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The inevitable bike legalization of the JMT


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  • #1322536
    dreamer
    BPL Member

    @ejcfree

    "I support anything which hastens the inevitable bike legalization of the JMT." respected BPL staff member

    Is the penetration of bikes into Wilderness inevitable? desirable? safe?
    What is Wilderness? Is it for us or is it for itself? Is there a difference?

    #2147817
    Tim Drescher
    BPL Member

    @timdcy

    Locale: Gore Range

    I'll go grab the popcorn.

    #2147822
    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member

    @here

    Locale: Right there

    Death is inevitable. Everything else can be negotiated.

    "I support anything which hastens the inevitable bike legalization of the JMT."

    Dave Chenault is the one who typed that line last night response to this…

    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=96849&skip_to_post=821269#821269

    Chaff in 3,2,1….

    Been hashed over and over here.

    Here's one http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=17427

    #2147825
    Scott S
    Member

    @sschloss1

    Locale: New England

    If you want to be able to mountain bike the JMT, write your Congressman.

    Whining about it on this forum or anywhere else on the internet isn't going to change a thing.

    #2147840
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    make a "political contrubution" of $1 million

    we have "the best congress money can buy"

    #2147846
    Clayton Mauritzen
    Spectator

    @glacierrambler

    Locale: Three Forks of the Flathead

    I'll support bike legalization on trails when they prohibit/limit the horse and mule situation. I'm not terribly worried about either, though.

    I like my wilderness trails without mechanization, but I'd prefer they not be so thoroughly beshitted as well.

    #2147853
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    Some thoughts on mountain bikes.

    The case against trails.

    Technology might be killing wilderness.

    We treat our wild places as if the are a playground for spoiled children, which many people who travel to the backcountry are. Time to remove trails, trail maintenance, trail signs, backcountry campsites, backcountry buildings, bridges, wood platforms, trailhead parking, roads to wilderness areas, etc. We need to make access harder, not easier. We need to stop looking at our wild areas in terms of its economic value.

    #2147862
    HkNewman
    BPL Member

    @hknewman

    Locale: Western US

    Hope not. Backpacking the northern part of the TRT this summer, I was the only backpacker with a mass of mountainbikers speeding around me. Most were friendly about it but there were 2 close calls when turning into a blind corner… so never again*. Eventually a mama bear with cub(s) pushed everyone off that area after a couple bluff charges against bikers (all of a sudden bike traffic started heading out of the forest .. as did my foot traffic).

    Add: I'll probably hike multiuser trail popular with MTBers when there's some lingering snow if I can help it.

    #2147872
    Tim Drescher
    BPL Member

    @timdcy

    Locale: Gore Range

    "We need to stop looking at our wild areas in terms of its economic value."

    Unfortunately this is one of the most powerful arguments that wilderness advocates have when it comes to protecting and preserving what little wilderness-worthy lands we have remaining. We'll stop seeing wild areas in terms of economic value when we stop seeing just about everything as economic value.

    #2147875
    Clayton Mauritzen
    Spectator

    @glacierrambler

    Locale: Three Forks of the Flathead

    Tim, +1.

    #2147883
    Andrew F
    Member

    @andrew-f

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    First of all, I thought it was pretty obvious that Dave was kidding (trolling?). But, to add to the serious discussion:

    The places I've been that see heavy MTB use have about as much resource damage as the places I've been that see heavy horse-packer use. I support neither in true, federally-designated Wilderness areas, for the following reasons:

    -Significantly increased impact of a person on a bike vs. a person hiking (same story with horses)
    -It is already difficult to keep trails maintained with human and horse use. Arguably bikes take as much specific trail-building resources as horses to keep the trails in good shape (berms, boards over muddy areas, etc.) and I don't believe the resources exist to implement such things unless it was done by the MTB community. To be fair, horse packers often take responsibility for trail maintenance of the trails they use a lot (though their version of "trail maintenance" is generally not what the NPS had in mind…)
    -Every place I've mtb'ed has had a million little side-trails either avoiding an obstacle or going over a big drop. I'd hate to see a proliferation of side-trails in the wilderness

    Besides all the above-mentioned practical reasons, on a more fundamental level, I feel like the Wilderness should be a place that is sufficiently big and difficult to travel through that it can make you feel small. As a relatively young and in-shape person perhaps that's an elitist point of view. But you can already get to most anywhere in the Sierra in a long day (see Bob Burd dayhiking all of the SPS peaks as an example). Allowing MTB's would make the Wilderness even smaller.

    I certainly think there is room for MTB's in the National Forest as well as some limited. well-defined intrusions into Wilderness as there are now for other user groups (e.g. the odd 4WD road on the edge of the boundary servicing a ranch or research station kind of thing.)

    #2147885
    Ian
    BPL Member

    @10-7

    There's a difference between Wilderness and wilderness. One of our local Wilderness areas is surrounded by ORV tracks. A small example of how we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    The land belongs to all Americans, not just curmudgeons.

