PDA

View Full Version : Horses in the Park


Jim Casada
01-21-2011, 09:20 AM
I'm curious to learn what others think about the use of horses in the Park. To me they are a major environmental problem (of course they are aggravating from an aesthetic standpoint as well). My current column in the Tuck Reader, "Problems in Paradise: Of Horses, Bureaucratic Hopscoth, and Horse Hockey," pretty well summarizes what I think. One point I did fail to make was that dogs are verboten while horses aren't. I happen to agree with the banning of dogs, but they wouldn't do anything approaching the damage horses do in terms of befouling campsites (there are over 20 backcountry sites allowing horses), damaging trails, eating vegetation, and leaving malodorous meadow muffins here, there, and everywhere.

For some reason Park officials not only have turned a blind eye to this; they actually encourage horse use through maintenance of concessions.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Younger Tom
01-21-2011, 10:16 AM
I'd be happy to see them go as well. They just make such a mess of things. I'm with you on dogs in the park as well, but I'd really like to see more of the "old road" trails opened to bikes. Noland would be a prime example. I think the way bikes are allowed up to the turnaround on Deep Creek (Jenkins place?) but not on the trail beyond is appropriate.

Rog 1
01-21-2011, 10:54 AM
I am with you Jim...cannot understand how they can justify such continued use of the trails by horses...I have camped in Elkmont with my dogs and have been lectured to by park personnel about what my responsibilies are regarding their "business" without any evidence they had done anything inappropriate...then I go fishing and have to side step the "road apples" for miles and look at the damage that is being done....does not compute.

NDuncan
01-21-2011, 11:13 AM
I agree with the current sentiment about horses, and the current regs with dogs, even though I take my dogs camping to the frontcountry campsites and even use the Gatlinburg trail (one of two where they are allowed) as well as the some of the roads to walk them in the summer. But I always clean up after them. As much as I would like to take at least one of them into the backcountry with me, I understand why they are not allowed, and I know for a fact that many many more people are much much less responsible when it comes to handling their their dogs (take for instance the guy whose dog managed to take down a deer in elkmont either last year or the year before) Many, if not most people, if they had free reign to take their dogs wherever they want wouldn't clean up after them, (****, we have a hard enough time with the people who won't clean up after themselves or their children) who don't train them properly, and wouldn't take the proper precautions to restrain their dogs to prevent them from either harassing other visitors or wildlife. I know if I could take a dog in the backcountry, it would be easier to convince my wife to go, but that's another story, and there's always the national forests for dog camping, so...

Another note on the horses, I know earlier this year I came across horse crap more than once on the defeat ridge trail, as far as the metal foot bridge, I guess people can't follow the correct trail always.

How do they prevent horses from bringing in seeds of invasive plants? They say to use processed feed instead of hay to prevent this in the regs, BUT in the SAME regs they say to discard of unwanted or old hay in the designated areas. Kind of sending mixed messages here.... What about the hay the horses ate before they got to the park?

rivergal
01-21-2011, 11:15 AM
No horses in GSMNP. In my lifetime I have seen Lady Slipper populations dwindle due to poaching, witnessed daffodil picking in the park every Spring,
and been forced off narrow trails by horses without even a howdy!

buzzmcmanus
01-21-2011, 11:27 AM
I would much rather see horses than cars. I have no problem with horses in the park. I know what trails they use. I know what campsites they use. If I don't want to deal with them, I'm free to use other trails and campsites. Nobody is forcing me to share the woods with them. However, I don't own horses, they personally hate me, and if the park was to ban them, I wouldn't fight for their return.

old tom
01-21-2011, 11:27 AM
I don't mean to put a bull's-eye on your back Jim, but I'd like to see you publish this in your column in the Smoky Mountain Times (Bryson City weekly). I'll bet it doesn't receive a 100% positive feeback. Also maybe you could get it published in the Opinion section of the Smoky Mountain News. What I'm saying is I'm afraid it won't get the attention it deserves "preachin' to the choir" on this message board.

I was once told by a horseman on a trail that when I meet horses, I should step aside and lay my flyrod down because the horse sees the rod as a whip. I would like to have told him that was his problem, not mine. But since the horse was already spooked and out weighed me by 800 pounds, I smiled and did as he told me to.

JayB
01-21-2011, 11:41 AM
Ill be contrary on this one too. As in most things in life, I hate to see access or rights taken away. There is a group of people that enjoy the hobby of riding horses in the park, as we enjoy fishing, and we would hate it if that right or access was removed ( really, we are the only people allowed to "harrass" the wildlife). Personally I havent seen a horse site yet that was any more trashed than a tent site. Most of the trails I hike are horse trails, since they tend to be wider and less gradient. I havent seen much erosion, but it may be because Im on the easier trails. There are the occassional muddy spots caused by them, but we are in the woods you know. Mud happens.
Yes there is horse crap on the ground, but I honestly dont think its that big a deal. Maybe they could require that the horses have one of those bags hanging on the rear to catch it.
So yes, they may be inconvenient to us, a nuisance, or just annoying, but its someone elses way of enjoying the park, they already have the right, I dont think it is worth the fight to take it away from them. Lets expend our energy instead on getting he rangers involved in the backcountry, dealing with poachers, people that trash campsites, etc.

Grannyknot
01-21-2011, 11:54 AM
I would much rather see horses than cars. I have no problem with horses in the park. I know what trails they use. I know what campsites they use. If I don't want to deal with them, I'm free to use other trails and campsites. Nobody is forcing me to share the woods with them. However, I don't own horses, they personally hate me, and if the park was to ban them, I wouldn't fight for their return.

My sentiments are exactly the same as yours Buzz, except I would have probably run my mouth a little more about my feelings on cars in the park. Well said.

For what its worth, horse advocates are going to tell us that without them, trails wouldn't be maintained near as much, AT shelters wouldn't be updated, and there dang sure wouldn't be a Pole Road bridge on Deep Creek. (It may actually have washed away late last year...not sure).

