[cdt-l] CDT Mapping Effort

Brett blisterfree at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 1 20:35:35 CST 2006


How influential is Backpacker magazine? And how useful are 
the CDTA guidebooks?

Most hikers who would consider hiking any distance along the 
CDT probably aren't getting their information from 
Backpacker. That leaves the casual reader, of the sort who 
probably glossed over the Grand Enchantment Trail feature of 
last April. That BP exposure netted the GET website fewer 
hits than the mere act of our good man Sly talking it up on 
various forums. (Sly would be considered a "maven" according 
to Tipping Point economic theory :)

No, interest in these sorts of routes comes not so much from 
good-intentioned mass marketing, but from within the veteran 
l-d hiking community, which is small and notoriously 
critical-thinking. If the convenience of a "completed" CDT 
map rings hollow, the community will know it, and the 
grapevine will do its thing.

And since the l-d hiking community is already acquainted 
with the limitations of the CDTA guidebooks, here again the 
community wields the greatest influence over which route 
options future hikers are likely to take. If the 
CDTA-recommended route on the map is inferior to some other 
option, then that probably means the other option is in fact 
easier (or more rewarding) than would be the act of blindly 
adhering to the map.

Still, I think an "official mapping" of the route is 
certainly not a bad idea. And it isn't fair to expect 
otherwise of CDTA, without whose ambition the trail would 
forever be little more than the obscure array of unsigned 
itineraries that some here would prefer it remain. We can't 
have it both ways. Either we promote the CDT as an official 
entity in order that it might thrive in the face of 
innumerable threats, or we pack up our soapbox and take our 
romantic notions of pioneering with us to a wilder land 
(while such lands still exist).

The typical CDT thru-hike experience will likely always be 
an unfixed itinerary. Opportunities for future hikers to 
experience the trail "unfinished, as it was" will probably 
continue to exist for some time. And those who would seek 
such personal, independent-minded journeys will also 
continue coming to this trail. No allure of nice, 
official-looking paper maps will deny such hikers the 
experiences they seek.

- blisterfree

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