Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Viewpoint: State Facilitating Unlimited Access to High Peaks

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Viewpoint: State Facilitating Unlimited Access to High Peaks

    Boy oh boy... what a day for Adirondack news.

    https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2...igh-peaks.html

    The piece is filled with historical numbers of hikers signed in at every trailhead in the Route 73 corridor. Personally I am growing tired of this sort of "analysis" as it does nothing to show how the resource has been affected. It just assumes that more is worse. When will somebody look at this in a manner that makes sense other than just throwing raw numbers at us? I'm fed up.

    A few other things...

    "The Town of Keene counts shuttle riders. In 2017 and 2018 the Town of Keene ran a part-time shuttle, operating on weekends and holidays during the summer months. In 2017, the part-time shuttle ferried over 2,000 riders and in 2018 they counted over 1,600, but town officials say that number is low. In 2019, the shuttle expanded to seven days a week due to road construction that prevented public access to The Garden, and the shuttle ferried over 6,000 riders."

    So? The extra 4,000 riders would have parked at the Garden had it been open. What are we comparing here? The numbers mean nothing.

    "The new ORDA trailhead, and splendid new trail to the summit of Mt. Van Hoevenberg, will be half the length to the summit as the South Meadows trail, so it’s highly likely that hiker numbers on this mountain will explode. 1,500 cars could easily bring more than 2,000 hikers a day to Cascade/Porter and Mt. Van Hoevenberg."

    Am I the only one who thinks that the new trail to Cascade/ Porter (which 9-10 miles round-trip) will decrease the number of hikers on those mountains? How in the world will 2,000 people per day start using that trail and the new one to Mt Van Ho? 2,000?! That's insane. Tourists will not be encouraged to go on a 10 mile hike on a lark. Nor will they flock there. Cascade was an appealing tourist hike because it was relatively short. It's off the menu once the new trail opens. Too long! As for Mt Van Ho... once the word gets out that you can only comfortably fit a few dozen people on that summit ridge the traffic there will dry up too. Great little mountain. Lovely view. Nowhere to fit people. Giant miscalculation by the powers that be to funnel folks there. That will be a misfire.

    And finally, to be pedantic just because I'm in the mood..."The Loj Road is the principal access to Mount Marcy, Phelps, Colden, the Algonquin Range, Tabletop, among other High Peaks." It's not the Algonquin Range... it's the MacIntyre Range.


  • #2
    I saw this article early and had the same thoughts about these "numbers."

    Per Cascade and Van Hoe, I ask pretty much the same questions.

    What will happen is what Pettingill acknowledged in the other article that you shared.
    Jay, Hurricane, etc. They're going to take a beating.

    One thought that I have regarding Cascade: Why not just keep the old trail as well as build the new trail. Stick a Ranger or Steward at the current trailhead there on weekends and have them redirect people to Van Hoe when the pulloff spots are full?



    Comment


    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      I've been saying all along that Hurricane will take the brunt of the Cascade traffic going elsewhere so I agree with you there. Jay makes sense too though that is probably longer with more ele gain than the Cascade crowd would be looking for. Hard to know until the old Cascade trail closes.

      I think part of the Sentinel Wilderness plan calls for closing the current Pitchoff trail. New trail cut from the east to hook up with Balanced Rocks and the trail along the ridge. If they left the Cascade lots open then people would still access Pitchoff from there. I assume all of this is thought of as one big plan to shut off that area entirely.

    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      Absolutely. It's to shut down all activity in that one specific spot in the pass.

    • tcd
      tcd commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes, this is just more of the same hysteria from the usual people. THE SOLUTION at Cascade is to do what wiser folks have been suggesting for 30 years: Build a big, safe, off road parking lot, and harden the trail to accommodate whatever size crowd will use it.

      (Regarding hardening the trail, many folks whine that you are going to "pave the trail." 20 years ago I was at Paradise parking area and lodge on Mount Rainier. It was a tourist visit, we weren't there for serious climbing, so we just took a walk a ways up the trail from Paradise towards Muir. I could not help but note that the trail was, in fact, fully paved with blacktop. I asked my friend (Seattle local who was hosting us) about how paving the trail could be the right thing to do here in a "wilderness." He explained that with the huge population nearby, there were three options: 1. let the trail become a mud trench; 2. limit visitors, thereby unfairly excluding and driving people away; or 3. pave it. Paving it made perfect sense, and it didn't hurt the surrounding wilderness at all. Now faced with the same situation, NY insists on staying with options 1 and 2.)

      Today, to these suggestions, I would add:
      >Charge for the parking
      >Build an adequate bathroom building
      >Hire full time trail head stewards (to educate at the trail head)
      >Hire and assign a full time Forest Ranger position just for Cascade (to educate, help and enforce on the trail and at the summit)

      This should be no problem for a state that can waste 16 million on a toilet.

      And this is the definitive long term fix. Every other solution the state is pushing is more expensive, and will be ineffective.

