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My Saturday has generally gone well, and I got to see some beautiful sights (as will you below the orange filigree), but there were also a couple of moments of frustration and/or obnoxiousness that have spurred some political reflections.

Usually what I do before a day hike is trawl around Google satellite views looking for accessible trails in the area with reasonable parking options, and I thought I'd hit on something with great potential: A trail that parallels the San Gabriel valley while also making jags into canyons for some varied scenery, so there would be both the vistas and the safety of cellphone coverage.  It was also of a length that would have been challenging without being overly strenuous, and I'd never been there before - it all seemed to be going well.

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There were also some '70s or '80s-looking auto wrecks in a few ravines, I guess from back sometime when people were allowed to drive up there.  I hope no one died in them:

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And just when the desert landscape was starting to become monotonous, about halfway through my planned trip an idyllic little farm came into view, and I looked forward to passing by it more closely...

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...but...

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...DENIED.  A "Private Property: No Trespassing" sign was a few feet behind where I took that photograph, just so there would be no mistake about the meaning of the fence completely blocking the trail.  Thing is, the trail isn't that wide, and is carved out of the chalky rock of the hillside well beyond any of that farm's useable property, so as far as I could tell there was no rational basis to fence it off like that.  They could have put the fence at the bottom of the hill, or along the trail so no riffraff would dare to set foot on their pristine private property, and still not interrupted the damn trail - one which, by the way, the satellite map clearly shows starting up again just a hundred yards or so on the other side of the farm.

The pointless, inconsiderate selfishness of it just really got to me.  Who exactly do these people think uses these trails?  Marauding trail pirates come to steal their apples (or whatever it is they're growing)?  It would have been trivial - utterly trivial - for the owners of this farm to post signs indemnifying them against injuries or property losses to people who use that part of the trail (Enter At Your Own Risk), and tell people not to leave the trail while on the property - you know, being considerate to fellow citizens rather than acting like some fat medieval baron plopping a castle down in the middle of a public road.  

In England, for example - according to documentaries I've seen - there are public footpaths that go straight across private farms and even right in front of farmhouses, and everyone respects the public prerogative: As long as people passing through are respectful of the property they're crossing, there's no problem.  But Noooooo, we can't have that here.  That would be soshullisticky.  I was instantly pissed, and felt tempted to climb the fence and cross anyway - let them call the cops if they're that douchey, the fucks.  It's not like this was a place where I could just go around their property - they'd built a farm right up against a hillside, and cut a very scenic and interesting public trail in half.  Note that the owners would be able to cross the entire trail continuously, while everyone else would have to double-back, drive for fifteen minutes, and come from the other direction to see the other half of the trail.  Bastids.  Selfish rat-bastids.

Now, in the interest of fairness, I could be totally wrong about these people.  There are many possibilities for why they fenced off the trail that don't necessarily require their being human sewage.  If, for instance, they had a very bad experience with someone crossing their property and overreacted, I could understand that - although it's still wrong in every way: Morally, ethically, and civically.  Or if some government agency told them they had to.  Etc. etc.  But I doubt it.  I think they just closed it off because they could and resent people being on their property, however far from any actual asset, or how respectfully (and briefly) people cross it.  It makes me sick to my stomach, knowing how likely that is to be the reason.

Having my trip cut off halfway through was demoralizing - I'd set a challenging goal for myself, and was making good progress, and then here's this damned fence and suddenly my plans are kaput.  All so someone's precious property wouldn't be soiled by my presence for the all of 5 minutes it would take to cross, dozens of yards from any building or crop.  I'm a little surprised how much harder hiking is in a demoralized state - muscles seem to drag, and everything is annoying.

Anyway, I decided not to let Herr Trailfencer (whomever he/she/they is/are) ruin my day, so once I got back to the trail head, I took a different path up into the mountains and got some great canyon vistas:  

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I was a little irritated by the prevalence of graffiti on the rocks going up this trail.  Why the hell would taggers go up there to do that?  First off, the exposed rock faces in these mountains have basically the consistency of hard chalk, and any exposed surface will fragment and break within a few years - the trails are littered with the evidence of that.  So there's no "immortality" to be had from tagging them, and based on the scribble-y-ness of the graffiti, I doubt any of them were based on artistic ambitions.  So what the hell is the point?  Why even go into the mountains if that's the kind of people they are?  Surrounded by natural beauty and awe-inspiring vistas, the thought that pops into their head is that they want to scribble some illegible bullshit in neon orange paint on a rock that won't be there in ten years.  Who does this?  What is this strange species of asshole that is intrepid enough to seek out mountain landscapes, but still mindless and soulless enough to futilely try defacing them?

So that was the second type of asshole I ran into on this trip - at least, by their works - but the third type were present in person.  At the trail head is a great big sign saying No Motorized Vehicles.  A little ways further up the trail is another big sign saying No Motorized Vehicles.  Who should zoom past me, but not one, not two, but three assholes on...you guessed it...motorized vehicles.  Specifically, unmuffled motorbikes belching out totally unfiltered smoke into my face as they passed, and making that loud revving sound only truly committed assholes find appealing.  I couldn't help thinking, "If you fucks accidentally zoom right off a cliff, try not to land on any birds or lizards - that might be a tragedy."