    There's some illegal MTBing in Washington. I think we can learn a lesson from the skateboard parks. Make reasonable accommodations to contain the impact or try to ignore it and invest time, manpower, and resources chasing them down in the backcountry. Irregardless (sic), I support anything which hastens the inevitable escalator installation on the Wonderland Trail.

    #2147906
    Owen McMurrey
    Spectator

    @owenm

    Locale: SE US

    It's hard for me to get fired up either way, because the issue seems case-specific.
    I hike and mountain bike on trails both shared and specific to the activity. There are a few exceptions, but the MTB trails around here, while hikeable, are usually less desirable in terms of scenery and destinations than dedicated hiking trails, so see little foot traffic. Whether packed dirt or rocks and roots, I can't say there's a noticeable difference between the two at the places I go.

    #2147907
    Dave T
    Member

    @davet

    Agreed about the situation with bikes on the Tahoe Rim Trail NE section. Have had two different, and both bad, situations with bikes in that area.

    The first was hitting that section on a Sunday, open to bikes day (I had planned to hit it on the closed day). I was hiking uphill against a wall of bikers coming the other way, low on water (it's a dry stretch, especially in September). Can't even count how many times I had to get off the trail for bikes to come by. Folks were (almost all) nice, but it sure didn't feel like a "multi-use" trail that day.

    The other time was hiking that section on a closed-to-bikes day. If not for my ability to jump sideways in a split second, me and the 30mph-around-blind-corner mountain biker would both have been seriously hurt (it was a narrow section on a very steep hill). If I had been a horse rider or some older folks or if I simply had headphones on, it would have been serious injuries or worse. I heard a "sorry!" yelled out after he was already out of sight. Had another bombing bike-rider encounter later in the day, but I saw him coming for a little further out. Riding on closed days is not cool.

    #2147917
    HkNewman
    BPL Member

    @hknewman

    Locale: Western US

    There's more than enough other public lands for bike riding IMO, as wilderness itself is a fairly small portion. Once a wheeled vehicle is exempted, lawyers from the extractive industries will want their logging and construction vehicles exempted too. American wilderness also provides freshwater for many western municipalities and habitat for more healthy wildlife, game, etc.. besides neat places to get back to Nature.

    #2147924
    Billy Ray
    Spectator

    @rosyfinch

    Locale: the mountains

    FYI mtn bike clubs helped build that trail… both with donations and labor. I know because I used a shovel and pick for many hours on it.

    that said, it doesn't excuse bad behavior.

    billy

    #2147934
    Dave T
    Member

    @davet

    "We treat our wild places as if the are a playground for spoiled children, which many people who travel to the backcountry are. Time to remove trails, trail maintenance, trail signs, backcountry campsites, backcountry buildings, bridges, wood platforms, trailhead parking, roads to wilderness areas, etc. We need to make access harder, not easier. We need to stop looking at our wild areas in terms of its economic value."

    Couldn't agree more, but will never happen in good old 'murica.

    #2148000
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    Recently I hit a milestone – 50 years since my first backpacking trip. During those 50 years very little good has happened to our wild places, other than we have added a lot of official Wilderness to the Wilderness inventory. Wilderness is a small percentage of our public lands.

    Whether we hike in Wilderness or wilderness with a capital or lower case dubyah, our wild places are less wild than when I was 14. There are more trails, more people, more trash, more damage, more graffiti, more problems, and less truly wild places. When I started hiking there were no quota and no permits. This included the JMT and Whitney. For my kids there is less real wilderness, no matter who you spell it. There will be less for their kids. At what point do we say enough is enough?

    If we believe there is nothing we can do to change this trend, or if we believe we can change it, we are right (to paraphrase Henry Ford). I like the concept of "untrammeled by man" and it doesn't have to be restricted to desiginated wilderness only. There is much we can do. Writing blogs, letters to officials, attending public hearings, or the good 'ol protest are easy enough places to start.

    #2148057
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    You might have me beat by a couple years : )

    I disagree – wilderness is pretty much the same as 50 years ago. Lots of trash back then also.

    There are spots right next to scenic viewpoints where you can't camp anymore. A couple trailheads that were inadequate so they moved them back a mile to a better spot. Fairly minor overall.

    More people, but I think people are more appreciative of the environment and wilderness. The Wilderness Act was about 50 years ago.

    50 years or longer ago, the wilderness was more considered a vacuum that needs to be developed.

    #2148074
    Paul Magnanti
    BPL Member

    @paulmags

    Locale: Colorado Plateau

    Though I think Dave C was being provocative to provoke a discussion, it is a discussion worth, well, discussing.

    I recently did a retrospective of a book written in the early 90s or so but may be more pertinent now.

    http://www.pmags.com/wilderness-ethics-preserving-the-spirit-of-wildness

    Esp now that, per a recent article, that "The [National Park] service announced a pilot program to expand cell coverage in five national parks, hoping to explore how the NPS can enhance the visitor experiences of “new audiences who rely on smartphones and tablets to connect them to the things that are important to them.”