Jim Casada
01-21-2011, 11:58 AM
Old Tom--Maybe I can get it placed in the Smoky Mountain Times somewhere down the road, but right now I'm just hoping my weekly column there will survive. It's a month to month thing, and that only after a meeting with the publisher where I tried to point out the gap the column filled and what I'm pretty sure is its fairly widespread readership. I convinced the bean counters short term to continue my column (and Susan Coe's). Smoky Mountain News is a sort of competing publication to the Tuck Reader, so I don't know about that.
Obviously it is a very contentious topic, and as I expected, even here not everyone agrees. JayB and Buzz weigh in on the side of horses. I would point out that when it comes to using campsites where they aren't allowed, you are pretty much out of luck on some watersheds such as Hazel Creek and Noland Creek (only one non-horse camp on each). I also differ, strongly, on how much damage they do. Also, the point made by NDuncan about invasive plants (in their feed) is an excellent one which hadn't occurred to me.
Whatever your view, there is one thing which is undeniable, there is Park hypocrisy aplenty here.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

P. S. Younger Tom, you can use bikes on Deep Creek up to the old turnaround and, I'm pretty sure, on Indian Creek as well. I believe there are a couple of other trails where bikes are allowed.

old tom
01-21-2011, 12:38 PM
JayB - Just so I understand your position, it would be okay with you if I took my very well behaved 80 lb. Golden Retriever on a hike with me and it would also be okay if Younger Tom and I could ride our mountain bikes on say 50% of the trails in the Park. I'm not an advocate of either, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Just for the record Jim, about a year ago the Park Service moved the "no bikes" sign on Deep Creek to the bridge just before the Loop Trail. It used to go up to the turnaround. They moved the one on Indian Creek back to the Deeplow Gap Trail. It used to go up to the intersection at the Martins Gap Trail. By my rough calculation, that's a decrease of about 20% of the available trails where bikes are permitted on the NC side. A nice starting point for the Park Service would be to eliminate 20% of the trails where horeses are permitted, starting at the higher elevations and working down.

JayB
01-21-2011, 01:00 PM
Maybe it isnt fair Old Tom, but turns out that is life. What I am saying is that instead of having someone elses rights revoked, i.e. riding horses in the park, instead try to have new access created. I dont think dogs will ever be allowed in the park at large, but trying to get more areas designated for dogs and bikes I think would be a worthy cause. you could probably even use the fact that horses ARE in the park to support the creation of designated use trails for bikes and dogs.

If they were creating the park today, would I support them allowing horses in the park? Probably not. But that isnt our situation. The genie is out of the bottle on this one. If there were evidence for significant environmental damage, sure I would support it, but it just isnt there. I dont want anyone spoiling my fun, I dont want to spoil anyone elses over a nuisance.

whitefeather
01-21-2011, 01:05 PM
Jim,

Here's my $.02 worth. My wife and I are horse people, also dog people. We looked into bringing our horses to the park, but the hassle and expense were prohibitive so we have put that on hold. You're right about some of the trails and I can only speak for the times and trails I have been on where there has been horse presence. Wet, muddy conditions made parts of the trails almost impassible for hikers without getting ankle deep in horse hoof prints and dung. However, I am a country boy, mucked a few stalls in my time, not afraid to get a little muddy, so I went on. Didn't like getting my wader boots covered in poop, but they cleaned off before I went wading so I "put up with it". The damage was bad in some spots but that was to be expected from a dozen or more shod horses riding the trail together. But horses aren't predators! Their presence doesn't "spook" or alter the habits of the natural wildlife.

Dogs are predator by their very nature. They will urinate and defecate marking new territory anywhere and the reason for their ban on trails, as explained to me by the wildlife people is that they can cause a major ecological disaster in the back country if allowed in. The balance of wild life can be upset in any particular area when one species reacts to a strange species presence (urination, defecation) that wasn't there before. And then another species reacts to that, etc. Chain reaction thing.

As far as invasive species being brought into the park in hay or horses digestive systems is entirely feasible. They banned firewood from other states because of the infestation of the emerald ash bore. Thing is emerald ash bore do not infest oak, hickory, sassafras, and a dozen or more other trees which are harvested for firewood. But better to be safe than sorry, right! But people are still bringing them into the park despite the warnings because there is no real policing done. You are simply asked, "do you have any". "Duh, no I don't"..., but you see them hauling it out of their rv's to make campfires all the time. And despite all the warnings to the contrary, I still run into people fishing illegally all the time, using live bait in plain view, a couple of yards from the road and not two hundred feet from a ranger station. I told a couple of fellas from New Jersey last October they could each get a $400 dollar fine, have their equipement confiscated, and some serious jail time for fishing with live bait. They denied they were doing so but I saw them bait their hooks. They left when I pressured them out with my fly casting. Perhaps a bit rude on my part, but I get so tired of people being so ignorant and stupid at times with their selfish and uncaring ways.

My horses stay home, my dogs stay on a leash at my command, both verbal and electronic, my pooper scooper stays active, and I respect the rights of others (within the rules) to be there the same as I am. One time I got a twenty minute "bitch out" from a lady ranger because I had my dog on a leash in the parking lot sitting on the tailgate of my SUV at the trail entrance at the back of Smokemont campground. I said after listening to her go on and on , "excuse me maam, my dog is on his leash, the leash is in my hand, and I am not a hiker and neither is the dog. Thanks for stopping by!"

I'm not convinced that the park management and the various departments of fish and wildlife have got their act together. They all seem to be doing their own thing in different directions in direct violation of ecological best interests at times. Bottom line is people must be responsible and respective of the rules and others. That's the key, but I'm afraid the key has been lost in many cases. So its "Entrance to anyone, no brains required." Simply a microcosm of the outside world.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!

old tom
01-21-2011, 01:27 PM
Thanks for the courteous reply JayB. Hope I didn't come off as too much of a wise a$$. That wasn't the intention anyway.

One thing we can probably agree on is I'm glad they aren't creating the Park today because it probably wouldn't happen. But that's a topic for a whole nuther tread.

Crockett
01-21-2011, 02:09 PM
One thing I would like to relate is that on my 5 year old sons first backpacking trip last August to cs 18 a big group of 6 horses passed us on the Bote mtn trail. We got as far as we could up against the bank but then the unexpected happened. As the horses passed my little boy raised his hand to wave at the "cowboys" on them and the horse in front of us went nuts and tried to kick him. I sheilded him the best I could but it was something that should have never happened. Since that point I have been pretty disgusted and fed up with all the horses up there.

On the other hand I love off trail hiking and worry sometimes that the park might ban that and it scares me. Also if they banned off trail hiking then that would eliminate much of the fishing in the park since that is mostly off trail traveling. So I can see the concern about revoking the pre-existing freedoms. However, I do think they should at the very least cut the number of horse trails by half. There are way too many horse trails up there today that is for **** certain.

MBB
01-21-2011, 02:15 PM
I do not see how we will ever get horses banned from the Park, though I do think it would be a good idea. I believe the politics just will not permit it. I agree with you completely, however. It bothers me how horses degrade trails, streams and discharge volumes of waste that should not be permitted in a pristine environment.

However, it would make sense to try to limit the trails that are used by horses. We might be able to make a very significant reduction. Yes, please publish your letter in several papers.

Mac
01-21-2011, 02:22 PM
Mine is more of a question than a comment about horses creating large ruts on the trails, leaving plastic tarps, metal cans, and food desposed into the fire pits.

Twice in a total of three visits to Enloe Creek trail campsite 47 that by the way is listed as not allowing horses and being a very small campsite. i have witnessed horses being tied to trees and left within the campsite for the day while the riders were either making meals or fishing for the day in the area.

My question is are horse riders allowed to tie up and leave their horses for the day within a camp site that is listed as not allowing horses?

