Exilr wrote: "I thought the US did have managed tracks which are called blazers or something?"
Hmm, haven't heard about blazers tracks, but the US has a few trails in whose basket most of the eggs are placed: Appalachian, John Muir, Pacific Coast. The Appalachian has a few shelters spread along its length but no proper huts. The JM and PCT are along vast areas of granite and pine forest so require little maintenance.
However, in my experience tramping through various State and National Parks, along with Wilderness areas and BLM areas, little to no infrastructure exists. The "infrastructure" I refer to is stuff like signage, markers, cleared camps, maintained tracks. The US Forest Service has been depleted of most field staff and their mission has shifted to more of a fire suppression entity.
One of my favourite playgrounds is the Ventana Wilderness centred around the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur, California. If it weren't for the volunteer group Ventana Wilderness Alliance, this wilderness would be completely impenetrable. The USFS hasn't conducted any track/camp maintenance for at least 60 years. When you would query staff they wouldn't have a clue about the area they "manage" as they haven't stepped foot there. Of course, they're awfully good at warning trampers of certain doom, death, and despair if one were to be so foolish as to venture into such country.
The Wilderness Act prevents any type of machinery in Wilderness Areas, so even chainsaws are forbidden. Windthrow is a massive problem because the only way to remove fallen trees is by hauling in 2-person saws and wedges to manually saw each downed tree.
I'm not having a whinge, I'm just pointing out a few differences between the resources the US puts into its backcountry compared to the extensive network we have in NZ, and thank goodness I live here now!
Isnt it called trail blazing where markers are left on trees to show direction - but I dont think they are official track markers but markers you make to show where you have been if you get lost? not 100% sure if I am correct.
If official trails are not established by the USFS would that mean there would be no official maps which show trails?
This post has been edited by the author on 24 October 2018 at 18:58.
My misunderstanding. I thought Exilr was referring to a category of maintained trails in the US, such as our Great Walks. Yes, blazes on trees are a common form of trail marking, whether painted or carved into the bark (old school and often damaging the tree). There's many examples of old NZFS tracks marked thusly.
There definitely are established trails and an abundance of maps for USFS trails, including the USGS topo maps at 1:24,000 scale, plus an abundance of privately published trail guides.
I think my original comments are reflective of my general cynicism towards the lack of funding for the USFS as primarily experienced in the Ventana, and a genuine appreciation for what we have here in NZ.
The USFS website is actually pretty cool with lots of great info: https://www.fs.fed.us/
Indeed, the whole world is beautiful and the US is no exception. Perhaps to clarify my comments, I do understand and value wilderness areas having no facilities, markings, nor tracks; this is part of the fun of being in such a place. But when I witness what once were splendid facilities in the '50s and '60s being left to rot while successive American governments embarked on thoughtless misadventures and neglected conservation, it breaks my heart. For example, in my beloved Ventana there was an expertly engineered network of tracks, dotted with primitive signed campsites that more often than not had a fire half-barrel with grate, picnic table, and clear pitch sites free of poison oak sprouts.
The Ventana is now a shadow of what it was, with trails often lost to overgrowth, slumping, slips, and fires; barely recognizable camps with a rotting table top if anything, unusable rusted barrel fire ring, and overgrown pitch sites; poison oak forests forming a diabolical gauntlet to pass through; and enough downed trees to turn your tramp into an hours long acrobatic dance over, under, and through tangles of branches and trunks.
Anyhoo, rant over. Thank goodness I live in godzone.
This post has been edited by the author on 24 October 2018 at 20:28.
Whats the story with poison oak. Ive heard of it but know nothing about it. Is it similar to poison ivy in effect?
Over here I have seen tracks overgrown with ongaonga but Doc generally do a good job cutting it back. Love to know how they do that without wearing those stinging leaves.
Poison oak is rather similar to poison ivy in its effects on sensitive people. Both can cause delayed severe dermatitis. There is no pain when you touch the plant or something that has been in contact with the plant such as a dog, child or clothing. Smoke can cause problems if the plant is burned.
Poison oak is much harder to detect than ongaonga.
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Is ongaonga that horrible large-leaf stinging nettle? I got stuck in a huge patch of that descending to Snowy Hut in the tararuas the other weekend - that stuff was on one side and bloody horrible bush lawyer was on the other. Nasty as.