PDA

View Full Version : ADK day group size II



Pete_Hickey
11-22-2005, 11:57 AM
I'm not continuing on the other thread, because this one has a slightly different spin to it.

While the high peaks wilderness area, has a daytime group size of 15, and that is the law, other areas do not. In particular, Giant and Dix wilderness areas, have in their UMP that the day group size shall not exceed 15, however it has not yet been codified into law. It will... this year or next year, but it is not there now. Hence although the rules say that the group size must be 15 or less, nothing can be done if there is a larger group.

So, do you abide by the spirit of the law, or the letter of the law. Do you keep the group size down, or say that you will when it becomes law, but for now, you can take large groups day-hiking?

Rules-is-rules

Grumpy
11-22-2005, 12:09 PM
Rules is rules, both in spirit and letter.

I think back to the Adirondacks bear canister rule imposed last summer. It had been under discussion for some time. Interestingly, it seems that a fair number of people started using the canisters before it was required, thus getting with the spirit of the thing, which was to reduce problematic bear-camper encounters. It's hard to believe that isn't all to the good.

So even though group size restrictions in the Giant and Dix Wilderness units aren't "officially official" as yet, it certainly seems like folks of good will might abide by them anyway.

G.

Rick
11-22-2005, 12:44 PM
Pete,
Remember that old "Illegal Camping on the Summit" thread??

Some thought that if you get there 3-4 hours before dawn and just "nap" at the summit until dawn it isn't camping?

Well I feel the same way about group size. Most attorneys may argue differently, but I beleive in managing to the the spirit and intent of the law and maintaining respect for others, rather then the old "I'll do what I want, Prove to me where I can't"
Don't mean to open a can of worms, but Respect for People and Property goes a long way into showing others what kind of person you are.

mavs00
11-22-2005, 01:16 PM
Thanks for moving out of the old one :rolleyes:

I'm general, I'm a spirit of the law kinda guy. Reading the GMWA (Giant Mt.) UMP, under current issues, it states;


Many visitors consider large groups inappropriate and undesirable in wilderness. Aside from behavioral factors, the potential to cause impact varies with party size and the type of user. Parties larger than 8 persons in a group have been documented to cause greater impacts to certain environmental and sociological resources than smaller groups (Cole, 1987, 1989, Hendee, 1990, and USDA Forest Service, 1994). Although large party use in the Unit represents a small proportion of total users, they contribute a disproportionate amount of impact when compared to smaller parties.

Regardless of activity (overnight or day use), large groups commonly create congestion problems in trailhead facilities, on trails, rock and ice climbing sites, and mountain summits. It is very difficult to control and confine large groups in vulnerable locations, such as on alpine summits or riparian areas. The rate of unacceptable change on a particular resource can be accelerated by large group occupancy of a site over a short period of time. Higher noise levels and sound issues are associated with large groups.

So, knowing that that is one of the current issues facing us, I personally would refrain from exceeding that the size limits when planning a hike or participating in one, whether codified or not. OTOH, I do understand that there are degrees of infractions and that "the spirit" is somewhat understanding of some infractions vs. others.

For instance, Take a bus tour with 25 hikers stopping at the trailhead and disgorging 20 hikers at the Zander Scott trailhead to Giant Mt. then all proceeding together in one group all the way up the trail to the summit. Is that on the same magnitude as 3 groups of six traveling separately and arriving at the summit in an overlapping fashion to discreetly celebrate someone reaching the 46er goal. Not even close. I personally view both as separate entities and one far more "wrong" than the other, despite the fact that each are violations (or soon will be). Does that mean I condone one but not the other? No, not necessarily, but I do think that one is much worse than the other tharts for sure.

And since we are talking "spirit of the law". We all should know by now that group size and intensive use questions are serious issues facing the high peaks as a whole and if we are to consider ourselves "Spirit of the law" people, do carry over that same spirit to other places. For instance, Whiteface and Esther are not on protected lands, and group size is not restricted there. Does that mean we should abandon those principals simply because there is a ROAD on the other side of the mountain and the rules say we can. Do Whiteface trails not deserve the same consideration as Giant (or Dix, or any other) trails do? And if not, why.