Like i stated in the first paragraph i am not commenting on or making any opinions about the horses that were left at the very very small campsite 47 leaving their waist within 20 feet of my tent or discarding all their leftovers within the fire pit before they left. :mad:

old tom
01-21-2011, 02:27 PM
Crockett - This seems illogical to me, but we were told hiking in the Grand Canyon, when you meet mules (and I assume the same would apply to horses) that hikers should move to the downhill side of the trail and give the mules the bank side. Maybe some horseperson could explain that one to us.

JayB
01-21-2011, 02:47 PM
Mac- people have commented here about hiker only campsites trashed as well, so I dont think that all horseback riders should be condemned for a few bad apples, just as we fisherman dont all leave worm buckets on the bank. And as for the guys with horses at a non-horse campsite, I've just as well seen a guy hiking with his great dane over a mile up the trail from the nearest road, and everyone on this forum has commented on seeing people fishing illegally. The horses weren't the problem its the jackass that doesnt follow the rules. The answer to that problem isnt removing all the horses, or dogs, or fishermen even, it is getting rangers INTO the backcountry to ENFORCE the rules.

crockett- good points!

old tom- I love a healthy debate. I dont really like the horses either, but figured someone needs to play devils advocate here.

whitefeather
01-21-2011, 04:00 PM
JayB,

You said it all and said it well!

Crockett,

Glad to hear your son was not injured. Some horses are just nuts when it comes to things like what you experienced. It's anyones guess why. My Rocky Mountain spooks at the sight of wild flowers, no less. When ever I encounter small children I dismount quickly and remove the horse away from the child or anyone else for that matter. Although he loves children and is very gentle with them, he has a history I don't know about and he is after all, a horse, subject to instant insanity at any time. Horses should be kept isolated from those people who are not very familiar with them as much as possible. That's why there are horse camps and they shouldn't be brought in a non-horse campground.

I can tell you first hand, a 1300 lb. animal such as mine can do some devastating damage to a human leg or foot. I know, I've been on the receiving end. Not fun sewing your toes back on, at all!

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

GrouseMan77
01-21-2011, 05:25 PM
In my opinion, horses are devastating to trails and should not be allowed. There are some trails that I've been on once and will never step foot again due to the presence of horses. I'm just not a fan. I would have been the only hiking cowboy in the old west.

Mac
01-21-2011, 06:00 PM
JayB,
Since you replied to my thread directly I feel it only right that I comment on yours. I do find your analogy interesting but lacking in my point.
I do agree that there are times when people are not following all the rules that impact the park like people fishing with live bait, leaving worm buckets on the banks, and hikers on the trails with dogs. But to that point in the forty years of my hiking and fly fishing in the GSMNP I have never witnessed a Great Dane on the trail and very few live bait fisherman and worm buckets on the banks. I will also admit that I am putting both horses and riders in the same group.
All of these groups are very small segments of the population of the people enjoying the parks resources. It does seem to me that both the horses and horse riders for being such a small segment of the population seems to leave such a very large negative “foot Print” in the park. For what I have witnessed by the destruction of the trails, waist from the horses and the trash left in the camps it is obvious that this small segment leaves a larger impact than any others.
William

old east tn boy
01-21-2011, 07:54 PM
I take issue with the park's attitude about dogs. I searched the internet and visitor center information in an effort to establish an understanding about the restrictions on dogs in the park. Still not satisfied with the results I walked over to the info desk at the Sugarlands visitor center where three officials were standing chatting amongst themselves to seek an "official from the horse's mouth" answer. To make a long story short, if you can believe this, they told me bear attacks on dogs were the reason for the restrictions. Say what? They asserted bears would consider dogs prey and attack them and thus endangering their owners as well. Uh, fellows, bear are hunted with dogs! All bears hunters will tell you bears run from dogs, albeit large dogs to be sure but still, come on.

Nothing was mentioned about canine urine or feces as foreign bodies. Besides, there are lots of coyotes in the park. I'm doubtfully if the other wild critters there are able to distinguish between them and dogs simply by smelling their excrement. Different diets maybe? Who knows. Anyway....

Happy ending for me and Ms. Annie. I am about 6 decibels away from being legally deaf in both ears. A service dog can accompany her master anywhere in the park so soon Ms. Annie will have a new role to learn as well as grouse/woodcock/duck hunting.

spotlight
01-21-2011, 08:02 PM
I wish the park would give them about 5 designated trails and 2 campsites and say there you go! that way they can destroy what belongs to them and stay off the hiking trails I think any trails with large drainage systems like Hazel, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Noland, and Forney they shouldn't be allowed on.

One prime example of their so called fine trail maintenance that the horse groups do is Deep Creek they use huge boards to toss into the mud bogs that the horses create. They become slick and slippery to hikers when wet so it still leaves the hiker in the mud bog during wet conditions.

They are doing a GREAT JOB! I say ban them all from the park. I know when the new park Superintendent took his job last year a friend of mine sent him a congrats and let him know that he's do just fine as long as he knew how things worked. He told him how his boss is sleeping with the horse lobbyist I tried to find it but couldn't its awesome! as for horses they get a huge NO vote from me!

As for dogs sorry guys a NO vote from me as well I hiked 700miles on the Appalachian Trail in 2009 and I made it a point to separate myself from people and their barking, usually wet and stinky dogs. No I don't hate dogs I love them one owns me and she is my baby! but I don't even like taking her frontcountry camping she barks at other dogs when they pass and I feel it may disturb others....so she goes to the doggie kennel they treat her well and she likes it there and I know she is safe. I always like hiking in the park and run into people with their dogs and politely tell them are you aware dogs are not allowed on the trails? It's always the same answer Oh no we didn't know that!

whitefeather
01-21-2011, 08:31 PM
I take issue with the park's attitude about dogs. I searched the internet and visitor center information in an effort to establish an understanding about the restrictions on dogs in the park. Still not satisfied with the results I walked over to the info desk at the Sugarlands visitor center where three officials were standing chatting amongst themselves to seek an "official from the horse's mouth" answer. To make a long story short, if you can believe this, they told me bear attacks on dogs were the reason for the restrictions. Say what? They asserted bears would consider dogs prey and attack them and thus endangering their owners as well. Uh, fellows, bear are hunted with dogs! All bears hunters will tell you bears run from dogs, albeit large dogs to be sure but still, come on.

Nothing was mentioned about canine urine or feces as foreign bodies. Besides, there are lots of coyotes in the park. I'm doubtfully if the other wild critters there are able to distinguish between them and dogs simply by smelling their excrement. Different diets maybe? Who knows. Anyway....

Happy ending for me and Ms. Annie. I am about 6 decibels away from being legally deaf in both ears. A service dog can accompany her master anywhere in the park so soon Ms. Annie will have a new role to learn as well as grouse/woodcock/duck hunting.

