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Re: [CDT-L] Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water !

Lord, either I've forgotten how to write or you're looking to pick a fight. 
Nowhere did I ever criticize someone else for hiking however they want to. 
Ever. In fact, when I hiked the PCT, Dan and I hiked with 2 other people for 
nearly 1000 miles, so to criticize people who hike with groups or with others 
would be hypocritical, which I really don't think I am. Nor am I especially 
interested in the purist debate. Nor did I tell anyone else how to hike their 
hike, or imply that they should do it my way. Anyone who has ever heard me 
speak knows that the absolute last thing I do is "tell" people how to do 
anything. I try to give a range of options and strategies, knowing that my 
way of hiking is just that -- mine.

What I was responding to was Jim's statement about what "all the other 
thru-hikers did" to support his position. I was commenting on the sort of 
group-think mentality that seems to occur as more and more people set foot on 
a trail. It may have been a stretch, but I think the topic is interesting and 
germane to long distance hikers. 

I said, I believe fairly clearly, that as people face the unknown, they tend 
to group together and make decisions based on gossip and rumor -- which may 
not be the right decisions, and might not be the decisions they would make if 
they were alone and didn't have all that other input. Which is why I 
recommended the article from ALDHA West, in which a couple disregarded all 
the talk and simply set off to pass through the Sierra, which common wisdom 
(ie: grapevine rumor) had declared unpassible. When Jim pointed out what all 
the other thru-hikers did, I just wanted to point out that I tend to be a 
little suspicious of evaluating anything on the basis of "what everyone did." 

I also expressed the feeling that I was grateful I'd had the opportunity to 
hike the CDT when the hiker network pretty much consisted of Jim Wolf and 
Leonard and Laurie Adkins. I enjoy participating on these lists, and 
exchanging info with people. But a part of me longs for some remote trail (or 
even untrail) that no one has ever heard of where I can get lost for a couple 
of months. That's a weird dichotomy that I can't really explain. I guess I 
like to connect with others who share my love of wilderness -- even if the 
thing I love about wilderness is being alone in it. 

I really think that as a culture of long distance hikers develops on a trail, 
the experiences that people have on that trail will necessarily change. It's 
not an issue of being, as you put it "anti-clumper" or "pro-clumper." (I'm 
giggling as I write this -- it sounds so ridiculous!) There's no issue here 
-- no pro or con. Nothin to debate, or argue against.  It's just a fact that 
as more people become part of these communities and lists, exchange 
information, and show up on the trail, their experience will be very 
different from what mine and other early hikers experienced. Their 
experiences will involve each other, and not just the trail. I realize that 
with less than 20 potential thru-hikers a year, the CDT is not in imminent 
danger of being over-run. But having just joined this list (and also, seeing 
at ALDHA Gatherings, year after year, the increasing number of people every 
year who have hiked major sections of the CDT), I was struck by the contrast 
between the hike I had and the experiences people are having now. NOT that 
mine was better -- not that I'm at all critical of anyone's choices. But you 
can't fault me for being  grateful to have had the rare opportunity I did to 
experience a major trail before all that started to happen.  

Forgive me if I'm breaking an taboos here -- I'm new on this list. But I 
thought the point was to discuss (politely) issues pertaining to long 
distance hiking? 

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To:            Frank.Clifford@latimes.com
Cc:            cdt-l@backcountry.net