Is it good to invite 17,000 people to go hike to a NH 4K on one day this summer?

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peakbagger

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Great cause but a potential major impact event to the whites. Fundraiser set to finish "Emily's Hike" in New Hampshire

The tag line of "finishing Emily's hike" is of concern, I am hoping that there is system in place to disperse the groups? One thousand, seven hundred ten person teams deciding to do the Franconia Loop on the same day would definitely be an impact event.

Generally an event this size with post hike "celebration" seeking sponsorships requires some seed funding and a lot of front end work by either full time volunteers with event experience or paid staff, I wonder how they raised the seed funding or are they hopping to fund it on the fly via sponsorships? (the if you build it they will come approach). The problem with such a fundraiser is they assume a good day for the event so that hopefully a small portion of the funds received pays the bills but if they have a post hike celebration, there are usually fixed costs that do not go away even if it's a washout that day. If they rely on sponsors, and there is a washout and do not get the turnout, sponsors will be unhappy and could cut off the new group off from future funding.

My guess would be the permitting to run such an event in the national forest considering the some of 4Ks are in designated wilderness (Isolation and the Bonds with Owl having no legal trail) was quite difficult, most groups who run activities in the whites deliberately avoid the wilderness areas. I just hope they dont do the "wink wink nod" approach and blow off getting the national forest in the loop. In theory the National Forest should appreciate the training and S&R support aspects of the group but the rules are usually very strict for any organized events drawing people to the wilderness areas.

The group behind it is Hiking Buddies and they claim to have obtained 401 C status as of January, so at least they have that box ticked. Long ago on VFTT, there was a major uproar and split of VFTT forum members over a member selling CDs of his 48 hikes under the guise of donating the proceeds, that ultimately turned out to have zero accountability and was funding his expenses from the revenue. A 401 C organization has to keep books and hold people accountable.

Interesting to see that they are planning to offer hiker "buddy certification class's" summer and winter through Redline Guiding starting this fall and pay for them if the person completes them. That program will need to have a budget and funding which could be a significant undertaking. Interesting that the Winter certificate training will include the use of "Ice Ax and Ropes", skills that are rarely used by most 4K finishers I am aware of.

In general, I would guess it is the first Facebook hiking spin off in the whites to try to go "legit". The National Forest Foundation, has been muscling in on AMC for taking the lead on projects that AMC formerly would have run (although AMC appears to have done an end run by getting designated the lead organization of the mysterious Franconia Loop congressionally funded project). Flags on the 48 has always stayed true to their goal of being a strictly commemorative event. Should AMC worry that they have another non profit muscling in on what was once their exclusive domain, or does "big tent" apply? Reading the Bios of the principles I don't see a lot printed of their ties to mainstream outdoor groups so it will be interesting to see how they fit into the "tent". Go to any large event in the whites where multiple organizations are present and there is lot of cross pollination of the staffs of the organizations, folks move around in their career progression and as their parent organizations funding goes up and down. Usually "everyone" knows "everyone" and are careful to play nice in public so when a new group joins in it could be interesting.
 
This seems like a worthy cause and I do agree with your above well thought out observations. I agree with dispersing the groups is critical but 17,000 hikers is a lot to disperse. Strictly having a donation only process could be as effective without creating the tremendous impact a hiking event like this would create. Especially if it were to become annual. A gathering event that is not a hike to promote Hiker Education is a great idea also especially being held at a place like Bretton Woods. This again is a worthy cause but seems counterintuitive because of it's environmental impact. The facilitation of LARGE Group Hikes by Social Media is and has become the root of many issues not all positive in The Whites as has been discussed here on many levels. I wish these folks the best in their endeavors but also hope they come to realize that not everyone adheres to their model.
 
The problem with organizations like this, is they are driven to grow and as they grow, they make mistakes along the way. Many of the people that are attracted to such a group are inexperienced and releasing the amount of people interested in this endeavor will have an impact and it will be significant. I do think the training classes are a great idea, because education is the key to managing the explosion of hikers from groups like this. I'm sure Mike at Redline is licking his chops over the business, good for him, he does a great job and has some great guides working for him. As far as the premise of this group in regard to the girl Emily, I just don't really follow it. I know people like doing things to make themselves "feel good" but this is nothing but that, Emily is not finishing her hikes and a bunch of strangers swarming the mountains with that goal in mind is just odd to me at best.
 
Agree with Sierra on this. “Swarm” is certainly the right word.
 
