Hipsters, thru-hikers, bonobos, thugs, and a former slave

This week's letters cover the gamut

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You Cannot Do It This Year

Hello, there! I just finished reading your article, “Trail Angels” (June 15 cover story_ on the PCT. By the end of March this year, I started thru-hiking the PCT myself and have completed about 900 miles of the California section so far. I also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail completely in both directions, so I know one thing or two about long distance backpacking.

Photograph courtesy Texaspoo

Contrary to what one of the quoted hikers in the article is saying, you cannot determine from the first glance who will make the entire trip and who won’t. Also, the snow levels in the High Sierra are so massive that you just cannot do it this year, as this hiker suggests.

There have been fatal incidents already this spring, according to rangers at Whitney Portal. Almost all hikers of the class of 2017 have bypassed the High Sierra to come back later for that section because there is not only way too much snow up there, it is simply dangerous, too.

Regarding trail maintenance: Having completed the Southern part of the California section, the one from Campo to Kennedy Meadows, I unfortunately have to say that the PCT is in most parts in very bad condition. It is so bad that hikers are forced to circum-hike countless blow downs by trampling new trails in sandy, nondurable soils and, thus, helping erosion in these parts of the trail. Which makes the permit system totally ridiculous since the trampling effect occurs not through overuse but through forced bypassing on steep mountain slopes that now get affected and could have been saved from being destroyed if there was any trail maintenance in the first place.

I am right now taking a four-week break from the trail to give snows in higher elevations time to melt since also parts of the PCT north of the High Sierra are affected by lingering snowpacks in higher elevations, but will be turning back soon to resume at Mount Shasta.

If you don’t have experience with mountaineering skills (hiking in deep snows in high altitudes, how to handle an ice axe etc.) don’t attempt to thru-hike the High Sierra section of the PCT right now.

This year is definitely different with California’s record snowfalls.

  • Manuela Pinggera
  • Bavaria, Germany

Hipsters Ruin Everything That’s Good

Re: “An Excuse to Talk about Wonder Woman,” Immortal Beauty, June 15

Don’t beat around the bush. Around these parts, we have a simple label for those so-called “beta males” — hipsters — and they’re ruining everything that’s good about San Diego (and Denver, and Austin, and — well, you get it).

Actually it’s probably best that there’s a new movie out since hipsters are incapable of higher forms of communication and the entirety of their conversation is the yapping and bleating of hashtags and movie quotes.

  • Nichole Fullerton
  • City Heights

Former Slave Turned Folk Legend

A San Diego middle school whose yearbook inadvertently published a vintage photo of a road map containing a street name with a racial slur was profiled in News Ticker (“Poway Discovers More about Nate Harrison”). The controversial word, removed in 1955, was applied to Nate Harrison, San Diego County’s first black settler.

Valley Center History Museum

29200 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center

Anyone interested in learning more about the former slave who became a folk legend in North County can visit the Valley Center History Museum which maintains an archive on Harrison and his homestead, and has a permanent exhibition in place.

  • Robert Lerner
  • Valley Center Historical Society

Why does the zoo hide them?

Why does the zoo hide them?

Doing What Is Natural

I discovered the wonder of bonobos when I was volunteering at the zoo and had the pleasure of getting to know them. There is no overestimating the tragedy if such unique creatures, our very close cousins, were not to be with us for future generations.

I once had a long talk with a woman who had been their keeper for a decade, about a little guy who always walked around with his face cupped by his hand who seemed upset. She told me, “First of all, being born a male means you’re in trouble to begin with.” The females do run the show among this crowd. She pointed out that the ubiquitous sexual play had nothing to do with bonding, as in other species such as ourselves.

For those with an interest in advanced genomics there’s this article in Nature: “The Bonobo Genome Compared with the Chimpanzee and Human Genomes.” It shows that we humans possess some of the lethal aggression of chimps, combined with the playful omnisexuality of bonobos. Like us, they have their moods, fears and neuroses.

Of course their neocortex, that part of the brain that allows us to assume that all difficulties are amenable to alleviation, are undeveloped, so they are who they are. Doing what is natural is their only option, and there are none in their species who impose moral judgement on themselves or others.

Hmm, maybe evolution is not all it’s cracked up to be.

  • Al Rodbell
  • Encinitas

They Do Indeed Send Out Thugs

I’m calling about an item that appeared in the May 18 issue, “Carl DeMaio Faces off against Jerry” (News Ticker). Apparently, Carl DeMaio was behind a petition to recall Senator Josh Newman who is in the 29th District — that’s up in the L.A./San Bernardino/Orange County area. DeMaio was saying that they are sending “thugs” out to keep people from signing these petitions.

Well, I’m a professional signature gatherer, and I can assure you that it’s very true that they do indeed send out thugs to stop people from signing. These thugs are usually in the form of young people, 30 or something. What they’ll do is approach a signature gatherer and just start yelling and screaming and do whatever they can do to discourage people from signing. It’s very disruptive. It disrupts the initiative process.

Petitioners are also registering people to vote. In one case I had one of these thugs interrupt me while I was trying to register someone to vote. We are all familiar with this tactic. It was done with the San Diego minimum wage referendum and a pension reform petition that Carl DeMaio was behind a few years ago. He’s very correct to use the word “thugs.”

The second bit of information I would like to add is that apparently attorneys for these grocery stores like Vons and Ralphs sent Carl DeMaio letters saying petitioners weren’t welcome. What the public should know is that these big box stores are calling the police constantly every time they see petitioners in front of the store. We’re protected by First Amendment, California, and Supreme Court laws.

  • Name withheld
  • via voicemail

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To "Name withheld via voicemail": The "professional signature gatherer" is a large part of the problem with these petitions (including the outrageous SoccerCity one). The signature gatherers tend to lie a LOT when asked to explain the petitions. They only care about getting signatures by whatever means, to increase their pay. And they aren't necessarily San Diegans. P.S. When is Carl DeMaio going to move to DC and join the Trump administration? He'd fit right in with that nest of vipers.

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