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>Thanks for the ramblings, Jim. I appreciate the chance to discuss, and
>also understand better the shortage of "easy answers."
Don't know about you, but I've found that "easy answers" invariably create
more problems than they solve.
><< The official
> trail specifically, deliberately, and by design by-passes some of the
> interesting wonders - like the Gila Cliff Dwellings, La Ventana and Mt.
> Taylor.... We went to those places anyway.
>As you know, the PCT does that, too. So we hike the attractions that we
>don't want to miss.
Yeah - bad trail design is bad trail design no matter what trail it's on.
The pitiful part is that it doesn't have to be that way - if the hikers
would get involved with the CDT instead of leaving the trail design to the
"professionals", we could still end up with a good trail for a change
instead of just a "complete" trail.
A couple questions that were asked at a seminar that I recently attended ---
"Are we building the product right?" and "Are we building the right
product?". If you only get one of them right then the other one doesn't
matter cause you screwed it up and someone else is gonna have to fix it - or
live with your mistakes. That applies directly to the CDT.
The fact that the PCT misses many of the "attractions" along the way is no
excuse for repeating that kind of poor performance on the CDT. And on the
CDT there are many places where making it a "good" trail doesn't require
condemnation proceedings - just some common sense and rudimentary knowledge
about hiking. There are other places where leaving the trail "incomplete"
would be good for both the trail and the hikers.
>Sounds like the Tejon Ranch in the Tehachapi's. I would prefer to walk the
>Crest rather than the LA aquaduct, but it's their land. So be it.
Yeah - and they want to keep it that way. Not like the Shenandoah or Devil
Fork Gap or Delaware Water Gap or .... pick your own spot along the AT (and
a few along the PCT).
>Having sucked water out of hoofprints at thoroughly trashed springs in
>country along the PCT, I have to disagree that cattle are somehow
> On private property, yes, I am the intruder and as a guest of the
>owner, have no complaint. However, government land (particularly National
>Forests) I consider to be my property. Allowing cattle to tear it up is
>mismanagement as far as I am concerned. They were not there first.
We did real well up to this point - but I think we just parted company.
First because, at least last year, there were only two places on the PCT
that even approached the "lack" of water quality on much of the CDT. One of
them was the spring south of Walker Pass that we know only by reputation
cause we didn't go there (it was a mile or more off-trail). The other was
the stock tank on the Hat Creek Rim. We didn't use that either - our
planning was better than that. Either of those would have been a "good"
water source on parts of the CDT.
But the real point is that whether it's good, bad or indifferent,
cattle-trampled, duck-shit filled, elk-stirred, brown, green, silver, scuzzy
or whatever -- a majority of the water sources on the CDT - and MANY of them
on the PCT - were built and are maintained specifically for the cattle. And
if the cattle disappear, most of those water sources will also disappear.
There are places along the CDT where the water sources are being removed
because the NPS or other agencies have decided that since there are no
cattle, it's not worth maintaining them. I don't care how you feel about
cattle - or even whether you're a meat eater or not - the cattle are your
ticket (and sometimes your guides) to the water sources. On the CDT, hikers
have to share those water sources with the critters that the water
rightfully belongs to - whether cattle or horses or ... whatever. Say
"Thank you" to the cattle because, to a large degree, they provide the only
incentive to keep the water sources open and therefore make it possible for
us to hike.
I'm gonna make another comment here - I've heard a lot of people rant about
how the USFS mismanages their responsibilities. To some degree it's true -
but it's not nearly as bad as some people would have you believe. And
frankly, I've rarely heard any of those people come up with either
reasonable or viable alternatives. They're generally so narrowly focused
that their solutions fall under the "easy answer, one-size-fits-all"
category and create major problems for everyone else - generally without
even solving the original problem. One-size-fits-all solutions only fit one
person, one viewpoint, one concern. And they ALWAYS leave a mess for the
rest of the world to clean up.
Some years ago, there was a couple who made a video about the CDT - and they
expressed long, loud complaints about their environmental concerns. In 6
months on the trail, we found exactly one (count it carefully -- ONE) place
where their complaint was valid. In every other instance, their complaints
were either invalid - or no longer valid. For example, a lot of people
complain about over-grazed public land - and so did they. Fact is, we saw
two (count'em - TWO) places in six months that were overgrazed. One of them
was a private lot near Anaconda, the other was the Tierra Amarilla in New
Mexico. Neither was public land. There are reasons for that, but those who
don't want to be confused by facts generally don't look for them.
Oh yeah -- historically, "they" were there first - at least as far as the
CDT and long distance hiking is concerned. The cattle have been there since
long before the War Between the States. I don't think you can claim the
same for the CDT - or even the Forest Service.
Well, now that I've got both feet in my mouth, I think it's time to exit
>Fire hazard is certainly a legitimate concern. Any business person
>risk, and that is a good argument for closing private land to
>trespassers/hikers who may be irresponsible. It may also save them the
>trouble and expense of painting "cow" on the sides of their stock during
In general, my experience is that private land isn't "closed" to hikers
along the CDT in the sense that you imply - it's just closed to Government
institutionalization. The hikers are welcome - the Government isn't.
Not sure where you hunt that you think hunters need that, but the hunters in
the Rockies (and Pennsylvania - and West Virginia - and .....) seem to be a
lot more responsible than that. We walked through Colorado and New Mexico
in hunting season - no problem.
If someone's too dumb to know the difference between a cow and an elk, why
would anyone think he's smart enough to read the word "cow"? :-)
Fact is that if you hunt someone's land out there without permission, they'd
likely get right nasty about it. That's a type of trespass that they tend to
get real serious about. And the States have the same attitude.
>That is amazingly true on all the trails. Hard to explain, but we are
>forever thankful. Meeting and visiting with people along the way is
>certainly one of the best parts of our hiking experience.
Now we're on the same page again --- :-)
>Yes, indeed. Can't please everybody. Maybe the CDT should just end on top
>of Mt. Taylor, like the AT does on Katahdin. No need to drag on clear to
Sure there is - if it ended at Mt Taylor, you'd miss the Gila. But then if
you stay on the "official" trail, you miss the Gila anyway, don't you?
Choices -- always choices. I love it!! :-))
>Again, thanks for the insights.
It's been a pleasure - keep up the good work.
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