As you likely know, legendary hiker and professor Jerry Schad passed away recently. Many people have expressed how he had touched their lives.
Once I was an adult, I started my hiking history in Orange County, using his book as my sole reference to the surrounding trails. My girlfriend at the time, (she’s my wife, now), spent many of our first dates with Afoot and Afield in Orange County as our guide. When we moved to San Diego we bought the current edition of Afoot and Afield in San Diego. I bought a new version when that came out and then gave away my older version to a hiker new to the area.
Jerry Schad spent tireless hours exploring the area and took the time to share his knowledge with us. It’s hard to calculate the inspiration he’s given us to get outside. I feel he needs to be honored.
There is currently a petition to get the Coast to Crest Trail renamed the Jerry Schad Trail. This petition, as the time of this post, has over 1,000 signatures. Per the San Dieguito River Park website, the Coast to Crest Trail is:
A multi-use trail system for hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders that will extend from the ocean at Del Mar to the San Dieguito River’s source on Volcan Mountain, just north of Julian. This is a distance of approximately 55 miles.
I truly believe that Jerry Schad should be honored. However, I do have some concerns about renaming the above trail.
- There is already a trail in Balboa Park named after him. Trail 43 in Balboa Park, where Schad met his wife, has been renamed the Jerry Schad Memorial Hiking Trail in his honor.
- The San Dieguito River Park/San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy has spent a lot of time and money creating and marketing the existing portion of the Coast to Crest Trail. The Coast to Crest Trail itself is a sort of brand and may be linked to the future success of the trail. What would it cost to change all of the brochures that they may have printed. What potential impact would renaming have on any momentum they have in completing this trail?
- While hiking in Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve, I recall seeing a sign that referenced the Coast to Crest Trail. I imagine there are other similar signs along the proposed route. What future costs would be necessary to change all the signs?
I may be way off. I’ve contacted the San Dieguito River Park and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy to get their opinion on this matter, as I think they should at least be consulted, since they are responsible for creating, maintaining and marketing this trail. Perhaps renaming it the Jerry Schad Trail is the best thing for this particular hike, but perhaps it is too costly a change at this point. I haven’t heard back from them at the time of this post.
The point is, I’d want to know more about the cost and administration of the Coast to Crest Trail, his involvement in it, and how he felt about it, rather than pick a particular trail at random and name it in Jerry’s honor. My question would also be, “What was Jerry’s favorite unnamed peak in San Diego County?” Perhaps we can rally to get a peak that was special to him named after him.
In an era where parks are closing across the state, we should make the right choices to make sure our open spaces are preserved. That’s what Jerry Schad would have wanted, I assume.
I would appreciate your input on the matter, especially those who knew and hiked with him.
I communicated with both Robert Parkinson (the creator of the petition) and someone close to Jerry and have gleaned this information:
- Robert Parkinson is a very thoughtful individual and has put a lot and time and effort into researching and considering this endeavor.
- Jerry Schad’s wife supports the renaming, or at least appreciates the attempt.
- A representative from the San Dieguito River Park has indicated that renaming a section of the trail with the appropriate plaque would likely get support, as opposed to renaming the entire trail.
- Mr. Parkinson admits that renaming the trail The Jerry Schad Coast to Crest Trail may be the best compromise, since it requires less rework of signs, etc., while still honoring Jerry. He wishes he would have thought of that sooner.
From Jerry’s friend and avid hiker:
- Feels that since Jerry didn’t work on the Coast to Crest Trail (to his knowledge), it wouldn’t be best to name it after him.
- However, it is a fine and long trail and is worthy of Jerry’s name.
- When asked about naming a mountain after him, Jerry was modest and indicated that Trail #43 in Balboa Park was enough. His friend disagrees. He said something that I truly appreciate. He said that Jerry Schad is the John Muir of San Diego and needs to be acknowledged at such.
I will see what I can do.