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[CDT-L] Trails, attitudes, and hiking our own hike

Hello All -

Hey...nice discussions lately!

Nice to see your comments again on CDT-L, Jim and Ginny.  I really 
enjoyed reading about your CDT hike and appreciate being included in 
the "Flight of the Spirit Eagle" mailing list.  I look forward to 
pouring over your future detailed trail postings...I still have a LOT 
of the CDT to hike <g>.

Karen...you are a welcome voice!  I always enjoy postings from 
someone who takes the trouble to explain where they are coming from. 
Enjoyed your book about the CDT...am I to understand that you have 
another one out?  BTW, we met a couple of times back in '93.  My son 
and I met you very briefly at the hostel in Gorham (NH) when we were 
hung there waiting to get our resupply package sprung from the PO 
(4th of July holiday long weekend blues...).  I met you again at the 
CDT session at the ALDHA gathering that fall (I came off the trail to 
do a Leave No Trace session and to enjoy the gathering).  I was the 
really scruffy one who was hanging out in the cafeteria most of the 

Roger...where is your next CDT section going to be?  I would love to 
run into you on the trail again!  Tony won't be hiking with me for a 
while - his growing family is helping him find other priorities <g>.

Ron, I always enjoy your postings on PCT-L (especially when you 
stretch my thinking by taking a position that I don't agree with at 
first).  Sonofagun...I am stretched again <g>...I am going to have to 
disagree with your take on the recent discussions here on CDT-L.

I don't see the good recent discussion as being about "hike your own 
hike" at all.  A number of truly important issues have been raised 
that CAN over time change we way that we all enjoy our distance 
hiking "sport".  The practical aspects of how we choose to build, 
use, pay for, and provide services on our hiking trails are obviously 
able to be quite important to all of us at specific times and places. 
IMHO, the broader philosophical issues that provide the underpinnings 
for our thinking on the more specific practical topics (trail routes, 
water availability, fees, permits, etc.) are even more 
important....the nitty-gritty practical details will change from day 
to day, but it is our hand-won personal trail attitude that sustains 
each of us for the long haul.

Dave's observations (I enjoy your "Alternative Routes"...and the 
philosophy behind it!) on the very meaning of the CDT as a "trail" 
are important for CDT hikers to sort out for ourselves - either 
before we start our hike or later when faced with three ways to go 
(two ways of which we can find), low food, questionable water, and a 
hi-altitude storm coming up quickly <g>.

Do we distance hikers want the CDT to be a well-defined single 
footpath...or a collection of different footpaths which tend to go in 
the "same" direction...or maybe even just a broad public-access 
corridor and we gets there as we can?

Is this decision ours to make ("hike your own hike") or is it being 
made by the CDTA, CDTS, and the various managing agencies that are 
laying in the trail?  Do we want input into the CDT-definition 
process as trail-loving citizens or as distance hikers?  As distance 
hikers who are fiercely determined to "hike our own hike"...do we 

Do we want the CDT to be built using the same guidelines as the AT? 
The PCT?  Should enhancing the hiker's ability to get from point A to 
point B be an important objective in trail design?  Should it be 
considered at all?  How about using the CDT to guide us to wonderful 
backcountry that we might not otherwise get into?  Could the trail be 
used to concentrate our activity into one "sacrificial" area so that 
we don't destroy the rest of the backcountry?  All the above?  What 

Do we distance hikers want to encourage having the "Great Trails" 
slowly being homogenized as they are slowly made more and more 
accessible?  Do we want the PCT to get more and more like the AT?  Do 
we want the CDT to follow suit?  We CAN make a difference at both the 
"official" and the grassroots levels.  Discussing how we distance 
hikers can organize ourselves to best influence the "official" 
process (CDTA, CDTS, other?) is one thing that we can do here on this 
list.  Discussing how we can best use our often unexpected influence 
amongst the general hiking/backpacking "community" is another.

For instance, there are well-meaning volunteer efforts being made as 
we speak to eliminate one of the important technical differences 
between the PCT and the AT (water availability in some of the more 
arid stretches).  Is that a good thing for our sport?  Will shoveling 
a path through the high passes in the Sierras be next?  These sincere 
efforts are being done to "help" us thru-hikers...our attitudes about 
the effects that this kind of highly structured help will have on our 
sport will certainly influence what these good people try to do "for 

For me, discussing the above sorts of questions with folks who have 
been there and done that is always worthwhile.  I have learned a lot 
as I have enjoyed distance hiking...about some beautiful parts of our 
country, about some neat folks met during the hikes, and about 
myself.  Discussing the "headbanging" issues helps me sort out what 
is/isn't important to me and quite often opens my eyes to viewpoints 
I have not yet considered.

Hey guys...we don't have to agree on ANYTHING!  In fact, I would 
probably want to find another discussion group if we did <VBG>. 
There is obviously a LOT of knowledge about the CDT running loose 
around here...and a lot of love for the trail, as well.

Make believe that we all just met on the trail...and Jim has offered 
to share his hoard of Snickers bars!  Let's sit, take our boots off, 
and talk about that stuff we have been mulling over the last ten 
miles or so...

- Charlie II  AT (MEGA'93)
              PCT (Mex@Can'95)
          Chipping away at the CDT
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