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[cdt-l] miscellany



Ginny --

I take your point about single-track being expensive and time-consuming to
build, etc., but this is basically a logistical obstacle and not one that
seems impossible to overcome in the longer run. Clearly there are some
places where single track is either not necssary or not even desirable -
some desert sections, where well-placed 2 track already exists, some places
where well-built cairns will do a better job than trail, etc. But I think
for the most part, it is aesthetically and experientially better to have
single-track and it ought to be what we're shooting for...

As for single-track turning the CDT into AT, I"m not sure I agree with that.
To start with, I think the CDT is already taking on attributes of the AT (as
is the PCT to an even greater extent), though I think it will be awhile
before the CDT becomes just like the AT! Part of it is a simple function of
numbers - increasing numbers of folks hiking the trails. There is also a
very definite transposition of AT-culture onto the other 2 trails, again,
less for the CDT than the PCT, but it's still there. That's certainly
something to be lamented, from my point of view, but it also seems like an
inevitable consequence of the numbers game - lots more folks are getting on
these big trails (I'd be interested in thru-hiker usage stats among the 3
trails, by the way, if anyone has them?)...

Also, I'm not sure I see how it is that having a single-track CDT will
eliminate alternative routes? - many alternatives are already XC or on
poorly maintained trails or jeep tracks, and those alternatives that are on
good tread will stay in place. I don't think there's a connection there. The
PCT has some great alternatives if you look for them, in spite of solid
single-track for most of the way, for example.

Regaring the emergence of "purism," that would certainly be a consequence of
having an established trail, but that doesn't really seem like a reason not
to have an established trail in the first place! I think you could say the
same thing for the lamentable emergence of a culture of speed-hiking on
these trails - you could say that it would be best not to have these NSTs in
the first place, because they result in people excessively focused on speed
and miles. But I don't really think that's anything other than a secondary
outcome, and "purism" is the same way. That has a lot more to do with the
thru-hiking trail culture than it does with the existence of single-track
tread (and as a result, is a lot harder to change!).

Paved roads are something that nobody really likes, that much we can agree
on. The Rawlins stretch is still, to the best of my knowledge, on paved
roads, both before and after, or at least that's what I walked! As is going
into Grants. And lots of other places. These clearly ought to be
priorities...

Cheers,
Rafi


From: "Ginny & Jim Owen" <spiritbear2k@hotmail.com>
To: cdt-l@mailman.backcountry.net
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 16:02:36 -0400
Subject: [cdt-l] Miscellany
Reply-To: cdt-l@mailman.backcountry.net


Rafi - thanks for your comments.  What fun to have news and views from
recent hikers.   It sounds like you had a good hike, despite the drought
and
fires.  As you said, five or six months on the trail beats any of the
alternatives.

I agreed with most of what you said.  One thing to consider though in
your
discussion about single track - building new trail is expensive and time
consuming, and maintaining it may be impossible.  A couple of examples:
we
met the trail crew just as they were completing the relocation of the
trail
over Elk Mountain in Montana (near Leadore).  It had taken a
professional
crew of 50 people 2 months to dig about 4 miles of trail.  It was
beautiful
trail - but that was a lot of work.  And they had that large a crew only
because the record snow levels in Washington that year meant that the
Washington crew was loaned to Montana that year.  Most of the forests
aren't
willing to commit that level of resources to the CDT.  It has been hard
enough just to get crews out to put up blazes -- you saw how well that
has
worked!  We also ran into crews near Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado.  For
two
summers they had sent out crews to rehabilitate the trail.  They dug
dozens
of drainage ditches and water bars -- and had completed about 1 1/2
miles.
When we passed through two years after that, the trail was a mess -
badly
damaged by the horses passing through wet spots.  It was sad to see.
Since
the trail is open to horses and bikes, it has to be built to standards
that
are really expensive and time consuming to build.  Then consider the
trail
in Wyoming -- south of South Pass and again near Bull Springs.  The BLM
marked routes through the desert.  When we passed through, there was no
treadway, you were supposed to thread your way through fairly dense
brush,
including prickly pear cactus.  In both places, we decided it wasn't
worth
the aggravation, and moved back to the road.  Even if there had been a
path
-- i.e. if enough horses or hikers went through to create a real trail
-- if
the trail isn't maintained, the brush will grow back again. Do you
remember
the 10 foot corridors that Pete Fish creates on the PCT?  The CDT
doesn't
have much in the way of maintaining resources.  Unlike the AT and PCT,
there
are few large population centers near the trail with maintaining
organizations, and those that do exist are really stretched thin. I
agree,
it was a real treat when we ran into good hiking trail. I remember how
good
(and strange) it felt in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness to be on 'real trail'
again after so many miles of jeep roads -- but I was also grateful for
the
dirt tracks we followed for so many miles.  They were easy to walk and
they
allowed us to look around as we hiked without too much worry about the
tread
underfoot.  We rarely ran into vehicles on our hike - they really were
no
problem at all.  Bottom line - I won't worry about it if they keep a lot
of
the jeep tracks as hiking routes.  Better a straightforward route than
no
route, or one that is unmaintained and overgrown.

Also keep in mind that once the single track is established, what you'll
have is nothing more than another AT.  There won't be alternate route
options because the maintaining agencies will be hard pressed to keep a
single route open - they won't have any interest at all in maintaining
alternate routes - or any money to do so.  And that doesn't even
consider
the AT "purism" arguments that would become as prevalent on the CDT as
they
are now on the AT.  Did you really hate the trail so much that you'd
wish
that kind of dissension on it?

The paved roads are a different matter.  What was the situation near
Rawlins?  Have they moved the trail yet off the busy highway? That was
terrifying.  How about the stretch in the Rabbit Ears?  Have they found
an
alternate to the 20 miles on roads there?

Ginny






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"Cutting the space budget really restores my faith in humanity. It
eliminates dreams, goals, and ideals and lets us get straight to the
business of hate, debauchery, and self-annihilation." -- Johnny Hart




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