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  • HPW Usage Stats

    I suspect a couple of our resident stat busters could easily pick apart the issues with this report. I found some of the comments as or more interesting than the article itself.

    https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2...l-surging.html
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

  • #2
    I agree, the comments were interesting.

    I don't bother counting the cars. I do occasionally count at HPIC the number of new register pages filled out at the end of my day.

    One stat that I wonder about. That's the 7,000,000 to 10,000,000 visit Adirondack Park each year. What's the source of the 10,000,000/year.

    Also, at most 1-1/2%(current estimated number cited in article) of those enter the High Peaks through ADK Loj Property. I'm thinking the number through the ADK Loj might have some actual counting of numbers of registers behind hit.

    If you're looking at why the State doesn't invest more in the High Peaks you need not look beyond a number like 1.5% IMO. Not that I agree with that but the cold-hearted capitalist self can't help but think about it.

    Don
    Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 01-30-2020, 06:58 PM.

    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Sounds like an old number. In the summer of 2018 ROOST CEO James McKenna said, “Last year, more than 12.4 million people visited the Adirondacks.”

      I would trust their estimates more than what is quoted on the Adirondack Council web site. As evidenced by this car counting study they aren't too good with numbers.

    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      The calculation made by ROOST for # visitors is described in one of the surveys. 2017 County Visitor Profile. Probably in other surveys too.

      The count of 100000 people is attributed to ADK & State.

  • #3
    Well... I'll start I suppose. This study is embarrassing. Raw data on car counts? On a single peak weekend? The simplistic nature of the analysis and cherry picking of the busiest weekend of the year tells you all you need to know. The results are garbage and tells you nothing about the usage for an entire year, how those numbers have changed over time, or what the impact to the resource was.

    Counting people on the trails is the only way to accurately measure usage. This car nonsense means nothing. How many people per car? Do we have accurate data that shows how many people arrive at a trailhead together? 200 cars could mean 200 people or 800 people. Who the hell knows? Beyond that, the number of cars at a trailhead does not necessarily translate into people on the trails. I shall give examples. From a trip report I wrote in September 2019 about Goodnow mountain, "The next morning I headed up past Newcomb to hike Goodnow Mountain. I arrived mid-morning to find a school bus, a smaller party bus (the kind that holds 15-20 people), and a dozen cars nearly filling the parking lot. Mobbed on the mountain, right? On the contrary, I ran into less than 30 people on the day... about 20 of which were easily identified as being part of the school group that came in the bus. Where'd everybody else go? I've mentioned it before in trip reports about Goodnow and in another thread on the forum recently that I think this parking lot is used to stash cars while people hike, bike, or recreate elsewhere. The number of vehicles always far exceeds the number of groups I see on the mountain."

    I see this phenomena all over the Adirondacks. I pull into a trailhead parking area and see a half dozen cars then only find 3 people on the mountain. Or 10 cars and run into 5 people. It always puzzles me. But I have to guess that people are doing one of the following: bushwhacking, fishing, hunting, parking there and biking somewhere, or camping nearby. Throw in the folks who might be there to find a swimming hole, or go bird watching, or walking a few hundred yards in off the road to a waterfall, or local residents just out for a quickie stroll on the start of trail and you start to see that the narrative of all cars at a trailhead being there ruining the hiking trail, or creating erosion on steep under-maintained trails, or disturbing fragile alpine vegetation is utterly ridiculous. What is the percentage of cars that aren't at trailheads to actually use the hiking trails? I have no idea, but anecdotally I've seen it can be very high depending on location.

