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Author Topic: Backpacking the Trail  (Read 22190 times)
Buckeye
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« on: March 14, 2011, 10:38:19 AM »

It's been mentioned by btageek on this forum already, but I would like to see the BTA concentrate on getting a one hundred mile section established for backpacking.  While the BTA has a lot of other projects in place, this should be one of the highest priorities and one that would gather more long distance hikers to the BT.  What area/section would serve as the best location for a designated backpacking corridor?  Would probably have to be a place within the Wayne National Forest boundaries since there camping is relatively restriction free.  Or, it could be within Shawnee State Forest, but the BT does not go through the Shawnee for many miles.  It also has to be an area where shelters could be established and water can be obtained on a regular and contant basis.  Does this area exist?  Is there currently a one hundred mile stretch of the BT that could function like a Knobstone, Benton MacKaye, or other long backpacking trail?

Buckeye
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atwalker
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2011, 03:34:42 PM »

Buckeye,

I agree totally and when I first learned about the BT many years ago, that was what I was expecting to see at least some sections.  However, over the many years since, it still has not happened and I seriously doubt that it ever will.  It is why last year, after many years of being a member, I let my membership expire.  I have not seen any progress toward making it or even any part of the BT a backpacking trail.  I do not think that is or ever was in the organizations intent. 

That was my main reason for joining this forum to see what others were saying or thought about it.  I can see the frustration in your posts along the same lines as well as a few others.  However, for most of the people I have met on here or in person it is to used for a day hike trail and I feel that most only want it to be. 

So I actually have given up on the idea it will ever be anything other than a day hike right of way.  So to do any backpacking I go to other states and enjoy myself.  I would love to do it and learn the history of Ohio but I am not going to drive hundreds of miles in order to do day hikes or stay in motels every night. 


H
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It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end. -- Ursula K. LeGuin
Buckeye
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2011, 06:24:33 PM »

H,

We are on the same page.  I am frustrated with some of the aspects of the association, like section supervisors who never reply to emails (I found a place for a shelter along the Little Miami bike trail, sent to mys ection sup twice, no response either time), so I didn't bother to send my section supervisor my volunteer hours for 2010.  I will keep on maintaining my side trails near Fort Ancient, keep writing the occasional article for The Trailblazer, serve as social media coordinator, and stay a member.  I have even put my hat in the ring for board member (trustee?) this coming year (so vote early, and vote often).  As far as I can tell, there might be one or two board members on the forum, although nearly all of them have been invited (more than once).  I am heartened by the president (Melissa Reed), the director (Andrew Bashaw), the computer services geek (Steve Miller - btageek on the forum), and the graphic person (Darlene Karoly).  And because of my involvement with the BTA, I have started an outdoors relationship with the Arc of Appalachia, who are now helping to advertise my Fort Hill hikes.  My mantra is the BTA will NEVER grow until they get more folks active on the trails, the sections that show off the highlights of the BT, and everyone I have taken to Fort Hill has loved that location.  There are folks out there who do good work.  And there are others...well, we'll leave it at that.

Now, having read your post, what can WE do to make at least a section more suitable for backpackers?  Help me identify a one hundred mile segment, some place with trees and hills and dirt trail, maybe a place with a small town or village about halfway for a resupply if needed.  Then let's keep sending emails and send letters to the newsletter to raise a groundswell, one that the board can't ignore.  It's our trail, we're the ones who hike it, many of us help maintain it.  I would say vote off those board members who are stonewalling advancement, or who are not active.  Read the newsletter, you can see after a few issues who is involved and who isn't.

This is a place where a grassroots movement can help make a difference.

My two cents (don't ask for change back),
Buckeye (who is planning another out of state backpacking trip)
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 12:17:26 PM by Buckeye » Logged
Poppie
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2011, 09:42:55 PM »

I too would love to see a 100-mile bp stretch.  Don't give up your membership.  Help us locate and develop this trek.  Then we present it to the board and get it funded through grants.  Somewhere between Burr Oak and Shawnee, I can see a definite trek of 100 miles.  Small towns along the way and plenty of state and national forest areas that allow camping.  Loveland to John Bryan (add another "stupid loop"? after I complete my circuit, though) through Fort Ancient.

I would love to sit down with a committee to look at local maps and identify this 100 mile route or two.
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2011, 10:11:24 PM »

I have been closely involved with the board and staff for 13 years now (wow).  All I can say is that I am seeing some real (yes slow, but real) changes over the past few years.  I attribute much of this to the addition of a paid Executive Director.  Unfortunately, when Andrew came on board, he was given a boat load of things to do - and right now he is only half-time with the BTA (his other half is Ohio-Pa coordinator for NCTA).

He has been working through that myriad of tasks and bringing some concrete goals and direction to the organization.  I know he feels the same frustration when he passes things to board members and they do not get done, but I feel he is doing as good as possible at following up with those trustees.

