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Thread: Hiking is less fun in the internet age

  1. #31
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    For me a GPS was actually an enabler rather than degrader in my hiking experience.

    A while back I did not have any friends who were bushwhacking, so I always stuck to trails. Then I got into geocaching, bought myself a hiking GPS and I went for a number of geocaches that required some degree of bushwhacking. This was new to me but after a while I got totally comfortable with the idea of going off trail. There was a time when my GPS was virtually glued to my hand, but I tend to look at it a lot less nowadays. As a matter of fact last winter when we went to Adirondacks I totally forgot to bring my GPS with me. Still I decided to do some winter geocaching to get some solitude in the woods. I had my cheap phone that did not have e-compass, so the geocaching app would not be fully functional and did not show me a direct line to the cache location - something that I typically would use for monitoring my progress. As I did not have a good map for the area and OpenStreetMap does not have all paths mapped for this section of the woods, I decided to bushwhack from cache to cache instead of guessing where the trails would take me. Towards the end of the day, I picked a direction to the next cache and started off meandering around many fallen logs but not checking my compass. After some 10 or 15 minutes I came to a path and I took a guess which way to turn. Another 10 or 15 minutes later I came to a trail intersection that I recognized and it was really close to where I started the bushwhack from! I made a full circle! I "self-rescued", and I'm glad I can confess this story myself rather than Nessmuk having another anecdote to relate here.

  2. #32
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    The theme is "Is hiking less fun in the internet age". Hopefully the answer is yes. The "herd following" " social networking" "face booking" "Instagraming" people will move on to some other activities, and the motive of equalling or out doing the accomplishments of others will subside. There are plenty of places which are "undiscovered" with very little public hiking traffic in the Whites even in peak summer season.

  3. #33
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    The thing we all lack is historical context. The Whites were overrun during the backpacking boom of the late seventies/early eighties. This boom was fueled by the popular press as there was no world wide web where most people got their intro to going on line. Whenever I go to lesser used places I frequently find extensive evidence of campsites and overuse from 30 to 40 years ago. My early hiking days were the tail end of the boom. Places like Moriah Brook trail, rarely visited these days have spots along the gorge where the campsites may range out three or four hundred feet from the stream. The soils are all compacted in many spots so overusedspots are quite obvious. Any one using the fisherman's bushwhack from Franconia Falls to access Lincoln Brook trail will find many sites of similar vintage and there are any number of similar areas. The backcountry was actually more beat up then as now as there were far more backpackers then. Most came up for the weekend or longer stretches. The big difference was there was less emphasis on the lists.

  4. #34
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The big difference was there was less emphasis on the lists.
    Which inherently is ironic. Please correct me if I am not historically correct. My recollection was the original 4000 footer list was created to disperse use. To answer the OPís question. I do not think hiking is less fun but different within the Internet Age. Many good points have been made already so I will not rehash. But the common theme seems to be the perception of a diminished sense of adventure. What I say to that is up your game. Embrace new challenges and learn new skill sets. Hiking and a Climbing in New England is inherently fun and challenging but is also seen and used by many as a training ground for even more challenging quests.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  5. #35
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    You are correct, the 4K list was designed to get people to lesser used summits away from the standard summits. Overcrowding of popular summit trails is not a new issue. The first time I did Mt Washington in high school, I remember parking along RT 16 and being in an endless line up Tuckermans Ravine. Even when I was doing the 4Ks in the late 80s the even more remote 4Ks had minimal trampling. Places like North Trypyramid and East Osceola were just wide spots in the trail, now there are well trod down clearings.

  6. #36
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    Interesting thread hikerbrian. To answer your initial question, the internet neither enhances nor diminishes my enjoyment of hiking or the mountains though it certainly makes it easier and faster to obtain information. I don't do any bushwhacking and I don't use a GPS. Since I (try to) stay on the trail most of the time, I rarely even need or use a compass although there's always one in my pack. I love paper maps and that's all I'm relying on except for the bigger map I'm carrying in my head from studying the paper one ahead of time. I guess that's pretty old school.

