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View Full Version : Right or Wrong - Your Call??



Gary&Jan
01-29-2005, 06:58 PM
I would like your opinion on an issue that potentially really irks me. In reading the NH trail conditions, I see a report from back in mid January where a couple of hikers spent the night at Lake of the Clouds. We all know the hut is closed but their words were "On Saturday night, we stayed at Lakes of the Clouds, and although it is technically a "no-no", it was a good thing we did. " I am assuming that they stayed in the cellar of the Lakes hut. I gotta say, unless your in a grave emergency situation how do you get off making the call that is is OK to violate the rules? My understanding is that what these hikers did is not just technically a no-no, it is prohibited. If I am wrong I apologize for my ignorance but if I'm not then there's no excuse to stay where your not supposed to be. Again if I mis-read the report then my bad. I guess I have a hard time undestanding why some folks think that it's OK to do whatever they want when they're in the woods...Too many times I have seen frends and family's camps broken into....like it's no big deal... I don't know.. doesn't seem right to me but I hope I just misundestood their trail report. What do you think?

BeninVA
01-31-2005, 11:21 AM
That was a rather interesting report. I too get frustrated when people do not abide by the rules, particularly when a place has been closed off. It has obviously been closed for a reason. Fortunately, they were there to help some people who were not well equipped, which was a great teachable moment for those unprepared, but that learning experience may have been corrupted with the modelling of their disregard for camping regulations at a closed off area.

I think part of it may have to do with what I see as a mind set that folks have and in many respects lack of understanding. Many times folks do not see or they do not understand the purpose for some of the regs out there. To understand and to see the bigger picture of one's impact on the backcountry can be an eye opener. Merging the two is difficult, but if done well you really can make an impact for the better. I am with a group within the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club that patrols the AT and its side trails in VA, WV, MD, and part of PA and we are roving educators in many respects. Most of the time people do things not being mean or with evil intent, but just out of not fully understanding. Granted there are those that just don't care, but overall I find their number to be small.

I share your frustration and I hope I misread the report also.

Mr. X
01-31-2005, 11:45 AM
How many rules do you think we broke during the gathering at Barnsfield CC?

Stan
01-31-2005, 11:51 AM
I may be wrong but I had the impression that the cellar was for overflow during the summer and emergency otherwise. Was it necessary to break in to get into the cellar? I suppose if it weren't it might be construed as an invitation to a new year round self service accomodation but in my mind, in a potential distress situation, whatever it takes to survive is acceptable.

talldrink
01-31-2005, 12:15 PM
AMC Guide book states: "The LakesofC hut should not be used as a destination" The cellar door is left unlocked just for emergencies...for hikers to use as a shelter if bad weather rolls in unexpected. Anyone whose been there would never stay there unless it was an emergency. Its called the dungeon for a good reason. No lights, or even flat ground to speak of.

I personally would not stay there as a choice but if you can handle the accomodations (or lack thereof), I see no harm in doing so...I can almost assure you these people left no trace (its granite rock)

Seems to me everything worked well. The hikers even went out of their way to offer assistance to desperate hikers who needed it. What if they weren't there to help, and the ailing hikers fell and got hurt?

Really now, let's commend them for the effort. And we can all be better prepared in the future for winter hikes.

Tramper Al
01-31-2005, 12:49 PM
Well, are you sure that they slept in the dungeon? Or did they tent in the vicinity of the hut. I have stopped in at the dungeon during the day a couple of times in winter. I have always found it unlocked, though sometimes there is a good bit of snow in front of the steel door (which swings out).

The report says 'On Saturday night, we stayed at Lakes of the Clouds, and although it is technically a "no-no" . . . '

Of course Lakes of the Clouds isn't just a hut, it's also two high elevation tarns, right? Tenting nearby would be considered a no-no since it is less than 0.25 from the hut (FPA) or because there may have been less than 2 feet of snow (obviously above treeline). Even if someone wrote that they stayed 'at Galehead' in winter, I would not necessarily think they meant inside the hut.

And of course, I agree. As an emergency refuge, the dungeon should not be used for a non-emergency.

Jim lombard
01-31-2005, 12:57 PM
In another post Seema wrote:

On that note, I recently read somewhere, might have been on the AMC website that the Dungeon is actually inaccessible this winter due to some work being done at Lakes so don't even count on it in an emergency . . .

Everytime I visit Lakes in off season there are people with tents set up in the lee of the building so this is probably what they meant

giggy
01-31-2005, 01:20 PM
I assume they used a tent and I have no problem with it.

I will get flack for this, but I don't like the 1/4 miles rule for tents near these huts in winter. Summer - yes fine. I think the rule is nonsense in winter. I haven't broken it per say myself, but would in a second if I had to.

actually - is it a rule/law - or is it an "AMC policy" which means nothing to me. and don't get me started on the highland center.

Sorry - thats the way I feel - ok let me have it. I can take it.

David Metsky
01-31-2005, 01:34 PM
actually - is it a rule/law - or is it an "AMC policy".
It is a WMNF rule. There are similar 1/4 mile rules around all designated backcountry camps, including the 4 RMC facilities.

In the spring, the areas around the huts (particularly Lakes and Madison) are covered with feces and toilet paper from campers during the winter. People don't go very far in bad weather in the middle of the night, and it's pretty nasty when the melt rolls around. Since the areas get a huge amount of use in summer it's a problem.

Concentrated winter camping in an area without facilities is a problem. There are other places to camp legally. It's hard to restrict a popular area to just a few or just people who know how to dispose of waste properly. It's much easier to just restrict camping to all.

I also assumed that they were camping in the lee of the hut. People do it all the time, and IMO it's wrong every time.

