Today our sister paper, the Daily News, reports on damage to flowers by hikers using “unsanctioned trails.” I’ve hiked plenty in the Griffith Park (I lived at the foot of it in Los Feliz for almost two years, and moved shortly before the 2007 fire that gutted the park’s vegetation) and have admittedly used some of these trails.
Or at least I think I have. There are trails dotting the steep slopes of the park, which I am sure are there because of years of hikers blazing trails through the area. I am not sure in all cases which the public are allowed to use, and which are not permitted. The picture shown above, for example, is an ‘unsanctioned’ trail, but as you can say it is wide-open and clear of vegetation, indicating it has been used by hikers for years.
So why the fuss now? I would guess it has to do with Park and Rec’s desire to reclaim the trails in burn areas…. with people shut out of many parts of the park, they have a unique opportunity to re-seed areas where trails once blazed through. The article mentions that park rangers are particularly upset about hiker intrusion into burn areas:
“In addition, some are trekking through the slurry of seed and mulch in burn areas that have been hydro-seeded.”
Incidentally, it is not just park rangers that are upset about the trails…. the Daily News also quotes several angry Sierra Club hike leaders who accuse other club members of leading hikes on unsanctioned trails. One long-time leader seemed especially put-out by hikers who seem to have a different idea of how to enjoy the activity:
“They were coming straight up where there was no trail, grabbing branches like it was the cat’s meow,” said Rosemarie White, a hike leader who chairs the club’s Endangered Species Task Force. “(They were) No.5 and No.6 (level) hikers, the real hot-doggers, who are going to do it their way to harass Mother Nature. Those wild places should not be destroyed by humans trying to demonstrate their prowess.”
And another who rather hysterically anticipates the death of plant life in the park:
“They’re treating the park like a gym,” said Angela Colicchio, who until recently led Sierra Club hikes for 30 years in Griffith Park. “If this went on for years, there wouldn’t be a bush or shrub or a blade of wild grass left.“
Meanwhile, one of these “extreme hikers” says that without the steep hiking, there is no fun to the activity at all:
“I’m a fast hiker, but I don’t blaze new trails,” Serrano said. He added that, without the sporting element, many hikers would rather stay home. “They won’t come. I wouldn’t come.
“The fire trails are like a sidewalk. There’s absolutely nothing interesting there.”
Wow. As someone who both likes the peaceful pace of a moderate hike on a wide trail, and the heart-beating intensity of pushing myself up a steep mountain, I never expected that there could be such divisive views within the hiking community.