  • #3
    Not to jack the thread... Two other Adirondack articles of note that also came across my feed today:


    Guardians in the woods

    https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/s...-woods#respond

    On Algonquin in Winter Bad Luck Can Be Fatal

    https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2...-be-fatal.html

    Comment


    • #4
      Just for fun let's break down one mountain named... Ampersand.

      "Like Hurricane Mountain, access points to other parts of the High Peaks Wilderness is facilitated by small parking lots and spillover roadside parking. This regularly happens at the trailheads to Ampersand Mountain, the Seward Range, and at Upper Works at Tahawus. Historic trailhead registration data for these trailheads are woeful. Data for Ampersand Mountain doesn’t really exist. The limited data from recent years shows 8,800 hikers signed-in in 2014, 9,900 in 2015, and 8,800 in 2018. Data for the Seward Range (Blueberry Trailhead parking area) is pretty poor too but shows 3,100 hikers signed-in in 2017 and 2,200 in 2018, but these numbers are questionable. Data for Upper Works are pretty good for the last 15 years, though 2017 is incomplete. Upper Works has seen registrations in the 5,000 to 6,000 range over the last several years. For all practical purposes, there are no limits to public access at any of these trailheads."

      I will ask... is 8,800-9,900 people on this mountain over 365 days a lot? Is it a little? What is an acceptable level of people on this mountain each year? Or month? Week? Day? "There are no limits to public access at any of these trailheads." What limit would you impose? Shoot me a number.

      For illustrative purposes let's assume the following breakdown of people hiking Ampersand:

      High volume weekends/holidays from May-October (~55 hiking days total) @ 85 people per day = 4,675 people
      Weekdays May-October (~130 hiking days total) @ 20 people per day = 2,600 people
      Weekends in late fall/ winter/ early spring (~50 hiking days total) @ 15 people per day = 750 people
      Weekdays in late fall/ winter/ early spring (~130 hiking days total) @ 7 people per day = 910 people
      Total = 8,935 people

      Is that a lot? A little? Is it overuse? Is 85 people per day during peak a lot? What level of people per day is acceptable?

      Obviously the traffic varies greatly dependent on weather and other factors and the crowds on a big day could be a few hundred or more but that leaves other days available where very few people if any are on the trails. Who gets to judge if 8,900+ hikers in a year is a lot? Are the hikers ruining the area or is the lack of infrastructure and trail maintenance by NYS to blame for the perceived problems (if any) there? You could argue with my estimate if you like. Bump the peak weekend number up to 100 people per day and that's 5,500 of the total for the year. Lowball the other 310 days at 10 people per day and those 3,100 people bring the total to 8,600. Is that a lot? A little? Is 100 people or more on 55 peak days a year on this mountain a huge issue? What is the right number? I'm waiting for anybody decrying hikers using the trail system to give me a solid answer.

      Comment


      • gebby
        gebby commented
        Editing a comment
        Perhaps an underestimation for peak weekends. I know Cascade can see between 500 and 800 people a day on holiday weekends. Ampersand probably significantly less than that, but much more than 85. I don't know what the acceptable level of people is, but I do know that people wanting to be out in nature is a good thing!

      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree. My numbers are probably off but I was just trying to show that you can get to 9,000 very quickly on small turnout. I just think we concentrate way too hard on these giant numbers. 9,000 sounds like a lot until you break it down. If somebody declared, "No more than 50 people a day can be on Ampersand!!" Well... that's theoretically allowing over 18,000 people per year there. Twice the current level. Even if only 50 were allowed on the peak days (which I think would be an absurdly low number) there would be pent up demand and it would shift to other days/times.

        So for the sake of argument let's say there are 150 people on Saturdays and 100 people on Sundays during the peak period. The total just for those 55 days = 6,900 hikers. Then just 10 people per day the rest of the 310 days in the year brings the total to 10,000. Is 150 or 100 people on a mountain in a day a problem? Let's not forget this is a half-day hike. You could have 75 people on the mountain in the morning and 75 in the afternoon and it wouldn't be crowded.

        The same logic could be applied to the "crowd" at the Ausable Club. 25,000 people in a year sounds like a lot. Spread it out over the year and it isn't. That's just three times Ampersand in an area with a dozen mountains and miles and miles of trails. Even taking a peak day of the year and assuming 1,000 people wander through there... those thousand are spread over Round, Noonmark, Dial/Nippletop, Colvin/Blake, Sawteeth, Gothics, Armstrong, the Wolfjaws, Indian Head, Cathedral Rocks/ Bear Run, and all of the waterfalls and other points of interest. Is 100 people on the busiest day of the year on each of the High Peaks and Indian Head and the others a big deal? 1,000 people and all their cars sounds like a lot but they are scattered over numerous trails/ mountains. If 75-100 people are on Gothics on the busiest day of the year is it really that bad?

    • #5
      What year was the bus bans implemented? I recall when Ampersand would have 3 or 4 40passenger buses parked nearby. They were from schools and church groups. That was banned correct? Or? That would change the data rather quickly.

