From: hobbit
To: Faith Salter  
Status: never sent...

I was in the Fells on Saturday, working on designing some more "vigorous"
routes to lead for their Friends group.  They seem very pleased that I'm
volunteering to help broaden their activities.

First, you need to realize that I'm not necessarily the only barefooter in
the Blue Hills.  In fact, pre-Covid there was an active Meetup community that
gathered in quite a few local parks on an irregular basis, whose archives
can be viewed at  and you can see several
trips to the Blue Hills in the list.  While that activity as a group has
fallen off to almost zero lately, I'm sure some of those participants still
get themselves out on hikes in the Blue Hills and elsewhere.

Second, I think you need to filter these hysterical reports better and apply
a little sanity and pushback.  Many of your leaders seem far too quick to
declare anyone without footwear as some kind of evil menace, and again, I'm
sure they're trying to brainwash other leaders and their participants to that
effect via their REGI postings and what they tell people.  If your staff
can guide your leaders toward accepting more diverse skills and respecting
peoples' choices with a little less prejudicial rigidity, maybe I could start
constructively participating again.  This isn't winter backpacking in the
Whites, local strolls can certainly be more laid-back.

Maybe you and people like Marc have missed it, but I do have a very positive
attitude toward group events whose organizers don't try to hand me arbitrary
bullshit.  I've helped leaders sort out directions and GPS tracks, steered
people away from poison ivy, cleared fallen crap and litter off trails, run
sweep sometimes, taken the big all-group photo, and numerous other helpful
functions to keep hikes moving.  Really, I do know what I'm doing out there.
[And my tracking and predictive route-timing skills evidently aren't too
shabby either; something I in fact use all the time in Harold Parker to get
our groups back in 2 hours.]

If your leaders refuse to appreciate and welcome such simple things, then they
need to stop painting me as some kind of monster and instead, regard me like
they would any other random joe in the woods.  Just like the dozens of other
people they see on the trail.  Are they going to call the cops on everybody
they spot coming the other way, for existing in a public park?  Be sensible
about this, have some perspective.  Show me the harm in trail-users greeting
each other, maybe exchanging a little small talk, and moving on.  People do
that all the time, in fact.  Even when I'm overtaking from behind, everyone
is gracious.

You and I should go on a hike sometime.  Not AMC-sponsored, just an informal
thing.  Pick a park, pick a route.  (Thorn thickets are out of bounds!)  Bring
anyone else along that you want.  Or maybe you could join one of my Fells
jaunts once they get scheduled up.  It's useful to see each others' skills
and capabilities and sense of place and environment in realtime, seek common
interests and observations, and appreciate how people who do this generally
all push in the same direction.  I can't understand why AMC has developed
such unfounded impediments to that, and allowed it to fester into some serious
institutional rot.  You know how to fix this with the most positive outcome,
I'm just waiting for it to happen.