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Re: [CDT-L] the trail in Montana

David - this depends a lot on when you go.  We were in the Bob when there
was still a lot of snow. We had few problems with mud and none with
horses. In fact, the only horses we met were on the last day, and they
were helping out a trail crew.   We saw tracks in the mud, but they
belonged to deer, elk and bears. Tore up the trail pretty bad though -
but they belong out there.  Could be the placement of the trail that's at
fault, as much as the overuse.

As to ATV's - we saw none in Montana, and only two or three in Wyoming. 
The only backpackers we saw in the first three months were at the
National Parks, the Wind River Range and on Fourth of July weekend, when
we saw about 6 people.  We did see more ATVs in Colorado once hunting
season started, but mostly on the gravel roads - none off-road.  Since so
much of the trail in Colorado passes through Wilderness Areas, we weren't
much disturbed by the three or four a day we saw on the roads in between.
 The only place horses were a problem for us was in the Teton Wilderness,
where we saw 60 one day and 90 the next - but that was mid-August, so mud
wasn't much of a problem, except in a few places.

However, we've seen where horses can be.  Wolf Creek Pass in the San
Juans jumps to mind.  They've done massive trail work along the CDT north
of the pass for the past three years, and already the trail has been
destroyed by horses out when it is too wet.  But then, they've had a
couple of very wet summers too.  I like the idea of a moratorium on use
during early melt - the problem is, that varies year by year, so it would
make it very difficult for someone who makes a living as an outfitter to
plan when they could begin their season, and it does nothing to help when
it is just a wet year.    

A couple of commercial outfitters told us that most of their business now
comes from middle-aged hikers who don't want to backpack with a heavy
load, so they hire the outfitters to bring in their gear so they can
basecamp and do dayhikes.  In the Winds they are heavily regulated as to
how many animals and how often, etc. but in some of the other forests, I
think that is less the case.  As a hiker, the idea of banning horses (or
at least the commercial outfitters) appeals, but it really isn't fair to
those who can't hike to forbid them access. And besides, the CDT was
specifically designated as a multi-use trail.  Don't know how they can
resolve this. Horses do massive destruction to the trails, but they have
a right to be out there.  

Same with the ATVs on the jeep roads.  We never saw any off road, only on
the roads where they are legally allowed to be. Most of those we saw on
ATVs were middle aged or older. It's not just kids tearing up the
country, it's a lot of older folks who see no other way to get into the
back country.  

As a hiker, I like having the trail to myself, without having to worry
about running into hordes of bikes, motorcycles and ATVs, but the fact
is, we are only a small part of those who enjoy the mountains.  All over
the country, decisions are being made about how to balance the
conflicting needs of the many users of the back country.  I don't know if
it is possible to do it in a way that is really fair to all.  


On Sun, 27 Feb 2000 09:40:56 PST "David Patterson" <wr_ddp@hotmail.com>
> Just received the latest Gazette from ALDHA-west (good reading as 
> always). 
> One article by Scott Bischke, who I met on my 98 thru-hike, reminded 
> me of 
> the status of the trail in Montana. It seems like everyone I've 
> spoken with 
> about the trail in the Bob Marshall Wilderness agrees it's a 
> nightmare. 
> Imagine walking in knee deep mud countless miles, wondering if your 
> next 
> step will be the one that sucks off your boot or shoe into the 
> abyss.
> While I was slogging through there in late June-early July I had an 
> idea to 
> resolve the problem. Why not enact a moratorium on livestock in the 
> early 
> season? See, teams of horses and mules, pack strings sometimes 30 or 
> better 
> trudge through the fragile wilderness when it's starting to melt 
> out. Though 
> the FS is building new trail, it's quite costly and labor 
> intensive...they're building elevated walkways through all the slop. 
> Wouldn't it be simpler to prevent the impact during the melt-out by 
> enacting 
> a moratorium on livestock, especially the outfitters with 30+ teams 
> loaded 
> to the hilt?
> Also, I find the results of Scott's data staggering, there are more 
> motorized users on the CDT in MT than non-motorized. This is a 
> reality we 
> need to face and address. Hikers, unlike atv-ers are unorganized and 
> we 
> stand to lose more because of our inability to unite. Unfortunately 
> for us 
> they have lots of money, the support of "big bussiness" and 
> lobbyists in 
> Washington fighting for their agenda.

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