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Old 07-22-2020, 02:45 PM   #1
rbi99
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Coming to backpack and quarantine

I am planning on coming up in Sept to backpack for three nights at Colden Lake. Being from Ohio, as of right now I am supposed to quarantine for two weeks. I would need a room the first night after driving up, then, depending on how my knee feels after backpacking and climbing Marshal, I might need a room after hiking out. So two nights in a motel and three nights in the woods. I am asking here if that would be an issue for me, hoping a member might be able to give me a quicker answer than trying to contact a government office.
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Old 07-22-2020, 03:15 PM   #2
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I would stay as far away from the Lake Colden area as possible for the remainder of the "nice weather" season of 2020. The use levels in the Eastern High Peaks (the High Peaks generally) this year are absolutely off the charts. Last weekend felt like Labor Day Weekend... and it's still only July. August is going to be a rough month. Usually things quiet down a bit in September... but I think everywhere in the High Peaks is going to be experiencing "well above average" levels of use for the remainder of the 2020 season.

And it's not just high levels of use- but high levels of inexperienced use, with zero effort to research things like Leave No Trace or the state land use regulations in advance. Lots of groups showing up without bear canisters, lots of groups showing up with BearVaults, lots of groups showing up with a single bear canister for 6-8 people, lots of groups who have enough of the right canisters but still don't know how to use them.

My favorite from this past weekend was the group of 3 guys who showed up, no bear canister, charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid in one of their packs and a grill strapped to the outside of the pack, expecting that they would be able to cook steaks over a fire at Lake Colden. Even worse, they knew they were supposed to have a bear canister... and frankly did not seem to care.

Mid-week use levels this year are like weekend use levels of any prior recent year. Weekend use levels this year are indescribably bad. Responsible hikers are absolutely staying home. Irresponsible hikers are showing up in droves.
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Old 07-22-2020, 03:26 PM   #3
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Wow, that's depressing news. I was coming up Sept 20 which is a Sunday and hiking in Sept 21. You say even mid week sucks, but I could come up on Monday 21 and camp Tues-Thur.

Last year I tried the Catskills for the first time (stayed in a hotel didn't backpack). While coming down from Slide Mt I met a group of people (had to be 10+) that were planning on staying up there overnight. One guy was carrying the tent, still in the box and looked like he got it from Walmart, while two guys were carrying this giant ice chest. They weren't a quarter of a mile in and yet were all sitting down exhausted. Never saw anything like that in my life. To boot I passed a bear both times I was on the trail (once just scouting it, the other the day I climbed).
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Old 07-22-2020, 03:29 PM   #4
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Would Wolfjaw leanto be any better? Was there last year and did Upper Wolfjaw, and I could go back there and climb Lower.
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Old 07-22-2020, 05:43 PM   #5
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So sad on one hand, hard to see the other hand. I have been thinking of starting a thread asking How Busy? What I'm seeing here in the Finger Lakes echos what DSettahr wrote but I have been holding out hope that closed businesses and a closed border might even things out. The saving grace for me is the notion that if I'm not out of the house by 6 am I'm late, today I went 12 miles and when I passed the campground of one of the local state parks around 9:30 I knew I was heading home just in time. I maintain a normally popular section of the FLT with a lean-to that is occupied most weekends in the summer, just like it was stated above, this spring/summer weekdays have a steady flow of people. And it appears people got tired of hoarding all that toilet paper and have decided to off-load it in the woods. Then there are the trails where there never were trails....

Some former students asked if they could borrow a tent and sleeping pads which they've done before and I'm happy to oblige. When I asked how many were going and the answer was "about 20" I rescinded the offer, directed them to several DEC pages, and explained the issue of the current pandemic. Thankfully they canceled the trip but I think it was more because I wouldn't suggest a place than what I said.

There have been seven gorge rescues near our house this summer. With what each one costs they could have hired a crew of full time rangers.
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Old 07-22-2020, 06:51 PM   #6
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Hopefully things change by September and Ohio is off the quarantine order, but if it isn't, the way I read it, you need two weeks in the motel with all your food etc., not one night in a motel and then off to the woods.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:22 PM   #7
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Would Wolfjaw leanto be any better? Was there last year and did Upper Wolfjaw, and I could go back there and climb Lower.
I believe any High Peak leanto will be in use...and after a summer of heavy use God only knows what the surrounding area will be like.
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Old 07-22-2020, 09:23 PM   #8
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Hopefully things change by September and Ohio is off the quarantine order, but if it isn't, the way I read it, you need two weeks in the motel with all your food etc., not one night in a motel and then off to the woods.
This says it all.
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Old 07-22-2020, 11:12 PM   #9
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This is so disappointing. Being 69 and my bad knee feeling better than it has for several years, I definitely worry about my window of opportunity. If I was younger and without a knee issue I would just have to suck it up and wait another year. So disappointing.
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:42 AM   #10
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My wife and I went through two weeks of quarantine after coming back from Spain. The idea is to be in one place the whole time. Preferably, have food brought to you. Our daughter brought us ours and put it in the garage...... Not everyone complies.

Why not look into places like the Ozarks? Especially during Indian Summer. After there's no more chiggers, poison ivy, and the rattlesnakes and copperheads have gone underground?

There's also the Allegheny National Forrest just south of you in Pennsylvania with both car camping and primitive camping with steep hills best for hammock instead of tent.

Maybe he quarantine will be lifted by September.