    What is wilderness? And how we do wish to use it?

    Good book that asks a lot of these questions. As more people do "Done in a day activities", they are going to want to explore the wilderness in ways that are more compatible with exploring a lot of area in a shorter time.

    For better or worse, I think areas previously closed to MTBikes will become more open. Esp now that people in my age bracket (40 +/-) are now starting to get economic and political clout. Though I do not mtbike, people my age do more so than "just" hike as as their only outdoor activity. And if you have the economic and political juice, things tend to favor what you want. :)

    Twenty years from now what is considered "The Wilderness" (or even wilderness) will be much different. More activities allowed, more connectivity and a much different experience.

    #2148077
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    "Twenty years from now what is considered "The Wilderness" (or even wilderness) will be much different. More activities allowed, more connectivity and a much different experience."

    I question that

    Groups with W in their name vigorously defend any changes in wilderness use. They may get some developed structures removed so wilderness areas will be slightly more wild.

    We keep adding new wilderness areas.

    Politically, the pendulum has swung way right, and then back left a little, but I think we're still right of normal, so the push to develop wilderness areas will lesson a little. People driving ATVs into wilderness as a protest will be considered more wacko than they are now.

    #2148079
    David Chenault
    BPL Member

    @davec

    Locale: Queen City, MT

    Andrew and Mags nailed my intentions pretty well on this one. Good discussion thus far, so I'll pat myself on the back and say job done.

    It's compelling on a gut level to say that legalizing bikes in Wilderness would start the slippery slope to motorized use, resource extraction, etc, but this is factually and legally incorrect. Motors and non-grandfathered commerical use are specifically prohibited in the original legislation, while mountain biking is not addressed at all, as it did not exist as such. In the late 80s the Forest Service put an administrative rule into effect qualifing bikes as mechanical transport, and thus prohibiting them from Wilderness. Hypothetically it would take nothing but some typing and a signature to reverse that. I think it's pretty non-controversial to admit that the difference between bikes and skis (allowed in Wilderness) is one of degree rather than type.

    I'm most sympathetic to the makes-the-place smaller argument against bikes. In many Wilderness areas the distinction is largely academic, but in some it's very relevant. The height of my mountain biking powers 6 years ago coincided with the time I hiked the southern chunk of the JMT, and based on the trail which wasn't covered in snow I reckoned I could ride more than enough to make it a worthwhile bike trip. Given how much slower I would hypothetically be on the climbs I doubted then and doubt now that overall cycling would be much faster than hiking. Maybe 35 mpd on bike versus 30 hiking based on comparable effort.

    On the other hand the Bob Marshall and Teton Wildernesses are quite gentle in most places, and once the mud clears up in late June or July would make for some great cycling. It would be quite possible to ride across the Bob the easy way (N Fork Blackfoot to Meadow Creek) in a long day. An aggressive hike and packraft itinerary of the same route is an overnight, if not more.

    In summary, I'd be ok with allowing bikes in many parts of the Sierras, but only if the Whitney Portal road, Trails End road, North and South Lakes road, and highway 120 are permanently closed to cars. Nick is right in that a lot of the land worth "saving" in the lower 48 is locked up. Time to start pushing back, shutting down roads, and letting them rot.

    #2148082
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I think the Wilderness Act is pretty vague about what's allowed.

    Human structures aren't allowed which includes motors, but also bikes, bridges, trails,…

    But then they allow exceptions to meet the objectives of the act which includes trails and bridges, as long as they're the minimum required to meet the objectives. Bikes are not the minimum, because you can walk.

    I think trails and roads outside of wilderness should allow bikes where appropriate.

    #2148089
    Andrew F
    Member

    @andrew-f

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Dave, I disagree with you on the difference between bikes and skis. Yes in terms of mechanized transport and speed of travel – no in terms of impact. Skis have arguably zero impact on the wilderness, whereas most MTB areas I've been to look like an LNT disaster. Horse packers have already roto-tilled many trails in the Sierra, I can't imagine what some trails would be like if we also added mtb use.

    #2148091
    Paul Magnanti
    BPL Member

    @paulmags

    Locale: Colorado Plateau

    It is not a question of liberal or conservative politics.

    It is more "What do people want?"

    Believe me, I'd love to have areas where MTBikes aren't allowed. But also recognize the political and economic realities. Besides MTBiking, more people DO want connectivity and the infrastructure that goes with it.

    I am not saying I am in support of MTBiking per se. But I truly think we'll see more and more of it in places where it was not previously allowed.

    Ditto for the communication infrastructure. I don't want to have the ability to be reached in Yellowstone NP. But it is going to happen. And people are going to have the expectation that if they can be reached in YNP, then I should be able to reached as well.

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