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Old 09-06-2016, 07:50 PM   #1
JohnnyVirgil
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Another overuse article

http://www.adirondackexplorer.org/st...-peak-capacity
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Old 09-07-2016, 09:08 AM   #2
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I drove from Keene to Lake Placid around 8:30 on Sunday (9/4) and there were so many cars parked along the road that it was difficult to get through. Didn't see any open parking spaces, but I wasn't looking too hard. Some of the hikers seemed completely unaware of the traffic, stepping out of their car right in front of me while other cars were going the other way - accidents waiting to happen.
I drove on to Saranac Lake and there were also a great number of cars parked at the McKenzie trailhead, but at least they weren't in the road.
I drove back a couple of hours later and it was worse (at both places)!
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Old 09-07-2016, 06:59 PM   #3
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The picture on Big Slide got my attention. No place to stop and all seats taken.

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Old 09-07-2016, 07:46 PM   #4
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It's a damn shame.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:59 PM   #5
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"I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before. "
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:25 AM   #6
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I agree with Julia Goren - it's a good thing that more people are having direct outdoor experience. And, it's good for the local economy.

And I like seeing and meeting people out enjoying the resources. Seeing people doesn't "degrade my wilderness experience." If I'm looking for solitude, I can bushwhack. When folks hike on the trail, where 95% of the users are concentrated on 0.1% of the land area, and then complain about seeing people, it's laughable.

But there are things that need to be done to accommodate the increase in traffic. For example, the lack of adequate parking is actually a safety hazard. And the lack of parking is not a "mistake" or a "surprise", it's intentional, as a (failed) tool to reduce use. There are still some in DEC / APA who fantasize that they can make all these horrible people go away. Time to face reality - the crowds are here to stay, and we need to manage, educate and enforce. That means money for things like parking, stewards, rangers and ranger stations, bathrooms, trail hardening, etc.. And money is always the rub. All the rest is just talk.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:59 AM   #7
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Well put TCD.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:16 AM   #8
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Anyone know why there was a drastic decline in the number of people that hiked the 46 peaks in the mid to late 70s?

Also, with so many more people coming into the High Peaks it may be time to instate a quota, as much as I don't like the idea I think it's a necessary measure to ensure the environment isn't damaged more than it can replenish itself.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:18 AM   #9
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well put tcd.
+1
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:35 AM   #10
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Thanks, TCD. Nailed it!
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by TCD View Post
I agree with Julia Goren - it's a good thing that more people are having direct outdoor experience. And, it's good for the local economy.

And I like seeing and meeting people out enjoying the resources. Seeing people doesn't "degrade my wilderness experience." If I'm looking for solitude, I can bushwhack. When folks hike on the trail, where 95% of the users are concentrated on 0.1% of the land area, and then complain about seeing people, it's laughable.

But there are things that need to be done to accommodate the increase in traffic. For example, the lack of adequate parking is actually a safety hazard. And the lack of parking is not a "mistake" or a "surprise", it's intentional, as a (failed) tool to reduce use. There are still some in DEC / APA who fantasize that they can make all these horrible people go away. Time to face reality - the crowds are here to stay, and we need to manage, educate and enforce. That means money for things like parking, stewards, rangers and ranger stations, bathrooms, trail hardening, etc.. And money is always the rub. All the rest is just talk.
TCD-

You would need Walmart size parking lots to handle the load. Where would they go? Is that where the "experience" is heading? I'm not being snarky as I don't know of a solution to this, but the desire to "bag a peak" coupled with social media has brought us to this point. Flame away.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:36 AM   #12
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There is a dynamic in play here that is different than what has been occurring since the sixties. That being a youth movement to getting outdoors. I was just listening to a report that shows Millennials are spending more time camping and hiking then the three or four previous generations in that demographic. Partly driven by the electronic and internet age they grew up in and partly to escape the same, although my own observations differ on that as I see so many on their phones on summits with service.

Then we have the Advertising push to drive tourism to the Adirondacks to aid in economic growth of local communities. I would like to see at least equal allocation of advertising funds designated for DEC budgeting to help educate and protect the resource.

And finally instead of expanding parking wouldn't make more send to keep it at current levels and place and enforce no roadside parking for peaks like Cascade and Giant and the HPIC trail-head. I mean significant stretches along 73 and the Loj road that would deter at least a significant number of folks from overcrowding some of the more popular peaks.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by TCD View Post
When folks hike on the trail, where 95% of the users are concentrated on 0.1% of the land area, and then complain about seeing people, it's laughable.
I think your numbers are off. More like 99.9% and 0.01% What is good about the attraction of the 46 is that it funnels people into the LNT principle of concentrating impacts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LNT website
In popular areas:

Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
Quote:
Time to face reality - the crowds are here to stay, and we need to manage, educate and enforce. That means money for things like parking, stewards, rangers and ranger stations, bathrooms, trail hardening, etc.. And money is always the rub. All the rest is just talk.
You mean that hand-wringing and going on social media to throw blame onto social media won't achieve anything?
I have said elsewhere that instead of treating the High Peaks as a cash cow that the authorities have to start spending money. And from the looks of things they are starting to do just that.
I would think the biggest expense is salaried feet on the ground.
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Last edited by Neil; 09-08-2016 at 11:05 AM..
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:00 AM   #14
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Yes to salaried feet on the ground. Maybe instead of buying the next parcel they could earmark the money they would have spent for some management and enforcement. It seems the rangers are spread too thin. Maybe we can take DNA samples at trail heads so we can figure out who is sh*tting on the trail. Ha!
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:01 PM   #15
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Someone with the moniker "Boreas" posted a good suggestion, on Adirondack Almanack, to construct a visitor building and new parking lot for Cascade. It would be located away from the current trailhead and have a new, longer approach to Cascade as well as a safer parking lot. The visitor building would provide new hikers, who are typically drawn to Cascade, with information to minimize their impact and maximize their enjoyment (safety).