As for the 100 mile stretch - it is seriously being planned.  Most likely for political reasons, it is not a task that is being widely publicized, probably because it will involve a lot of private land negotiations.  I have seen the maps that our GIS guru has made with possible routes and land owner information.  Go to Shawnee and I'm sure Andrew will be glad to show you and discuss it.

What is needed to make it happen?  Lots of land owner negotiations.  Some land purchases.  Easements written.  Trail and shelters built.  It will take people..lots of people.  Thus, my ongoing bandwagon has been membership.  We currently see about 15% of the total membership actively involved.  Triple the membership and we can triple the active membership.

With no disrespect intended toward atwalker, if a member feels that the organization is not doing what it needs to do, I would prefer to see them step up and offer to take some role - whether it is maintaining a section and scouting for better routes, to taking on a staff or board position.  I see 2-3 new board members that are young and enthusiastic - and following through with what they promise.  (Not to say all older board members do not, but the influx of some youth is good).  We need more like that.

Wow - hadn't meant to rant on like that and it is way past my bedtime!
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2011, 10:29:51 AM »

Please! No more stupid loops!
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Buckeye
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2011, 12:07:07 PM »

Geek - Where exactly is the 100 mile stretch going in?  Near Shawnee (the town, not the forest)?  

I completely understand the issues of privately owned lands and obtaining permissions/easements, but there are sections of the BT that already go through national and state forest land, so I would think that working with those two entities would be easier and potentially would reach completion in a shorter time frame.

I day hiked at Vesuvius a couple of weekends ago, and plan to do some backpacking there as well.  It's part of the Wayne, so once one leaves the immediate recreation area one can drop a tent anywhere (preferably using good trail sense though).  I saw a few good spots near water with some flat areas that could be "designated" camping sites.  Of course BT does not go through that portion of the Wayne (and perhaps it should, it's a nice area) but I would imagine where it does go through the Wayne there are similar locations.

As for stepping up, there have been many who have tried only to hear crickets coming forth from those who could make things happen.  All I can tell the members of this forum, bug the living crud of of your section supervisors and board members.  Bombard them with phone calls and emails.  And if they do not respond (in the case of board members) vote them off the board and support those who are active and have a vision.

Rant over (for now, I reserve the right to rant at any moment).   Grin

Buckeye
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 12:09:24 PM by Buckeye » Logged
atwalker
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2011, 10:22:54 AM »

I have been reluctant to reply since I do not want to get into any type of controversial opinions with anyone.  It just is not good with any forum when it gets into serious disagreements, so I try to avoid those at all cost.   

It was about 30 years ago I first learned about the BT and have been a follower of the organization ever since.  I was also a member most of those years.  I also maintained a section of the BT and still do. 

So my opinions and statements do come from a couple years of experience.  It is great to see that after all these years at least some people do want to see the BT as a true trail and backpacking experience.  Hopefully that will become a reality in the future or at least a section of trail.

I had written a lot more but decided to delete it since I do not want to post such a long post.  I was wondering if Buckeye could set up a poll on this forum to see who would use the BT as a backpacking experience if it were available.  You may have several options such as the entire BT, a hundred mile section, or not at all interested in backpacking. 

I think that would better show what people want and how they would like to use the BT.  I for one make no bones about it I want to backpack and after doing thousands of miles on the AT, I feel confident that the BT would be a huge attraction and eventually draw more money into the organization than they could ever generate as they are now doing.

On the other hand I understand how difficult it would be to make a true backpacking trail around the state.  Yet, to get a right of way permission and campsite on private property every 10 or 15 miles I would think, should not be that difficult.  No need for shelters and ect at least not in the beginning.   

It is great that at least some people on this forum would welcome the backpacking aspect of the BT, I think the organization as a whole is more concerned with membership and socializing as day hikers and meetings than they are with a real trail around the state. 

I can not understand why the state parks will not allow BT backpackers camp free of charge in a primitive area of the parks.  The same is true with county parks and ect.   Has anyone ever tried to get an agreement with the state or counties?    The AT on the other hand, actually promote, welcome and lure all the backpackers they can into areas along the trail.  Towns along the AT are now asking for to be designated as “an Appalachian Trail Community”, where they give special rates at motels and ect.   I personally have stayed in churches, police stations, college dorms, town parks, and houses owned by others, all free of charge just so they could attract backpackers into their towns since they know backpackers will spend money. 

I will shut up now and you can imagine how long this would have been if I had not deleted most of it.  Sorry to ramble but just some thoughts. 

Have a great day and many happy trails.   Grin
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It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end. -- Ursula K. LeGuin
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2011, 12:38:43 PM »

Please! No more stupid loops!

