[Cdt-l] Fwd: See SPOT run...

Jim and_or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 4 00:08:27 CST 2010

Jonathon - 
Those exact words were the battle cry in 1997 over cell phones.  They started a flame war that 
went on for months, generated something over 6000 posts and made more enemies than George 
Bush has.  
The difference is simple ...and subtle.  There are those, like Mags and me and Ginny, who understand 
that the freedom of a thruhike is liimited if one carries a lifeline to the outside world, if you're willing 
to split your mind, your life, and your hike between two worlds. You can deny that 
if you wish, you can carry a SPOT, or a GPS or a cell phone is you want.  I don't care what anyone else 
does in that respect.  But as has been said before, it starts with the argument, progresses to an attitude 
that it won't affect ones thruhke, then slides into an expectation that one MUST carry (whatever) in order 
to be "safe".    And then hardens into anattitude that those who don't/won't  "carry" are irresponsible, 
selfish, stupid, unsafe and a whole gaggle of other negative adjectives. 
And some of that may or may not be true.  But what is also true is that if one is "checking in" every day - or 
every week - on a "schedule" with the specter of dealing with SAR if one fails to do so, then it WILL affect 
the hike. And it won't make it any safer, because that check-in won't stop the slide on the snow that breaks 
ones leg or the tree branch that falls and hits you or the bear attack that leaves you bleeding.  Not that I 
know of ANY thruhiker ever enountering that last situation -  it's just something many people imagine.  
The other side of the coin is that those who "carry" never know what it is that they've missed. Most of 
them think that their hike is just as good as everyone else's.  Maybe for them, it is.  But I seriously doubt 
it.  And I know that their hike would be unsatisfactory for me. 
Personally, I once owned a GPS.  After using it in Alaska for navigation (just once) and then using it to 
waypoint water sources in New Mexico for those who apparently can't find them on their own, I sent it 
home from Lordsburg.  After finishing the CDT I gave it away.  It was a time waster with respect to navigation 
and it wasn't worth carrying the weight.  
We also carried a cell phone on the AT and PCT this year.  Didn't do a damn thing for us except increase 
the pack weight.  
On the PCT last year, I tore the meniscus in my right knee just north of Walker Pass.  One of the other hikers 
had a SPOT and offered to call me a helicopter.  I think I shocked her when I told her that I'd rather crawl the 
9 or 10 miles to the highway than do that.  My attitude is that if you get yourself into the situation, and then depend 
on technology to get you out, then you have no business being out there in the first place. 
For better or worse, I'm a dinosaur.  I live by a different set of values than many of todays hikers.  And I understand 
Ed Abbey's words completely.  I am willing to accept the consequences if necessary.  That means that I'm better 
prepared than those who do "carry" in both training and attitude.  I've done the First Aid and Navigation courses.  
We do the planning so we'll know what the alternatives are at any given point on the trail and we carry maps that 
will show us how/where to bail if it becomes necessary.  How many other hikers  do so?  
Y'all realize, I hope, I haven't actually hiked "solo in nearly 20 years - and not likely I will again.  I would if necessary 
but Ginny would shoot me if I left her behind.   
But our attitude - that the freedom, the solitude is worth the risk - after all these years, that still remains.  The obsessive 
safety culture that most of this country lives with is a form of self-delusion, but I won't beat that horse either right now. 
In any case, I'm not gonna tell anyone to "carry" or not.  Nor will I give you all the arguments against.  Those who 
understand (and there seem to be a few here - as I would expect) will have a different experience than those who 
don't. But I will tell you that if you expect me to "carry" you'll be disappointed.    
Walk softly,



Date: Fri, 3 Dec 2010 08:48:20 -0800
From: jonathan at phlumf.com
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net
Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] Fwd: See SPOT run...

I'm not sure I understand the animosity to technology... I mean, goretex, nylon, pop-tarts... they're all only possible because of very complex technology. So are all the maps and other trail navigation information anyone produces. As for being connected - people have online journals they update at each town stop - sometimes each day. They have cell phones... Isn't a SPOT just a better implementation of a cell/satellite phone? People don't complain too much about being connected via e-mail or cell phones (well, some do), so what magical threshold does a SPOT cross? Should we all be wearing animal skins, and eating game we shot with our bow & arrow? Writing journals in caves with finger paint?

These are all tools. Sure, they can turn into a crutch or be abused like any other tool, but they can also be life-savers. I've seen similar arguments about avalanche beacons (and we'll likely hear those all again this winter). In all these cases, there seems to be one constant - your most important equipment is inside your skull.  Any tool can be abused by a moron who doesn't know how to use it. If someone presses the SPOT button because they have a blister, or gets hypothermic because they wrongly thought their new jacket will protect them, or wanders across a dangerous avalanche path because they thought a beacon would save them... the fault isn't with the tool, it's with the person using it. 

Personally, I probably wouldn't use a SPOT on the CDT just because I'm cheap, and don't feel like carrying yet another thing. Instead, I'd make sure that someone (someone who isn't paranoid) had my itinerary, and I'd check in at each stop... I think that's what most people do. But, I could envision taking a trip to more remote locales where a SPOT would be welcome... and I'd be happy to hike on the CDT with someone who had a SPOT - heck, more insurance, and I don't have to pay or carry the thing. 

On 12/3/2010 7:51 AM, ks1007 at aol.com wrote: 

I don't think that I have seen it written anywhere that all MUST carry a SPOT but after seeing it in person actually saving a human (and 2 goats) lives it sure makes me wonder about the value of someones life not having it along just in case it's needed especially if you are hiking solo - there is also nothing that says you need to "ping" nightly or at all - rudy (cupcake) learned the hard way about giving his family his itinerary - if he didn't ping them they got worried and called the place where "he should be" next - we got a call from Paris, France and so did julie in san lorenzo - I told him to not give out his itinerary of where and when he should be next that he would just call when he got there but he still had the SPOT just in case
fine - you don't want to carry one then don't - your choice - but don't try to sway others by saying they will lose their "freedom" by carrying one

el coyote
Keith and Mary
Trail Angels
Deming, NM

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Magnanti <pmags at yahoo.com>
To: matthew lee <heymatthewlee at gmail.com>
Cc: CDT MailingList <cdt-l at backcountry.net>
Sent: Thu, Dec 2, 2010 10:09 pm
Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] See SPOT run...

ps. maybe the article resonates less now that your website has them as sponsor? :)

Paul "Mags" Magnanti
The true harvest of my life is intangible.... a little stardust 
caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched

Cdt-l mailing list
Cdt-l at backcountry.net

Cdt-l mailing list
Cdt-l at backcountry.net

_______________________________________________ Cdt-l mailing list Cdt-l at backcountry.net http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/cdt-l 		 	   		  
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/cdt-l/attachments/20101204/d2f351c3/attachment.html 

More information about the Cdt-l mailing list