That just goes to show you that those people don't get out much. Bears might attack a dog to protect their young, but the reverse...nahhh! They run like **** to get away. As for bears attacking and eating humans, black bears are ominvores. If a human is killed and partially consumed by black bears then something is very wrong ecologically and the bears need to take a dirt nap. As far as the feces, urine thing, that's what I was told. Didn't really believe it. I mean, what are the odds that a wild animal is going to come down the trail looking for the poop bandit, except maybe a coyote, which do have a very nasty scent when rutting. And then again the wild critters can smell things for miles and probably wouldn't even approach the area till the smell went away. And as for mother nature, she is a hek of lot tougher and defiant than some college programmed bureaucrat could ever imagine. She ain't gonna make serious changes because something new pooped in the woods. Just my opinion, subject to change with adequate proof!

Whitefeather
________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

501
01-21-2011, 10:43 PM
Most of the dog problems I've observed seem to be more of a people problem than anything else. These include rule violations and dog owners who are just plain inconsiderate of others. If you've ever spent a rainy night in an AT shelter when someone showed up with their wet dog then you already know (vehemently) why dogs are banned in the backcountry.

Lee

Jim Casada
01-22-2011, 09:03 AM
Whitefeather--The answer you got has no validity. You made some of the points why, but it goes beyond that. Many of the folks who work at the visitor centers are volunteers, and even those who are full-time Park employees often seem to be woefully lacking in knowledge. More than once I have asked questions at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to which I already knew the answers and knew them in detail. I did so simply to satisfy myself on my unfortunate observations that sometimes the "authority" factor is lacking in authoritative information. Examples of questions I have asked would be the whereabouts of nearby graveyards, info on the history of the immediate area, and if the structures at the pioneer farm were original to that location. I've gotten answers which ranged from precisely correct to so far afield as to be mind-boggling. I think in your case you happened on three folks who needed to group IQs when it came to the subject in hand in order to reach the three -digit level.
Having said that, there are also some absolutely wonderful folks at visitor centers who know their stuff, are extremely pleasant, and who obviously understand working with people. Still, I detest folks who just make up answers (and that's pretty much what you got) when they don't have a clue.

I'll chip in on one other thing. A couple of you mentioned cars as being the Park's biggest problem. I don't quite get that unless you are referring to Cades Cove. In that instance, you have a point. Otherwise though, here's only one thruway in the Park and the little gravel side roads such as Parsons Branch and Heintooga/Straight Fork don't get all that much usage. Now a traffic-connected problem which does vex me is loud motorcycles. I have nothing against motorcycles per se, but why in the world do a small percentage of those who ride them feel compelled to have incredibly loud mufflers? There are many places where you can hear them miles away under certain conditions.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Speckleman5
01-22-2011, 09:30 AM
In no way am I defending the use of horses, I would much rather walk. But to portray thatthey leave a huge trashy mess in the firepits is a little extreme. Maybe you ran across one that did it, but most of the time since they are packing it in on horses they pack it out. I have seen trash left much more frequent by lazy hikers who would rather leave their trash, clothes, tarps, etc. than pack it out. Just saying the trash argument isn't valid, the horses don't use fire pits.

buzzmcmanus
01-22-2011, 10:09 AM
If the park was to ban any one group of individuals because of the trash they generate, I would hope they ban newborns. I understand why noone would want a dirty diaper in their car, but please don't leave them at every pull off.

A couple of you mentioned cars as being the Park's biggest problem. I don't quite get that........
What's worse for the environment, a couple dozen horses leaving their presents on the trails, or the thousands upon thousands of cars leaking oil, gas, antifreeze on the roadways? These fluids get washed directly into the streams that I like to fish. I would love to see the park limit the number of automobiles in the park.

Jim Casada
01-22-2011, 10:21 AM
Michael--Obviously the horses don't use firepits, but tyhe horse owners do. In my experience they are, collectively, much less responsible than backpackers. Mind you, there are exceptions aplenty on both sides. My point was that, in addition to horseback campers being more prone, in my observation, to leave trash, they also have more trash because they can bring in much more "stuff."
I've observed this for almost 60 years across most of the Park, and there are enough other comments on this thread to indicate that plenty of others have as well.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada
01-22-2011, 10:55 AM
Buzz--I have to respectfully but stridently suggest that your argument is invalid. Here's why I feel that way.

1. It isn't "a couple dozen horses." Instead, it is untold thousands when viewed on an annual basis. Just taken the Park concessions alone (four of them with many horses in each operating throughout the warm weather months) you have thousands of trail trips. And that's but the beginning of things, because there is even more horse traffic from private owners. Just visit Straight Fork Horse Camp or Pretty Hollow Horse Camp on any weekend in the spring, summer, or fall and you'll exceed your "couple of dozen." Or go to the parking areas at the end of the Road to Nowehre and check out how many horse trailers are there. You aren't being fair when you make your argument by minimizing numbers in a highly inaccurate fashion.

2. While I will readily grant you that cars equate to pollutants of the kind you mention (and you could have strengthened your contentions by mentioning another one, exhaust fumes), there must be an awful lot of streams you don't like to fish. Roughly 75 percent of all Park streams have drainages which are, because of the whereabouts of roads and topography, totally unaffected (other than exhaust pollution, which you didn't mention) by drainage from roads. Eagle Creek, Hazel Creek, Chambers Creek, Forney Creek, Raven Fork, Bradley Fork, Mingus Creek, Little Cataloochee, Collins Creek, Cooper Creek (Park portion), Indian Creek, Pretty Hollow Creek, Rough Fork, and Big Creek on the N. C. side fall into this category, and all but very small portions of Deep Creek, Noland Creek, and Twentymile Creek do as well. Straight Fork is road accessible, but only by a little used gravel road. That leaves, on the N. C. side, only Luftee, Cataloochee, and Beech Flats Prong with major road connection, pollution-wise. I guess you could technically argue that Deep Creek drainage lies underneath the Clingmans Dome Road, but I think if would be mighty difficult to trace much if any auto-related pollution making its way as far down the mountain as Left Fork or Right Fork.
Much the same situation prevails on the Tenn. side, with only Abrams Creek, West Prong of the Little Pigeon, Tremont, Little River, and Walker Camp Prong being dramatically affected. Other drainages such as Road Prong, most of Cosby Creek, Roaring Fork (gravel road only), Panther Creek, etc. are little affected or not at all.

3. In other words, if what you say is meant in the most literal sense; namely vehicular pollution drainage flowing into "the streams I like to fish," then you must be selecting those which are served by roads. Do you see how that contradicts your argument, given the fact that there are far more streams which are totally unaffected? You like to fish affected streams, but by saying that you are indicating you get to them by using a vehicle. Just look at the list above and you have options aplenty to avoid your worry. That is not true in any sense for horses, because they are allowed on portions of all but a very few drainages.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

buzzmcmanus
01-22-2011, 12:09 PM
Jim, maybe I chose the wrong arguement for my case. I just think cars and roadways are ugly. This is just my opinion. I wish the park could do something to reduce the amount of cars driving through the park, such as an entrance fee, but I know that is not possible. I should have never even mentioned horses in my last post, I could care less if they are in the park or not.