Just a suggestion......
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:47 AM   #11
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Dockless's good ideas brought one to mind with me-after the quarantine-head to NY's Letchworth Park-reserve a cabin-you won't regret that visit guaranteed. Lots of views. trails, vistas, and wildlife.
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Old 07-23-2020, 08:51 AM   #12
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Yes dockless. Now that we are all required to wear masks, that should help a great deal. Unfortunately, regarding Colden Lake (absolutely most incredible area in the Adirondacks in my opinion), there would still be the crowding issue. Mid to late September there usually wasn't crowded because the leaves had only started changing, and I backpacked in several times during that period. Later into October you start dealing with those long nights in the leanto. Sounds though like there will be a crowd issue regardless. Inexperienced or loud/rowdy people would drive me crazy!!! I wonder if the White Mountains are experiencing the same overcrowding. For me that's only another 1 1/2 hours of to add to the 9 or 10 hours it takes to get to Lake Placid.
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Old 07-23-2020, 09:57 AM   #13
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I live in Keene, NY. We run a two lodge operation and are only renting to self-contained "pods/families" this year. We just had to cancel both families/bookings this whole week due to the rare fact that they were both from Ohio (both separate, unrelated bookings). They, and we took the Governor's orders seriously regarding banning out of state people coming here just to recreate if their state is on the "must quarantine for 2 weeks" list. We lost many thousands of dollars but it was the right thing to do.
My take on your question and subsequent comments is that there is a pretty good chance that Ohio may be off the list by then as that is a long time from now relatively speaking. I watched two states come off the list this week and I bet Ohio will meet the metrics required by then. As far as crowding goes, I bet weekdays in September won't be at all like weekdays this summer. So you pretty likely will be able to come after all!
I've also noticed in the region the pronounced increase in trail use, crowded parking lots and especially the number of distant, out of state plates this summer. And Canadians aren't even here now!
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Old 07-23-2020, 10:44 AM   #14
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That would be great!!! Just started researching less crowded White Mt trails. Looks like several nice ones are closer to Maine which would give me a 12 hour or more travel time. That might be pushing it. I am coming with my dog who by far the best hiking dog I have ever been with. For example, at the Colden dam she went down and up the ladder there multiple times like it was a sidewalk. She is also extremely well behaved and listens.
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Old 07-23-2020, 11:59 AM   #15
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I was pretty surprised to see a lean-to at JBL available for mid August so tried to book it on line but it wouldn't go through so I called. Turns out not to be available, but for only $320/night I could get one of the cabins. Um, no.
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Old 07-23-2020, 01:42 PM   #16
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You realize that that's for 12 people (assuming from the same household).
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Old 07-23-2020, 02:20 PM   #17
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If I go to the Whites I can drive 10 hrs one day than drive the last two the next morning. That would be like driving to Placid, then the next morning driving down to Upper Works.
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Old 07-23-2020, 05:11 PM   #18
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Just started researching less crowded White Mt trails. Looks like several nice ones are closer to Maine .....
If you're looking at any 4000 footers in Maine, I'm not sure how "less crowded" you'll find them.

They have the same issues with lots of hikers that the Adirondacks do.
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Old 07-23-2020, 06:45 PM   #19
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Several areas I am looking at are Sandwich Range Wilderness, Wild River Wilderness, Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness and The Pilot Range. The theme in common with all of them is great views and seldom crowds. Colden Lake as I mentioned is where my heart lies, but I would hate to go there and see it polluted figuratively and literally. As for 4000', I am more anxious to find a quiet, beautiful camping spot that I don't have to over extend myself to get to, and then spend a few days exploring. Even some lower height mountains can offer gorgeous overlooks. Throw in a pond or two and I would say that is the makings of a very nice three night packing trip. My heart will always be in the Adirondaks (which is why I have driven up there over 40 times from Cleveland), but I am beginning to realize - this year at least - that getting away from crowds will be perhaps a bigger challenge than actually climbing something.
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Old 07-24-2020, 06:37 PM   #20
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As mentioned earlier in this thread, there's a possibility that Ohio will be off the quarantine list by September. Mask-wearing has recently become mandatory in your state, which should help. When I visited Northeast Ohio a month ago, I was the only person wearing a mask in appropriate situations. People were casually waltzing in and out of large public restrooms without a mask, which was a bit of a shock to me coming from New York State. Hopefully infections decline in your state in the near future.

One alternative that I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is Monongahela National Forest (and surrounding areas) in West Virginia. It's roughly a 4.5 hour drive from you and has some interesting hiking/backpacking opportunities. Hiking Upward has a listing of places you could explore and the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Forums could give you some ideas as well. If you stay away from hotspots like the Dolly Sods, you might be able to escape the crowds, though I can't make any guarantees about any place this extraordinary year!

Apparently the Roaring Plains area of West Virginia isn't seeing too much hiker traffic. Someone recently reported having numerous scenic trails in that area all to himself.

Allegheny National Forest is even closer, but parking lots were absolutely packed when I visited earlier this month. Even the Morrison Trail, which Alltrails says is lightly-trafficked, was overflowing with cars -- with groups of people congregating at the trailhead. FWIW, I visited the day before July 4th so that should be taken into account. Maybe you'd have better luck if you went on a weekday sometime. East of there, in the Pine Creek Gorge area, are several long-distance trails that are great for hiking, backpacking, camping, and occasionally enjoying spectacular views.

Bummer to read about crowds being out-of-control in the Finger Lakes and Adirondacks since I'll be hiking in the southern/eastern Finger Lakes all day tomorrow and was planning to do some Adirondack firetower hikes next month (haven't been inside the blue line in over a year and have been dying to get back). Maybe I'll push the ADKs trip back a month or two and do it midweek so I don't walk into a zoo out there!
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