Published Jul 30, 2015
Here in the South, we use the word "fussing" for all types of non-lethal arguments, disputes and/or controversies.
Fussing certainly applies to the ... difference of perspectives ... between the leaders of Baxter State Park and the leaders of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy as to whether their goals are compatible.
A) Scott Jurek's finish atop Baxter Peak in Baxter State Park -- the highest mountain in Maine -- was a fitting place to celebrate his unique physical feat of running the length of the Appalachian Trail faster than any other hiker, walker or runner. Scott's triumph of man vs. Trail was perfected by running up "Mount Katahdin." Friends, supporters and strangers met him there to commemorate his triumphant gallop to glory.
B) Scott Jurek's finish atop Baxter Peak in Baxter State Park -- the highest mountain in Maine -- was not a fitting place to celebrate his unique physical feat of running the length of the Appalachian Trail faster than any other hiker, walker or runner. Scott's irreverent festivities with friends, supporters and strangers were held at a sacred spot devoted to remaining a wilderness forever. He tarnished his victory, albeit a victory that deserves accolades and praise ... that should have been celebrated somewhere else.
There's a four-lane divided highway near my home that leads to an interstate junction. Thousands of motorists zip along night and day to or from the freeway. All is well.
Unless you continue on the four-lane divided highway another half-mile past the freeway. That's where you hit the stoplight at The Merge of Death intersection. Thousands of motorists zip along night and day on two perky and zippy southbound lanes that all of a dang sudden are squeezed into one curvy little lane in an industrial zone. Someone should erect one of those international picture/signs that bears the image of a demolition derby or cars banging each other off the road.
That, my friends, is also a picture of the dispute between our pals at Baxter State Park (BSP) and our pals at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), in my humble opinion. Not that it's violent or dangerous, merely that it's hard to merge different paths into one.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy -- I hate to use the word "controls" -- manages the Trail in the manner that other National Parks are governed and protected.
The ATC organizes volunteer labor in a way that other organizations could not attain in their wildest dreams.
The ATC is wonderful. Everyone who works with or for them wears a white hat and is kind to kitties and puppies.
The ATC would like everyone everywhere to hike the Appalachian Trail and enjoy its beauty and the rustic rejuvenation it provides to all who hike its path.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and its crews love the AT.
Those who manage Baxter State Park -- I hate to use the word "control" -- Protect the Wilderness with dedication and purpose that other organizations cannot fathom.
Everyone who works with or for BSP wears a white hat and is kind to kitties and puppies. They all walk around singing "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" as they pamper their beloved park.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the four-lane divided highway for hikers that merges into the tiny dirt path the Appalachian Trail becomes at Baxter State Park.
To regulate traffic and Protect the Wilderness, BSP limits the size of groups of hikers hoping to scale Katahdin to twelve or less. BSP Protects the Wilderness by asking groups of hikers to space themselves a mile apart. To Protect the Wilderness, BSP does not allow anyone to make movies within 500 feet of Baxter Peak. To Protect the Wilderness, Baxter State Park sets and enforces rules that will help them (ready?) Protect the Wilderness.
There's an odd perception about hiking the Appalachian Trail held by parents, grandparents and ditched significant others. They feel "their" hiker is about to enter The Forest only to emerge (or not emerge) many months later in Maine or Georgia. The unknown middle of the Trail in their minds can best be described by the words, "Thar be dragons!"
In reality, hikers hike from town to town, hostel to hostel, party to party and celebration to celebration. What once was a death-defying attempt to survive in the back country is more like a bar crawl through the woods by yoots in search of adventure, their own mysterious and/or elusive identity and marijuana.
Hikers, once known by their occupations,
are soon identified by barbaric Trail Names:
These Lost Children of the Wilds have fewer rules than the denizens in The Lord of the Flies. They believe they are explorers, discoverers; yes, Vasco da Gamas of the sylvan lane.
