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[pct-l] Re: Once more into the breach (horse debate)

A humble opinion re. horses on the PCT.:  I hiked all but 132 mi. of the PCT
in 97  & saw but 17 horses on the trail, total!  Near Tehachapi I met a lady
with two horses in tow who was bringin' bottled water (factory sealed!) & a
trash bag up 2 the trail 4 hikers...she lives just off the trail and on
weekends provides this service (which accounted for 2 horses).   Later in the
Sierras I took a wrong trail & a  rancher steered me back 2 the PCT  (I don't
incl. the 2 horses from this Ncounter as part of the 17 who were on the PCT).
Total equine Ncounters:  a commercial train of 5 payin' customers w/1 wrangler
vic. Mammouth Lake,  2 sightin's of ridin' instructors w/1student, 1 "train"
of 2 packers w/a 3rd horse, and the others were day-trippers.  
        My feelin' is that horse-people do more good for the PCTA and
potentially 4 hikers than horses do damage to the trail and/or inconvenience
hikers.  The riders lend strength in numbers to the PCTA and I suspect that
horsemen are prepared to help out hikers in distress more than hikers can aid
the horsemen.  Hikers are more apt to get into trouble out there than are
packers (if for no other reason than their sheer numbers), and horsepeople
probably spend more time in the backwoods looking for hikers than the reverse.
This is only a guess but I bet the riders even do more maintenance, per
capita, than hikers (many of whom disappear after their adventure, as opposed
2 horse folx who remain local).  Because a thru-ride is such a rarity,
especially when compared to thru-hikin', horse people are more available for
trail maintenance and SAR (Search &  Rescue) than are hikers, per capita/trail
miles.  In the reality department, since horse accessability was part of the
very foundation of the PCT, even prior 2 the NST Act., horses are on the trail
to stay.  Bottom line, I found horses to be no great problem on the trail
('tho their traces in the form of apples and torn-up trail are readily
apparent) and I think they have a place on the trail equal to that of hikers
(and I don't ride).  Now, if we can just keep those bikers off...I saw about 8
bikes, evidence of others, plus even the occasional off-road motorbike tracks
on the trail...that's where the real tough problem is likely 2 B, and soon.
Yrs., & Happy Trails, Wanchor
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