      Comment


      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        Was not aware of that. You might infer that overall usage has gone down there since the bus ban.

        I just selected Ampersand randomly. My point isn't about Ampersand specifically. Just trying to say that these numbers showing thousands of people visiting each of these peaks is misleading especially when nobody has really defined what the carrying capacity truly is. Saying numbers went up is meaningless out of context. Visitation could double, triple, or quadruple but that means nothing unless you have defined what the capacity is. And small numbers can add up quickly over a year. 50, 80, or 100 people a day isn't a whole lot of people on a mountain, especially if they're strung out along a 2.5 mile trail like Ampersand.

      • tgoodwin
        tgoodwin commented
        Editing a comment
        The bus loads were banned at Ampersand and elsewhere as of 1999 when the current High Peaks UMP, with its restriction of 15 on day groups, went into effect.

    • #6
      Seems odd that these pro-restriction op-eds never bring up the number of hikers who leave the trails. Out of all the hikers and climbers who use the ADK trail system, what percentage sets foot off trail? 1%? .1%? How much of the total land area do those trails occupy? Is the narrative that's being crammed down our throats here really saying that the land is being overrun by droves of people, or that there's too many people using the trails?

      There's a plethora of different ways to poke holes in the term "overuse" and all of them are very easy to support.
      My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

      Comment


      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        Too many people using the trails. Trails that are not maintained to the level they should be by NYS. "Overuse" is a pejorative term aimed at hikers. We should start using "under-maintained" to fight back. If the trails were up to par and hikers were destroying them quicker than they could be repaired then I might buy into the overuse argument. Until then I have to assign a giant chunk of the blame to NYS.

      • tgoodwin
        tgoodwin commented
        Editing a comment
        The 1999 High Peaks UMP described the soil compaction on trails and at campsites as a major problem. However, I and others looked at the data that detailed the number of miles of trail and the number of campsites. If one assumed that every mile of trail was 10' wide (which they aren't), and that every campsite compacted 1/8th of an acre (which most don't) then the total area compacted amounted to about 0.1% of the total acreage of the High Peaks Wilderness. Granted, those hiking those trails see a lot of compacted soil, but the overall resource is not being completely degraded.

      • moosebeware
        moosebeware commented
        Editing a comment
        I like the term, "under-manned" or "under-personed" if we want to be more correct. Based on Goodwin's numbers, one could then assume that perhaps more trails are the answer as well as fixing the current ones? I agree that the old Cascade trailhead should stay open. For a trail that gets upwards of 800 people per day, it's handled the traffic very well. The worse section, on the way to Porter, is still going to be there. Hopefully, there are plans to improve that section.

        I'd also like to know that the "overuse" and numbers narrative serves a very specific narrative, one that is intended to create a permit system and limit use. The only place that it would even remotely work is at the AMR. Hoping that it doesn't come to fruition.

    • #7
      I knew and understood what you wrote of Makwa and agree.

      Comment


      • #8
        Originally posted by Learning The Trails View Post
        Not to jack the thread... Two other Adirondack articles of note that also came across my feed today:


        Guardians in the woods

        https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/s...-woods#respond

        On Algonquin in Winter Bad Luck Can Be Fatal

        https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2...-be-fatal.html
        Yea, how often does one see a sleeping bag with a day hiker? Ans: seldom. No one ever thinks they'll need it.

        Comment


        • #9
          Fear mongering. That was my reaction.

          So what if ORDA builds a big parking lot at Mt Van. It's already the biggest one around. And isn't NY State preparing for the 2023 University Games too!! For that they better have capacity to park cars!!

          The whole back and forth about good and bad data. Just rambling on and on. Gave me a headache(well not really ). Why not just publish the data in tabular format no matter what condition it's in. Especially the AMR data which is apparently good … I assume that means complete or without gaps.

          Don

          P.S.
          Must have been another story that refers to the results of two grab samples (Car Counts in 2017 and 2019 by Adirondack Council) as a preliminary analysis and that conclusions are drawn. Total B.S.
          Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 02-27-2020, 05:30 PM.

          Comment


        • #10
          Have to agree with all of you. I've been coming to the Adirondacks for over 50 years now. The state has promoted outdoor recreation because the local economy depends on it, and that's a good thing. There are more hikers than before, more people enjoying the public lands their taxes pay to acquire and maintain - also a good thing. What hasn't kept pace? Parking. It's as it existed 50 years ago. The Garden is woefully inadequate to access the whole of the Johns Brook valley and the Great Range. The route 73 corridor likewise. And even Adirondak Loj rarely has all the lots open that could be in my experience. Parking hasn't kept pace and is used as the poster child for the "overuse" problem. It's like Field of Dreams - "If you build it, he will come." Well, we built it, he came, and he couldn't find a place to park,

          Comment


          • gebby
            gebby commented
            Editing a comment
            Seriously. Lots for six or eight cars? It's the 21st century! :(
        Working...
        X