There are many good suggestions like this but they're all dependent on something the High Peaks has historically received in small quantities, namely money. The economics of constructing and manning a portal to a single peak are untenable on a shoestring budget.

Similarly, a quota-based permit system, like what's employed by Baxter State Park (BSP), often crops up as the ideal solution for what ails the High Peaks. It might be if the High Peaks Wilderness area (HPWA) was like BSP, namely located in a remote area serviced by very few roads and only accessible via two official "choke points".

The HPWA is ringed/intersected by roads and has well over a dozen portals (infinite if you allow for parking on the shoulder and walking into the woods). Stationing monitors (like BSP) at two dozen trailheads is impractically expensive. Monitoring permit-compliance is relegated to available staff (AFRs, caretakers, Summit Stewards) who report violators to DEC rangers (who are exclusively charged with the ability to issue citations). BSP has more rangers per square mile than the HPWA and, because they are not middle men, they can issue citations on the spot.

We haven't even discussed the expense of building an online permit purchasing system to keep tabs on the daily quota (and also tracks the permits sold in local shops). If you do a mediocre job of catching permit-violators, the whole house of cards collapses. The only party coming out of this boondoggle with a win is the IT contractor who built the online permit system.

Start small and cheap (because the budgeting track record demands it).

Parking fees
Implement parking fees at all trailheads to collect funding for trail maintenance. Offer an annual parking pass. Enforcement is easy because it's in the frontcountry and violations are obvious. Post "No Parking" signs where needed to discourage expansion beyond the allotted spaces. The current lack of "No Parking" signs on the ADK Loj Road's east side demonstrates the opportunistic nature of the general public (they park for free just yards away from the Loj's fee-based parking area). The cost of creating and operating this system are minimal. It's already done at the Loj and the Garden.

Ban camping
Ban camping in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area (EHPWA) to reduce the number of visitors and minimize the environmental impact from camping. Campers are just day-hikers but with the additional need for several square yards of land to eat and sleep. Almost 50% of the DEC's regulations governing the EHPWA are focused on camping. It's an activity with a big footprint. Enforcement is done using the existing "monitors", namely by DEC AFR's, caretakers, and Summit Stewards, using (admittedly silly) "pack-size" profiling. Violators are reported to DEC Rangers stationed in the frontcountry (this is status quo). Cost of implementing this system is adding a new regulation and large signs at trailheads indicating "No Camping Anywhere in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness". The rest of the Adirondack Park remains available to camping.

Hiking license
After implementing the above, consider adding a hiking license along the lines of the existing hunting and fishing license. It can piggyback on the existing licensing system (unlike a more complex, daily-quota permit system). It can provide a minimum amount of education and collect money to defray the cost of trail maintenance, rescues, etc. Enforcement would work in the same manner as described for camping (basically, it's how enforcement currently works today; no change to the status quo).

I realize these ideas are not universally popular but they represent the few practical and inexpensive things you can do to raise money, reduce visitors (albeit only slightly), and reduce impact on a shoestring budget.

If none of the ideas are palatable then the best solution is to invest in more rangers to enforce the existing regulations. It may not improve trails or reduce the number of hikers, or rescues, but it'll, at the very least, keep the mess we already have from degrading further.

Last edited by Trail Boss; 09-08-2016 at 12:32 PM..
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
I think your numbers are off. More like 99.9% and 0.01% What is good about the attraction of the 46 is that it funnels people into the LNT principle of concentrating impacts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LNT website
In popular areas:

Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.

Do they, and or you, mean limiting bushwacking and off trail camping?

Last edited by Neil; 09-08-2016 at 03:02 PM.. Reason: Fixed quote tags.
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:07 PM   #17
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Anyone know why there was a drastic decline in the number of people that hiked the 46 peaks in the mid to late 70s?
Oil & gas shortages/ energy crisis of 1973 and 1979 perhaps? National speed limit reduced to 55 MPH in 1974. Took longer to get everywhere and getting fuel to go anywhere was sometimes hit or miss. Also a recession in the mid-70's. Maybe people just didn't drive to the mountains.
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:39 PM   #18
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Anyone know why there was a drastic decline in the number of people that hiked the 46 peaks in the mid to late 70s?
Disco.
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:04 PM   #19
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Do they, and or you, mean limiting bushwacking and off trail camping?
Further down under Principle 2 they say:
Quote:
In pristine areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
So, I interpret that to mean they are not against off-trail hiking and camping.
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Last edited by Neil; 09-08-2016 at 04:00 PM..
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:56 PM   #20
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Anyone know why there was a drastic decline in the number of people that hiked the 46 peaks in the mid to late 70s?
The Grateful Dead were on tour and arguably were playing the greatest run of shows and music that the planet has ever seen(and will ever see) between 1973-1979.

"Goin where the wind don't blow so strange,
Maybe off on some high cold mountain chain."

-"He's Gone", The Grateful Dead
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