And, I have nothing against backcountry streams. I probably fish them about as often as most folks on this board. However, I live and work in Maryville. I'm able to run out and fish for an hour or so 2-3 times a week after work. Do to time restrictions, I'm limited to streams in close proximity to roadways. It's either fish close to a road or stay home and do yard work.

Jim Casada
01-22-2011, 01:14 PM
Buzz--No argument from here on cars. I'm never happier, fishing-wise, than when I'm miles from the nearest vehicle (and horse).

As for the entrance fee, the federal government promised, as land was being acquired for the Park, that there would never be an entrance fee. That was a small sop to folks losing all they loved and also because area residents contributed mightily, at least from the standpoint of what they could afford, to fund raising. Of course, since when did government or politicians keep their promises? In this case though, even though I personally would be philosophically supportive of an entrance fee, there would be a justified outcry of major proportions. It would also be a real nightmare in some areas, such as lower Deep Creek near Bryson City, where hundreds of locals go to walk, jog, and bike ride (one of the three or four places you can do this).
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Owl
01-22-2011, 01:38 PM
I'm a bit torn on this issue. On one had, you guys make very valid points against horses. On the other hand, I wonder how we'd feel on a horse forum where they wanted to ban fishermen? ( yes, I realize the difference in impact, etc. but that doesn't change the fact that what it all boils down to is one group wanting to ban another.)

On one hand, the horses create a few problems. Once, over near Cataloochee, my wife and i were almost run down by an excited horse. It charged down the trail, it's owner lashing it with the reins, and came within two feet of hitting us as we scrambled to get out of it's way.

On the other hand, when we've come to see a horse eating some grass or muddying a trail as "destructive!"...well, even though the impact isn't as great, you could say that fishermen break limbs, wear down the banks and scratch rocks with their new rubber and studded wading boots and wading staffs. I've read that fishing is allowed because of tradition. Horses too. If we push for an end to horses in the Park, whose to say some hiking group doesn't push for an end to fishing?

In the end, I think there's a very important lesson to be learned from this debate. And that is this: All outdoor enthusiasts need to stick together or we fishermen may someday find that we're last on the chopping block, with no one else to stick up for us. After they've banned horses, carts, swimming, dogs, hiking and fishing....I guess we'll all just suit up in our government required hovercrafts and go for a "hike" in "our" National Park. Just remember not to touch anything, please...

Jim Casada
01-22-2011, 02:01 PM
Owl--Although there is certainly validity to your argument from the standpoint of stand together or fall divided, in my view it is rather weak or even breaks apart in the case of horses. That is because in many senses the comparison isn't valid. The amount of damage horses do is exponentially larger than that done by fishermen. You don't have anglers eating endangered plant species. You don't have fishermen leaving open fecal deposits (at least not if they have an IQ reaching three digits), and you don't have fishermen (or hikers) doing significant damage to trails which leads to major erosion.

A better approach might be--how much do the horse folks (many of whom, incidentally, are fishermen) give back in terms of trail maintenance, membership in the Great Smoky Mountains Association or Friends of the Smokies, clean-up activities, and the like? How much do fishermen stack up on the same scorecard?

On a personal level I belong to the GSMA and have bought items at Friends auctions over the years, but I could admittedly do more in terms of volunteer work. I do make a point of picking up trash regularly, and I have tuaght in the Smoky Mountain Field School for years (I get paid a bit for this, but rest assured the monetary return is not commensurate with the effort involved).

You can also make a very sound argument that anglers in general have done a lot of good. Look at volunteer help with stream surveys, Troutfest and countless others infusing money and man hours into the Park,and much more. Where is a comparable positive effort from the horse people? If horse riders have done much of this, I don't know about it.

I'm unquestionably hard-headed on this matter of horses, but it is the product of long experience. Personally, I've just had it with horses (well really, the folks who use them). I've seen too many befouled campsites, too many places where horses have gone off trail or traveled on trails they weren't supposed to travel, too many instances where horses have been left tied up for hours as they destroy everything within the circumference of the tie ropes length, too much damage in general, and too much detritus left behind where horse campers were involved. I'll simplify the whole thing. The basic concept of backcountry camping is "leave no trace." Since when did horse camping or horse riding leave no trace? By way of contrast, do anglers leave much trace? Maybe some but not a lot.

You do have one quite valid point. There is unquestionably a mindset in a certain segment of Park bureaucracy, and it is more prevalent than it was a generation ago, that the ideal situation would be to pretty much exclude the human presence--period. I've talked to Park officials, especially younger ones, who regularly use the possessive form when speaking of the Park, and when they use "our" it doesn't include us. Of course they don't give much analytical thought to who pays their salaries and who the real owners (the entire nation) are.

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

old tom
01-22-2011, 03:05 PM
By my count, we've had 17 different users weigh in on this matter, most of us saying in one way or another we don't particularly care for horses in the Park. In reality, demanding a total ban of horses from the Park isn't going to happen. I think we all could agree on that. But what if we all sent a respectful letter or email to the Park Service stating our opinions and asking for something realistic, such as a reduction of 20-30% of the trails open to horses and likewise a 20-30% reduction in horse campsites. Don't muddy the issue with dogs, noise and air polution, etc. That would provide them with a chance to reply and lump them all together and dismiss us as a bunch of radical tree huggers. And don't make it too long either - something that could be read in less than one minute.

Here's the contact information: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/contacts.htm There's an email link at the bottom of the page. The Park Superintendent is Dale Ditsmanson and it might help to direct your concerns directly to him. Although I use email almost exclusively these days, I might just resort to a hand-written note on lined paper in this case.

Jim Casada
01-22-2011, 03:57 PM
Old Tom--Yours is an excellent suggestion, and if he gets a dozen letters on the subject with the right tone and tenor, suggesting something along the lines of a modest reduction, it might possibly have an impact. At the very least ,it will force him to give a reasoned response (which will be pretty difficult if it invlves total justificatin of existing policy). Consider my letter written and I challenge each of you to do the same. I will take the personal missive route, because I do think it has a bit more potential impact than e-mail. Also, since he is the only superintendent since the 1960s I have not written on the subject, it will be interesting to see just how he replies as compared to his predecessors.

I hope others will contact him. It will take no more time than responding to this forum. Incidentally, if you write, address it to him c/o Park Headquarters at Sugarlands (107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 377388).

Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

Jim Casada

whitefeather
01-22-2011, 04:14 PM
Jim,

First let me say, I don't think you're being hard headed about the problems of horses in the park. And I am a horse owner! That being said, let me say that I think you are reacting to what your experience has been within the park, but not overreacting. You have much experience my friend and it is wise for me to listen carefully to what you have to say.

