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  #11  
Old 01-21-2011, 12:38 PM
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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.
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  #12  
Old 01-21-2011, 01:00 PM
JayB JayB is offline
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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.
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  #13  
Old 01-21-2011, 01:05 PM
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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.

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  #14  
Old 01-21-2011, 01:27 PM
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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.
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  #15  
Old 01-21-2011, 02:09 PM
Crockett Crockett is offline
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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.
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  #16  
Old 01-21-2011, 02:15 PM
MBB MBB is offline
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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.
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  #17  
Old 01-21-2011, 02:22 PM
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Default I will refrain from giving my opinion on this matter.

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.
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  #18  
Old 01-21-2011, 02:27 PM
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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.
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  #19  
Old 01-21-2011, 02:47 PM
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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.
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  #20  
Old 01-21-2011, 04:00 PM
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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!

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