Just curious: how many day-hikers are out there in WMNF on a “normal” summer weekend?

And a thought: that’s a lot of revenue if they all buy Hike Safe cards!
 
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Just curious: hire many day-hikers E out there in WMNF on a “normal” summer weekend?
And a thought: that’s a lot of revenue if they all buy Hike Safe cards!

I do not think there is any real good year to year reliable data on trails usage. I see attempts by people to correlate actual usage to searches for trail info on line but have not seen any real data on how tight the correlation is. I saw an article at some point that the WMNF was tracking usage along the Kanc over several years by usage of parking lots but many of the parking lots on the Kanc are dual usage with local attractions drawing in the majority of the usage with a trail to a hiking trail getting little usage. As an example, think of how poor the correlation would be to usage of the path between the parking lot at DIanas Bath to the actual falls as an indication of the usage of the Moat Mountain Trail, same with Champney Falls or Sabbaday Brook. I expect technology could easily be deployed to do a count of warm bodies passing a fixed point and it likely it could be camouflaged so I would not be seeing them, but the only place I have seen a camera trap is Hubbard Brook. Unless automated it would burn up a lot of manhours over multiple years before it really would be trendable.

BTW I believe that NH F&G had admitted last year that the fees collected by the Hike Safe Cards had just about covered Fish and Games costs for hiker rescues the previous year. That is decidedly a dangerous statistic as F&G only bills their tangible costs. In most S&R events, the vast majority of manhours are volunteer hours. In the case of trail maintenance, every group I know tracks volunteer hours including the FS as those hours are the equivalent of money in the budget as there is a dollar value to every volunteer hour that can be counted as payments in kind towards grants for trail work. I am not familiar with the S&R organizations if there is similar financial incentive for tracking hours? I would guess yes as they no doubt need funding for equipment and training but someone like Dr D would be far better at commenting.

I do admit their concept of a formal hiker training program is intriguing and Redline Guiding is probably salivating over the potential short term and longer term exposure to new potential customers. Reading the quick description, they are going to cover map and compass navigation and did not mention GPS so I can be an optimist and hope that the "follow the beep" using info from an internet trail description will be discouraged.
 
I expect technology could easily be deployed to do a count of warm bodies passing a fixed point and it likely it could be camouflaged so I would not be seeing them, but the only place I have seen a camera trap is Hubbard Brook. Unless automated it would burn up a lot of manhours over multiple years before it really would be trendable.


I came across one on the Great Gulf Trail a little while back right around the Osgood jct.
 
I do admit their concept of a formal hiker training program is intriguing and Redline Guiding is probably salivating over the potential short term and longer term exposure to new potential customers. Reading the quick description, they are going to cover map and compass navigation and did not mention GPS so I can be an optimist and hope that the "follow the beep" using info from an internet trail description will be discouraged.
Salivating is to say the least. Maybe a percentage of those proceeds should be going into trail maintenance. IMO it is a bit of a farce that funds are being raised to be funneled into one Guiding Service which resides in the private sector to educate. At the same time those funds are attracting a potential for a dramatic increase of use and impact on a public resource. Should those funds be funneled into one Guiding Service or should it be spread around to other guiding services? At any rate the provider should be required to subsidize the public sector due to the potential windfall effects of the service they are providing. On another note the Guiding Service mentioned has been a major opponent of The Cog Railway development which is on private land. Yet at the same time financially benefits from the use of public lands without having to pay for that use while regularly crossing the above mentioned private land without obstruction by the owner.
 
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Just curious: hire many day-hikers E out there in WMNF on a “normal” summer weekend?


I do not think there is any real good year to year reliable data on trails usage. I see attempts by people to correlate actual usage to searches for trail info on line but have not seen any real data on how tight the correlation is. I saw an article at some point that the WMNF was tracking usage along the Kanc over several years by usage of parking lots but many of the parking lots on the Kanc are dual usage with local attractions drawing in the majority of the usage with a trail to a hiking trail getting little usage. As an example, think of how poor the correlation would be to usage of the path between the parking lot at DIanas Bath to the actual falls as an indication of the usage of the Moat Mountain Trail, same with Champney Falls or Sabbaday Brook. I expect technology could easily be deployed to do a count of warm bodies passing a fixed point and it likely it could be camouflaged so I would not be seeing them, but the only place I have seen a camera trap is Hubbard Brook. Unless automated it would burn up a lot of manhours over multiple years before it really would be trendable.

