[pct-l] Troublemakers

Mike Douglass mdouglass3 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 15:44:03 CST 2016

So far I have hiked Campo to Washington St line (will do WA section this
year) in years 13, 14, 15. I am usually behind the pack, solo. First, I
have found the trail to be incredibly "clean", no trash no litter.
OK...once every 2 or 3 days I find something. But not much. Never saw a
burning camp fire. Never saw a bicycle.

I also have not run into any other hiker issues at all. And, I ask in town,
or motel, or store, or RV park if there have been any problems. I get OK
answers. Some bad, but mostly good, And, even if bad it is depicted as a
one-off vs everyone. No one is hating on all hikers at all.

That is just what I have seen and heard first hand

On Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 8:49 AM, Mike Belanger <mikes4b22 at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Hello All,
> Name's Mike, a first-time and hopeful 2016
> thru-hiker from the foothills of the Sierras. Now if I'm out of line,
> please
> rein me in by all means but I'll just call it like I see it for now. In
> response to the December/January threads I needed to state the following
> Personally, I am appalled and horrified in reading this thread about the
> actions
> of others and have heard the horror stories of hiker encounters in-town
> firsthand. It was really troubling for me to have heard this account from a
> co-worker where he encountered a group of hikers at a local business. I
> honestly felt ashamed and embarrassed for the behavior of other people.
> First
> thing people to need understand is that bad news travels far and wide (the
> trail is a long way from the Bay Area where I currently reside and where I
> heard the aforementioned story which took place in Oregon...even farther),
> which
> brings negative publicity to the trail community regardless of the behavior
> being condoned or not. This creates incentive for all of us who intend to
> benefit
> from the trail for many years to come.
> Having no personal experience myself, I will draw on what others have
> said. I
> can understand people want to have fun, but there needs to exist some
> limits.
> On the trail, you're hiking your own hike. If you're not affecting the
> experience of others or the trail in a negative way, do what thou wilt...in
> moderation. In-town, you are an ambassador for the trail community so we
> need
> to act in the appropriate manner. Ya know, include those "Pleases"
> and "Thank You's" your mothers all undoubtedly ground into from about
> the time you started walking, be conscience of how the locals see you, or
> more
> simply, just do not offer the locals to kick your friend in the balls for
> a dollar.
> I know, right? How the communities around the trail see the hiker 'trash'
> that
> rolls through their homes and businesses can only stay in the positive
> light
> with some positive steps to change the entitlement mentality.
> The simple fact is that individual encounters with the outside world
> (okay, the
> inside/other world set apart from the trail) can and do shape the opinions
> and
> actions taken relating to our hiking community and do have lasting effects.
> Whether hitching a ride into town, talking to townsfolk at a local
> business, or
> the many interactions with trail angels along the way, it needs to be
> emphasized that we are the ambassadors for each other. I'd propose
> publicizing
> this fact on hiker podcasts (the Trail Show and Sounds of the Trail come to
> mind) and hearing it from every person at the ADZPCTKO will engrain this
> into
> conscience.
> Another facet, like others have said, should really include the troops on
> the
> ground, namely the other 95% of us who were taught manners. We need to
> self-police ourselves and our friends. If we wait for outside forces to
> react,
> we will lose the lore and everything else people have come to love about
> the
> trail. The towns will hang "Hikers not welcome" signs and the trail
> angels will withhold their spontaneous and thoughtful contributions. If the
> problem derives from group-think, we need to severe the head. In the least,
> don't participate in groups with these knuckleheads. The best thing,
> however,
> would be to attack the alpha. Don't go full frontal assault right off the
> bat
> but ramp up the pressure incrementally and respond with force (NOT
> physical)
> in-kind.
> First, pull them aside and bring to their attention the negative influence
> they
> are having on the group, the PCT community, and the trail community at
> large.
> Many individuals and groups are not self-aware enough to see the error in
> their
> ways or how others perceive them (do any of you remember being 18-25,
> immaturity is simply a phase...usually). If that doesn't seem to work,
> confront
> the alpha in front of the group or the group itself if need be. The best
> way to
> fight egos is to confront them, call them out. This is what we're really
> dealing with because there is NO way individuals would act the way they do
> on-trail like they would at grandma's house. Bring it to the light and let
> the
> peer pressure do the rest.This of course takes a sort of ordinary courage
> many of us
> have but refuse to or are afraid to exercise, but all of us have it
> because we're all on the trail, attempting a bad-rump feat and a monumental
> undertaking for first-timers. Fight through the fear of your own ego and
> the
> rewards will ultimately be worth it.
> If groups still can't take a hint, as a last
> resort, shun them. This is a community after all, the evolution of the
> primitive tribe, and in tribalism the problem children were set apart from
> the
> rest, excommunicated. Communicate through the network that these people
> are no
> longer welcome and take the appropriate steps within the community to
> severe
> ties so the trail towns know 'they' are not 'us'. Don't help the bear or
> feed
> the troll.
> Sorry for the long-winded response but this is important stuff and I felt
> moved
> to comment. With all of that being said (/written), we can't simply
> abandon the
> trail to the roving hooligan horde or the PCT will become the AT, and the
> will become both in time. Positive steps for positive change.
> Assuming I am able to go this year, and I've been truly thinking of nothing
> but, I will hold myself personally accountable to these standards. Though,
> being only human, I may need the occasional reminder from the likes of you
> all
> you out there. Hope to see you all out there under the sun! God bless and
> 'Get
> on tha trail!'
> Mike Belanger
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