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[CDT-L] [cdt-l] - Is it too late to save the CDT?

I wrote this a week or so ago and it sat around for awhile as I got
distracted by the practicalities of preparing for this summers hike. Anyway
I decided to finish it up and figured that since it wasn't related to
politics, it wouldn't get terribly trashed.

Is it too late to save the CDT? At first cut, that may seem to be odd
question, Considering that many still wonder if the CDT will ever be
completed. Yet from this writers perspective, it's the core question behind
most of the discussions that have taken place on this newly energized list.

For some the CDT is still a virgin trail, wild and raw with innumerable
opportunities for exploration. Unrestrained by a long history of past hikes.
It represents a trail for most thru-hikers where the unknown still ranks far
above the known. Where the unexpected is to be expected. Where the fear of
getting lost or worse are still palpable. 

Others fear that the trail is already beginning to lose a bit of its sheen
as more hikers tromp it trails, as more signs appear to convert the unknown
to the known, as more trails are dug into the endless of stretches of green
grass on ridge tops.

Over the years, will the CDT fall prey to many of the problems that besiege
the AT and are beginning to show up on the PCT? 

One of the problems inherent in trying to save something, is in first
defining what we're trying to save. A difficult proposition at best for a
thru-hiker. We have a difficult enough time trying to come up with an
agreeable definition of the term thru-hike. Let alone trying define and an
experience that we often find difficult define even years after it's over.
On top of that, each of our experiences is unique. It lays out before us
like a fine tapestry of rich silk, woven with threads dyed in time, place,
emotions, weather, circumstances and thousand other colors too rich and
subtle easy distinguish. 

We climb the mountains, like sinners seeking salvation, looking for what we
do not know. We bathe in ice cold streams to cleanse ourselves of years of
civilized dust.  We stand on tall mountains looking out on immense vistas
knowing at once that as creatures, we are both amazing and insignificant,
given the enormity of that which lies before us. We struggle mightily
against the powers of gravity that binds our bodies and spirits to the

Over the course of our hike we change. Often imperceptibly, still those
grains of matter and thought that compose our individual mountains, shift.
Stride by stride, mile by mile, day by day, we change. By the end we are
often reborn. Like the butterfly that leaves its cocoon, we are no longer
the mere caterpillars. We've entered our mountain cocoon, only to emerge
weeks later, changed. 

Upon leaving the trail, we strut around like a Southern born again revival
preacher ministering to a tent full of sinners on a warm June night. We are
barely able to contain our enthusiasm as we attempt to describe what we've
seen, where we've been and how we've changed. We do it so that others will
find their own salvation. 

But, therein lies the conundrum. For in our zeal to reach out, to make the
path easier for those that follow, to support, help, improve, inform or a
hundred other activities, we also alter the very thing that changed us.
Before long the journeys that later adventures take, bear scant resemblance
to our own that we hold in such high honor.

Perhaps someday the CDT too will appear to fall victim of it's own success.
Still each seasons crop of thru-hikers will need to learn to find their own
rewards in the journey. In the end, for many the real rewards don't come
from just the miles, mountains, fords, deserts, pain or pleasures. They also
come from overcoming failures, going on instead of giving up, learning about
just who we are and aren't, learning to overcome our own prejudices, to name
a few. 

I don't have answers for the question I posed. It is one where each of us
will need to come to our own conclusions. As one who's yet to step foot on
the CDT, I would like for it to remain as wild for my grandchildren's
grandchildren as it is today. Yet I know that won't be true. Still we all
need to be mindful of to role we play, both intentionally and
unintentionally, in altering that which we love.

Ron "Fallingwater" Moak
PCT 2000 Journey - http://www.fallingwater.com/pct2000

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