Now let me say this. The horse is as indigenous to the land the park encompasses as anything else. The Cherokee were keepers and trainers of horses in that area long before the settlers ever came. They were used for farming, transportation, and eventually logging related activities when the settlers began their reckless harvest of the land. There were wild horses as well. Any damage done by them disappeared with the time period, the land lived on, things changed.

The one common denominator to everything that has been mentioned on this thread with regards to horses, otters, bears, motorcycles, fishing, trash, damage of any kind which is not natural, is this...MAN, and his possessive and/or selfish attitude towards everything, and his lazy attitude at doing his job in the environmental hierarchy. Fish, wildlife, and nature don't have attitudes, they have instinct, they overcome and survive. Man alone is responsible for the un-balance.

Despite his fondest avocations, man can screw up anything, anywhere, anytime, as a result of his short sightedness with regards to others, the environment, and the avocations and interests of others. Whether he be a fisherman, a horseman, a hiker, no matter. His self centered ways, a by-product of his attitude, will dictate the mark he leaves on the landscape wherever he trods.

If you examine it closely with some open mindedness you will see that the park, a supposed paradise of perfection is indeed, not. And for one simple reason, man. But it is a treasure none-the-less and better than most places outside of it. Can it be better, yes. Will it happen overnight, no. It begins and continues with attitude modification. That begins with cause and effect. And that is where the problem lies. Man will be man and ignore the rules and the fall out to others. Laws were created to keep this situation in check. They work when applied, but if they are lax in their application, no cause and effect in the positive sense, problem resurfaces or gets worse.

We can all bit#$ about it and that's good in a sense. It means we are impassioned about what we feel. But that is not enough. Our ire towards the problems and their creators and our solutions should be demonstrated in positive, productive, and responsible ways. Banning things won't work. It goes against the very core of the freedom we all cherish. Fairness, in regulation and conservation will, but it must come from the bottom, up. And therein lies the daunting task.

Now, let me be the first to ask, how can I help? What can I do beyond what I am already doing to help achieve our goal?

Whitefeather
________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Owl
01-22-2011, 04:19 PM
Jim, your problem is that you have too much common sense. :)

You and I can see that there is a difference between man and beast, but there is a very good chance that not everyone would feel that way. For some, a single footstep is one too many and those folks are the real danger...not horses making muddy trails.

I'm simply talking about the big picture. Of all the land that is the GSMNP, how much of it is "destroyed" by horses? I think the impact seems far greater than it is, because the impact they make is so visible to hikers and fishermen. Perhaps the Park Service should rotate the trails where horse use is allowed. ten years on, ten years off. Something like that.

I understand there is a greater impact from horses, as I said in my original post. However, I do not think that impact is sufficient to call for a ban on horses in the Park. Again, we can say that horses cause too much damage, but undoubtedly the horse riders would disagree....just as someone from Sierra Club or PETA could say that fishermen cause too much "damage" and undoubtedly most of us would disagree.

In the end, it may be worth a few muddy trails in order to protect access to the Park for all users. You have the common sense to understand the difference, but there are some who do not - or will not understand it and slipping further down the slippery slope of banning this activity or that activity IMHO brings us closer to opening a door to the possibility of angling being banned.

As for the endangered plants, I believe there are only three endangered or threatened plants, one of which is a cliff-dwelling species requiring full sun and not likely to be available to horses in most areas - and another is a lichen.

Horses make a mess. That we can agree on. The need to ban them, not so much. But we can agree to disagree, I hope...

whitefeather
01-22-2011, 04:20 PM
Old Tom,

Excellent suggestion! You answered my question before I asked it and was able to post.

Fellas, will follow through immediately with email to the listed information.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

WVBrookie
01-22-2011, 06:06 PM
I only have one experience with horses in the park and that was with my wife's first and only trip to GSMNP - on our tenth anniversary. Quick, funny footnote: she wanted to go to Las Vegas; I talked her into the Smokies.:biggrin:

Her first hike in the Smokies was up Lynn Camp Prong and the smell of horse dung was unbelievable. Not a good first impression!

Other than that, I don't have experiences with horses in the park but I will comment regardless.

First, why do folks utilize the horse to get to the backcountry? Is it because they are not physically capable of getting there on their own two feet? Why take that privilege from the folks who are physically less fortunate?

If it is truly "untold thousands" of trips you are also talking about the potential for "untold thousands" of advocates/supporters for the park. If only a small percent enjoy the experience to the point where they donate to GSMA or FOS, you have a couple hundred new "members". To say the horse people do nothing to support the park is (IMO) unfair.

Owl touched on it in his post. How can you expect somebody to support a cause when you exclude them from the experience? How would you like those supporters to also back the other "causes" of nuisance bears and otters? I know if I were trying to make change in policy I would want as many people behind me as possible. I'm betting the horse people don't care much for the bear problem either.

I learned from the experience on Lynn Camp and I won't be back. There is enough other water in the park to enjoy a lifetime of fishing without having to deal with that experience again.

As an outsider I really don't have a dog in this fight but I have to agree with owl's logic....where do you draw the line?

Chris

Knothead
01-22-2011, 06:25 PM
My wife and I asked asked at Sugarlands why dogs were't allowed in the park except for a very few places. The lady stated that a bear will will go for the dog every time and ignore the people. I'm speculating that this is the old bear/wolf rivalry from centuries past? We had a poodle that would probably take on the bear and win. She took on collies and won! JMHO.

whitefeather
01-22-2011, 07:36 PM
Large poodles were once regarded as very good guard dogs for those same reasons. Ferrocious and protective. A manager I once worked for had one she would bring to her office at a ski area. You had to have permission from the dog to enter the office. Pierre would watch you intently the whole time you were there.

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

FishNHunt
01-23-2011, 06:22 AM
I have not read every post word for word but, skimmed over the majority of them and like others have said, I'm torn between the environmental aspect and the fact that the park was created for the "enjoyment of all".

Before this gets taken way out of context here please understand I'm only speaking of siltation at this point. I would like to see the amount of run off from 1 stream that horses use and the run off from the Elk in Catalochee. Acouple dozen elk using an area of only acouple 1000 acres can sure cause some bank damage. Considering they weigh close to the same amount and leave about the same sized foot print.

Can horse people be trashy? Yes, but, so can fishermen, campers, hikers, and automobile drivers. Do horses and the riders atop them do damage to the trails? Yes, so create a work day for them. With all the "horse power" they should be able to create nice smooth trails that fishermen and hikers can then enjoy. Maybe a suitable answer would be to open a trail for horse access for 2 years and then have a work day or week where they repair the trail and then close it for 5 years. Instead of trying to take the rights of one particular group away why not work with them to create a happy medium? I hate to see any one (legal) group be cast out of something that they find enjoyable.