More melancholy thoughts occurred to me as the trail became less and less maintained, going from solid pavement to patchy pavement to dirt, and then to rocks, finally dead-ending with a "Road Closed" sign on a metal gate.  This was the main trail, and I could have easily bypassed the gate - many hikers and bicyclists do - but I wasn't in the mood for more disappointments, and I could tell looking past the gate that the trail hadn't been maintained in a long time.  That got me wondering, why aren't these trails better maintained?  Why are most of them defunct, overgrown, and blocked off, and much of the remainder in poor condition?  Why are the signs all rickety, old, bullet-ridden, and rusted even on maintained trails?  

The answer isn't hard to guess - decades of neglect.  Tax cuts and budget cuts leading public agencies to cut corners over, and over, and over, until there are no corners, just an ever-shrinking circle.  And that got me thinking back to how shiny and spotless the gate blocking off that farm had been, which opened up a whole domain of thought - how new and well-maintained the churches, corporate centers, and commercial areas are compared to the schools, libraries, and roads.  The more I thought about it, the more disgust turned to something like cold fury.  For instance, why does the public have to pay fees to enter National Parks?  The owners of private parks don't have to pay fees to enter their own property, do they?  So why does the public have to pay to enter their own property?  Well, because rich people don't want to pay taxes for the benefit of their country, so parks departments don't have the resources to do their jobs, so instead they ask us to pay for the privilege of using our own property.

Enough.  I don't want to read one more goddamned news article about budget cuts ever again.  Not on the state level, and not federally.  No more fees.  No more tolls.  Not on roads, not in parks, not anywhere.  Enough of this pay-for-use shit - either it's public property or it isn't, and if it is, then it's paid for with tax money.  And if there isn't enough tax money, raise fucking taxes.  Raise them on the people who obviously have too much money on their hands.  Raise until we can afford for every school to be spotless, every road to be well-paved, every bridge to be structurally sound, every designated wilderness trail under the purview of a public agency to be kept up and safe, and countless other things besides that a civilized nation simply expects rather than treats as luxuries that we peons dare not demand.  Not one fucking more cent of budget cuts.  Not one more cent of fees or tuition hikes for college students.  It's about time we re-nationalized the nation.  Sick of this shit.  

Anyway, there was a consolation prize - a different trail led up to a series of terraced overlooks, and I think you'll agree the sights were worth the trip:

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Originally posted to Troubadour on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 09:17 PM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

    by Troubadour on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 09:17:14 PM PST

  •  Hike Scotland. Generally You Can Use All of All (6+ / 0-)

    the trails, provided you mind the sheep gates. Different approach to property rights.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 09:42:43 PM PST

    •  I'll get there eventually. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crose, Youffraita, Rileycat

      I'd want to do Switzerland first - supposedly they have the best-maintained trails.

      A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

      by Troubadour on Sat Jan 28, 2012 at 09:48:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They have the best (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Rileycat

        melted-cheese dish, at least!  No, I don't mean fondue.  I mean Raclette.  It's a peasant dish native to the Valais district and it is delicious.

      •  Excellent trail system and mind-boggling ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        scenery. One of my favorites is Schynige Platte to Grindelwald via the Faulhorn. We took the cog train from Interlaken up to Schynige Platte initially. You can hike up, but it is a haul. Then we hiked across to the hotel at Faulhorn, where we spent the night. The benefit of this is that, weather permitting, you can experience 360 views of the Swiss Alps and Jura (I think) at sunset and again at sunrise. Then, in the morning we continued on to First above Grindelwald with ever improving views of the Eiger, Moench, Jungfrau trio. From First, you can ride down to Grindelwald, although we walked. This was an incredible hike, although I confess we were blessed with amazing weather when we did it.

        I really must find a good sig line!

        by Rileycat on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 10:21:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Is Switzerland as expensive as its reputation? (0+ / 0-)

          A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

          by Troubadour on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 03:54:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's pretty expensive, as is most of northern ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            Europe (especially Scandanavia, in my limited experience). Swiss currency, in particular has remained strong against the dollar and Euro. However, as most places, there are a lot of ways to limit expenses. The Swiss Rail and bus systems can get you pretty much anywhere you would want to go; you don't need a car. There's a range of hotels and things and we generally shop for breakfast and lunch and save the restaurants for dinner (it's not really that Swiss restaurants are that expensive, it's that they haven't fully figured out the Applebees thing - modestly priced, generally bad food at sit-down "family" restaurants - so it's harder to avoid the higher restaurant bills). However, I should confess that most of our meals were provided by Milhaus (mother-in-law house).

            The resorts, of course, can be very expensive. You can look for smaller resorts - they're all over and might be less expensive - but still great.  You also could look for an apartment for a week or something. If you're hiking and in one of the big resorts (i.e. Zermatt, Grindelwald, St. Moritz, Davos, etc.), you could explore other villages in the area and get most or all of the bang for the buck. You also could look for hostels - they are no longer just for kids.

