[Cdt-l] A grand proposal

Sean Staplin seanstaplin at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 05:46:09 CST 2012

Travis, I like your take. I am planning on hiking the CDT in the next
couple of years and what attracts me to the CDT is the uncertainty and
organic nature of the experience it offers. I would much rather follow a
compass bearing than look through the woods for another piece of flagging

I think I posted to the list this time:)
On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 12:31 AM, Brett <blisterfree at yahoo.com> wrote:

> A few thoughts about "the grand proposal" -
> First, thinking outside the box is always a good start. Thanks for that.
> Trail maintenance can be a tough sell to thru-hikers during their journey,
> yet ironically that's when it could do much good, since it's the
> thru-hikers who patrol the entire trail and its various corridors most
> intensively, and the thru-hikers coming along behind you that year stand
> most to benefit from it. The best approach would be to coordinate efforts
> so everyone does a small but important share of the work, but that kind of
> coordination is even less likely to get off the ground. Thru-hiking the CDT
> is a commitment unto itself.
> Rogue maintenance of this sort is usually limited to brushing and felling
> small limbs. Sometimes this can help to better define the corridor, but
> often it's second fiddle to more substantial work like tread improvement or
> even realignment, which is beyond the scope of the solo or small, mobile
> group outing.
> Cairning is generally preferable to flagging, at least if the cairns are
> built large enough to be visible over longer distances (when necessary).
> Flagging is the fast and dirty approach, but most flagging tape won't
> survive more than a year or two in the sun or cold, so it takes a
> continuous effort to mark the trail this way, ultimately adding up to more
> man hours that could be better spent elsewhere. Then there's the aesthetic
> concern, at least along a trail that historically hasn't been marked that
> way, at least with any regularity. Flagging can sometimes be useful on
> obscure sections of singletrack trail, especially at junctions. But it's
> best limited to the purpose of resolving genuine "WTF" moments, where
> you're not marking the trail "just because" but out of reasonable
> assumption that the next hiker would not enjoy the hell you just endured
> trying to figure out where to go. These worst-case situations are
> increasingly rare along the CDT, as hikers increasingly make all the
> mistakes there are to make and then report them to Jonathan and the
> guidebook authors, etc.
> Signing, as opposed to either cairning or flagging, avoids all ambiguity
> about what the markings might mean. Flagging, especially, is notoriously
> generic in nature, usually blaze orange, and might mark anything from the
> CDT to a surveyor's line for a property boundary. How do you know? You
> don't, unless it's marked with some identifying words or symbols. And what
> if the next hiker isn't using the same color tape? CDT-specific signing,
> such as the official tree blaze emblems or carsonite posts, resolve any
> ambiguity, but who would have the authority to put these up? Probably not
> you or me. And for good reason: we might not mark the correct route, which
> in this case would obviously be limited to the official route promoted by
> the CDTA and recognized by federal agencies. Based on how often hikers end
> up going their own way, either by choice or force, confidence in
> outsourcing this task to anyone that doesn't operate at the glacially slow
> pace of federal bureaucracy would probably be ruled unfit for duty.
> Thru-hikers and other knowledgeable and passionate trail advocates can
> certainly play a bigger role in developing and maintaining the CDT. But
> without an organization grubstaking work events with manpower and
> equipment, serving as liaison to the federal agencies that oversee the
> trail corridor, and getting people from the surrounding communities
> actively involved in the process, there's a heck of a lot of inertia
> standing in our way. Probably the same inertia that left the CDTA poor and
> disillusioned. The remoteness of the CDT, and the combination of rugged
> individualism, quirky tribalism, and laissez-fair that defines the nature
> of the trail's most eager advocates and users, all conspire against a
> well-grounded, grassroots campaign to get the trail fully off the ground in
> the way of the PCT or AT. Some of the CDT's most shining attributes keep
> the notion of taming it, even in ways many of us might appreciate, ever
> elusive.
> --- On *Thu, 1/19/12, cdt-l-request at backcountry.net <
> cdt-l-request at backcountry.net>* wrote:
> Message: 3
> Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:18:29 -0700
> From: Travis Naibert <tnaibert at gmail.com<http://mc/compose?to=tnaibert@gmail.com>
> >
> Subject: Re: [Cdt-l] A grand proposal
> To: cdt-l at backcountry.net <http://mc/compose?to=cdt-l@backcountry.net>
> Message-ID:
>     <CADU6-wbtkDdem+AfmnNmX6tZBquxA-faS1GOLHxdORFfQUJAaw at mail.gmail.com<http://mc/compose?to=AfmnNmX6tZBquxA-faS1GOLHxdORFfQUJAaw@mail.gmail.com>
> >
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> Though I like the idea of trail maintenance and trail markers in some
> locations (such as meadows with no obvious exit point, unmapped
> 4x4/ATV road intersections, etc.) I would be horrified to hike the CDT
> and see neon tape in the trees every 100 yards. I just hiked the trail
> last year, so I don't consider myself an old traditionalist, but one
> of the great things about the CDT is that it is not the type of trail
> that you plug in your ipod/pick a lunch spot exactly X.X miles
> away/put your map away/and walk zombielike (well, except for the road
> walks). The best part about it is that it is a participatory adventure
> involving constant attention to the landscape and to the
> maps/guidebooks (shout out to Ley and Wolf, thanks!). And, no offense
> to Lynne or anybody else, but if you think that <60 hikers a year
> walking through an area following tape is going to create a permanent
> trail in the arid rockies you are mistaken. The reason that the trail
> is so hard to find in many places, even those that the forest
> service/BLM has "maintained", is the low number of hikers that
> actually hike the trail. This includes very low numbers of day/weekend
> hikers on many parts of the trail. I, for one, consider that part of
> the appeal of the CDT and don't mind the bushwacking that may be
> required often. If I wanted a well manicured trail that is well
> trodden I would repeat my PCT hike, which is packed down by hundreds
> of thru-hikers and thousands of day/weekenders, instead of just a few
> dozen people a year.
> The other problem with neon tape is that in some places it will
> attract the wrong kind of use (ATVs, Dirtbikes, etc.)
> I do really like the wiki idea though. This past year Freebie made a
> CDT 2011 facebook page and most of the SOBOs were on it and some NOBOs
> too. We all posted trail conditions, water info, town
> conditions/restaurant and hotel deals, etc. It was neat to get to town
> and see what the people ahead of you were posting. I think this would
> be cool on a wikipedia page, as it could get updated year to year.
> I have a "lesser proposal" than Lynne's adopt-a-section. What if the
> CDTS sent a half dozen CDT emblems to each hiker who orders a
> guidebook or becomes a member and then people could "adopt" one or two
> or six difficult and/or unmarked trail junctions while they are hiking
> by putting up an emblem. This way the route would organically become
> less difficult without having to see neon tape all over the place. I
> carry a sharpie when i hike to make notes for other hikers if needed.
> It would be useful for writing alternate route junctions on the CDT
> markers, too.
> Suspect (2011)
> _______________________________________________
> 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/20120119/19cdd3ae/attachment.html 

More information about the Cdt-l mailing list