Ditto for hiking on "less restrictive" lands such as Wild Forest, or Primitive lands. Are we allowed to relax our "standards" that we carry for LNT hiking in wilderness areas, simply cause we've moved into regions that are not a strictly regulated. It's all very interesting to consider and not always simple and clear cut.

For me, I try to think as in what's best for peaks and lands, regardless of the current regulations in place. I would make every attempt to "follow the rules" and do the right thing, but am certainly fallible like all humans. I do the best I can and hope that that is "enough".

Neil
11-22-2005, 01:36 PM
Letter of the law, spirit of the wilderness. Here's another take...
A few weeks ago I planned a long day trip involving a mtn. bike for quick penetration. The beta I was getting was contradictory as to just how far I could peddle but I was hoping to get 7 miles worth (each way, not RT). At mile 2 there was a DEC sign staing that bicycles were not permitted beyond that point. So there I was on a weekday between Newcomb and Moose Pond with nary a soul around. The chances of being caught? Zero. Somehow though it didn't feel right to continue on. To be honest, I didn't care about the letter of the law. I felt uneasy about infringing on the spirit of the wilderness (the sign was at the beginning of the HPW). But all of a sudden I now had 10 miles of hiking instead of 10 miles of riding. I hiked. I hiked real fast and then I bushwhacked hard and fast but for a variety of reasons turned back 800 horizontal (and about 1000 vertical feet!) meters shy of my goal. No biggy, I got what I paid for and I enjoyed the whole thing anyway. On my way out I saw that a beautiful and huge (like I mean huge!) tent had been set up near the trail in prevision of hunting season I would imagine. (Note: I have nothing against hunting, nothing at all). The fresh tracks and fresh horse manure on the freshly chewed up trail showed clearly that a horse and carriage had brought everything in.
Now, I know this was all strictly legal (grandfather clauses, someone's livelihood et al) but how do you think I felt as I hiked those miles back to my bike? For me that day there was a mismatch here between the letter of the law vs. spirit of the wilderness.

Daniel Eagan
11-22-2005, 01:47 PM
If you're sticking to the letter of the law, what happens when twenty-five people show up for trail crew?

Neil
11-22-2005, 01:49 PM
If you're sticking to the letter of the law, what happens when twenty-five people show up for trail crew?
That's easy, break them into groups of 3 groups of 6 and one of 7 and keep 'em a mile apart.

Daniel Eagan
11-22-2005, 01:52 PM
That's easy, break them into groups of 3 groups of 6 and one of 7 and keep 'em a mile apart.

Except that they are often working together on one project, i.e., trail hardening.

Rick
11-22-2005, 02:00 PM
Pete, Have you or Len ever even gotten 25 people to show up for a trail project????

Daniel Eagan
11-22-2005, 03:10 PM
Pete, Have you or Len ever even gotten 25 people to show up for a trail project????

October 2, 2004: twenty-six for the Dix-Round Pond trail crew
October 1, 2005: twenty-eight for the same

Granted, in 2005 we split into five different crews. But in 2004, most of us concentrated on trail hardening near the junction with the trail to Noonmark.

I'm not trying to criticize trail crews, just point out that rules sometimes need to be bent.

Pete_Hickey
11-22-2005, 04:26 PM
If you're sticking to the letter of the law, what happens when twenty-five people show up for trail crew?
This is an issue we have to deal with. On one hand, ti may look good that a large groop is volunteering their time to do work, while on the other hand, there are some who look and say, "Look at those 46ers paying no attention to the rules."

Setting an example may be as important as getting a job done.


Granted, in 2005 we split into five different crews. and one poor group had the task of moving an overflowing privy!!! Unfortunately, my photos didn't turn out well at all. I think my camera was affected by the smell.

Some trail hardening projects can be done very efficiently by a large group.(eg when gravel has to be hauled from a stream which is a distance away)

spaddock
11-22-2005, 05:42 PM
Do Whiteface trails not deserve the same consideration as Giant (or Dix, or any other) trails do? And if not, why.

Maybe, mayne not, and here's why. Personally, I would hate to hike in a large group. A max group of 15 for day use seems quite reasonable to me. Any more and it would look like one of those train dances you see at weddings. But if you were going to allow it in one area, I'd vote for Whiteface. They already have a toll road on it. You can buy hot chocolate at the top. It's handicap accessible. You can alpine ski down it. It's the mountain for all people.

