[pct-l] Disrespect of the PCT

Anthony Biegen ajbiegen at gmail.com
Sat May 24 08:31:45 CDT 2014

Triple Crown thru-hiker Flippy (Sean Ansley) actually called the ranger who
took the picture of the bag of trash and note and posted what he found on
Facebook. I chatted with him a bit after I found my information about the
ranger's presentation on manipulating a fire story to better present it to
the public. He said, "I could tell from our phone conversation she was in
full backpedal mode." Here is his post from Facebook:

Lately thru-hikers have been getting blamed for a lot of trash left on the
trail, from packing in couches to Scissors Crossing (just kidding) to the
latest of leaving a bag of trash in the High Sierra with a note for someone
else to pack out. Personally I think this is misplaced blame and decided to
inquire firsthand about the incident before drawing my own conclusion from
the post below. Whatever hiker(s) left the trash, it's inexcusable.


After calling and speaking personally with Deb Schweizer (Public Affairs
Officer, Inyo National Forest) about the bag of trash she found left in the
High Sierra near Kearsarge Pass, she admitted that she really had no clue
if it was left by thru-hikers, section hikers, or weekend warriors. She
stated that she felt obligated to report the incident to the PCTA for
consideration and review.
Here are some simple observations from the article and conversation that
would lead any reasonable person familiar with thru-hiking to come to the
same conclusion:

* First it's 5/21 and almost no 'real' thru-hikers should be anywhere near
the High Sierra, much less Kearsarge Pass, especially with the weather it's
experiencing recently.

* The note states "We are back-packing the PCT" not we are thru-hiking.
While this seems to be a play on words, back to point one (thru's shouldn't
be anywhere near Kearsarge Pass). During our conversation, Ms. Schweizer
repeatedly expressed her reservations about the hikers being thru-hikers.

* The note also states "...after resupplying in town we bought too much to
carry.." and after speaking with Ms. Schweizer, the bag was left on the
trail, not the bear box/trash can as pictured. Back to point one, after
thru-hikers having hiked ~788 miles they know about how much to carry and
strip their supplies of packaging before hitting the trail. Ms. Schweizer
confirmed the contents of the trash were mostly empty juice bottles and
empty Pop-Tart boxes. What thru-hiker packs out supplies in boxes after
~788 miles of hiking and resupplying? One can barely fit their supplies in
the pack/bear canister for the High Sierra without the packaging.
I do believe that thru-hikers should be "trail ambassadors" and set the
standards of trail etiquette and LNT for the hiking community, but
shouldn't be blamed for all the problems that can't be readily explained
during thru-hiker season.

In a further chat with Sean, he added:

Based on the PowerPoint you provided and her recollection of the events,
her credibility is suspect in my opinion. I mentioned the bear box being
close by that was pictured and asked her if that's where she found the
alleged bag of trash. When she said she found it on the trail, I asked her
why she didn't take the picture of it there? She hesitated and said she
just wasn't thinking. The whole story doesn't make sense from thru-hikers
having extra garbage bags and the trash being mostly juice bottles and
Pop-Tart boxes.

It seems that a lot of people have jumped to a lot of conclusions based on
some sketchy information. The bag was found only 1.5 miles up the Kearsarge
Pass trail so it could have been left by anyone. I'm sure that there have
been other incidents on the PCT there were done by thru-hikers or
thru-hiker wannabes, but I've spent some time on the PCT every years since
2008 and haven't yet seen anything that would support righteous indignation
to the degree that you could blame all PCT thru-hikers. There's a lot of
good people out there.


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