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Thread: Mt Colden loop advice needed

  1. #31
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The whites lack "mini rangers". If anything the FS is understaffed and appear to have dropped enforcement of some regulations like the 1/4 mile rule.
    Couple of weeks ago when I did my pemi loop there were 3 bike packers set up with their tents literally at the end of the bridge over the Pemi leaving Lincoln Woods lot (the official bridge not the one down on the Kanc) on a SAT morning. I think there were three different tents, bright colors, reflective guylines, their bikes, etc. The fruit doesn't get any more low hanging then that. If they didn't get fined by rangers I'd say people are able to go ahead and do whatever they want with zero consequences....
    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

  2. #32
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    I've see the "mini rangers" up on Franconia Ridge. Not the most pleasant experience, I will say.

    Tim
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  3. #33
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Couple of weeks ago when I did my pemi loop there were 3 bike packers set up with their tents literally at the end of the bridge over the Pemi leaving Lincoln Woods lot (the official bridge not the one down on the Kanc) on a SAT morning. I think there were three different tents, bright colors, reflective guylines, their bikes, etc. The fruit doesn't get any more low hanging then that. If they didn't get fined by rangers I'd say people are able to go ahead and do whatever they want with zero consequences....
    At least they didn't have a wheel barrow full of beer and ice with the intent of heading to Franconia Falls.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Couple of weeks ago when I did my pemi loop there were 3 bike packers set up with their tents literally at the end of the bridge over the Pemi leaving Lincoln Woods lot (the official bridge not the one down on the Kanc) on a SAT morning. I think there were three different tents, bright colors, reflective guylines, their bikes, etc. The fruit doesn't get any more low hanging then that. If they didn't get fined by rangers I'd say people are able to go ahead and do whatever they want with zero consequences....
    When I rolled into Livermore a month ago there were people camping on the grass next to the parking lot. I have seen them enforcing things on the East Side Trail a couple times this season.

  5. #35
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    At least they didn't have a wheel barrow full of beer and ice with the intent of heading to Franconia Falls.
    Yeah, I remember seeing groups with coolers slung between poles on their way to Franconia Falls back in the late 60s. Back then the Wilderness Trail parking lot, which held about 6 cars was on the opposite side of the river than the one today. On weekends, cars were lined up for miles on either side of the Kanc.

  6. #36
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    Yeah, I remember seeing groups with coolers slung between poles on their way to Franconia Falls back in the late 60s. Back then the Wilderness Trail parking lot, which held about 6 cars was on the opposite side of the river than the one today. On weekends, cars were lined up for miles on either side of the Kanc.
    Regulations were not as tight then. Camping in parking lots at trailheads was not all that uncommon. Also in those days with the Old Osseo Trailhead was on the way down to Loon. It made sense to park on the road between Lincoln Woods and the Osseo Trail if you were doing a loop.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  7. #37
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Hikerbrian, I'm grateful that you were good about following the rules, but I think that you made a poor choice, even irresponsible, with your itinerary. Yes, that's harsh, but we on VFTT are aware of the overuse and as educated hikers, we should be doing what we can to alleviate the problem, not make it worse. If we're going to hike and camp on holiday weekends, we should seek out lesser-used destinations. If we need to hike the most popular peaks, then we should be hiking at off-peak times. We'll all have better experiences if we do so.
    Last edited by TEO; 09-30-2020 at 11:49 AM.

  8. #38
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    I think the OP made an excellent effort to better understand and seek out information well over a month ago. I see nothing irresponsible. Not everyone has the luxury of not hiking on weekends and holidays.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  9. #39
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Skiguy, I absolutely agree with your first and third points. But, we do have a a choice on where we hike on weekends and holidays. We also know and say that one of ways to decrease overuse is to avoid the most popular areas when the crowds will be the greatest, such as on holiday weekends. I'm being hard on Hikerbrian because those of us who are educated and aware of the problem need to be a part of the solution, not further contribute to the problem.

    And unfortunately for Hikerbrian, he paid the price with a less than exceptional experience. IMnotsoHO, something is wrong if you don't think that it's worth returning to the Adirondacks.

  10. #40
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    Hikerbrian, I'm grateful that you were good about following the rules, but I think that you made a poor choice, even irresponsible, with your itinerary. Yes, that's harsh, but we on VFTT are aware of the overuse and as educated hikers, we should be doing what we can to alleviate the problem, not make it worse. If we're going to hike and camp on holiday weekends, we should seek out lesser-used destinations. If we need to hike the most popular peaks, then we should be hiking at off-peak times. We'll all have better experiences if we do so.
    I hear you, TEO, and I don't mind 'harsh' criticism! I'm a beginner at everything compared to someone somewhere; we all have something to learn.

