Time to get rid of the NEHH

vftt.org

Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Salty

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
287
Reaction score
16
Location
Warner, NH
The purpose of the NEHH was always explicit (and IIRC, this was Gene Daniell's doing). To promote bushwhacking. Enough so that I do know Gene requested anyone ascended Peak Above the Nubble via the cut path should not count it towards the list (indeed, when some of us ascended this we visited the Nubble and then took the north slide and it was utterly delightful, save for almost taking out Greg with a boulder in the upper sandy part --- he still talks to me. Just sayin').

Well, we know that's all changed. To my knowledge, there is now NONE of these peaks that require backcountry navigation. Just follow the herd path! Oh boy! Bragging rights***!

I was reading about an outstanding east to west traverse of the Scar Ridge range recently by The Teal Goat, Nordic_Gal, and Zach Porter with this, ahem, lovely addition when they found that from the main Scar Ridge peak towards Loon that "someone has taken some spray painted blazes along the herd path in orange," noting it had a been a true whack at one time. Indeed, in 2010 a few of us summited using only the herd path from Loon towards Black, and after that, we were on our own, actually finding easy woods as long as we stayed on the ridge and paid attention. We also found flagging (argh) which we removed as we came across it. It was fun. It was rewarding. That's the freaking point.

And then, going from the eastern main Scar Ridge peak to middle Scar Ridge was an utter disaster. It was interesting. It was a challenge. That's the freaking point.

There is no point to this list anymore where it's true origins lie. It's a disgrace to bushwhacking. Maintained herd paths, (again to my knowledge) on all of them. It's a disgrace to public and private landowners for others to decide what to do with that land. Enough already.

Of course, if the AMC dumps it, someone else will pick it up, start a website and give away patches. So not sure why I even bothered.... :cool:


*** FWIW, I have completed a couple lists more difficult than the 48 or NEHH (the latter, I've never completed...), which I never particularly felt the need to share. I got my patches. For myself. And I am very proud of them. For myself. I got everything out of those lists that I wanted, for myself.
 
This was a greater issue in the ADK's where abut 1/2 of there 46 Peaks were bushwhacks back in the day, long ago. As peakbagging grew they went from a herd path to so many people pursuing the list that they were creating many braided paths. They finally settled on lightly maintained paths without markings but they show up on the map and in the book.

In theory, only the trailbuilders should get credit for bushwhacking, it's not like anyone has a first ascent of anything left in the whites, even the climbers have done all the technical routes, only occasionally doing ice climbs on routes that don't fill in every year or a rock climb after a slide creates new opportunities. I suspect a few diehards have done the NEHH or other list from all four main compass points. (If may did it, they would beat the flora to death.)
 
I think the issue at this point isn't so much the list, but rather the use of GPS tracks and maintenance of "bushwhacks." There is a generation of hikers now who think a "bushwhack" is a defined path, rather than a free-form navigational approach. If the AMC had an issue with it, perhaps they could require NEHH applicants to pledge not to use GPS for the non-trailed peaks.
 
I remember at some point, deep in the past of Views, someone either asked or posted a link for a gps track, and got a "we don't do that here" response. Well, the twenty of us (if it's even that many) who still post regularly are in the minority. I take solace that people don't post selfies here.

If the hordes didn't use cellphones to tell them where to go, there wouldn't be hordes hiking. The idea that people cannot use technology to tell them where to go is a ship that has sailed.
 
The argument given for herd paths on "bushwhacks" in the ADKs and Catskills was that it was better to have one route than dozens that ruined the flora, while also lessening the need for search-and-rescue's. My wife and I finished the NE111 in 2004 and the NEHH in 2012 using only map and compass. When we climbed Scar Ridge we met up with Jason Beaupre, who showed us a tracklog on his smartphone as we were descending. (He was marking his route, not following another log.) I thought it was a fantastic way to navigate, and I use it all the time now, much like an altimeter. Not to show me where to go, but to show me where I am.

I also remember coming across hikers who "cheated" while completing lists. Sometimes they never summitted, sometimes they were following a log step-by-step, sometimes they hired guides to show them the way. It's hard not to judge others (happens all the time on this board) but as long as they're not actively causing damage they're only hurting themselves.