    Now as for the dopey car counting study I will just give a few examples of how misleading their analysis of the data is:
    * 2017 data for Goodnow Mountain -- 25 car parking area with 17 cars observed. 2019 data -- no data offered but a giant red arrow indicates that usage went up 50-100%. So if the count went up 50% then there were exactly 25 cars there in 2019 which is the capacity for the lot. If it was 100% there were 34 cars there in 2019. Over the limit of the lot - by just 9 cars! On the peak weekend!! I've been to Goodnow a half dozen times over the years and have never seen more than the number of cars in the example provided above.
    * 2017 data for the NPT at Long Lake -- 8 car parking area with 0 cars observed. 2019 data -- The biggest red arrow used for the graphic indicating usage increased by over 100%. So at least one car? Any number at all is more than 100% increase. Throwing that giant red arrow on the map to add to the narrative is misleading.
    * The same trick was used for Ward Brook. Zero cars observed in 2017 but a red arrow indicating overuse for 2019. Capacity there is 8 cars. I wonder if the red arrow was used even if the lot had say, 3 or 4 cars in it?
    * Boreas Ponds. From the article, "Other examples of redistributed use include the Boreas Ponds which had only 8 cars parked there on the busiest fall weekend in 2017. With new access open in 2019, peak parking rose to 35." According to the 2017 study the lot there has a capacity of 30 cars. So, 5 extra cars on the peak weekend sends up the alarm? Of course, another giant red arrow appears on the graphic adding to their narrative.
    * Coney Mountain -- the popularity of the Tupper Triad (nearly 5000 finishers to date) has made Coney, Goodman, and Arab popular destinations and has drawn some traffic away from the Route 73 corridor and HPWA. It's disingenuous to include it on the graphic and stick a giant red arrow next to it, especially since it wasn't even on the 2017 graphic - Goodman was ( a mile from Coney) and no data was listed for that trailhead.
    * Then there are giant red arrows on the graphic for Baker, Catamount, Rattlesnake, and others that weren't even part of the 2017 study. Short of seeing their data I'm not sure I even trust they are reporting this usage honestly.

    As for the giant numbers reported along the Route 73 corridor, ADK Loj, and Lake Placid. There's no disputing that a lot of people are using those trailheads. But is the issue getting worse? Is an increase of a small percent even harming the resource or a cause for alarm? That's for the experts to decide. But for this inane car counting study I keep coming back to the fact they are counting cars on the peak weekend of the year. The peak of everything looks bad. Nothing is designed to handle peak usage. It'd be overkill. But to say that the peak is the norm and disregard the fact that for over 300 days out of the year the trailheads in question get minimal usage is telling a misleading story.

    And if you want to get into the methodology of their study none was offered. The car counts themselves are simplistic but it's the only data points we have. What we don't know is if the counts were made at the same time of day in each of the observations periods. We don't know if weather played a factor. Does controlling for weather, or gas prices, or number of visitors in the region have an impact on the comparison between 2017 and 2019? Perhaps some one way or another. Maybe somebody with some background in data analysis could provide us with more meaningful results but this grade school level car count analysis of a peak weekend is beyond awful.
    Last edited by Makwa; 01-31-2020, 12:15 PM.

    Comment


    • #4
      I agree car counts as a singular data point for usage is useless however could be a stat in an overall analysis of activity in a given area.
      There is data available for actual usage such as trail registers, trail head steward and summit stewards counts. And while arguments can be made that individually the data may be incomplete, for example some hikers don’t register, some do not reach the recorded destination, some change their mind and go in a different direction by combining data from multiple sources an equation can be developed to provide accuracy within a model that could be established for measurement with a limited percentage of error.
      For example I have often done a comparison of head count of the trail register and/or head count of trailhead stewards to my count of people who reach the summit of cascade on a given day. (Now that I think of it I should have kept a log of this information) and overall my findings have been approximately 80% who attempt the climb succeed. Of course this is not extremely accurate and there are environmental factors that affect the overall but it is a starting point for analysis. Similar data can be gained through utilization of counts from summit stewards on Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Giant and Colden to establish a more consistent baseline for peaks of varying distance and elevation.
      a to the person count for statistical analysis is not necessary but the utilization of existing data over time would be much more accurate than counting cars.
      "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
      Ed Viesturs

      Comment


      • #5
        I'm bouncing back and forth. And I tried to write a long reply but keep getting bound up making a bridge between peak number of hikers and the daily fluctuation of the number of hikers.

        One thing that may stand on it's own.

        One of the manifestations of peak usage in the eyes of the localities that have trailheads is the flood of parked cars. We've all seen postings of articles emanating from the Town Supervisor of Keene. To the local people affected and who are fed up. They have the ear of their elected representatives, the Town Supervisor. A car count on a holiday is probably the metric for them.

        The rub is that, as pointed out above, is that the Green Groups are leveraging this.

        That's all I can say that I think that's easier to say.

        Don
        Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 01-31-2020, 06:16 PM.

        Comment


        • #6
          There’s a couple of things that are rubbing me the wrong way.

          For one, I interpret “overuse” as blaming outdoor recreationalists for state mismanagement. It seems extremely derogatory. I’ve yet to hear a single representative from any green group call out anybody from NYS by name as being part of the problem, but they have no trouble with posting pictures of families getting out of their cars at trailheads or while parked along the road (with license plates visible). In this situation its snitching on citizens to the state and perhaps even equatable to “reverse doxing” and its deplorable behavior given the context of those social media posts.

