Well, friends, I am finally convinced. Our friend and head
of the all-volunteer Trailmarking Army, Gen. Chas. T. Thorn,
USTA, is as literarily powerful as he is climbingly strong.
His so-called "diatribe" is, in fact, a most distinguished
literary essay, and I am personally just as proud to read it
as I am to climb behind him.
But let's not kid ourselves. This rhetoric is long overdue.
And I'm hoping those of us with "the writing bent" aren't
too late to start lobbying.
The way *I* see it (**DISCLAIMER**/personal-opinion-only all
over this e-mail) the way the Colorado Environmental
Coalition sees it is that they think they'll make a better
name for themselves by ridding the wilderness of EVERYTHING
than they think will accrue to their credit for exempting a
"nutcase" event like the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.
Having witnessed tinpan politics for years and embittered
years as a local newspaper reporter, I've now reached a
point where the mere mention of ANY newly elected or
appointed political entity makes me want to puke. I think I
know (in my non-humble opinion) the petty motive that drives
these demigods, and I don't like it. In the end (also in my
opinion) the work they do accrues only to their own benefit,
and the common good be damned.
In my opinion, any newly designated Wilderness Area amounts
to a latter-day setting aside of an Indian reservation--and
look at the enriched landscapes THEY've been given. Yes, I
agree with Charlie that setting land like this aside is GOOD
for the land. And frankly, when I see all the ruins and
mine dumps and rusted junk our forefathers littered the San
Juans with, I'm thankful silver mining has not continued. I
believe, to paraphrase Lincoln, it is the lesser angels of
our nature causing us to pollute our planet (but always in
the name of "progress"); and all you need do is join
Charlie's Army to see the job our grand- and
great-grandpappies did to unleash their angels all over our
Here's an idea. Why doesn't the CEC *clean up* the place
FIRST, and THEN declare it "off limits"? I'd pay good money
to watch some cig-smoking politico lugging down a rusted ore
cart from the abandoned Buffalo Boy Mine.
I have a private theory. I'm thinking that Mars was once a
vastly thriving civilization, whose inhabitants--in the name
of "progress" certainly--poisoned their entire planet
umpteen billion years ago. We see now what is left.
Personally, I'd like not to leave our Earth in quite the
same way. So, it is indeed good to preserve as much of the
Wilderness as we possibly can.
On the other hand, who are we preserving it for?
If the ecological zealots don't want NOBODY trodding on
their precious tracts, who's gonna see our birds and our
bees? Or, how 'bout our elk and our moose? I say, if our
Wilderness is ever to be appreciated and thereby preserved,
we hikers and climbers had better be allowed to plod there.
If it weren't for us, or Charlie and his panoramic camera,
who would ever even know what is in fact being preserved?
Do you think the politicians who rule as part of these
committees and panels and coalitions and things EVER HIKE
ANYWHERE??? I don't. I think they think they're protecting
our environment by driving carbon monoxide-spewing Jeeps.
And I would challenge every one of THEM (just as I used to
demand access to every record in village halls citing the
"Freedom of Information Act") to follow any of *us* and
prove to any congress anywhere that WE are the cause of ANY
damage whatsoever being done to their declared "Wilderness."
--We don't shoot. (Except cameras.)
--We don't bate-and-hook. (Except maybe wide-eyed naive
post-marathon runners, such as the formerly huffy author of
the piece you're reading right here.)
--We don't trap. (Except maybe by omitting a couple trail
markers now and then... :)
--We don't remove samples for display cases or do taxidermy
on any live thing for our "living" rooms. (Except maybe for
the just-stuffed author of this thing here, who's now on
display for his bride in his den. :)
--We don't leave anything behind. (Except maybe a few swear
words, and those are all aural--not carved or spray-painted
onto the landscape.)
--And we don't allow *just anyone* to do this. (The HRH
organizers, however, might possibly have overlooked this
principle by admitting yours truly. :)
But the argument is always: "If we make an exception in
YOUR case, we'll have to make exceptions in ALL cases."
To which I submit: Not so! Says who? I allow as to how it
is perfectly in keeping with keeping the Wilderness wild to
allow wild folks like us to frolic there. It is my belief
that ANYONE should be allowed to be wild in the Wilderness,
provided they all do everything that's itemized two
paragraphs above. No exceptions. If you don't shoot, fish,
trap, kill, take, or leave anything, you and your qualified
runners, hikers, and climbers ought to be free to move about
Is there anyone who wants to argue with this?
You bet there is. They're called politicians. And if they
owe favors to people who don't like us "running around all
night in our underwear," and if *those* are the people who
appointed or elected them or GAVE THEM MONEY to "help their
campaigns" in the first place, who do you think is going to
lose this fight?
Frankly, I hope it doesn't happen; but I'm afraid, in the
end, that it will. To borrow another line from Jim
Morrison, "they got the guns, but we got the numbers." And
*they* will win UNLESS we show them our numbers.
If everyone reading this will write just ONE letter to a
Congressman (or, of course, Congresswoman), our message
might just have a chance of getting through. Why? Because
Congress, and Colorado, will think that WE control more
votes than this aforementioned "they" do.
I, for one, have always believed in the power of words.
Look at how many of 'em I just got YOU to read!
Yes, in this case, the cathode ray tube is indeed mightier
than the caucus. And our cards and letters to
our--supposedly, so far--democratic representative
government will do more good in the end than all the
high-minded edicts, favors owed, and bribes received under
the table can ever hope to accomplish by stopping the
Does anyone remember a couple years back when nOrm & bOard
urged everyone to write their Congresspeople in order to
save No Hands Bridge? Well? Guess what. A whole lot of us
did write and, last I heard, that bridge is still there.
(I'll tell you for sure after I run Western States this
So now let me take Charlie's place on the soapbox. Do NOT
take this stuff lightly. If you or your children *ever*
hope to run Hardrock, write NOW.
Actually, you know what might be easier? Let's all "do
tanning" and declare ourselves the Silverfeet Tribe. We'll
petition the Bureau of Indian Affairs. We'll cite broken
treaties (or hypocritical edicts). We'll crawl across these
mountains on Wounded Knees. And who knows? They might just
think the land is worthless and give it to us. We'll call
our place: "The Thorn Reservation."
----- Original Message -----
From: Charles T. Thorn <thorn@...>
Cc: <cappis@...>; <spat@...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 5:50 PM
You can all please read it for yourselves.
And thanks, Charlie, for putting it on my screen in the