I realize concentrating large groups just in one spot probably makes it even worse, at least for that particular area. I don't claim to have all the answers...


-Shayne

rhihn
11-22-2005, 08:05 PM
This is an issue we have to deal with. On one hand, ti may look good that a large groop is volunteering their time to do work, while on the other hand, there are some who look and say, "Look at those 46ers paying no attention to the rules."

Setting an example may be as important as getting a job done.

and one poor group had the task of moving an overflowing privy!!! Unfortunately, my photos didn't turn out well at all. I think my camera was affected by the smell.

Some trail hardening projects can be done very efficiently by a large group.(eg when gravel has to be hauled from a stream which is a distance away)
Reminds me of an old Abbott & Costello routine about the duo going around peddling "no peddlers" signs.

hardrain
11-23-2005, 08:09 AM
Neil:
You made the right call with the bike. :D
It must have felt real nice putting the muddy bike back into the car knowing you did the right thing. Those little decisions out in the woods where nobody is watching and no one will know, that is how we can define ourselves as caretakers. Some day soon you might be standing up on a summit somewhere and feel a certain harmony and rhythm with nature that makes the extra 8 miles worth it.

Neil
11-23-2005, 08:15 AM
Neil:
You made the right call with the bike. :D
It must have felt real nice putting the muddy bike back into the car knowing you did the right thing. Thanks for the thumb's up!

But do you know what REALLY felt good? Getting on it and gliding those last two miles back to the car. :D

spaddock
11-23-2005, 08:20 AM
At mile 2 there was a DEC sign staing that bicycles were not permitted beyond that point.

Why do they not allow bikes in certain places, like the South Meadows road, or this place Neil describes?

Scares horses? Erosion? The constant battle between hikers and mountain bikers? I doubt very much the hard core mountain bikers are going to pedal down South Meadows road back and forth, they'll be at Whiteface.


-Shayne

Grumpy
11-23-2005, 10:50 AM
Why do they not allow bikes in certain places, like the South Meadows road, or this place Neil describes?

Scares horses? Erosion? The constant battle between hikers and mountain bikers? I doubt very much the hard core mountain bikers are going to peddle down South Meadows road back and forth, they'll be at Whiteface.


-Shayne

For a good and thought-provoking discussion of this, read the book, Wilderness Ethics, by Laura and Guy Waterman. If you are impatient, go directly to Chapter 12, which is titled, "One Person Transportation Devices and Wildness."

G.

funkyfreddy
11-23-2005, 11:16 AM
I 2nd Grumpy's recommendation of Wilderness Ethics by Laura and Guy Waterman. It's a very well written and thought provoking book, should be required reading for all wilderness travelers.

mavs00
11-23-2005, 11:26 AM
Why do they not allow bikes in certain places, like the South Meadows road, or this place Neil describes?

Scares horses? Erosion? The constant battle between hikers and mountain bikers? I doubt very much the hard core mountain bikers are going to pedal down South Meadows road back and forth, they'll be at Whiteface.


-Shayne

Because in the ADIRONDACK PARK STATE LAND MASTER PLAN, on page 24, in the General Rules and Regulations section for designated Wilderness areas, it states (in reference to All-terrain bicycles) that on wilderness lands;

l. Public use of all terrain bicycles will be prohibited.

The area in question though is on the Santanoni Preserve which is Part of the High Peak Wilderness Area. However, part of preserve is a designated Historic Site. As such, it's governed by the Adirondack Park Agnecy Approved Camp Santanoni Historic Area UMP. This allows for slight, but obviously required, practical deviations from the general wilderness rules/regs. The UMP states, as related to the Carriage Road to the camp itself;

"Summer use will include motor vehicle access by those with disabilities as discussed elsewhere in the plan, foot traffic, horseback riding, horse and wagon livery service, and mountain biking.".

to get out to Ermine Brook (where Neil was headed) one starts on the Carriage road for the first 2 miles or so, then you must turn onto a horse path for the remaining 6 miles out to the Brook crossinfg. Once you hit the split from the carriage road, you leave it behind an, as such, bikes are no longer allowed.

