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Thread: Tenting near Galehead Hut

  1. #16
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Sorry to bring up a repeated subject but the WMNF published regulations do not agree with your statement. The website states a blanket 200 foot rule but the referenced Backcountry Document https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5363715.pdf does not. As I have stated before the backcountry document is an exercise in obfuscation either intentionally or unintentionally. Page 2 of the document is Leave no Trace "guidelines" that have no legal standing currently in the WMNF, yes Kharma and good practice calls for maintaining a minimum 200 foot, but as you will see on Page 3 the 200 foot regulation is only to called out in specific areas (copied below from the FS backcountry document).
    You are incorrect. First, the rules on the website are clear. Second, the backcountry rules are redundant, not contradictary on the PDF you link to. Nowhere does it specify that the 200' rule is only a guideline. Third, a call to the WMNF Supervisor's Office in Campton confirmed that the 200' rule applies to the entire WMNF, not just Wilderness areas.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    You are incorrect. First, the rules on the website are clear. Second, the backcountry rules are redundant, not contradictary on the PDF you link to. Nowhere does it specify that the 200' rule is only a guideline. Third, a call to the WMNF Supervisor's Office in Campton confirmed that the 200' rule applies to the entire WMNF, not just Wilderness areas.
    Can you point us to the forest order? The only one I can find is https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...eprd644808.pdf and it is missing exhibit B. The USFS maps showing all FPAs is consistent with the Camping Rules PDF.

  3. #18
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    The problem with calling the WMNF is frequently the person you talk to is the least qualified to supply info, frequently volunteers, seasonal employees, or staff new to the area. I do know several people who have been handed a copy of the attachment at ranger stations when inquiring about legal campsites and a past volunteer I knew did the same when asked. Show me a link to more official document then the Backcountry Rules and I might change my mind and several others who have thought what you thought.

    I do not agree with your opinion that the Backcountry Camping Rules document is redundant versus contradictory, IMHO the rules are the rules and take precedence over a page on website that may or may not have been vetted by anyone.

    Note the wording on page 2. If whomever wrote it had changed the "or" to and "and" it would be far better LNT guideline. There are numerous heavily impacted sites especially along the AT literally just a step off the trail which would meet the first part of the statement yet few if any are noticed no camping or any enforcement exists. The many sites on the ridge above Liberty Springs behind the "boulder" were closed due to the 1/4 mile rule, not the 200 foot rule and Liberty Spring overflow campers have been directed by AMC caretakers to the ridge just outside the 1/4 mile area heading towards Liberty. Its pretty easy to find these spots as the majority are reportedly available on electronic guides routinely used by thruhikers. Many of the so called overflow sites on the spur trail to Guyot are similarly well within the 200 foot rule. Same with the Zealand Hut overflow sites and the Pinkham overflow sites on Old Jackson road.

    Camp at sites that have already been heavily
    impacted (but be sure itís a legal site),
    or 200 feet from trails and water
    sources. Avoid moderately impacted
    sites where your visit could create
    more damage.


    I have no doubt that on the very rare occasion that the WMNF actually wrote a ticket for this type of violation in the actual backcountry, and someone went to the trouble to challenge it,(few do) that it would be thrown out. Talk to any long term ranger and they will admit that the absolute last resort is pull out the citation book, its predominantly a final "club" used for folks blatantly in violation of the rules or if the new forest district supervisor decides it is the "violation of the week". When the infamous district ranger who pushed to remove the Pemi suspension bridge was trying to make her name, she assigned a ranger to roam the then Wilderness trail (now Lincoln Woods trail) writing outfitter guide violations and Pemi RUA violations, one of them followed us about 4 miles around dusk one evening and once he caught us on a break and we talked to him for a bit he admitted he really disliked the duty as he had far better things to do but the new "boss" wanted citations. A feew years later the battle of the Owl went on for a season with a FS employee even posting on VFTT begging for it to stop as they were wasting valuable time they could be elsewhere. Once that district ranger got promoted to her preretirement post in CA things calmed down.

    Having participated on getting ready for a rescue of a couple and their dog who were blatantly violating the rules, the rangers had decided they would write tickets to both parties and then admitted that they knew they would get thrown out if challenged but that meant a drive back up to NH to hang out at the Federal District court on a work day. They figured the lost work was probably worth more than the tickets.

    Pretty simple to solve, revise the documents they reference on their website to be far less confusing and in alignment with current WMNF policies.

  4. #19
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    South on the AT isn't always south on the map.
    True. But, the OP is talking about checking out the water source at Guyot so I assume he means the campsite there. That's not off the AT, it's off the Bondcliff Trail. And, the OP says that if it is dry, they will "continue" going south to Garfield Ridge shelter.

  5. #20
    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJoe View Post
    Not according to AMC maps. Galehead and the Frost Trail appear to be completely out of the Pemi. Wilderness. Which I think by design, you'll find anywhere along the AT, wilderness boundary's are at least 200' from most trails. I believe I've seen herd paths to sights on the .6 mile section of the GRT between the junction of the Gale River Trail and the hut. There're literally everywhere along the AT.

