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[pct-l] The horse issue and ALDHA-West

It seems to me the horse issue gets so much talk but so little positive
action.  Now that hiking season is nearly over along much of the PCT, some
of us have resumed stewing over horses on the PCT.  Sometimes, when this
issue is mentioned, ALDHA-West and Ray Jardine manage to find their way into
the discussion.  Bob Turner, in his post yesterday, pointed out that many
ALDHA-West members are also PCTA members.  Let me elaborate.

Ray Jardine was very outspoken in his opposition to horses in ALDHA-West's
Distance Hiker Gazette publication (1994 and 1995), when Ray ran ALDHA-West
as an extention of his publishing business.  Back then, most of the opinions
expressed in the Gazette were generally in agreement with his own (and there
was nothing wrong with that; it was his business). In October, 1995, Ray
discontinued ALDHA, and many of the subscribers formed a new, democratically
run organization complete with elected officers, bylaws, etc.  Ray, who is
still one of our members, was kind enough to let us use the ALDHA-West name.  

I have had the impression since those heady days of Ray's ALDHA-West that
many folks still associate ALDHA-West with Ray Jardine and the anti-horse
"movement".  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  As a
democratically run organization, or only condition of membership is that the
member supports long distance hiking.  You will not be denied membership or
participation based on your opinions on horses or any other issue.  We
encourage open communication, but we have no political mandate.  I have been
an officer of the "new" ALDHA since October, 1995, and not one member has
come to me to encouraged us to take a stand towards ridding the PCT of

I will also say that some of our members do feel horses should be banned,
and many feel horses are okay.  That's great.  But ALDHA-West is simply an
organization that promotes fellowship among long distance hikers.  The idea
is to bring us together, not tear us apart with divisive issues.  Besides,
we are much smaller than the PCTA or most other national organizations.

At our most recent gathering earlier this month, one of our members, O.D.
Coyote, came to the meeting with an extensive manifesto mostly full of his
rebuttals of David Porter's "Trail Name" article in the Gazette.  At first I
feared that this would become another divisive issue.  In the end, happily,
we had some fun with it and we left with no hard feelings.  

Personally, I would rather not jump into the debate about horses.  I am not
an equestrian, and I feel uncomfortable near such large animals.  Many of
the posts here have some great ideas on how to mitigate the damage caused by
horse traffic on the PCT.

Yesterday, Carol Barrett, an equestrian user of the PCT, told us she rarely
sees hiker groups repairing the trails.  The reality is that many hikers
volunteer hundreds of hours for trail maintenance.  But Carol correctly
pointed out that equestrian groups have adopted trail sections to maintain.
I appreciate their efforts, and the hikers' efforts, too!  

Carol also mentioned her annual trail ride in the Piutes, which is very
close to the severely damaged area near Bird Spring Pass caused by ILLEGAL
motorcycle use of the PCT.  In my opinion, this area is the most significant
example of trail misuse and abuse along the entire 2600+ mile route.  In
1995 a BLM employee from that district told me they had only $2,000 in their
annual budget for trail maintenance.  That's paltry attention to correct a
huge problem.  To have a positive impact on the PCT, I suggest hikers and
equestrians focus on where we can work together to keep our trail healthy!

Roger Carpenter
Secretary/Treasure, ALDHA-West

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