - 

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