Now this is our kind of politics: Utah Democrat and sometime BACKPACKER contributing photographer Lin Alder is redefining the concept of "campaign trail" with his bid to win the county commissioner seat in Washington County. Between Sept. 11 and 18, Alder and a fellow pol will hike and bike the 170-mile-long proposed route of the Lake Powell Pipeline, which will run through Washington County (which also includes Zion National Park and St. George).
Along the way, they'll stop for 11 public events in places like Kanab and Hurricane to meet with experts and discuss the pros and cons of the pipeline. If they complete the trek, they'll be the first humans to complete the route by manpower alone.
And rather than debate in a stuffy town hall or school gym, Alder and his opponent Alan Gardner will verbally spar atop the Hurricane Cliffs at the Honeymoon Trail. Guests who make the trek will get scenic desert views of the lands in question.
At the end of the trek, Alder and his companion Scott Hirschi, director of the Washington County Economic Development Council, will present a short film and slide show culled from their 7-day adventure.
This is possibly the most outdoor-centric campaign tour in history, and I can't help but wish John McCain and Barack Obama would take a page from Alder's playbook. Who needs de-fanged debates and overwrought conventions? Let's settle this whole "leader-of-the-free-world" thing with a cross-country hike/bike race instead.
What do you say, boys?
— Ted Alvarez