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for people who care about the West

Trail mix


As a former “traildog” (six summers in Glacier National Park), I much appreciated your June 26 issue on Western trails. I noted particularly the profile of Loretta McEllhiney, ace trails engineer, and Jacob Sax’s “Trailworker Slang,” though it should be noted that trail terminology and construction methods vary considerably throughout the West. Rick Bass’ essay should remind us that the national fad for long-distance hiking — and the egos that go along with it — can have negative as well as positive repercussions for plant, animal and human communities along the way. I hope that residents of northwestern Montana will study carefully the routing of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail to ensure that it has the least possible impact on the environment of the area. Readers interested in the details of trail construction and maintenance will enjoy Christine Byl’s fine book Dirt Work (Beacon Press, 2013). Byl has spent over 20 years doing trailwork in Glacier, Denali and other parts of Alaska and writes knowledgeably about trails and what it is like to be a woman doing what used to be considered “man’s work.”

David Stanley, general editor,
The National Park Readers
University of Utah Press
Salt Lake City, Utah