Nessmuk
11-23-2005, 11:52 AM
Almost 2 topics here in this thread...

Regarding group size:
There is a HUGE difference between one group of, say, 9 persons versus two groups of 6 persons hiking/camping together, particularly in backcountry wilderness areas. Many aspects of LNT come into play. Most of the best (why are they best?) backcountry designated campsites have a fairly small footprint, usually comfortable for no more than 3 small tents. A fourth or more tents would likely infringe on surrounding vegetation, expanding the site in violation of LNT and DEC guidelines. Add to that the extra random foot traffic within a short period of time, people trying to stay out of each other's way, the additional requirements for multiple catholes and privacy... soon both the real estate demands and environmental damage caused increase exponentially, not linearly, with more folks in the site at the same time. Just in hiking, think about stopping to observe something interesting along the trail. How do people gather around? Small groups can stay on the trail to converse, large groups step off to gather themselves on the sides, causing damage. What if Joe at the end of the line needs to talk to Sally at the front... voice volume increases with increased numbers as well. On and on and on... one large group is much less LNT friendly than two smaller groups. On my guided trips it is simply more fun to have a smaller group and I can provide a much better experience for all without constantly having to remind everyone of the rules.

The other topic... I bought a mountain bike several years ago specifically to get me down logging roads (not hiking trails) where I could bushwhack into interesting areas I was exploring at the time. This was long before most people ever thought of using a bike on Adirondack roads and trails, just as mountain bikes were coming on the rise and a friend of mine was in the custom bike building business. I could cover the same distance in a couple of hours or less that previously took an entire long day of hiking. It extended the possible depth of my wilderness area bushwhacks. It worked well, until new state land acquisitions and the popular "sport" of mountain biking on foot trails took off. Today, in general, bikes are prohibited in wilderness areas. That's actually fine with me, I use a Hornbeck canoe now for much the same purpose and leave the bike at home. Thanks, Neil, for the story of your shortened bike trip and for playing by the rules for the greater good.

Willie
11-23-2005, 01:11 PM
The original discussion assumes that people (1) are aware of the regulation limiting day use group size to 15 or less, and (2) are aware of the regulation’s scope. See 6 NYCRR § 190.13(c)(1)(i). I would like to believe that those individuals that are, in fact, aware of the regulation and aware that its application is limited to the Eastern and Western High Peaks Zone (E&WHPZ) would follow the rule not only in the E&WHPZ but also follow the “spirit” of the rule in other areas.

I also believe that there are those that erroneously believe that 6 NYCRR § 190.13(c)(1)(i) applies to all wilderness areas and, because of their misunderstanding, follow the rule everywhere. Despite their misunderstanding, I salute their efforts to follow the regulation.

I also believe that there are those that are entirely ignorant of the regulation (I don’t use the word “ignorant” in a disparaging or derogatory way). Ignorance of the regulation is not necessarily a bad thing, but those are the individuals that need education (see, e,g, thread regarding the Boy Scouts). The DEC Rangers, the 46ers, and Adirondack Mountain Club, and Forums such as this one do a fine job of educating hikers about regulations.

Unfortunately, however, there are those that are aware that the regulation exists, but, for whatever reason, refuse to follow it as required in the E&WHPZ and simply ignore the rule’s “spirit” in other areas. This knowing violation of the regulation and refusal to follow its “spirit” in other areas is, in my opinion, the issue that should, and needs, to be addressed.

giggy
11-23-2005, 02:09 PM
Hey pete - cool thread!

I would just do some creative thinking and like mentioned before - break 25 people into 5 groups of 5 - 10 feet apart.

I am with the school of thought that if your not wrecking anything not bothering anybody and not causing harm - to each thier own :)

I think some of rules are silly and I never could understand why the AMC (and in alll fairness the RMC) can put huts and water pumps, toilets, shelters, hotels, etc.. all over the white mountains - but someone will bust your balls about "napping" above treeline in summer in a bivy sack - I say you want to camp on a rock - its not camping if your napping! you want to hike with 20 close freinds - you go for it.

Just so we are clear - while I would never pay the $$ the amc wants for their huts - but I do not have a problem with them (huts) at all and do see their purpose - I do use the RMC ones. just pointing out what I think it a double standard. my opinion only - surely not shared by all. law is law - but we all break it petty forms from time to time I think - on the trail and off.

