Has anybody else seen the Mean Old Man?  

Today, skiing in a not-to-be-mentioned but somewhat-known spot, I met the 
Mean Old Man.  

The Mean Old Man is a bitter, old guy who is following backcountry ski lines 
and reporting them to the USFS.  He doesn't ski, but was sure to tell me that 
"with metal edges" there is no reason to ever need to trim anything.

He is an ex-USFS employee, now retired. He may well read this post, and if 
so I hope he responds.  His main point was that "the taxpayers" spend all of 
the money that supports skiing in these areas. What that has to do with skiing 
there or trimming there I don't know, since last I checked skiers are also 
taxpayers, and huge amounts of revenue are raised by the state thanks to 
skiing...a lot more than the Mean Old Man will ever raise. 

It's not clear how much the USFS cares or how much this was just one old 
disgruntled retiree (which, I thought ironically, is living off of a taxpayer-
subsidized pension if it's from the USFS).   The area I was in was not by any 
means clear-cut and, for the record, I have never cut there and don't know 
anyone that has, but it's seen a little bit of maintenance that forms overall 
relatively tight and inconsistent lines.

I made the point to him that as the rules are now, currently there is no 
trimming allowed whatsoever, yet entire ski areas rely on it and thousands of 
people live here because of it, so if he wants to positively influence the 
situation he should encourage education as to what is and isn't damaging in 
terms of trimming and to encourage more realistic boundaries to be set that 
people will follow.  That way there will be no Jailhouse Chutes like on Jay, and 
in exchange people will go and use loppers that can only do so much damage. 
I used deer hunting and fishing as examples of sports that are fairly good at 
self-regulating because the rules are reasonable.  If finances are his issue, he 
should encourage the formation of something like the Fellowship of the Wheel 
that contributes to and helps regulate the biking community.

Well that was a bad suggestion because apparently using our woods to go 
biking in is bad too.  The Mean Old Man didn't have kind words for the 
mountain bike trails that had been "grandfathered" at Perry Hill after being 
illegally cut.  I sure wish Perry Hill was in its pristine state and I just stuck to 
the bike path and roads. 

What exactly the woods are for he did not say, he just said what they aren't 
for, which is "selfish" people using them.  I guess he represents the selfless.  
There didn't seem to be any distinction in his head between wilderness areas 
(like Breadloaf) and state forests. I personally thought it is pretty selfish of 
him to burn fossil fuels to drive all over the state trying to ruin people's fun an 
lifestyle, but I guess that kind of pollution doesn't bother him.

Notably, someone had been in this area tagging and marking and widening 
this year. There were tags everywhere when there never had been before.  It 
serves as a good reminder...don't tag stuff. It attracts attention from guys like 
this, not to mention other skiers to your line.  When you see tags, rip them 
off. And whatever you do, don't discuss trailheads or post pictures of them on 
this or any other list, because he told me that's how he figures out where they 

It seems to me that he was far from home today and is being very deliberate 
about trying to identify where all of these are. Based on where he was he's 
reasonably good at finding them. It must be a crappy life to go around the 
woods getting angry all day at other people having more fun than you. 

I think the woods are a resource to be shared and the standards should be 
that your use should not impact others.  All of us know how fast these lines 
regenerate except in situations where cutting is wanton and irresponsible.  

The Mean Old Man thinks the woods are there to be left alone, or just to the 
activities that he likes to partake in. That's a big philosophical gap, and he had 
no interest in my opinion on the matter, that was clear.  So the best thing we 
can do is all tread lightly, not discuss where we go publicly, and not attract 
people like this to those places. 

If you read this, Mean Old Man, write back.  Let's go!


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