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[CDT-L] Cuba

ROYROBIN@aol.com wrote:
>From my admittedly far-removed point of view, it seems odd that the CDT
>through New Mexico hasn't been more defined and developed than it is to 
> >date.

There's a long history behind that one - about 300 years long.

>It would seem to be in the best interests of all the diverse interests in 
>the state.  I'm a newcomer to this list and you all may be tired of beating
>on this issue -- or maybe not -- so don't jump on me too hard for tossing 
>my humble opinion.  Which is:

Not to worry. There hasn't been enough action on this list to beat ANY 
subject to death.  But since I've got some time, I'll ramble a bit - and we 
can run this stuff around for a while.   :-)

>The CDT should take hikers on a tour of some of the historic and geological 
> >wonders of New Mexico, even at the expense of adding miles, and provide 
>an >unpaved (off-road) path for visitors to enjoy.

The route we followed (Jim Wolf's route) did exactly that.  The official 
trail specifically, deliberately, and by design by-passes some of the most 
interesting wonders - like the Gila Cliff Dwellings, La Ventana and Mt. 
Taylor.  I'm not sure about Ghost Ranch - but chances are it bypasses that 
as well.  We went to those places anyway.

However, - the "official" trail does precisely those extra miles south of 
Grants where (for a southbounder) it does about 20 miles of road walk 
followed by a 40+ mile waterless stretch -- and then dumps you out on the 
roads for another 40+ miles.  Not many thruhikers go that way - and in fact, 
one pair who did try it last year bailed out and, unless memory fails here, 
called it worthless.

For most northbound thruhikers, it's too far to Canada to be screwing around 
with a lot of extra (and largely waterless) miles.  For most south bound 
thruhikers, there are too many miles behind them and it's too late in the 
year to be screwing around with extra 100 mile, largely waterless loops when 
there are better routes available.

For many of us, a thruhike generates long lists of places that we want to go 
back to - but doing those extra miles during the thruhike is pure nonsense.  
The "official" trail through RMNP is a good example of that - Is there any 
thruhiker who's done that 30-mile, 5000' eg loop?  During their thruhike?  
Thruhikers may be crazy, we may not be really bright sometimes - but we're 
not generally stupid either.

>o  The value of a relatively narrow trail right-of-way through private 
>is surely higher than the value of the grazing land forfeited.  At worst, 
>land could still be grazed on a shared basis.

That "narrow right of way" is precisely the major problem - you're talking 
about Government controlled "right of way".  And so far the people of New 
Mexico have been smart enough to know that that's a trap - that it would be 
the camel's nose under the tent.  If you want a bad example - look at the AT 
where that "narrow right of way" has now become a drive to protect what's 
called "viewshed" - meaning everything that can be seen from the trail.  
Meaning that if you can see it from the trail, then it's subject to the 
process of eminent domain.  The worst enemy (or maybe the best friend) the 
CDT has is the AT - or rather the ATC. The stories of farmers being forced 
off their land so the hikers can have the illusion of "wilderness" are not 
just urban legend - they're true.

If you look at history, it really isn't surprising that the Indian 
Reservations and Spanish Land Grants would not want even a right of way 
across their land.  It isn't that far from a temporary easement to a 
permanent easement to condemnation.  That's the progression that's been used 
on the AT.

Even aside from the historic/cultural issues - which still loom much larger 
in New Mexico than in most parts of this country - there are a lot of people 
in the West who have reason to believe that the government is not their 
friend.  While most hikers are harmless, I wouldn't say the same for the 
bureaucrats who will end up running the trail in a few years.

As for grazing, why "at worst"?  Thruhikers share nearly all of the CDT with 
cattle.  They were there first.  Thruhikers are the intruders.  After seeing 
hundreds of cows run for their lives as we passed by, I can understand why 
the ranchers would have problems with hikers crossing their lands.  And the 
constant awareness of fire hazards that comes from living in a dry land year 
after year is not something that those from more water rich areas 

>o  Native American historic sites are a huge tourist attraction.  Isn't 
>some educational as well as economic value in bringing hikers into these
>sites?  What an opportunity for historic and cultural education!

Have you asked those Native Americans what they think of the idea?  The 
"official" CDT route impinges on some of those Native American sites - and 
they don't like it.  Often with good reason.  When Bryan went through Cuba 
he probably saw the results of "historic and cultural education" - it ain't 
always a pretty sight.  I seriously doubt that he was turned away because he 
was "rough" - they're used to a lot "rougher" characters than thruhikers.  
They live with them every day.  If you've ever, as a thruhiker, been hit on 
for money by some of the locals (in Cuba, for example), you might 

>o  Tourists bring money into the state.  CDT hikers are the most desirable
>kind of tourist.  They (with maybe one or two exceptions) do not litter or
>pollute, are thankful for any assistance, eager to learn about local
>geologic, historic and archeologic attractions, and always return to there
>homes full of stories about the wonders they have seen along the way, no
>matter how tough it may have occasionally been for them.

Some of what you say is true, but don't get too generous with the money.  In 
a good year, maybe a dozen thruhikers finish.  Maybe another dozen start but 
don't finish.  Maybe another dozen do long distance sections.  Three dozen 
people (or less) spread over 2400 to 2800 miles (and many of them not even 
in Mew Mexico at any time during their hike) don't exactly make a big impact 
on the local economy.  The hunters and construction workers do a lot more 
for the local economy.  Especially considering that many hikers don't even 
buy their groceries in town - they'd rather support the Post Office with 
their mail drops of dehydrated food.  Case in point - you just posted Brians 
mail drop check list -   :-))

In the best case, thruhikers are generally on a budget and will spend maybe 
$100 in each town.  In the worst case, they're just downright stingy.   Most 
of them don't even tip.  Comes to mind two thruhikers a couple years ago 
whose entire input to the local economy was $25 per mail drop - for both of 
them.  And they consistently spent that on beer and cigarettes.  Not exactly 
a real boost to the local economy.  Frankly, a construction worker will 
spend more in two or three weeks than most thruhikers will in six months.  
The numbers (and the reality) don't support the "thruhikers bring money into 
the area" thesis.

Fact is that the people of New Mexico do welcome hikers - far more than can 
be explained by the minor amounts of money that we spend.  They just don't 
welcome the CDT as a Federal institution.  I hope they stay smart.

We spent some time in NM - but not nearly enough.  We loved that part of the 
hike and, like Marilyn, we'll be back.

>It seems to me that there is opportunity here, for the state, citizens,
>businesses, special interests and the hikers, to benefit from an 
>National Scenic Trail.

Benefit is a relative term.  I think you'd find that many of those people 
define it differently than you do.

In any case, this is all my viewpoint/opinion, and as someone who worked 
with me for 20+ years recently said of me - I'm different.  YMMV

Walk softly,

Minor grumble: Why is it that people think "military spec" means it's 
somehow good?? Remember, "mil spec" usually means "built by the lowest 
bidder to exactly meet minimum standards" or "designed by a committee" and 
not "best of the best"	-- Marcus Ranum

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