When you talk to the old-time 46ers, they'll tell you a lot of the bushwhacks were easier in the 1950s, when most of the routes went through heavily lumbered approaches. Some of the NEHH got "easier" after lumbering.

I feel proud for completing those lists without GPS, but I don't think less of myself for using it now. I still can get lost with the best of them.
 
Last edited:
Interesting how 40 years has changed this quest. Use to be a word-of-mouth thing back in the late 70's early 80's. Making the right connections and also doing one's own personal research. When I finished the first time there were less than 200 finishers and GPS was not even available to just anyone, so it was a non entity. Ironically, I believe sometime in the late 80's GPS technology was employed and the list changed yet no one was using GPS technology on a personal level because it was still not available to the public. When the list changed I went back and did the new peaks. I used GPS on a few of them. Somehow for me a certain level of rustic aesthetics was lost but yet mostly hiking solo I will admit a certain perceived level of security occurred. Yes, the NEHH has certainly changed but abolishing it would not change much other than not receiving a patch.
 
Things evolve with time, none of us like it, but that's life. I liked the 4k's when I had to break trail on every winter hike. I liked Guyot shelter when nobody else was there, but me and my friends, smoking a bong and drinking whiskey on a Saturday night. I moved on to the 52wav list, on round 2 and I couldn't be happier with my new peaks, they are quiet and varied. People doing the NEHH are probably having as much fun as you did, to them it's normal, normal changes. Go sit back down in your rocking chair and stop yelling at the kids walking by dude, you don't own the mountains, none of us do. :eek:
 
I'll take the blame for 'no GPS tracks here'. Darren and I discussed and he supported.

No taking of responsibility of making that call. At least some things should be left for the user to find out on their own. Where would all the fun and adventure be if we didn't all have some self discovery.
 
Go sit back down in your rocking chair and stop yelling at the kids walking by dude, you don't own the mountains, none of us do. :eek:

Yeah, admittedly I have turned into "that dude." All cool. :)

My point was, however, for the AMC to stop promoting the list. There will always be that list and other lists and people completing them. I don't aim to stop them. But the AMC's stated reason for said list has been for some time a joke and with Scar Ridge, it's now complete.
 
I guess until a EMP hits or some actor decides to blow the GPS satellites out of the sky, map and compass will be an arcane art. I guess my map collection will get burned with my remaining possessions someday;)
 
I guess until a EMP hits or some actor decides to blow the GPS satellites out of the sky, map and compass will be an arcane art. I guess my map collection will get burned with my remaining possessions someday;)

The first three to complete the NE 770 (John Swanson, Dennis Crispo, Sue Eilers) used only map and compass. :)
 
Yeah, admittedly I have turned into "that dude." All cool. :)

My point was, however, for the AMC to stop promoting the list. There will always be that list and other lists and people completing them. I don't aim to stop them. But the AMC's stated reason for said list has been for some time a joke and with Scar Ridge, it's now complete.

Might as well cancel all the lists and let people figure it out themselves. I find it a farce that The AMC is an environmentally oriented group yet they promote, publicize, and exploit the higher peaks. Interestingly when the 4000 footer list comes up for discussion someone who has or does sit on The 4000 footer committee chimes in and says they have very little contact as a committee with the AMC itself. Also they claim that the AMC provides very little guidance or jurisdiction over that committee. I believe the committee oversees The NE 100 Highest. Maybe it is time The AMC takes some responsibility and provide a wider array of guidance that may be beneficial to all other than promoting badge collecting. Yet another example of how Senior Management of The AMC is out of touch with the realities in The White Mountains. Yes we all want things to stay the same but they don't and the hiking community is going to need to adapt to new times.
 
Might as well cancel all the lists and let people figure it out themselves. I find it a farce that The AMC is an environmentally oriented group, yet they promote, publicize, and exploit the higher peaks. Interestingly when the 4000-footer list comes up for discussion someone who has or does sit on The 4000 footer committee chimes in and says they have very little contact as a committee with the AMC itself. Also, they claim that the AMC provides very little guidance or jurisdiction over that committee. I believe the committee oversees The NE 100 Highest. Maybe it is time The AMC takes some responsibility and provide a wider array of guidance that may be beneficial to all other than promoting badge collecting. Yet another example of how Senior Management of The AMC is out of touch with the realities in The White Mountains. Yes, we all want things to stay the same, but they don't, and the hiking community is going to need to adapt to new times.

