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Archive for November, 2006

Skamania Lodge, WA

I decided to have a late breakfast and found myself at the Skamania lodge brunch. I was thinking some oatmeal or maybe a muffin. Instead I am gaining much unneeded weight as I feast on eggs benedict, salmon hash, Alaskan King Crab, and a ridiculous assortment of other foods presented under ice sculptures at three theme stations. The food is wonderfully good, the abundance incredible, and the service remarkable, yet I find myself disturbed by the lavish lifestyle while I think about the ever growing wealth inequity around the world and here in the good ol US of A. .

I am here at the invitation of the PCTA board of Directors who asked me to speak at their Friday dinner. The topic was conservation issues along the PCT from a thru hiker perspective. I showed slides and emphasized areas of concern including off road vehicle use, poor timber management practices, maintenance issues, and by far the most important issues facing the fundamental integrity of the trail – securing the land base of the PCT corridor. Approximately 250 miles (10%) of the PCT and tens of thousands of corridor acres is on private property and much of this property is directly in the path of what the Bonniville dam and power tour (I took the tour yesterday) described as “progress”. What an outrageous assertion. The Columbia river, once the grandest in the Pacific north west with an annual anadromous fish run totally in the tens of millions, has been reduced to a series of silted in lakes behind dams where 80% of all the fish are raised in hatcheries and even then their number only total in the hundred of thousands range. Progress.

I think the presentation went very well but in retrospect I was to hard on the PCTA and particularly the trails operation director for what I perceive as slow progress. To be critical of this group is inappropriate and certainly not effective.

Here is what I finished my presentationj with. So, I leave you with a challenge. I challenge you as individuals and I challenge you as an organization. You have an opportunity to put life into these years – to make them count. To preserve wild places, to provide and ecological corridor between Mexico and Canada, and to establish a conservation legacy worthy of Clinton Clark’s vision. The scope of the undertaking is enormous, and like thru-hiking it will be hard. So Be it. It will require an unrelenting commitment, hundreds of millions of dollars, political will, and a much stronger citizen volunteer organization. But most importantly it will require leadership and that leadership must come from each of you. Thank you.

I had heard about Post Hiker Depression (PHD) but I did not anticipate being impacted by it. Well it has been real and it has been tough. I find myself easily frustrated as I deal with the unimportant crap of urban living and my inability to move forward in any meaningful way.

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