ratpag Analyzes – With Grave Concern – the Condition of America’s Trail Infrastructure


“Where was ratpag last week?” you ask.

In case you didn’t remember, last Monday was a little federal holiday called, oh, I don’t know – MLK day.

“Yes, we do remember and you actually made a post – your most recent one – directly on MLK day.”

Well, where we’re (some of us) originally from, there’s also a little holiday called Lee-Jackson day.  And because ratpag made a post and took a trip into the field on MLK day (we drank for 14 straight hours on Lee-Jackson day) we decided to honor Dr. King by not working for the rest of the week.

Anyway, enough of that.  The real issue in today’s post is the harrowing conditions of America’s Trail Infrastructure.  ratpag recently traveled into the Hudson Valley backcountry and happened upon the lovely Harriman State Park just a little ways north and west of New York City.  The conditions found upon the Appalachian Trail both shocked and appalled your ratpag crew and, in our opinion, can be blamed squarely upon our most frequent – and bitter – enemy:  lack of federal infrastructure funding (this time for trails).

Case 1 – Deteriorating foot bridge conditions

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Look at the unevenness of the slats atop this bridge.  And the inconsistent spacing!  It’s as if park workers and AT volunteers (who we appreciate greatly – we’re only digging into people who don’t fund all kinds of infrastructure) had to put together a bridge – one that crosses a thinly-frozen stream, mind you – with whatever scrap someone was kind enough to illegally dump into a state park.  But yes, it is quaint…until you see this:

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Oh, so cars get reinforced bridges?!

All we’re asking is to ensure that foot trail bridges get just as much funding as backcountry vehicle bridges (before eliminating all backcountry vehicle trails – but keeping all foot trails and funding.  Our demands are simple).

Case 2 – Untreated icy conditions

Salt and sand disbursement along a trail would be inappropriate but we don’t believe trails should be left untreated (lest the unprepared hiker be at risk of grave danger).  Observe the following icy trail conditions:

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit D

Dangerous!  Fortunately, ratpag came prepared and placed chains on boots – much like an alpine-bound big rig:

Exhibit E

Exhibit E

The problem is that not everybody may have boot chains in case of icy conditions.  ratpag proposes that federal funding be provided to install ice breakers (people with strong sticks, sledge hammers, what-have-you) to treat ice along our nation’s trails in an environmentally-sensitive (non-salt) way.  Think of all the jobs that would create.

Other than that, ratpag doesn’t really have much else to complain about – it was a wonderful day along the AT.  We did get a pretty sharp picture of a perfect snowflake:

Little snowflake

Little snowflake

ratpag encourages all of our readers to hit the trail as soon as you can!  Even if it’s covered in three feet of snow.

This entry was posted in ratpag Goes Off the Rails, Transportation Funding and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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