[Cdt-l] A Grand Proposal

lynne whelden lwgear at juno.com
Thu Jan 19 14:27:21 CST 2012

I appreciate the input. At least we're talking.

I'm proposing surveyor tape (it doesn't have to be neon but what other color can be seen at a distance?) because it's cheap and it's easy to carry. You have to start somewhere. Sure, there are more attractive ways to mark a trail (signs, emblems, treadway) but we don't have any money and this would be a one-man or one-woman effort in any given section. You can think of tape as a preliminary blaze and nobody objects to blazes.

Warning: Rant ahead...

I know this isn't going to appeal to what I call the "old boy network" of hikers who want the CDT to remain forever wild. For them one nice well-placed blaze is one too many. But I don't want the "OBN" to hold me hostage either. If they don't like it, well, there are thousands upon thousands of unblazed miles on planet earth that follow some sort of geological phenomenon they can explore without putting up with actual pathways!

What's the purpose of a trail? To keep it so wild that it discourages all but the most experienced hikers? Benton MacKaye's spinning in his grave right now. Heck, if he had seen his original vision through to the end, there would be wilderness camps along the AT. I wouldn't have objected. For who among us, after hiking a trail, hasn't thought that what the "outside" world really needs is to be steeped in the wild for a long period of time? Well, if we really believe that, why do we insist that a gorgeous trail like the CDT be so difficult to follow (requiring mapping GPS loaded with the latest version, armloads of maps of various resolutions, and guidebooks full of verbal descriptions...and then we still get lost every day)? It's selfish to keep the CDT the way it is. I want the average Joe to get out there, not to be intimidated by what he perceives as an impossibly difficult trail to hike.

Rant over. Back to the proposal:

I don't think this would require much organization at all. If someone wanted to develop a central web site that broke the trail down into sections with start and end points, people (not just thru-hikers) could sign up for whatever's available. That's about all the coordination I can imagine--that plus agreeing on a few basic rules of the road (like the color of the tape). (:

Well, maybe there could be an annual AYCE dinner somewhere.

lynne whelden

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