BTW I believe that NH F&G had admitted last year that the fees collected by the Hike Safe Cards had just about covered Fish and Games costs for hiker rescues the previous year. That is decidedly a dangerous statistic as F&G only bills their tangible costs. In most S&R events, the vast majority of manhours are volunteer hours. In the case of trail maintenance, every group I know tracks volunteer hours including the FS as those hours are the equivalent of money in the budget as there is a dollar value to every volunteer hour that can be counted as payments in kind towards grants for trail work. I am not familiar with the S&R organizations if there is similar financial incentive for tracking hours? I would guess yes as they no doubt need funding for equipment and training but someone like Dr D would be far better at commenting.

I do admit their concept of a formal hiker training program is intriguing and Redline Guiding is probably salivating over the potential short term and longer term exposure to new potential customers. Reading the quick description, they are going to cover map and compass navigation and did not mention GPS so I can be an optimist and hope that the "follow the beep" using info from an internet trail description will be discouraged.
DOC tracked my volunteer hours for 25 years on the Glencliff Trail in great detail, including time driving to/from trailhead and time hiking to/from work sites. The latter was not usually relevant as we typically worked from the bottom to the top of the trail in both directions, say removing blowdowns and trimming overgrown veg on the way up and cleaning water bar troughs on the way down. My sense is that these tallied volunteer hours are important for the ATC making its case for federal funds.

My SAR team tracks all members and volunteer hours for safety reasons and while on missions we are covered by Worker’s Comp. I am not aware of any financial incentives of tracking SAR hours for the volunteer groups. More important is recruitment of new volunteer members to replace those aging out or leaving the area. A typical litter carryout requires a minimum of 18 volunteers to allow constant switching out of the six on the litter.
 
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Well I think the SAR folks will have their handsful with the likes of all those hikers. Especially with the weather typical on most days up there along the ridge.
 
I noticed on their facebook page in a post from an admin this morning that some of these hikes are "full" and others "open" -- and the total number of registered hikers is only 350 at the moment. To me that feels like they are consciously trying to limit the total, perhaps so as to not overwhelm the trails, staff, parking, etc., despite inviting everyone. It says,

Emily's Hike Update: 72 Hours in...
298 Hikers on a team
52 Hikers Registered, Team Not Yet Selected
69 Open Spaces On Existing Teams
10 Completely Full Teams
23 Partially Filled Teams
5 Private Unlisted Teams

I wonder why a rain date isn't included. This is a lot to set up for, logistically and in terms of expectations, then have the weather be bad. Interesting thoughts from peakbagger about the relationship of orgs in the Whites, the people in them, and how they all fit into the big tent.
 
I noticed on their facebook page in a post from an admin this morning that some of these hikes are "full" and others "open" -- and the total number of registered hikers is only 350 at the moment. To me that feels like they are consciously trying to limit the total, perhaps so as to not overwhelm the trails, staff, parking, etc., despite inviting everyone. It says,

Emily's Hike Update: 72 Hours in...
298 Hikers on a team
52 Hikers Registered, Team Not Yet Selected
69 Open Spaces On Existing Teams
10 Completely Full Teams
23 Partially Filled Teams
5 Private Unlisted Teams

I wonder why a rain date isn't included. This is a lot to set up for, logistically and in terms of expectations, then have the weather be bad. Interesting thoughts from peakbagger about the relationship of orgs in the Whites, the people in them, and how they all fit into the big tent.
Sounds similar to what FOT48 does. They limit group size to 10 to comply with Wilderness regs and to not be assholes on the non-W routes.

Side note: if you want to kill some time, lurk on the FOT48 forums while the groups are trying to plan logistics.
 
My experience is FOT48 tends to attract a lot of "tourists" planning hikes around the event. Sure there may be only one "official" group per summit but I have encountered multiple groups and (organized groups like Meetup) on the trails heading to the top on that day. I suspect the same temptation even more for this event as this event has a post event celebration planned open to "everyone". My guess is that the official hike participants will be dwarfed by those who are looking for an excuse to hike and party. GIven the amount of media coverage which seemed well coordinated on the announcement of the event (notice how it went live all in the same 24 hour period) and the notoriety of the tragedy, I would guess that the the media will be covering the day of the event which will attract more attention. The intent is fundraiser and the way to raise funds is hype it to the max. The media is always looking for human interest filler and this lines right up with it.
 
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