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[ft-l] Day hike or thruhike

In a message dated 1/3/00 10:33:51 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
cstrohme@com1.med.usf.edu writes:

> My
>  own preference is toward day hikes on local trails. I don't understand the
>  emphasis on the FNST as opposed to local trails.

It's simple.  If we develop our Trail with the long distance hiker in mind, 
we broaden the appeal of the Trail to more users.  That's not to imply that 
long distance hikers are "better" than other users.  They just help us keep 
our focus -- which by the way is stated very clearly in membership 
correspondence from the FTA -- that we need to work on the weak links to make 
the dream of a single connected Florida Trail a reality someday.

Some chapters have been myopic in their trail building and maintenance 
habits, allocating too many resources to the well-used trails in their region 
at the expense of some parts of the trail that are only of interest to the 
long distance hiker.  These sections become overgrown, poorly marked, and 
actually push the dream of a completed Trail further into the future.  By 
focusing some attention to the needs of the long distance hiker, we can 
allocate our resources better and make the Florida Trail a reality instead of 
a dream.

None of this is meant to denigrate the day-hiker or weekend user.  Usage by 
long distance hikers of the Appalachian Trail, which is the granddaddy of 
long distance hiking trails, amounts to only about 2% of all hikers annually. 
 Overwhelmingly, it is used for day hikes, picnics, nature study, etc.  But 
the Trail garners its publicity and desirability by being a 2,160 mile trail 
through 14 states with a wonderful history of colorful characters such as 
Earl Shaffer, Grandma Gatewood, Ed Garvey and many, many others.  It has 
achieved an identity -- a soul -- that we don't have, but need, for the 
Florida Trail.  If we keep the completion, maintenance, access and blazing of 
the Florida Trail as our top priorities, I'm very confident that our Trail 
can become a jewel for thruhikers as well as dayhikers.  There is no conflict 
between the groups.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear   
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