    Attachment 6890
    This is the Forest Service Map: https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.1...33&z=16&b=f16a showing it to be in wilderness (66 feet south of the AT as I recall). Likewise USGS maps: https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.1...58073&z=13&b=t

    You can see the cutout made just for the Guyot Shelter.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Forest order stating 200 foot rule in certain Wilderness areas ONLY. If there were a 200 foot rule for everything, there's no point in pointing it out here. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5229052.pdf

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    USFS map showing camping restrictions in the area in question https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...prd3847526.pdf

  8. #23
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    Sure looks to me like a lot of support for my original contention that the 200 Foot "rule" is not a rule, rather a suggestion outside the special areas named in the brochure.

    I am realist and the reality is the usage of the AT in the whites far exceeds the capacity of the designated campsites along the ridge. AMC has been the proverbial "dutchman with their finger in the dike" for years doing the caretaking of the campsites. Thru hikers tend to be independent and many have been rewarded by not being hassled using stealth sites for the vast majority of the trail south of the whites. Most thru hikers are just doing low key "stealthing" in the many existing bootleg campsites that have appeared and are actively in use well within the 200 foot limit. I was a bit shocked last year how big the Jewell Trail bootleg sites have grown when I visited them. Northbound (and to lesser extent southbound) thru hikers at this point are very low impact, they hike late until near dark and get going around sunrise. No fire rings, no trees cut down. They are also hate to drop of the ridgeline on a blue blaze to access potential legal sites, when they can just cowboy at a stealth site just off the AT. The typical weekend warrior is probably higher impact. There have been attempts to give thru hikers "special rights" in the Smokies and the Shenandoah's but both projects are backed up by fairly strong ridge runner programs. They are also National Parks where recreation is a primary driver while the WMNF is multiple use area with a constrained budget that tends to be spent in many areas with little if any on backcountry ridge runners.

  9. #24
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    I would like to see a definitive answer to this question. That should probably come from the Forest Supervisor and not someone who answers questions on the phone. PB, you live right down the road from the Androscoggin District Ranger Station. I know that is not the headquarters, but someone there might be able to initiate an inquiry into this question.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    I would like to see a definitive answer to this question. That should probably come from the Forest Supervisor and not someone who answers questions on the phone. PB, you live right down the road from the Androscoggin District Ranger Station. I know that is not the headquarters, but someone there might be able to initiate an inquiry into this question.
    I will let the folks who want to hold to the hard 200 foot rule fight that battle. The easy part is just say 200 foot no if ands or buts but unless there is lot of education and realistic planning to provide alternative options to deal with the real usage along the AT and then real ridgerunning to reinforce the education and enforce the rules I dont think it goes anywhere.

  11. #26
    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    I think JoshandBarons map is quite definitive.

  12. #27
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I will let the folks who want to hold to the hard 200 foot rule fight that battle. The easy part is just say 200 foot no if ands or buts but unless there is lot of education and realistic planning to provide alternative options to deal with the real usage along the AT and then real ridgerunning to reinforce the education and enforce the rules I dont think it goes anywhere.
    I totally agree. Anyone here that has hiked for a long time which is many, know there are rules about LNT whether in print or tacit that are not always followed. Certainly increased enforcement and education would help but hikers are going to do what they are going to do. The term "Stealth" has become common verbiage among backpackers with Social Media feeding the fire. It is unfortunate situation and almost seems analogous at this point to pissing in the wind. The lack of man power and money to change this situation is a huge price tag not to mention disconcerting.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  13. #28
    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    I totally agree. Anyone here that has hiked for a long time which is many, know there are rules about LNT whether in print or tacit that are not always followed. Certainly increased enforcement and education would help but hikers are going to do what they are going to do. The term "Stealth" has become common verbiage among backpackers with Social Media feeding the fire. It is unfortunate situation and almost seems analogous at this point to pissing in the wind. The lack of man power and money to change this situation is a huge price tag not to mention disconcerting.
    Great points. FWIW, even though I'm adamant the rules state you can camp right next to (on?) some trails doesn't mean you should. I personally don't want to camp within 200 feet of a trail. I go out there for privacy and quiet. Seeing legal or illegal campsites within site of a trail distracts from the nature I'm trying to enjoy, as far as I'm concerned. But yeah, there's nothing to do about it regardless. LNT is a total joke now as too many times when I'm far off trail and there's fire rings, saved wood, caches, etc. which will probably never get used again. Once in a while I'll dismantle this crap but if I did every one I came across I'd never accomplish the original purpose of me being out there...

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    IMPORTANT: Camping is PROHIBITED within 200 feet of a trail or water source in the White Mountain National Forest REGARDLESS of whether or not you are in a Wilderness.
    This 200 foot blanket rule, all trails and all water sources, applies to everyone but the elite. If you have to ask, you're not.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by pegprimak View Post
    Tenting is legal within the first 66 feet of the trail [at which point the Pemi Wilderness begins]
    That's an issue for the lawyers. Is the language there about "within 200 feet" talking about trails within the Pemi? That would seem logical as the regulation is about the Pemi so a trail outside the Pemi would seem not covered at that point; why would a Pemi regulation be talking about trails outside the Pemi?

    Or does it mean, as you and most people think, within 200 feet of a trail whether or not that trail is inside the Pemi? But if that were what was meant wouldn't the language have been more specific: "whether such trail is inside or outside the Pemi Wilderness"?
    Last edited by Will; 08-11-2022 at 07:14 PM.

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