Submitted by: RAY DOLOR – The AZ trail is around 700 miles long, I believe, and traverses Arizona from the Mexican border all the way up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Over the years, I’ve ridden most of it. It’s very similar to the PCT in many ways…..it crosses all kinds of terrain, and for the most part it is singletrack. It’s much shorter than the PCT, but aside from that, lots of similarities, and traffic on it, whether foot, hoof, or soft-rubber air-filled tire traffic, is very low in general. Just like the PCT in that respect.
The major way it DOES differ from the PCT is that right from the get-go, the AZ trail has always been open to ALL non-motorized users. And I gotta say, that for all of Arizona’s boneheaded politics (IMO) I have never encountered a hiker on this trail, or a horse person, who acted like they didn’t approve of me being there. In fact, everybody I encountered seemed to be quite friendly to me. One day, the only person I saw for an entire stretch of the trail , from Lake Mary down past Mormon Lake, was a guy who kinda looked like Osama bin Laden! He turned out to be a Sikh, not a Muslim, but he also turned out to be a real friendly guy. He was hiking north, I was riding south. He gave me all kinds of useful info on the trail, and on different segments of the trail….he’s hiked the whole route at least once.
In all, my experience with other kinds of trail users on the AZ trail was completely, 100%, positive.
Only here, in CA, do I encounter this highly divisive, possessive attitude towards a public trail on public land used by members of ……..the Public.
If anything, people I encountered on the AZ trail were concerned about MY safety, telling me about upcoming obstacles, the size of their mountain lions, etc…. Imagine that!
So, I think that the attitudes of those opposing cycling on the PCT are to a large extent supported by ideological-fueled agendas, which is sad, because when I talk to these people, I find that I share a love for the land, and for nature, and also have a shared value for solitude and the benefit of communing with nature via a solo ride on the trail, that matches their love of hiking the same surface.
It’s a damn shame that the ‘anti’s’ are so entrenched in their beliefs, their ideological line in the sand, that they feel entirely comfortable with what amounts to denying me the equal right to enjoy the trail, in my way. I sense that in so many ways, these hiker folk are otherwise entirely decent, reasonable people, and most of the horse-folk are, as well.
So, I’m optimistic about this issue. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I think that, like Rodney King, (God bless that poor tortured soul) we CAN all get along. It’s just gonna take some work, and a bit of ‘Tough Love’, on our part, both towards the haters and also towards the few among our own kind who are bent on bullying other users.