Sleeping Giant
11-23-2005, 02:32 PM
All the comments here are well intentioned and valid. I agree with most of them.

However, I'm uncomfortable with the concept of abiding by the letter and the spirit of the law as described above because many people are choosing their spots about which laws to abide by. Who here drives at or below the speed limit when going to the mountains? A minority, I'd bet. What's the difference between laws like speed limits and laws like the number of people allowed to hike together? I submit that the spirit of the law says there's no difference.

I'm more of a libertarian. In my case, that means I always hike alone and always drive like hell to get to where I'm going without feeling guilty. And if I see a group of 15 people ahead of me on a trail, I go another way.

Pete_Hickey
11-23-2005, 04:21 PM
I would just do some creative thinking and like mentioned before - break 25 people into 5 groups of 5 - 10 feet apart. That's the letter of the law.

But they expected that, and you have to be a mile apart. The rules also do not allow for groups to take different routes to arrive at a common destination (unless that destination is the parking lot).

MichaelJ
11-23-2005, 09:04 PM
I'm coming into this a little late, and I'm not here to debate but to understand...

In the context of the regulation being discussed, what makes any given people go from separate to being part of a group? Is it as simple as knowing each other? Or do you have to have premeditatively planned the same destination at the same time? Or is there some other distinction? I'm curious how they're defining this.

Pete_Hickey
11-24-2005, 06:22 AM
[QUOTE=MichaelJIn the context of the regulation being discussed, what makes any given people go from separate to being part of a group? Is it as simple as knowing each other? Or do you have to have premeditatively planned the same destination at the same time? Or is there some other distinction? I'm curious how they're defining this.[/QUOTE]As with many things, it goes fromwhite to black thruogh a lot of shades. Clearly twenty groups of two to four, who do not know each other, yet climb Marcy, but are on the top at the same time, is not a group of 60.

On, the other hand, a church group that brings 40 people to a trailhead, and they all climb is a group of 40.

The terminology used is afiliated group.

Someone finishing their 46, having a summit celebration IS considered a group, even if there are several parties hiking up through different routes, meeting on the summit. The DEC has spoken to us about this, and asked us to mention it to our members.

On the other hand several groups of 46ers, who hike the same mountain through different routes on the same day, meet up no the summit, and say, "hey, I did't know you were hiking today."... Well that's not a group, although its effect is similar to the above.

That's why, IMO, the spirit of the law is important.

There are tour buses, which pick up 40-60 people, drive them to a trailhead, and drop them off. They are currently doing this outside of the High Peaks area, where the plan limits group size, but the legal process hasn't been completed. They're palying with the letter of the law.

Tom Rankin
11-24-2005, 07:33 AM
Regarding trail maintenance and group size, aren't you sort of like cops for a day, 'above the law'? I'm not trying to make it sound arrogant, but if you are out there with axes and so forth, and the DEC has given you permission, what's the big deal?

(I know locally, I have the key to a County park, and I'm allowed to go in after dark and conduct astronomy meetings. If the cops see me, and once in a while they do, I am not considered trespassing. I am classified as an unpaid employee of the county).

Or is it more complicated ?

Pete_Hickey
11-24-2005, 09:46 AM
but if you are out there with axes and so forth, and the DEC has given you permission, what's the big deal?

There are some who say that we should not have permission. They will complain. In particular, the snowmobile and ATV lobby watch what goes on, and try to twist things to their advantage.

Then there are others who would just see a large group, and say that it is wrong, except for a case of life and limb.

It isn't a legal issue at all. It's an image issue. Billy Crystal knows:

"You look Marvelous!"

It's important.

MichaelJ
11-24-2005, 01:43 PM
There are tour buses, which pick up 40-60 people, drive them to a trailhead, and drop them off. They are currently doing this outside of the High Peaks area, where the plan limits group size, but the legal process hasn't been completed. They're palying with the letter of the law.

Interesting. On one hand, you could claim that these are in fact unaffiliated people simply taking advantage of mass transit to get to a trailhead. On the other hand, the size of the parking area at a trailhead implicitly does control the number of people using that trail and bussing people in overrides that.