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Thread: Hiking is less fun in the internet age

  1. #46
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    The one issue none of us seems to have solved is parking. I wish that wasn't such a bottleneck, because all of the other great suggestions rely on finding a place to park. I know getting up REALLY early generally circumvents the issue, but it's just...harder...especially with kids.

    Peakbagger, your historical perspective is super helpful, and I've thought about that a bit. I wonder if parking was an issue then? I started hiking somewhere in the 90's, so the earlier overcrowding was before my time. Also, for better or worse, I think clearing spots in the back country was less frowned upon back in the day. I'm not arguing this is good practice, just suggesting it possibly opened up other possibilities. My not-completely-scientific inkling is that people just have more time and more money these days, and gear is a lot better. So there are more people everywhere in the woods. I wonder if this current crowd issue is inherently different than the one that happened 40 yrs ago. As an analogy, I surfed a lot (in Rhode Island) when I lived in CT, late 90's. At the time, not many people on the east coast surfed, but for a variety of reasons it became much more accessible, and known breaks became extremely crowded, secret spots were revealed on the internets, and everyone and their mother was there for the dawn session if there was even a hint of a swell. Some old timers thought it was just a fad, and everyone would move on to some other hobby in a couple of years. But 20 years later, that hasn't happened. Again, just my intuition, but I don't think the current crowding issue on the trails is going away. Sierra, more and more I'm adopting your mantra of just keeping to myself. It used to be that EVERYONE stopped to say hello and share stories on the trail, but that process is disappointing more often than not these days. Probably best to let it go.

    Skiguy, I like your idea of developing a new skill in the woods and 'upping my game.' I approached hiking that way for...ever, but now I'm a little bit stuck since I've got young kids and am fairly risk-averse at this stage. My rock rack has been collecting dust for going on 10 years now, and there's no way I'd trust any of the soft goods. I took an ice climbing workshop about 5 yrs ago. Loved it, but like with rock climbing, it's difficult to get away from serious risk unless you're really committed. In my opinion, it's hard to be a safe part-time climber. I've thought a bit about back country skiing, but the truth is I love ski area skiing. [Another opportunity for y'll to break out the flamethrowers, if you so desire :-)] Maybe I need to get into bush craft and/or hunting.

    All of this being said, I think with modest changes to my approach (with my kids and with the crowds), there's still fun to be had, and thanks again for all of the thoughtful responses. This has been a fun exercise in the absence of actually being able to hike right now. I'm going to spend some time looking at maps and finding some features I'm psyched to explore. Where there's a will, there's a way! Parking is not an insurmountable challenge for a person with sufficient motivation. :-)
    Sure. Why not.

  2. #47
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post

    Skiguy, I like your idea of developing a new skill in the woods and 'upping my game.' I approached hiking that way for...ever, but now I'm a little bit stuck since I've got young kids and am fairly risk-averse at this stage. My rock rack has been collecting dust for going on 10 years now, and there's no way I'd trust any of the soft goods. I took an ice climbing workshop about 5 yrs ago. Loved it, but like with rock climbing, it's difficult to get away from serious risk unless you're really committed. In my opinion, it's hard to be a safe part-time climber. I've thought a bit about back country skiing, but the truth is I love ski area skiing. [Another opportunity for y'll to break out the flamethrowers, if you so desire :-)] Maybe I need to get into bush craft and/or hunting.
    A great hobby that I was part of when I was a teenager and got put up on the shelf and was reignited later in life for me was Ham Radio. It is cerebral, can be done at home and also be taken to the mountains. Not to mention off the beaten path. It is challenging and never becomes stale. During this time of "Social Distancing" it has been a great hobby. I have been in contact with people from all over the world on a daily basis and have never left my house. Although I do look forward to getting outside on a mountain top with my radio hopefully sooner than later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mccku0OgNg
    Last edited by skiguy; 04-13-2020 at 11:50 AM.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  3. #48
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    I started hunting as a teen and ended up hiking after I realized I liked the walking in the woods part better. Same is said about my golf game which often sent me in the woods looking for my ball. After awhile it made more sense to carry the proper bag in the woods.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  4. #49
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    I started hunting as a teen and ended up hiking after I realized I liked the walking in the woods part better. Same is said about my golf game which often sent me in the woods looking for my ball. After awhile it made more sense to carry the proper bag in the woods.
    LOL! Golf does have it's merits.Click image for larger version. 

