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[cdt-l] Miscellany

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

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?


"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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