The dog issue. I hunt with hounds. I make no appoligy for it and never will. There's more to hunting with hounds than harrassing an animal and then killing it. There is the bond between man and hound. There is the pure excitement of listening to acouple hounds bellow out that lonesome bawl as they track across the mountains. The pleasure of hearing the hound telling the world that he's finished his job and to come see what he's caught for you. Then the heart felt lose when one passes. The comrodery, history and traditions that accompany the sport.

I live and hunt near the park. Do I hunt in the park? Absolutely not. Do my dogs sometimes end up in the park? Yes they do. Do I notify the park service at 3am and let them know so? I sure do now. My dogs wear a GPS system and it's not uncommon for them to follow the track of a bear 20 miles in a day. Just for fun... I believe the park is 20 miles wide and about 80 miles long...??? or close to that. My dogs cannot read those white signs. I've tried and tried to get them to learn but, the best breed for tracking a bear must be the dumbest breed to teach to read. I can promise you people that were told that a bear will go after a dog before it does the human that is only a myth and or poor logic. IF that were the case the park service should ask every person that visits the park to take a dog along. I'd rather loose a dog as child. That being said... yes a bear will charge or "bluff charge" when it's cornered. Your poodle, ****zu, pug, and or boston terrier will 99.9% of the time dodge the charge if it even comes to a full blown charge. Now, my Plott hounds... well they will charge the bear back and if need be ride it down the mountain all while biting it's ear.
My hounds have been taken from the tree where they had brought a bear to bay at the swamp bridge in Cades Cove by a fellow hunter up with his family for an evening. Those dogs were turned loose in Butterfly Gap between Walland and Laws Chapel. They have been that far when they took a track from Chilhowee Lake, and Allegany.

I can't stand trying to sleep at Elkmont and having to hear the constant yapping of Fido across the road. Yes, keep them quiet if your in a camp ground. I however, do not want or see a need for a total ban on dogs in the park. I have to pay a 50$ per dog fine (bail) when the park service picks up my dogs that have went into the park after all my efforts to catch them failed. If your dog keeps up the neighbors in the camp ground you also should pay a fine. After all, you dog had no other choice but to come to the park.

As for the dog pee and poop. Come on. Are you serious? It's animal crap.

ONE LAST THING. To the person that brought up the lady slippers. There is a place (just outside the park) that my wife and I used to visit because she found the largest bunching of lady slippers that she's ever saw there. They are a neat flower... from a guy that doesn't much care for flowers. She was excited because she found yellow, pink, bright red, and green lady slippers.

Knothead
01-23-2011, 04:31 PM
I was saying we were told that dogs were not allowed because of inviting bear confrontations/attacks. It makes sense to me- a barking dog attracts a lot of attention. I wouldn't take my little dog just to protect me from the bears. My wife has a huge purse! It would take down Godzilla!

whitefeather
01-23-2011, 07:54 PM
Actually, one of the beat ways to avoid a bear confrontation in the wild is to make a lot of noise. Kids yelling, loud voices, dogs barking, bells clanging, etc. Bears will avoid those areas or turn and head another direction.

However, if a sudden unexpected confrontation occurs, do not raise your voice and scream or yell at the bear. You are challenging it and since your are not as big as the bear, the bear may accept your challenge. If you have food it may not matter anyway. In the case of black bear, banging a pot or something similar may change its mind and it may retreat. Depends on the time of year, such as mating season or if the bear has cubs, and you are between the mother and the cubs. DANGER! Bring bear repellent and be prepared to use it!

When I fished Yellowstone in Montana or Custer National Forest, I would use female fox urine cover scent. Chances of an encounter with a grizzly were pretty good. One afternoon I was wading waste deep in a clear pool near a whitewater confluence catching grayling. I was so intently concentrating on the fish because the fishing was so good that I didn't notice a Grizzly standing on the bank over my right shoulder. Grizzlies have poor eye sight, but she sniffed the air looking in my direction intently, but all she smelled was a fox in the river. I stopped moving, froze, and DID NOT stare at her. After maybe 30 seconds, she huffed, turned and meandered down stream. I was happy she wasn't there to go fishing and I wasn't in her favorite spot. A few minutes later, I heard her bawl for her cubs. I made a beeline for the pull off parking lot about 300 feet away! I was probably bawling louder than the momma bear! LOL!:biggrin:

Whitefeather
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

FishNHunt
01-23-2011, 08:17 PM
An adult bear climbs a tree for three reasons. 1. to feed on acorns. 2. for safety from snapping teeth... or the meewoo of that house cat in New Jersey... and lastly as a sign of submission. When two bears encounter each other in the wild the dominate bear will chase off the insubordanate bear... not always the smaller bear... and the insubordanate bear climbs a tree as a show of submission. As strange as this may sound... climbing a tree when confronted by a black bear will more than likely satisify the bears mood.

Owl
01-24-2011, 03:48 AM
FishNHunt: But would it satisfy his hunger? lol :)

whitefeather
01-24-2011, 01:48 PM
My luck would be meeting the insubordinate bear as he was running from the dominant bear and decided to come up the tree after I did. LOL!

He'd probably chew on me to get me out of the way so he could get higher. Black bears can climb in their sleep better than I ever could on my best day!LOL

Don't get caught between: (1) A bear and her cubs (2) a bear and food (3) a bear and their escape route (4) a bear and their favorite fishing hole!

Whitefeather (still laughing):biggrin:
_________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

JoeFred
01-26-2011, 12:27 AM
For when dots & dashes don't get noticed. Now... to get horses to read.:rolleyes:

http://www.smokystreams.com/mbpics/thread14787_pic1.jpg

whitefeather
01-26-2011, 01:59 AM
The horse riding concessions in the park were charging $75 per hour for a horse rental. So, the concessions are bringing $$money$$ into the park, albeit from leases to the concession owners and perhaps a split of some kind. I don't really know. However, I do know that not all of the people renting the horses are true experienced equestrians in the general sense.

This being the case, (1.) they are probably not able to control the horses they are on. Horse's under bit are not suppose to nibble things along the way. That is a very bad habit to let them get into. Trying to swallow with a bit in their mouths can choke them. Nibbling the wrong thing can kill them or make them very sick. But the horse is smart enough to know he has a new rider on his back and the horse will push the issue if allowed, every time. The horse is able to "read" the rider immediately and will try him at every opportunity. Put a knowledgeable rider on the horse, with a crop in hand, and after a few licks the horse will be encouraged to stop his bad habit. (2.) Shod horses do more damage than unshod horses. Shod horses know they have better footing and if allowed to go off the trail will do so any chance they get and will go willingly if directed. Unshod horses have a particular fright of slippery, wet places and most will hesitate to negotiate a slippery or stumbly path. (3.) The trail guide is supposed to keep his or her riders on the trail and within the rules. Many don't go to the trouble for fear they will somehow upset their clients. (4.) Many people who have had horses for years do these same things because they didn't take any riding or horse control training and are as ignorant as the rookies. It all boils down once again to the attitude of humans, not the horse. The horse is not and should not be in control. A human being is, or should be. Pleasure riding has its responsibilities and guidelines the same as any other sport, but too many people just ignore the rules.