We endorse and fuel those delusions because we want to ditch our lives and head to the Trail with them, but we lack something they have in abundance.
I do not know how the ATC is going to merge herds of hikers who have their own way all day every day ... into the Narrow Paths of Rules & Regulations in Baxter State Park.
Must ATC can draw a broad red line on a map of the Appalachian Trail at edge of the 100-Mile-Wilderness with a note that says, "The Fun Stops Here" or perhaps "Rules Begin Here"?
You can bet your iPhone that Baxter State Park has no plans to diminish its passion to Protect the Wilderness.
You want to publish photographs worldwide of yourself breaking their rules? They're not going to shoot you. They will call you out for it and give you a ticket. Because they are the boss of those who enter their wilderness. They do not want anyone to disrespect what they spend their lives protecting.
If you/we don't like BSP's rules & regs, I can almost hear them say, "Fine. Take your Appalachian Trail and put it somewhere else. We don't need it. You're more trouble than you're worth. Our goal is to Protect the Wilderness. Support that goal and you're welcome at BSP. If not, find someplace else to party."
The ATC has the more difficult position, it seems to me.
Their goal is to promote use of the Trail, from Maine to Georgia. They want more towns to host more celebrations of America's Trail. They want you and your grandmother to nibble at some small portion ... or hike all of it in one big gulp.
Until the Appalachian Trail merges at Baxter State Park. That's where hikers enter a separate culture ... a different nation ... a sanctuary ... where hikers no longer reign. Where the purpose has nothing to do with your or our personal goals or victories ... where the goal is to Protect the Wilderness ... from all those who would violate the peace therein.
Even if they are Appalachian Trail hikers.
Sorry. The ATC and BSP cannot solve this puzzle. That's totally up to hikers. If hikers will choose to submit themselves to the goals, rules and ways of Baxter State Park, this fuss will pass.
If hikers revolt again the Prime Directive of Baxter State Park -- to Protect the Wilderness -- we will be treated as an invasive species that must be removed from the park.
Too bad Micheal Rennie or Keanu Reeves can't contrive a Day the Earth Stood Still trick that would change the hearts and minds of those who enter Baxter State Park. That we might live in peace and harmony with one another.
If not, the fussing is going to get ugly and Gort will move the Trail to a different mountain.
Please click on the links below for the backstory.
Excerpts from Appalachian Trail Policy and Baxter State Park Concerns
What say ye, hikers?
Tags: Events, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Maine Appalachian Trail Club, Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Conservation, and Hikers
Baxter State Park issued three citations to Scott Jurek for actions after setting the record for fastest known time for running the Appalachian Trail.
Published Oct 22, 2014. Winter is coming to Mt. Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park. That means the Appalachian Trail will close for 2014. Chief Ranger Woodard tells us when.
Published Mar 29, 2016. Maine's Baxter State Park requires northbound Appalachian Trail thru-hikers to obtain an AT Long Distance Hiker Permit Card.
It might not be winter where you are but it's winter at Maine's Baxter State Park, home to Mt. Katahdin, where two ill-equipped men went for a foolish hike.
Published Oct 22, 2015. As of October 16, 2015, Maine's Baxter State Park is open for day-use. Weather permitting, Appalachian Trail hikers can summit Katahdin's Baxter Peak.
Published Jan 27, 2014.
Published Mar 29, 2016. Appalachian Trail Conservancy CEO Ron Tipton graciously responded to news of a permit to be required for some hikers in Baxter State Park.
Scott Jurek has hired lawyers to defend himself against three citations issued to him by Baxter State Park after his record-setting Appalachian Trail run.
Baxter State Park Naturalist Jean Hoekwater says Mt. Katahdin's ecosystem is especially fragile during "shoulder seasons," such as spring and fall.
Published Nov 3, 2016. In Baxter State Park, the end of the Appalachian Trail, a foot of snow has fallen. However, trails to Katahdin are not absolutely closed for 2016.