            One thing that is expensive, but I don't think should be skimped on are the mountain access amenities the Swiss are famous for. You're gonna want to take the funaculars, lifts, cog rails, etc. up to some amazing views (and restaurants) and even to trailheads - some you can take one way and hike the other (make sure you know what you're getting in to - the one ways can be significant).

            Anyway, expensive but manageable, with planning (or the carefree approach of youth!). Teh Google is your friend.

            p.s. Just wanted to concur with another commenter that Scotland long distance hiking trails, are terrific and cheaper.

            I really must find a good sig line!

            by Rileycat on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 06:55:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Agree. Except during lambing season. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      I really must find a good sig line!

      by Rileycat on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:55:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Couldn't possibly agree more (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, progdog, Renfriend
    Enough.  I don't want to read one more goddamned news article about budget cuts ever again.  Not on the state level, and not federally.  No more fees.  No more tolls.  Not on roads, not in parks, not anywhere.  Enough of this pay-for-use shit - either it's public property or it isn't, and if it is, then it's paid for with tax money.  And if there isn't enough tax money, raise fucking taxes.  Raise them on the people who obviously have too much money on their hands.  Raise until we can afford for every school to be spotless, every road to be well-paved, every bridge to be structurally sound, every designated wilderness trail under the purview of a public agency to be kept up and safe, and countless other things besides that a civilized nation simply expects rather than treats as luxuries that we peons dare not demand.  Not one fucking more cent of budget cuts.  Not one more cent of fees or tuition hikes for college students.  It's about time we re-nationalized the nation.  Sick of this shit.

    BTW, I don't know what the right-of-way laws are in your state, but that farm could very well be violating them by cutting off that path.  Just sayin' -- might be worth looking into.  IANAL, but if the public has used a right-of-way (even through private property) for long enough...I don't think the people who own that property are legally allowed to close it.  Ask a lawyer: but I don't think they can unilaterally do that, whether they own the land or not.

    •  That is a good point. I'll look into that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Youffraita

      A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

      by Troubadour on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 01:03:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I suspect Youffraita is correct, depending on how (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Youffraita

        old the gate is, and whether you can document public use.  Alternatively, if the gate isn't locked, you can go through, especially if it isn't marked no trespassing and let them complain about it.   Admittedly, they might just shoot you, which is a risk, but I'm not sure that they have a legal right that they can assert here.

  •  Part of the problem is that we have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    neglected to let the owners of "private property" know that their ownership comes with an obligation to share.  But, one of the reasons private property rights aren't properly defined is because ownership is largely a sop to compensate for the fact that other human rights, more basic rights like talking and walking where one likes, are being routinely denied.

    Restricting property rights in addition just generates too much resentment, so the issue is ceded to whoever wants to contest it.  OWS is making a good beginning, prompted in part by the realization that even public property is becoming exclusive--i.e. acquired and maintained to keep the majority of the people out, if not entirely then by time restrictions.  "Closing" park lands after dark is an example. Many nature preservationists are actually motivated by a desire to keep humans out.  Of course, they get much sympathy from people who resent the introduction of machines that tear up the environment and kill off the vegetation and critters.
    Respect for man and nature is in short supply in a culture that has promoted the ex-men since their arrival from distant lands to

    explore
    exploit
    export
    exact
    extort
    explode
    exhaust
    exterminate
    extract
    etc.

    Endeavors, all of which were legally authorized as rights with charters and permits.  Until human rights came in fashion, most public officials were engaged in doling out our resources to the ex-men.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 04:38:53 AM PST

    •  Interesting point re: closing after dark. (0+ / 0-)

      Hiking at night certainly is more dangerous - and since I hike alone (so far), I haven't tried - but if people wanted to, there's no reason public agencies that operate these lands couldn't make accommodations for them.  All it would take is extra money - i.e., raise taxes.  And obviously this country needs for people who have money to pay their damn fair share already.

      A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

      by Troubadour on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 04:09:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beautiful day for a hike (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    I guess we are neighbors. I'd love to join you on one of your hikes. PM me if you'd like company.

    My new favorite RIGHT WING website: NewtCantWin.com It's what the RIGHT thinks of Newt! Enjoy!

    by pucklady on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:26:22 AM PST

  •  Another nice thing in Britain... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    ...is that there is no private shoreline. There is a margin of specified yardage along each side of a river which belongs to the Crown, so you can always walk the shore. Goddamned soul-killing socialism.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:46:17 AM PST

    •  Private beaches are an abomination. (0+ / 0-)

      No more obvious case for eminent domain exists than the borders of a nation, especially when they involve such natural beauty and splendor.  Time to get rid of the perversion of the private beach.

      A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it. --The First Law of Mentat

      by Troubadour on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 03:59:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rancho Cucamonga ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    I can't hear that name without thinking of this :

    We've had great weather here lately, so we're going to take a hike in the desert today.

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