ATA Annual Meeting
Yesterday we went to the annual meeting of the Arizona Trail Association. I'm always inspired by the many volunteers who do so much work to make this such a nice trail. We've enjoyed the trail work we've done and I hope we're in a position at some point to do more volunteer work. What put a damper on the day for us, and we've shared this thought with each other before, is the emphasis on making the trail more accessible and getting more and more people on the trail. While I understand more people on the trail leads to more funding and this is what the organization is tasked with, we're among those who don't want a crowded trail. Is the AZT destined to be like the AT and the PCT with their herds of hikers and all the issues that go along with that? If so, I find that disappointing and am glad we're trying to do the trail this year before it gets worse. I realize some people seek a social experience while thru hiking, but we don't go backpacking for that reason. While I'm still interested in doing the AT and PCT, the more I read and hear about those trails, the less interested I become because of the throngs of people.
What strikes me at these meetings, is that more people on the trail and more awareness and more social media activity is always viewed as a positive thing. Hooray! Woohoo! Lots and lots of people enjoying the Arizona Trail! Meanwhile, the next presentation is about how much trash there is in the wilderness to be picked up. And we want MORE people out there? (Granted, much of the trash is not from trail users, but still...)
There was a presentation by a couple, Ras and Kathy Vaughan, who recently did the first documented yo-yo of the AZT (for those unfamiliar with long distance hiking jargon, this means they hiked there and back - from Mexico to Utah and back to Mexico). It was a very entertaining presentation and included quite a bit of discussion of Fastest Known Times (FKT) and Only Known Times (OKT), and, admittedly, some eye rolling on my part. Later, I got to thinking - maybe we can create a new KT. Since Baron is coming with us, we'll go for the FKCT. The Fastest Known Canine Time! Actually, with our snails pace, we'll likely be in the running for the SKT. Slowest Known Time.