-dave-

percious
01-31-2005, 03:25 PM
I agree TP blossoms are GROSS!

-percious

woodstrider
01-31-2005, 04:00 PM
There seems to be a controversey about leaving the cellar open during the period when the hut is offically closed. I seemed to remember being told that it was left open as an emergency shelter, not as a distination for a biv. There has been talk of closing this due to the abuse of people who do camp in it. That would be very unfortunate for those that may really need it in order to save their lives.

In my opinion- if only one life can be saved by leaving this shelter open it is still worth the abuse that will come as a result of thoughtless campers. I hope that people think about the impact of abusing the accessibility of this hut: namely if this emergency shelter is in the future closed. A hiker in need may become injured or even die if this hut is total inaccessable in the future.

David Metsky
01-31-2005, 04:12 PM
In my opinion- if only one life can be saved by leaving this shelter open it is still worth the abuse that will come as a result of thoughtless campers. I hope that people think about the impact of abusing the accessibility of this hut: namely if this emergency shelter is in the future closed. A hiker in need may become injured or even die if this hut is total inaccessable in the future.
All of the other emergency shelters in the Whites (Moosilauke, Edmands Col, others?) have been removed because they attract people to stay in places where they shouldn't be. It's a problem both for damaging sensitive alpine areas and attracting hikers to places that are too dangerous for them to go. These emergency shelters might be putting more people at risk rather than saving lives.

And at what cost? All the emergency shelters were destinations, got completely trashed, and finally removed. The Dungeon has a longer history and can't be removed, though it can be closed. I'm not sure it plays a useful role at this point.

-dave-

Jim lombard
01-31-2005, 04:31 PM
By Dave Metsky

The Dungeon has a longer history and can't be removed, though it can be closed. I'm not sure it plays a useful role at this point.

I agree that this shouldn't used as an emergency shelter. The Ammonusuc ravine trail is right there, even in a whiteout in winter I have found and used this as an evacuation route.

dr_wu002
01-31-2005, 04:42 PM
In my opinion, if you need The Dungeon as an emergency shelter during the winter time, there's a good chance you shouldn't have been there in the first place.

I think the original intention of The Dungeon is a free (but lousy) overflow shelter for thru-hikers during the operational months of the hut. Having it left open, especially in the Presidentials, during winter months only invites people to camp out there or around the hut. Plus -- more important -- it creates a false sense of security: "ah, if things get too bad I can always go to the Lake in the Clouds Hut," which I don't think is a good excuse for being underprepared.

Probably more lives are saved by using brains rather than that hut.

-Wu

DougG
02-01-2005, 11:29 AM
Slam the place shut when the hut is closed. I believe this is needed now more than ever since access to this area (Lakes of the Clouds) has now been made easier with available winter trailhead parking at the Cog.
Easier access = more yahoos.

The logic that this shelter might be needed in the alpine zone is weak. D. Metsky listed a couple shelters that were removed for good reasons. I add the auto road shelters to the list.

spider solo
02-01-2005, 08:39 PM
Oh I might catch some guff for this but.... I find it next to meaningless that they stayed there.
Wasn't that place built after a couple of over ambitious ,though much loved, hikers got caught in winter like conditions on the way to an AMC gathering on Washington summit?
Hasn't the Lake of the Clouds "hut" attracted a large contingent of people ever since ?
Being a walking paradox myself I would get pretty bent out of shape if they left trash and TP all over tha place.
However, for all I know, many a rare alpine plant was trod upon while building the place.
So one one hand this...and on the other hand that...
Actually doesn't the cellar reek of pee?

giggy
02-02-2005, 07:53 AM
I agree with spider and I also I don't like the fact that Tp/Trash is left (I am taking people's word for it - I have never seen it myself - but I believe it) - but I also think that if these huts are there, they should not be closed certain times of the year - they should be open self service. Or at least throw some tent platforms up there. I have contacted the AMC about this and they have never even had the courtesy to reply with to why they are not open in the winter. Yea - there will be some mis-use like everywhere, but I would bet most people would respect the environment if they were slef service.

I will get guff for this as well - but it is just how I feel.

DougG
02-02-2005, 11:56 AM
Yea - there will be some mis-use like everywhere, but I would bet most people would respect the environment if they were slef service.

I will get guff for this as well - but it is just how I feel.
************************************************** *****
Not sure if this qualifies as guff but anyway................
'Most' people probably do respect the environment but that is not why laws/rules are needed.
Tent platforms at Lakes of Clouds?? If there is one thing the Washington/Monroe col does not need, it would be greater human impact. All the scree walls along the trails in that area are built for a purpose. Eating up more of the alpine zone with 'permanant' tent platforms is likely out of the question. This would be more a USFS edict than AMC policy.
Simply stated, there is no way to handle the human waste in winter up there. I believe enough well-meaning types draw a line at carrying out everything. Alpine ecology, sanitation, and safety are three strikes against further impact (especially in winter) within the alpine zone.

History also shows that enough people don't respect the environment. Consider the list of former shelters/sites that have been eliminated. The flip side being - many of the remaining sites have/need caretakers to oversee the use of human impact.

giggy
02-02-2005, 02:07 PM
nah - thats no guff -

I respectfully disagree though - I think 2 to 4 tent platforms would be ideal - same deal as RMC - first come first serve. How far does impact on the alpine zone go - do we close the whole mountain range or alpine zone - becuase some folks are jacka**'s. The wind could rip the tents apart though.

I think there is more "damage" being done when there are 100 people per day staying/tramping around the hut May-Sep.

I realize I am in the minority opinion here - and it is just my opinion. Besides a few poops will help the alpine zone re-grow. (ok that last part was a joke)