    In a perfect world where I get to make all the choices, and s*** doesn't happen, it's easy to do all of the things you suggest. In this case, I didn't get to make all the choices, and a worldwide pandemic happened. These and other factors impacted my available choices.

    More specifically, our reservations at Heart Lake were made last December. No one could have predicted use trends would be so crazy 10 months ago. I might not have picked Heart Lake, myself, even absent the pandemic. I prefer spots that are off the beaten path. But last December, a very good friend of mine said she and another family had made reservations at a campground in the ADKs, right in the middle of the most beautiful part, and would I like to join them? If so, I should make the reservation promptly, since there weren't many spots left. Even with 20/20 hindsight, I don't think it was reckless, frivolous, or irresponsible to make that reservation at that time and sort out the details later. Although it is clear to me now that that area is REALLY crowded, it's not easy to make that assessment from a computer, and other REALLY crowded areas I've been to in the past (Yosemite, the Tetons, Yellowstone, etc.) control the crowds one way or another, either through a permit system or by limiting parking. I don't think it was willfully ignorant on my part to think that the limited number of campsites and the limited number of parking spots at the Loj were both intended as crowd control. If my family had not gone, another one would have taken our spot at the campground. So it's not clear to me how that would have alleviated the crowding issue anyway.

    I read a few months ago that parking lots in the ADKs were filling very early, typically by about 6:00 a.m. Since we were locked into our reservation at Heart Lake, we could either hike directly from there, or I could get my family and the two other families, all with young kids, up and out by, say, 5 a.m. and we could take our chances on finding a trailhead that still had parking in some remote area. I don't think that would have been a particularly good plan - I can tell you the staff we interacted with had no earthly idea what they were taking about when we asked for advice about such things. For example, when we asked about the Lake Colden area - and we asked several employees at the Loj - some said as long as we got to Avalanche Lake before dark, we could camp wherever we wanted. Others said we better leave the Loj by 5:30 am Friday morning if we wanted any chance of finding a back country site anywhere. You'll forgive me for not putting much weight in any of the advice we got while there. Given the options, I thought it best for any hiking that we depart directly from the Loj.

    Even at that point, Friday morning pretty early, as we were getting on the trail I let the rest of the group know that if it felt too crowded my family would make it a day trip. I wasn't willing to take on really any COVID transmission risk by, say, cooking with several groups of people, and we were perfectly fine turning around and exploring other parts of the park. But as we hiked in, there were many, many open lean-to's and campsites. Marcy Dam, Avalanche Lake, all of them had open spots. So after splitting our group per the ADK volunteers' advice, we opted to camp out in an empty spot as a single family near Avalanche Lake, while the other two families found spots on the south end of Colden Lake. Again, if it had felt crowded at that point, there's no way we would have stayed.

    To summarize, I tried to make the best decisions I could of the limited options available, and in hindsight I don't think the decisions I made were particularly bad ones. I could have skipped the trip to the ADKs entirely, and I very nearly did just that. I really only committed when I loaded my family into the car and we started driving. Until then, it was really up in the air, depending on COVID numbers and what I was reading about transmission risks associated with outdoor activities. I don't think keeping our reservation was a terrible idea. Once there, I again made the best decisions I could with the information in front of me, given an unprecedented year and campground employees who had no idea what they were talking about (but acted quite sure of themselves).

    If the goal is to limit environmental degradation, then I don't think telling experienced hikers to stay away from crowded areas is a particularly good means of achieving that goal. In the case of the ADK Loj area, where parking capacity is the crowd-limiting factor, all you're going to do is decrease the average skill level of the cohort, which will lead to greater environmental degradation, not less.

    I'd further argue that having rangers waking up campers in their tents in the middle of the night is not likely to decrease environmental impact either. Why not shine those amazing headlamps around in the trees and surrounding area, and if things are amiss regarding food storage or whatever, then start going tent to tent? We didn't have to try hard at all to identify egregious impacts, or to identify those responsible for them.

    I've been to lots of places that are in pretty high demand and where there is tremendous potential for overuse - the Tetons, Denali, Rainier, North Cascades, Glacier, Mt. Shasta, Yellowstone. I've packed out my own poop on plenty of occasions where that level of LNT is needed. I can't say I've ever been woken up by rangers, or been given the kind of lecture we got at the trailhead from the volunteers. It is possible to manage high-use areas, and frankly I don't think waking people up in the middle of the night is the way to do it.
    Sure. Why not.

  11. #41
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Fair enough. I certainly wouldn't call you reckless, and again, I was admittedly being hard on you, probably overly so. I would encourage you to give the Adirondacks a second chance.

    In regard to the rangers waking you up, I would echo what others have said, they're incredibly understaffed and overworked. They're also not given the tools needed, e.g. a permit system.

  12. #42
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    Fair enough. I certainly wouldn't call you reckless, and again, I was admittedly being hard on you, probably overly so. I would encourage you to give the Adirondacks a second chance.