On a separate, but related note, I was recently burned at the stake in a 4k group on FB. My post stated the following. Due to the fragility of the ridge in combination with the number of rescues and fatalities, I propose a moratorium on all trip reports of Franconia Ridge going forward. This would not promote the ridge and the newbies who roam social media will be denied the magnificent sunsets and sunrises, not to mention the amazing topography of the ridge itself. I thought it was a good idea, I mean everybody agrees something should be done to prevent the tragedies up there, but nobody bothers to come up with any ideas. God forbid people can't post their hero shots of themselves traversing the ridge like Sir Edmund Hillary. I miss the good ole days, when we climbed for the sheer joy of it and we drove home and shared our quest with family members only.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TEO
On a separate, but related note, I was recently burned at the stake in a 4k group on FB. My post stated the following. Due to the fragility of the ridge in combination with the number of rescues and fatalities, I propose a moratorium on all trip reports of Franconia Ridge going forward. This would not promote the ridge and the newbies who roam social media will be denied the magnificent sunsets and sunrises, not to mention the amazing topography of the ridge itself. I thought it was a good idea, I mean everybody agrees something should be done to prevent the tragedies up there, but nobody bothers to come up with any ideas. God forbid people can't post their hero shots of themselves traversing the ridge like Sir Edmund Hillary. I miss the good ole days, when we climbed for the sheer joy of it and we drove home and shared our quest with family members only.
Closing GreenLeaf or down scaling GreenLeaf to self service would also go a long way to reducing traffic on the ridge. Either that or a surcharge on every guest that goes back into a Forest Service Trail Repair fund directly dedicated to the loop.
 
Closing GreenLeaf or down scaling GreenLeaf to self service would also go a long way to reducing traffic on the ridge. Either that or a surcharge on every guest that goes back into a Forest Service Trail Repair fund directly dedicated to the loop.

Do you think closing Greenleaf Hut would really impact anything? Most of these fatalities are occurring in the off season when the hut is closed anyway. I think the draw of the views and the related social media bragging rights of the epic conquest are the big reasons droves of people are going up there. I don't think the hut is playing that large of a role. But I'm a hut hater to start with so closing it would be fine with me for other reasons. :)
 
Do you think closing Greenleaf Hut would really impact anything? Most of these fatalities are occurring in the off season when the hut is closed anyway. I think the draw of the views and the related social media bragging rights of the epic conquest are the big reasons droves of people are going up there. I don't think the hut is playing that large of a role. But I'm a hut hater to start with so closing it would be fine with me for other reasons. :)
I hear what your saying. I think I probably drifted from the OP. This whole area is in so much discussion the issues seem to intertwine. My comment about GreenLeaf was more about decreasing impact on the ridge and also providing a conduit to fund the up keep from the people that most use it. In other words decrease the traffic and fund the rehabilitation of the passage.
 
I hear what your saying. I think I probably drifted from the OP. This whole area is in so much discussion the issues seem to intertwine. My comment about GreenLeaf was more about decreasing impact on the ridge and also providing a conduit to fund the up keep from the people that most use it. In other words decrease the traffic and fund the rehabilitation of the passage.

That is kind of what I figured but wasn't sure. I'm not a "hut guy" and generally avoid them like the plague so I thought maybe I was not clear of their draw/appeal. The Franconia Ridge is in crisis on many fronts - accidents, over use, parking, erosion, etc, etc.
 
Do you think closing Greenleaf Hut would really impact anything? Most of these fatalities are occurring in the off season when the hut is closed anyway. I think the draw of the views and the related social media bragging rights of the epic conquest are the big reasons droves of people are going up there. I don't think the hut is playing that large of a role. But I'm a hut hater to start with so closing it would be fine with me for other reasons. :)

I agree. The capacity of da Flea hut is 48, so times 4.5 months of full service and 1.0 month of self service yields about 7920 hikers, assuming full capacity, which has not been even close to that the past three years because of the pandemic. Whatever the total, it is probably less than 10% of the number of day hikers doing the loop or an up and down to Lafayette.

