[cdt-l] Keep Smilin'

RICHARD MALLERY dickebird at gmail.com
Fri Jan 19 10:54:56 CST 2007

I would just like to say that this is a great list of kindred spirits. We
don't have to agree on everything. Debate is healthy. We will not settle the
bootheel or many other conflicts here--but not talking about them will not
make them go away. What will alleviate a lot of confusion for new hikers to
the trail is information. Armed with information they will make their
choices. I do not want my recent postings to leave the impression on those
new to the trail that it is a dangerous or hostile environment out there.
Quite the opposite. I camped just outside Littleton the day of the Columbine
shooting spree on my way to the trail. Watching the news you would think the
world had gone mad--and not a safe place to wander. I spent the next five
months meeting friendly, helpful, generous people along this most
spectacular of long trails in the world. Do not make the mistake of
visualizing ranchers as unfriendly, gun-totting, anti-federalist. They are
just good, hard working people. I met three before I even made it to Pie
Town. All gave me water and area information. I, like you, must be the
Chamber of Commerce for hikers. I talked about the low impact practices of
backpackers and their respect for the land and property. If I came to a
fence made of brittle ocotillo post (often) I didn't climb over and break it
down like those negligent elk who still think its their land. I belly
crawled under. I left gates the way I found them. Common sense and common
courtesy will take you across the country with little problem in the way of
relationships. Backpackers do have some perception problem from those who do
not understand us.

I'm in Northern Lower Michigan. We are called Trolls. No, really Ben. People
in the UP (Upper Peninsula) call us below the Mackinaw Bridge--Trolls.
Anyway, the North Country Trail goes through here. One of the funniest
stories I use doing speaking engagements is about Senator Mack, a political
curmudgeon from the UP. He opposed the North Country Trail. At one meeting
he said, "Those backpackers come to town and all they bring is one dollar
and one pair of underwear--And they don't change either one of them."

Now you and I know that is only half true. If there's a strawberry milkshake
to be had that dollar is history.

Anyway, I hope we are all parting this debate as friends. I know I'm happy,
Bruce is buying the beer. I'm Irish, I don't forget promises like that. I
also want to thank Sly for letting these post continue when some wanted them
stopped. That's what a list like this is all about. --Keep Smilin' Dick E.
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