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    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  5. #50
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post
    So there are more people everywhere...
    Yes. There are more people, and yet the size of the Forest and the associated trail network has not changed.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  6. #51
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    After awhile it made more sense to carry the proper bag in the woods.
    That's a great line! And incidentally an example of another sport I used to like but gave up because it got so damn crowded. Impossible to get out without a tee time anymore, everyone is overboard with reading putts and hitting the perfect putt, etc. 6 hour rounds for $100+ got tired pretty fast. I could probably say the same about down hill skiiing too, although the soaring price of lift tickets was more of a factor than huge lift lines. Same solutions to these problems too: go midweek. Yah, if you can.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

  7. #52
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Brian. An interesting distraction from....well, I wasn't doing much. My thoughts:

    1) Parking challenges at EVERY trailhead.

    I don't often see this but I do hike often in areas farther north and away from the crowds. If I go to Franconia, I'm on trail before sunrise, weekday. I've looked down that foggy ridge at dawn all to myself (seemingly anyway). I've also had to say "excuse me" on that ridge.

    2) Major trails are crowded. All of them.

    This is why I prefer areas with a network of trails. If there's one main trail all are funneled to, it gets crowds. I tend to pick the path less traveled and will add a mile or two to take secondary trails when possible.

    3) Back country shelters and tentsites are invariably full early

    Are they? I know a few hot spots get jammed. I don't backpack with enough regularity to comment. I do often carry a bivy sack so no tent site or shelter is necessary.

    4) There's a perception of a 'right' way to do everything in the woods;

    People have opinions. I do what I think is right in the woods regardless of the company. No disrespect to others but I understand how to tread lightly. I'm always open to new ideas, but I'm pretty solid in mine.

    5) LNT is hyper-important.....

    I think LNT is hyper important but not all points are equal. I never want to see an axe being carried for standing trees, live or dead. Poop on trail? Nah. Protect your springs? Great idea, but I don't trust the people anymore. I hiked years without treating water. No more. This is my biggest disappointment from LNT.

    6) EVERYTHING has been done.

    If it doesn't pick my pocket or break my arm, what others do does not matter to me. What I do matters. (Variation of a Jefferson quote). I didn't care that someone had thru hiked the AT before me. I knew others had done the 48, knew a couple hundred had done them in winter when I started that quest 20ish years ago. When I decided to solo them in winter, I never asked about the history of that. I really don't care. My adventures in that journey were epic....extraordinary....raw...beautiful.

    I can boil all this down to one thing I do that keeps it real for me. Although I read VFTT here and there and read FB, I don't research online at all. I pick a mountain, use maps, lists, paperback guide books. I do the same thing I did in the nineties. I'm just a little wiser now with a few more white beard hairs.

    Good thread.
    Last edited by Raven; 04-14-2020 at 04:08 AM.
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  8. #53
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    That's a great line! And incidentally an example of another sport I used to like but gave up because it got so damn crowded. Impossible to get out without a tee time anymore, everyone is overboard with reading putts and hitting the perfect putt, etc. 6 hour rounds for $100+ got tired pretty fast. I could probably say the same about down hill skiiing too, although the soaring price of lift tickets was more of a factor than huge lift lines. Same solutions to these problems too: go midweek. Yah, if you can.
    I got sick of it when you couldn't play anymore in four hours and it started trending to five.

    At one time in Manchester CT, the student membership was $60. a year all you could play. You couldn't go out from 10-2 and on Ladies' Day, you had to wait until the groups with Tee times got off the first tee. In summer, we got dropped off in the AM, played 18, ate lunch and then played another 18 before dark and our ride returned. (Apparently my parents heard from the neighbors that you can't kick your kids outdoors all summer, they are terrorizing the neighborhood, so with our paper route money (kids went out in the Am delivering papers on bikes like adults now do in cars, & we went to strangers homes at night to get $1.25, often times invited inside while they hunted for change....) we bought student memberships.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  9. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raven View Post

    3) Back country shelters and tentsites are invariably full early

    Are they? I know a few hot spots get jammed. I don't backpack with enough regularity to comment. I do often carry a bivy sack so no tent site or shelter is necessary.

    I exclusively overnight and can affirm that this is pretty much true. If not full, fuller. Did a week-long Dry River/Wild River trip this past summer and every campsite in both Wildernesses had people at them midweek save for Perkins Notch. Weekend trips forget about it. Even the winter trips are becoming more crowded at established sites. I almost gave up last year when I went 6 trips in a row sharing campsites.

  10. #55
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    I exclusively overnight and can affirm that this is pretty much true. If not full, fuller. Did a week-long Dry River/Wild River trip this past summer and every campsite in both Wildernesses had people at them midweek save for Perkins Notch. Weekend trips forget about it. Even the winter trips are becoming more crowded at established sites. I almost gave up last year when I went 6 trips in a row sharing campsites.
    Ouch....I tend to not backpack in warm months so the summer thing I avoid. I've seen Guyot jammed though on the way by.

    More reason to carry that hammock I've got I suppose. I tend to pick odd locations or very "off" days to overnight. Same reason I visit caves and such on rainy days...no crowd.
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

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