    In regard to the rangers waking you up, I would echo what others have said, they're incredibly understaffed and overworked. They're also not given the tools needed, e.g. a permit system.
    Different people go to the mountains for different reasons. For me, I honestly can't imagine a scenario that would make me excited to get back to the Adirondacks. I don't mean to poop on anyone's home range. If the ADKs were in my backyard, I'd be there all the time. It's a beautiful area. But it's a long ways for me to drive, and unfortunately the trip did not leave me with a great feeling, and the way a place feels is important to me. It's surprising to me in retrospect that it wasn't the other hikers but the ADK volunteers and the rangers who made the experience less than ideal for me. When I think back on the trip, front and center in my head is the image of me sleeping in my tent with my family, and then getting woken up not by a bear or heavy rain or strong wind, but by a guy with a bright light and a gun right outside my tent. I recognize you and others believe the rangers are really great guys and are doing the best they can. I get that, but really great, well-meaning people sometimes make mistakes. Intruding in that way was a mistake, and if you don't think so, no worries, we can agree to disagree. Second, if the scenario I've described is not abnormal, I want no part of it. It's literally the opposite of what I'm looking for in a backcountry experience. The fact that your first inclination is to call me irresponsible for embarking on the trip, in spite of following all of the rules - look, I'm not offended, even though I don't agree with your sentiment. But I am convinced this isn't the place for me. And hey, arguably the rangers are doing their job of mitigating over-crowding, one way or another!

    Funny thing is, when we met up with the other families 2 days later, my good friend who had invited me said, "All I kept thinking as the trip went on was, 'OMG, it's all the things that Brian hates!'" Like I said, different people go to the mountains for different reasons. But as you observed, I have in fact 'paid the price,' and doing so once was enough. I agree 'something is wrong,' but I think we don't agree on what that is or how to fix it. If it were my home range, I'd be pretty engaged in solving the problems I saw. But it's not, and there are plenty of interesting places to explore in the world. I'll leave you with one other anecdote though: two years ago I took the family to the Tetons. My boys were 7 and 9 at the time. I had made reservations 8 months prior to be able to hike the Teton Crest trail over a period of 5 days - arguably THE greatest bucket list backpack in the lower 48. Certainly one of the most popular. When we got to the backcountry office to check in and rent bear canisters, the ranger, noticing we were from MA and hiking with two young boys, asked a series of questions about our experience and expectations. After that she said, I think you guys are going to have a great time, here are your canisters, good luck! We saw one ranger the entire time we were in the back country. Yet the backcountry was incredibly well taken care of. We were expected to take care of ourselves, and we did. That feeling - self-reliance, responsibility, independence (within reason) - that's what I want. You don't need scenery like the Tetons to achieve that. If those things aren't important to you, then I can absolutely understand why your first inclination would be to tell me basically that I got what I deserved. Otherwise, I'd implore you to think about what problems exist in the ADKs and what the best ways to solve them are. Because the tactics I observed were doing little to diminish animal habituation, environmental degradation, or over-crowding.
    Sure. Why not.

  13. #43
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Thanks, Hikerbrian, for the perspective.

    Speaking for the Adirondacks as a local, I apologize for the bad impression that was made.

    The State, and the various "green" groups, have done just about everything wrong to address the issues here, consistently doing the exact opposite of what is needed. Your "user review" is just the latest in a long string of reviews in the past 2-3 years that indicates that all of the "additional measures" have accomplished nothing useful; in most cases made things worse; and alienated our visitors, threatening the future of our tourism-based economy.

    I have made this point, in writing with data and evidence, over and over again in the last 2-3 years to leadership at every level. All of what I have said has fallen on deaf ears.

    I hope you eventually decide to come back here, with your own agenda. There are many places to go here where you can enjoy the beauty, and avoid the crap. I would be happy to share suggestions.

  14. #44
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
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    Hikerbrian,

    Perhaps you had some bad luck but it's not the first time I hear a story like this. Few years ago my son went with his scout troop to Catskills and they got awoken in the middle of the night by a ranger who ticketed them for pitching their tents in violation of some rule (either too close to the trail or a to a lean-to but I can't remember which one it was.) Somehow, reading your story makes it feel more like a playbook tactic for raising funds rather than a mere coincidence.

    Personally, I prefer not to go where I am not welcome, and you are totally right - there so many beautiful places in the world to visit!

  15. #45
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    TCD, thank you sincerely for that offer. If I'm out that way again, I will absolutely be in touch to get some local advice. I'm sure it is extremely frustrating to see these experiences over and over again, and to know that local knowledge is not valued by the decision makers.

    iAmKrzys, both of those thoughts strike a chord with me. That feeling of not being welcome - that's probably why I've avoided Paris!
    Sure. Why not.

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