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I totally agree with Jim's well spoken viewpoints about NM and the CDT in
general. Those are the feelings I also developed during my 2-season CDT
Thanks, Jim, for taking the time to express them so eloquently.
>From: "Ginny & Jim Owen" <email@example.com>
>To: firstname.lastname@example.org, ROYROBIN@aol.com
>Subject: Re: [CDT-L] Cuba
>Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001 14:57:38 -0400
>>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
>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
>>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
>> >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
>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
>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
>there are better routes available.
>For many of us, a thruhike generates long lists of places that we want to
>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
>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
>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
>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
>cattle. They were there first. Thruhikers are the intruders. After
>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
>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
>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.
>a good year, maybe a dozen thruhikers finish. Maybe another dozen start
>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
>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
>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.
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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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