          The second, as has been mentioned numerous times by many people, is that not one initiative has been fully enacted or allowed to incubate. No thorough parking enforcement (not that it was a brilliant idea to begin with), no test run of the new shuttle system, no public access to the new (and incomplete) sustainable Cascade trail, and only a few holiday test runs of the new trailhead steward program. Despite this, these groups are still matter-of-factly running (mis)information campaigns to tell the world about how not enough is being done.

          Now through social media magic, the leading green mob is rounding up folks for a lobbying rally in Albany next month where they’ll spread the word about how something needs to be done to curb tourism in the HPW.

          I understand how budget requests work. You ask me for an absurd number to implement unrealistic goals to get me to counter much higher than I need to. But this isn’t a trade-in on a car, or a elementary school playground project. Its a mission to intentionally undermine the essence of public lands. Part of what makes the ADK, and specifically this region of it such a valuable “resource” is the fact that its wild and free, or at least as free land gets in NY. There’s lots of pristine wild spaces in NYS where flora and fauna are vibrant, but nobody really cares because they’re privately held and generally inaccessible. Every publication that comes out where somebody else says that we need “protect the resource” by reducing the numbers of people who get to benefit from it by, what now, 238% supposedly?... Its indicative of an elitist attitude by groups who want to make rules that don’t apply to them. “Oh I’m not hiking, I’m measuring trail erosion” or “I’m not part of the overuse issue even though I’ve hiked this trail weekly for 6 months straight, I’m counting hikers for a case study.” This isn’t protecting any resource, its bullying. Its an emotional response by people who feel that they have more entitlement to something that belongs to everyone than the people who they’re supposed to be sharing it with.


          My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

          Comment


          • #7
            There is this item called a trail counter that could be used to count actual numbers on the trails, all day, any day and if done appropriately one could actually get a real time count of usage. )I believe the NYSDEP has this in operation at the new Ashokan Rail Trail). It could provide some real numbers, but it would need a few years of counting to provide an accurate base number. I do not know how expensive these are, but as I understand it they are not difficult to maintain and may well be worth the initial cost to have some hard data, not skewed by human counters. I do not know how often trail register data is actually counted by the DEC and there are certainly factors such as those who do not sign in, damaged register pages in the book, etc that would taint those numbers too. If funding is to come based solely on numbers, this seems like the way to go and should be an investment worth looking into by the DEC.

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by Laurie Rankin View Post
              There is this item called a trail counter that could be used to count actual numbers on the trails, all day, any day and if done appropriately one could actually get a real time count of usage. )I believe the NYSDEP has this in operation at the new Ashokan Rail Trail). It could provide some real numbers, but it would need a few years of counting to provide an accurate base number. I do not know how expensive these are, but as I understand it they are not difficult to maintain and may well be worth the initial cost to have some hard data, not skewed by human counters. I do not know how often trail register data is actually counted by the DEC and there are certainly factors such as those who do not sign in, damaged register pages in the book, etc that would taint those numbers too. If funding is to come based solely on numbers, this seems like the way to go and should be an investment worth looking into by the DEC.
              I looked at the web page for trail counter.

              There was at one time in recent years a device like the 'TRAFx Infrared Trail Counter" located almost at the start of the open rock to the summit on Cascade.
              Open Link then scroll down. https://www.trafx.net/products.htm Wonder what happened to it.

              Don

              Comment


              • #9
                Renault is a 3 time 46r that longs for that 70’s solitude to return.

                Rick is a long time 46r that wishes for more solitude in the High Peaks but does not blame people for loving the very thing that he loves.


                Renault: I am shocked- shocked- to find that overcrowding is going on in the Adirondack High Peaks!
                Newbie Hiker: Nice 46r patch!
                Renault: Oh, thank you very much. [Muttering to himself] We need permits!

                Rick: Of all the summits in all the mountain ranges in all the world, this crowd hikes into mine.

                Renault: And what in heaven's name brought you to the Adirondacks?
                Rick: My health. I came to the Adirondack High Peaks for the solitude.
                Renault: The solitude? What solitude? We're in the middle of a hiking boom.
                Rick: I was misinformed.

                Renault: Look at all this erosion. [pause] Round up the usual suspects.


                Sam: [singing] You must remember this
                A hike is just a hike
                A climb is just a climb
                The fundamental things apply
                As time goes by.
                And when two lovers woo
                They still say, 'I love you'
                On that you can rely
                No matter what the future brings
                As Time Goes By.
                Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
                ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

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