[cdt-l] cdt-l Digest, Vol 44, Issue 26

erin at ridethegreatdivide.com erin at ridethegreatdivide.com
Mon Jun 25 22:04:14 CDT 2007

I'd like to say first that I appreciate everyone on this list being civil to my
issues with the trail.  At trailforums.com, people were a little less polite.
Something about horse "pies" and animal cruelty ;)

I'm at Ghost Ranch right now, again frustrated, but feeling more proactive and
heartened by the almost entirely horse accesible trail from Circle A to here. 
The trail between Mount Taylor and Cuba was maddening for me.  The New Mexico
Mountain Club has done a beautiful job constructing trail in the area; I just
wish I could have enjoyed more of it.  I thought the country was beautiful and
the trail well done.  The weather and terrain was a little hard on the mules, but
with the exception of Mesa Portales, they championed through it.  What drove me
nuts was the walk-through gates installed all along the route.  A horse has no
chance of getting through one of these.  I passed at least 12, maybe more, and
only three of these had a horse passable gate anywhere nearby.  One I had to
detour 3 miles to find a way through the fence, and another I had to completely
abandon the trail in the Ignacio Chavez and try to find the road (an illegally
locked BLM gate was also at fault, but even that was at least 2 or 3 miles away
from the walk-through).  Both of these kept me from reaching water for the
evening.  For the rest of them I had to dismantle fence near the gate and
reassemble.  Each of these took from 15 minutes to three quarters of an hour to
get by and posed a safety risk to my stock.

Now I understand when trail crews have not yet had an opportunity to put in a
gate.  What's frustrating is when they have and intentionally or not excluded me.
At a couple of the walk-throughs I could see what used to be a barbed wire gate
now wired shut.  The Ignacio-Chavez portion of the trail is adopted by the
Backcountry Horsemen, the trail is clearly marked as horse accessible, and it has
these gates.  Installing a barbed wire gate next to each of these would have
taken an additional 10 minutes, maximum.  So that I'm not just a whiner ;), I'm
hoping to be able to take some time next summer to install some horse accessible
gates myself in the area.  Does anyone have an issue with plain barbed wire gates
in addition to the

In addition, the Mesa Portales trail is entirely impassable by stock.  I'd even
say it's borderline suicidal.  If you try to skirt around the base of the mesa to
550, you're risking arrest for trespassing. The rancher who owns that land does
not like the trail.  Trust me, I ended having to do quite a bit of fast talking
to get my animals off his property.

The crux of this issue is that the trail was established as a hiker AND
equestrian trail and in some sections the horses are being left out of the
equation. This is not acceptable. The horse community is taking an active role in
this trail. Backcountry Horseman is helping construct trail segments all over the
country and there are stock users who want to be on this trail.

I am not suggesting that existing sections that are horse impassable but hiker
friendly be removed from the official trail. I understand that the Mesa Portales
and Zuni-Acoma are spectacular.  In those instances, an alternate route that is
also largely or entirely off-road needs to be developed. However, no new trail
sections should be constructed that are not horse friendly. I'm not saying that
they have to be easy, perfectly groomed trails 8ft wide, 10ft tall, but perhaps
no rebar sticking out of constructed rock steps ;)

Ginny and Jim, I hadn't heard of Joanne.  Do y'all have any other information on
her.  I just know the only person The Long Riders Guild knows about is Jayme
Feary from last year.  I hadn't been able to find anything on anyone else.  As
for James Peak and the Idaho-Montana line, we'll figure it out when we get there :)

Treehuggin' Cowgrl
Erin Zwiener

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