I wouldn't expect to see too many rookies in the high country though, as their sore backsides and discomfort probably would not let them go that far. So if there are horseman in the high country causing problems by going off designated trails, littering, and allowing their horses to nibble on the greenery, then it is without a doubt just plain ignorance or selfishness that is the root of the problem. The same attitudes cause the litter and damage along the streams, campgrounds, and other places by "fisherman", children, as well as the adults in charge of them.

I have in the past spoken to people about their breaking the rules. In most cases they all said the same thing, "I didn't know that." In some cases they just cussed me out. In some of those cases I reported them at the nearest ranger station. In one of those cases they went to jail, immediately! There is a "correctional" facility within the park. Going before a local judge is one thing; going before a federal magistrate is quite another. Maybe if some of these people had to spend the rest of their weekend or vacation in jail, they would dial down their ignorant and selfish attitudes. Maybe not.

I do not take exception to any of the comments on this thread by any body who has posted. You have all been correct in your observations and I share your disgust with the "horse situation" in the park. When I visit GSMNP, I am a camper and hiker, but most of all a fisherman looking for peace and solitude in nature. It just ticks me off when I see the things that Jim and others have mentioned but I try not to let it ruin my experience. They are far too few and far too short lived.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Grumpy
01-26-2011, 08:58 AM
Wow, what an interesting thread, civil to, i like that.
I'm a horse , dog owner & someday, i would love to do a back country trip on our horses, probably never will though.
For all of those not familiar with horse poop, it is natural, unlike the stuff we eat, makes a great fertilizer as well.
As far as the poop in camps, i think ya'll hit the nail on the head, it's the HUMAN'S thought, not the horses.

Grumpy

JoeFred
01-26-2011, 01:33 PM
In my humble opinion, the disregard some riders have for the wellbeing of others is largely societal. It’s just that it seems the larger the “toy”, the greater the impact. (A reckless Yugo driver will create less fear and potential mayhem than a reckless 2.5 ton pickup driver.) Sadly, I do not see manners improving in recreation and other public areas until a bunch of us cowboys can first bring ourselves to showing respect to our spouses and dates. Next time you are at a Cracker Barrel, etc., take note of how often the guys helps the ladies with her coat and chair. Last night I did not observe this once. In fact, one cowboy seemed to make it his goal to get in his chair before his wife/girlfriend got to the table. He kept the hat on too. I’m guessing it was a Resistol George Straight 4X Felt.

JF

501
01-27-2011, 01:18 AM
JoeFred,
I think it has largely to do with how you "was reared." In my day young men were taught good manners, politeness, respect for their elders and how a gentleman behaved around a lady. In my opinion these concepts never go out of style. My two boys are both yes sir and yes mam types and I'm proud of that. Sadly many are never exposed to this training.

Lee

Rog 1
01-27-2011, 09:35 AM
I totally agree with the idea of manners and rearing....a lot of people think "manners" are a Southern thing...if so, so be it...my son has been raised to say Sir and Maam to all inquiries, excuse me instead of Huh?...a firm handshake and a look in the eye when greeting...if I had a dollar for every time someone has complimented my wife and I on how well mannered our son is I would be living up there somewhere near the park and fishing a lot more than I do....good manners will never go out of style and such behavior is still noticed by those people who opinions count the most...employers who deal with the public.

whitefeather
01-27-2011, 02:29 PM
10-4 and amen to manners and politeness, especially to our ladies.

Who was it that said, "An armed society is a polite society." Recent quote I read in American Rifleman Magazine. Teddy Roosevelt perhaps?

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile:

Streamhound
01-27-2011, 02:46 PM
Robert Heinlein wrote: "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life"

wikipedia says "Within the framework of his science fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly integrated recognizable social themes: The importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress non-conformist thought. He also examined the relationship between physical and emotional love, explored various unorthodox family structures, and speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices. His iconoclastic approach to these themes led to wildly divergent perceptions of his works and attempts to place mutually contradictory labels on his work. His 1961 novel Stranger in a Stranger Land put him in the unexpected role of a pied piper of the sexual revolution, and of the counterculture...

whitefeather
01-27-2011, 03:03 PM
Streamhound,

Thanks for setting me straight on the quote! I couldn't remember which issue of the Rifleman I saw it in.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled streams to all!:smile:

Knothead
01-27-2011, 08:24 PM
The only way I would pay $75/hour to ride a horse would be in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Saratoga or Belmont! Can you imagine what profit they are making? I have an idea what it costs as my neighbor has a show horse and her husband is a ferrier.

whitefeather
01-28-2011, 01:35 AM
Knothead,

Way too rich for my blood, but the stables at Smokemont always seem to have their horses rented. The conditions for them from what I have seen aren't all that great, and I would imagine their upkeep is "good enough to get by".

On the return of one of their trail trips and perhaps the beginning of others they all come trudging across the Luftee in one of my favorite fishing runs, in the fall when the water is low, mucking it up and spooking the fish into hiding the rest of the day, it seems. Don't know if they attempt it during high flows like there have been several times this January. I monitor the water gage on the lower Luftee over the internet for stream flow conditions.

Whitefeather
__________________________________________________
Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled streams to all!:smile:

JoeFred
01-28-2011, 10:17 AM
On a recent trip to Porters Creek, I was impressed by the number of 12 passenger vans parked at the trailhead (back to that in a bit). On the way, I pulled in at the portajohn at the picnic pavilion at which there were a number of horses and riders. As I was leaving, one of the younger guys said to another, "well, there was a sign." I thought nothing of it at the time. Then, hung on the closed trailhead gate was a nicely done wooden sign stating, "Trail Temporarily Closed to Horses." As I walked up the trail I saw a good many freshly (no butterflies yet) deposited horse piles (as we called them on the farm). Further up the trail, I encountered two large groups heading down the trail: one some very nice fellow "seasoned" citiizens, the other: friendly, college-age youth, many of whom were wearing red. I soon started back down also. When I arrived at the trailhead, the seniors were getting into vans marked "Jefferson County Hiking Club." The young people were getting into theirs, marked "University of Wisconsin Biology Department." :frown:

As I drove by the pavilion, the riders were still there, now joined by a Park Ranger... on the job.

JF

501
01-28-2011, 11:18 PM
Joe Fred,
Outstanding! Hopefully they were cited for this flagrant violation.

Lee

Knothead
01-31-2011, 12:20 PM
the stables at Smokemont always seem to have their horses rented
Yep! My wife and son went on a trail ride at Cades' Cove a few years back. I kept the dog. Not one for horses. Look at Orlando and the tourist traps there. Talk about costing a bundle!