    My relationship to NH is different from most of you as well. Although I grew up in New England, my annual trip to NH is more of a pilgrimage, (see my signature below) a return to a place with a great deal of meaning for me. The White Mountains are beautiful and even spiritual. As I get older, the prospect of planning next year's excursion takes on new meaning because always having one more hike to do and one more summit to climb at least implies or gives one the illusion of immortality. In the last few years since I finished the 48, I have loved exploring various NH 3000 footers without actually attempting to finish any more lists even as I use the lists to uncover the lesser known peaks. I'll keep going back every year and looking for new places to hike until I just can't do it anymore.
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

  7. #37
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    I've been out there for awhile. Got my first round done in 1982 and just kept hiking. The two issues that bother me today are crowds and the complete lack of comradery that a lot of hikers lack. In order to still hike and enjoy it, I've made two major adjustments. I do not hike where the crowds congregate. I used to average 5 ascents of the FRL a year. Haven't been on it in a few years. Secondly and this might strike people as odd, I have learned to insulate myself from what I see on the trails. I just ignore the trash, the loud obnoxious summits, the lack of skills and gear that is so obvious in many hikers. I just go about my business and continue to enjoy being out there. The one thing that has enriched my time in the backcountry is hiking with a dog. I always moved a lot and apartments were where I lived. Once I settled down, I realized a dog would fit my lifestyle. Total game changer for an introvert like me. I'm on my second dog now, Its fun working with him and training him. I'm transitioning to smaller peaks, many peaks out there, I ignored during my time on the 4ks. They are quiet and better for my aging knees anyway. Its funny, a 3 or 4 hour hike is more then enough now to make my day. I then just go exploring or swimming with my dog. I don't have to grind out 8 hours anymore to be fulfilled. In the back of my mind, I see a boat and a fishing rod and many new places to explore.

  8. #38
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    I have to figure out my next FRL, I've not been on the ridge in over 10 years other than a Lafayette trip with my son and two of his friends & that was back in 2011 or 2012. We stayed at the hut which is what we did then, on summit day the weather was wet & cool, saw nothing. Maybe some cold but clear and blustery weekday in the fall if I can swing it...
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  9. #39
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    I have to figure out my next FRL, I've not been on the ridge in over 10 years other than a Lafayette trip with my son and two of his friends & that was back in 2011 or 2012. We stayed at the hut which is what we did then, on summit day the weather was wet & cool, saw nothing. Maybe some cold but clear and blustery weekday in the fall if I can swing it...
    I've been thinking of a way to do it without the crowds. I've never hiked in the dark (on purpose). Thinking of starting around 300am, catching the sunrise on the ridge and being down by 830 or so, weekday for sure.

  10. #40
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    I ran into two groups coming down from Sunrise Hikes dow Old Bridal Path a few weekends ago.There are actually more folks than you may assume do night hikes.

  11. #41
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    I've been thinking of a way to do it without the crowds. I've never hiked in the dark (on purpose). Thinking of starting around 300am, catching the sunrise on the ridge and being down by 830 or so, weekday for sure.
    Just like on nice days, they say it's a great hike on a full moon. Same with the Presidentials.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  12. #42
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I ran into two groups coming down from Sunrise Hikes dow Old Bridal Path a few weekends ago.There are actually more folks than you may assume do night hikes.
    I actually have a pretty good idea how many people hike at night. Running into two parties, is a far cry from 900 people, which is a number counted on a weekend day.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerbrian View Post

    Ponds and lakes. I just ordered the Steve Smith book, thanks so much JoshandBaron for the recommendation! Water features are right up there with good views for me in terms of places I like to end up.
    The book is a bit dated but updates can be found here if you haven't already found it: https://www.mountainwanderer.com/paths-peaks.php

  14. #44
    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.

  15. #45
    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 12:50 PM.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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