I spend much more time backpacking in PA & WV rather than OH because they have lots of loop trails with free overnight camping. I like Zaleski and Wildcat Hollow more than most of the BT because I don't need to get a shuttle, have someone else along to spot a car at the other end, or hike the same section of the trail twice to get back to my vehicle. Are there other areas besides Shawnee that provide off-road loop options and free overnight camping?

I can not understand why the state parks will not allow BT backpackers camp free of charge in a primitive area of the parks.  The same is true with county parks and ect.

That would be very helpful, especially in CVNP. At this point an $18/night campsite is a little better than the previous no overnight camping policy.
"Camp sites in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will be open May 27th through October 30, 2011! These camp sites are located along the Stanford Trail (behind Stanford House 6093 Stanford Road) for Towpath and backcountry trail users.  There are 5 designated campsites; each site accommodates two tents and six-people per site.  Each campsite is $18.00/day ($15.00/Conservancy Members).  A water tank, portable toilet and firewood are provided for campers.  Please call the Conservancy at (330) 657-2909 ext 119 to learn more and make your reservation!"
http://www.cvnpa.org/ExtraordinarySpaces/OtherServices.aspx
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Backpacking light, feels so right.
Buckeye
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2011, 12:57:35 PM »

Well put!  You and I are on the same page (even in the same book) when it comes to how we think about the AT.  I do believe there is some sort of movement about to establish trail towns, but that's about all I have heard thus far.  There certainly would be several small communities that would/could benefit from having backpackers spend an evening or a zero day within that community.  

And I am glad you voiced your thoughts, we all need to share them to allow the board to see what the members think, and now we have a few more board members on the forum, so hopefully that feedback will be acted upon.

You are also correct, we do not have to have a shelter, just permission for a campsite, to get this started.  I just think that shelters might be the long term goal, to establish a more permanant "feel" to the BT.

I can do a poll.  What do you think the questions should be?

Buckeye
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atwalker
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2011, 06:39:30 AM »

Buckeye,

As far as a poll, any questions you can think of that would best indicate what most people would like the BT to be or become.   Here is just an idea but feel free to change, add or delete. 

If campsites and shelters were available free of charge and spaced evenly along the Buckeye Trail would you:

1.   Attempt a thru-hike (complete circuit in 1 year)
2.   Use them for multi-day hiking and backpacking
3.   Not use them or be interested in an overnight stay on the BT
4.   Do not need them, since I only do day hikes.


I see you use a quote from Emma Gatewood, whom I admire very much.  It seems so strange to see that the first lady to complete a thru-hike of the AT was from Ohio and we do not even have a long distance trail in the state.  I have noticed during all my AT hikes it seems more people are from Ohio and Texas that  attempt a thru-hike of the AT.  Not sure why, may be that since Ohio is very scarce in backpacking trails and Texas is too hot. 
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It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end. -- Ursula K. LeGuin
Buckeye
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2011, 07:49:37 AM »

Your poll questions I think are spot on, so I am using them!

Grandma Gatewood donated twenty dollars for the first can of blue paint for the BT (if that story is true), so she, many years ago, wanted the BT to be a long trail.  Technically, it IS a long trail, just not the same as an AT.

There are a slew of folks from Ohio on the AT, and I think you are partially correct, there just are not a plethora of backpacking opportunties in Ohio.  However, we do have some trails - East Fork, Vesuvius, Tar Hollow, Wildcat, Shawnee...all of which has their strengths and weaknesses.  I day hiked for the first time at Vesuvius a couple of weekends ago, nice place, ideal for beginning backpackers, and plenty of sites for one to four tents.

Thanks for the poll questions!
Buckeye
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Rkierner
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2011, 08:16:06 AM »

I agree with atwalker in at least one respect. 

Quote
I think that would better show what people want and how they would like to use the BT.  I for one make no bones about it I want to backpack and after doing thousands of miles on the AT, I feel confident that the BT would be a huge attraction and eventually draw more money into the organization than they could ever generate as they are now doing.

I love backpacking and can almost always get away for 3 or 4 nights.  That's perfect if I have a hundred miles or so close to home but if I'm driving 8-16 hours to get to the trail, it's hard to justify the trip (with two cars because it's too far for someone close to home to come pick me up at the end)

I'm sure there are similar people out there that would be willing to cover some of the cost; together we can make a difference.  After a time, this could be self funding.  Overnight backpacking permits could be purchased for a nominal fee ($10/trek or so)

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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2011, 10:16:35 AM »

I am always amazed by the number of people from Ohio on the Appalachian Trail. There are a lot of backpackers in Ohio. Don't forget about Steve "Worldwalker" Newman who solo hiked around the world. He is from Ohio.

Buckeye - You may need to tweak your Grandma Gatewood line. She is no longer recognized as the first female thru hiker of the AT. Her credit now is the first *solo* female thru hiker of the AT. See: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/noteworthy2000milers
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2011, 10:21:46 AM »

Where is the link for the poll? Or do we vote in this discussion?
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