Putting My Best Foot Forward

by Calendar Hacksaw

Each year about now, the remote, solitary expanses of the Piutes and Southern Sequoia are silently invaded by a large contingent of migratory transients. It is their sole purpose to keep moving, and it should be the inherent responsibility of each of us to make certain nothing impedes the progress of this "army on the march," lest we incur a wrath so vile, so filled with hatred, it might cause us to abandon our homesteads on a minute's notice. The invective of this legion suggests an insidious cross-pollination of human fire ants and killer bees; products of dubious parenting and indulgence. They are the Pacific Crest Trail hikers.

I am certain there are many decent PCT hikers; after all, I am one of them, and a few of you are fairly decent as well, accordin' to rumors. In the past, during moments of exceptionally low brain activity and sub-standard motivation, I have sauntered on over to the PCT crossing near my ample spread to loiter a bit in hopes of meeting up with some tired soul just completing the ascent from Monolith. Surely, she would have some interesting tales to tell, and if the day was wearing thin, I might even invite her over for a good Tri-Tip and a few cups of cheap white wine. But, alas; I no longer harbor such feelings of charity, having peeked inside the secret lair of this cult and witnessed its evil. No longer will I leave an unopened can of MGD and a Fence Post inside the trail register (except perhaps copies of this column). Permit me to explain.

For the past year or two, I have subscribed to the Pacific Crest Trail Digest, an on-line, e-mail forum for those who dream of making the trek from Mexico to Canada, and vice versa, or just some portion thereof.

From this I have learned that PCT hikers are given to an unlimited variety of "rants." They hate most everything and everyone, including each other. Dogs on the trail are a sin. Horses are a sin. And it goes without saying that off-road vehicles are the work of the devil, regardless of their purpose. Never mind that the PCTA maintenance and repair crews make regular use of pack animals and--God forbid--gasoline powered vehicles to transport tools and workers from campsite to jobsite in order to get the work done. And, never mind that coyotes make their deposits on every flat white rock in the middle of the path; let a domesticated canine even so much as lift a foreleg within 100 yards of the trail and you would think the Exxon Valdez had run aground in Landers Meadow. There is no tolerance for anyone or anything except the individual doing the writing, for he--and he alone--is the only "True Shepard of the Trail."

Their invective is not restricted to animals and machines; much of it is directed toward each other. Whether the topic be hiking boots, sleeping bags, tents, rainwear, dehydrated foods, trail sex, water purification, bear canisters or mosquito repellent, each writer is quick to tell all the others how absolutely insidious and stupid are their ideas, techniques and favored products when compared to the reasoned superiority of their own. They do not sign their works or otherwise reveal their true identities, instead leaving nothing more than a scat-trail of nicknames and monikers, such as "TrailHead," "MeFirst" or "Loser."

A few erect elaborate Internet websites to celebrate their journeys, in hopes that friends and enemies alike will take the opportunity to voice an opinion about their undertaking. Here are a couple of examples for those of you having Net access unconstrained by the church: <http://www.pcthiker.com> and <>. That should keep you sufficiently irritated.

I feel an obligation to point out that the PCT Digest is not owned or sponsored in any way by the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), which deserves tremendous credit for its volunteer members who go to great lengths to ensure that the trail is cleared and maintained to the highest standard, regardless of the quality of the folks who travel it. On the contrary; for all its efforts, the PCTA deserves better.

About once a week, a new voice will appear. The posting will read like this: "I am planning a thru-hike beginning May 15th, and am looking for a hiking partner." Well, let ol' Calendar give you a word of advice: get a dog or a horse! I can not imagine a fate worse than being saddled for months on end with some ingrate or boor who feels it necessary to hide behind a pseudonym in order to avoid any personal responsibility for his writings and opinions. I mean, where do these people get off?

PCT hikers add nothing to our local economy, passing as they do a score or more miles to the east. Oh, sure, a disoriented one will occasionally wander down through Back Canyon in search of food, water or a mating partner, but the locals have become quite adept at relocating these so-called "problem hikers" without inflicting any lasting injuries, most of the time. I never seen one yet with any folding money or a credit card on her person, and believe me, I've searched 'em high and low. They claim such non-essentials add too much weight to the backpack.

But maybe there is a way we could make a nickel off this sorry lot. For the sake of argument, and there's sure to be some, let's say we get us a wireless "doorbell" and a jitney. The tired hikers ring the bell, and we dispatch the "Twin Oaks Safari Cruiser" to pick 'em up and drag 'em back into town, where they've already established $20 credit accounts in advance (and we all know $20 goes a long ways in Twin Oaks). So they sleep a bit, eat a bit, drink a bit, pick up their re-supply packages (plus 20% mark-up), cross-pollinate with the locals, then the bus takes them back to the trail, and we're none the worse for wear. Plus, they avoid that long walk to Von's Pavilion in Onyx. Everyone's happy.

So, is it a deal? Or would erecting a solid barricade of razor wire be a better idea?

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <calendar@usa.net> and <twistedsisters@hotmail.com> and he wishes he could play with your imagination every morning, but the Fence Post refuses to allow it, falling back on that tired old "what's best for the community" excuse.

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