Disclaimer: I proudly worked in the AMC huts. I think that the AMC huts provide a valuable service to the environment by concentrating a large percentage of the human waste generated by overnight guests and day hikers alike, as well as providing potable water for free to day hikers, not to mention assistance in search and rescue. The summer that I worked at da Flea, we rescued a group that we encouraged not to bivi on the summit but they did so anyway and got struck by lightning. The year before there was a lightning fatality of someone sleeping on the summit. I think that the vast majority, say 90%, of day hikers on Lafayette and Franconia Ridge would be there whether or not Greenleaf hut exists, but there would be a lot more human waste along the trails if the hut were not there.

Edit: to get back to the original post, I agree that the NEHH are no longer bushwhacks based on everything that I have read (I have been on very few since I completed all in winter over 25 years ago), but what difference does that make? Just another 33 peaks to make a round numbered list, and many are pretty cool summits whether bushwhacks or herd paths. Ironic that Gene Daniel originated the list, and was also first to complete the NH4s grid, but did not like the term ‘grid’ and requsted that his name not appear on the list of finishers.
 
Last edited:
IMO, the original intent of the 48 list and other lists was to get people to spread their impact from a few popular mountains and hikes to more locations. When I was in high school in the seventies all the hikers, I knew all hiked the same routes over and over again. It took a while for the 48 list to get popular and then more lists appeared due to demand. All these lists and new ones are still doing the original intent of spreading out the impact. The 100 highest by the 4K committee was generally represented as a much higher hurdle, and the completion numbers showed early on as the concept of bushwhacking required new skills, although many AMC folks just “followed the leader” on the many AMC group hikes particularly to the “4 pack” (now six pack) along the border in Western Maine. Due to landowner access issues, the AMC encouraged folks to check them off on the Labor Day events. The two times I did the Labor Day events, the group size was in the 30 to 40 range and most were following the leader. I did Dorset and Mendon with an AMC group on a drizzly day and its size was in the 20s, Dorset had a well-defined path and Mendon had the fire road with only about 45 minutes of bushwhacking. When I think back, Elephant, Vose Spur, PATN, Scar Ridge and Middle Abraham (no longer on the list) were the only true significant bushwhacks. Reddington started out as bushwhack but 1/3 of the way in became a herd path when we hit the ATV route built to support the wind testing the prior winter. Some may argue about Fort but with a bit of work there was a distinct herd path most of the way. This was prior to the public internet so to most, the only real info was Gene’s routes to the 100 highest and Gene tended to take delight in hyping the difficulty of bushwhacks in many of his public writings.
I do agree that GPS tech has removed a large amount of the skills required especially when it became easy to locate and load tracks. The advantage was it got rid of the temptation to have to go with a large group to avoid map and compass as anyone with a GPS had an “expert in a box” so maybe it did initially disperse large groups? With increasing popularity maybe GPS use saved a few folks from having to spend a night or two out in the woods when navigation went wrong (Gene D was known to on occasion end up on the wrong side of mountains miles from his car on group hikes) The trade off as we all know is the ability to grab tracks has led to serious hardening of the herd paths. I know of more than a few skilled folks who tried to access Scar Ridge peak from Loon a couple of times in the past that were turned back by near impenetrable woods, this was 30 years ago so maybe the combination of a couple of decades of growth along with GPS is to blame for the new herd path. I do know when I did the Little East Pond approach when it was a bushwhack through gnarly woods from the pond to the top and down again.
I do remember doing the Traveler loop about a year after the route became official. When I talked with the ranger about the hike, he told me that he was the one that had blazed it as he was sick of having to go out at night looking for folks that got lost. From a S&R perspective, my guess is they would rather have a herd path and possibly reduce calls about lost hikers and if there is need for carryout, a herd path is better than nothing unless a helicopter with a penetrator is available.
It comes down to that the lists are still doing what they were intended to do which is disperse ever increasing use. The reality is the outdoors has become popular again and a large number of people are able to access the woods so even with dispersed use, herd paths are going to form. There still are the NH 100 highest bushwhacks to satisfy most bushwhack hedonists :rolleyes:(as long as they don’t mind spending a lot of time driving north of RT 2).
 
Last edited:
Top