View Full Version : How have the Mountians Changed?

04-22-2006, 01:23 PM
Without getting into a thread about gear, and age related problems, how has the mountains change in the time you've been hiking?

I've been hiking since about '62', the thing I remember most from that period is the trails, especially above the treeline. They were a lot wider and lots of splits, multiple paths. People walked wherever they wanted, switchback cut and just a general beat'n look to everthing.
Shelters were more plentiful with few tent platforms. I miss some of those shelters; Liberty Spr, Kinsman, 1st Dry Rvr and the cabin on the other side of Lonesome Lake from the hut. They also had that same beat'n look to them. From tramping everywhere, to the cutting of firewood. Most had a trash dump just out of site in the woods.
There were a lot fewer people but their impact was greater I think. More erosion to the trails, fewer bridges.
Today I think there is more respect for the system. Staying on the trail because of better maintainance correcting a lot to the water holes in the trails, better fuel stoves eliminated much of the need to cut fire wood. "Carry in, carry out" and the "Low impact" approach to hiking helpped.
I remember Garfield and Ethan Pond shltrs, the early attempts at "Revegetation"
I think the Whites are in far better shape then they used to be, even with an exponential number of people in the mountains now.

Feel free to chime in on the Cats, ADK, Baxter... also. I reread Thoruea's account of climbing "Ktaadn" and that's where this line of thinking came from.

post'r boy
04-22-2006, 01:29 PM
they've gotten taller,oddly enough in the case of the whites anyway.

carrigain old ele. 4680' new ele. 4700' :eek:
adams old ele. 5798 new ele. 5799' :D
and so on and so forth :)

04-22-2006, 01:54 PM
chomolungma is gettin' taller too. bradford washburn saw it. i doubt you'd notice though.

04-22-2006, 02:48 PM
The mountains have gotten taller and the trails longer in the last 20 years. It used to take me much less time to do, say, the Lincoln-Lafayette loop than it does now. Of course, when the mountains get taller, the trails get steeper, which explains why I need more rests on the way up.

The only other change I can think of is the hardening of the earth's crust. I used to use a blanket for a sleeping pad, then a piece of foam, and now use a thick inflatable pad, all due to the grouknd becoming harder.

04-22-2006, 03:15 PM
When I first started trying for the NH 4000's I was using an older version of the AMC guide that my brother had loaned me. IIRC, it didn't list Bondcliff or Galehead as peaks, found out later that those were needed also.


04-22-2006, 07:06 PM
Sweeper, I completely agree, and isn't it wonderful?! The air in our lungs is cleaner as we hike as well. My town dump looks cleaner than did Tuckerman Ravine in the hideous 70's.

Despite more traffic on trails such as Crawford Path and Franconia Ridge Trail, these places are far more beautiful and hikers stick to a narrow trailbed. I've been horrified to hear about proposals to erect ropes in these places, as they apparently do in VT above treeline. By building scree walls and keeping trail blazes visible, it's clear that most hikers prefer to stay in the trailbed anyway.

I've been hauling trash out of trailhead areas for a few weeks now ( just another rite of spring :) ) and there is definately less than there used to be years ago. Also, the trash I find is much more likely to be just beer and soda bottles and cans, food wrappers, etc. Years ago, there would be much larger stuff and lots of it. Last year, I removed a shopping cart from Oliverian Brook, and a large cooler from Mountain Pond. I also cleaned up a really trashy site on Hobbs Brook. But otherwise, things are much improved. :)

I think that being environmentally freindly is now cool with pop culture. IMO, that's why we see the improvement. Fewer people are careless with trash and more people respect LNT, etc. :)

04-22-2006, 10:01 PM
How have they changed? Well, the Old Man of the Mountains isn't there anymore. :(

Lawn Sale
04-23-2006, 01:11 AM
I dunno, I thought I passed him a few weeks ago...he was headed south on the AT :p

There are a lot more people out now, and the trails are definitely getting worn in a lot more.

04-23-2006, 07:34 AM
Herdpaths are more distinctive with the spur herdpaths being blocked to make one main trail.

The canister era of the ADK High Peaks have long passed as of 2001. That was one of the joys of reaching the summits to search for them and sign in.

A few of the summits now have more viewpoints to see, since Hurricane Floyd. Like Allen now is a beautiful summit, overlooking Marcy, Haystack and looking up into Panther Gorge.

Hiking has become more popular as well as Winter Climbing. Making the peaks more overcrowded.

More erosion has been created.

There has been several changes in different ways. These are a few on the top of my head.

04-23-2006, 07:46 AM
Lets see.... I guess I'm talking about 40 years ago.

More people. Parking full at the trailhead. Gear available all over the place now, and a wider choice.

Everyone used to drink the water. Only a few do these days.

More rules. We used to camp anywhere we wanted, and we would s$%t right near the streams. Can't do that any more. We never had to worry about bears. I used to sleep with my food next to me.

Ah, the lean-tos in the Adirondacks. The two at Indian Falls, and the beautiful one at the plateau just before Marcy's summit.

In the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks, I used to bring a fishing rod when hiking for a few days, and catch supper for a couple nights.

Although the trails get much more use, they are in better conditions (generalization) This shows better planning/management. Note that management was not as necessary back then, but with the amount of usage these days, it is essential.

Mark Schaefer
04-23-2006, 09:29 AM
In the Catskills herd paths have started on many trailless peaks, where 30 years ago there were virtually none.

Camping was once allowed on all summits and near any stream. In the 1970s whenever I hiked Slide, the Catskill's highest, I noticed the expanding acres of clear cut that campers had created for firewood. After the camping ban above 3500' the balsams have reclaimed that area. Sadly they are also closing in the once superb eastern view.

At one time the rules were relaxed to allow for new views to be cut on Catskill trails by trail crews. Now the rules have become stringent again in wilderness areas -- no new views nor reopening of views once they are gone. Maintenance is still allowed on existing views. If you don't use your voice, you may lose the view.

The 3500 summit canisters in wilderness areas are now gray instead of orange, a small price to pay in the battle with the DEC to save them.

There are more mountain bikes and ATVs now, an ongoing debate that is still in negotiation.

In the high peaks area, there were once six fire towers. One was removed, five have been restored.

04-23-2006, 11:05 AM
There is a LOT more development in the mountainous regions of the NE - strip malls, houses, etc., and a lot more people on the roads and on the trails.....

There is also a lot more development pressure as well, both residential and industrial......

as a result of this the feeling of remoteness or wilderness has left many peaks and trails. :(