Nov 20, 2018 at 3:51 pm #3565016Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
We’ve come to appreciate the perspective that the Guardian gives on many stories, and this one really hit home. It’s an excellent discussion of the issues we face moving forward with our national parks.
We have always been of the opinion that encouraging people to visit the mountains is a good idea, because the more people appreciate our wilderness, the more they will vote for protection of our wild places. But this article suggests that we may be well beyond the carrying capacity of some of our parks, and more people isn’t going to help that at all. On the other hand, we never post geo-locations for any of our photos, and we don’t usually recommend specific campsites for two reasons. One of them is that we think you should find your own scenic treasures. The other one is that you may prefer something different from what we like, and you should feel free to explore a bit. At any rate, the story is sobering. And yes, we contribute to pay for the Guardian’s work.
Our blog is at backpackthesierra.comNov 20, 2018 at 5:16 pm #3565031James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Yes. Overpopulation is, perhaps, the major driving influence in most of the nations parklands. This extends to the state parks in New York.
The Eastern High Peaks area of the Adirondacks has become more of a playground than a wilderness area. Despite restrictions on fires (no fires allowed most of the year,) mandatory bear cannister use, and heavy patrolling, the number of people has increased steadily, increased way beyond the capacity of the land to support the damage done. Trails are being upgraded with wooden platforms, other trails are marked sidewalk affairs 8′ wide. Gone are the days of a family group headed into one of the “peaks” there to camp, there is no camping above 3,000′! And, campgrounds are full of campers. Groups will often send a runner ahead, often a day or two in advance, to secure a lean-to for camping…first come first serve???? Not likely!
There is, perhaps, well over 2,500mi of trails in the ADK’s. Why do 80% of the people congregate in the 200mi of the EHP? And yes, rangers are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with rescues, help calls, 911 calls, helicopter evacuations, etc. It takes the local towns people to fill in a LOT, and, these are legitimate rescues. And it costs a lot of money for dumb rescues…people that decide they are too exhausted to continue, twisted wrists, ran out of food, other minor happenings that in other circumstances would be cause for simple self rescue. The Guardian is reporting facts that have been apparent in the ADKs for the last 20 years.
No, I don’t head into that area for any reason, anymore. The legislature is pushing for a license/permit to even enter this area. I hope they get it and save the EHP from the biggest threat…man. I won’t even talk about toilet paper strewn about and other human sewage improperly buried.Nov 20, 2018 at 6:32 pm #3565038ArthurBPL Member
Last spring i attended a fundraising program where the Grand Canyon Superintendent spoke. She made a comment about the National Park Foundation with its marketing program called “Find You Park”. She said she and her staff wished the campaign would have been called “Find Another Park”. Unfortunately, she has recently been suspended for in investigation into “undisclosed allegations”. Maybe she said too much???
I also spent two days hiking with a ranger in his off time and his summer job is patrolling the Sierras. He said the situation there is out of control. Issuing $300 citations for not having a permit is just accepted and people pay them, considering it a cost of hiking. He said they get caught every now and then and figure paying the fine occasionally is about the same as paying for permits.Nov 20, 2018 at 6:41 pm #3565040Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
I’ve been visiting the Lake Placid for about 7 years. I’m a resident of SE Michigan.
But in addition to hiking/backpacking in the EHP, I’ve climbed Catamount north of Santa’s Workshop twice, thoroughly enjoyed a family friendly hike around the Copperas Pond loop, and took friends on the little adventure hike up at Ausable Chasm. I also took my certified Leave No Trace instructor class at the Adirondack Mountain Club two years ago.
People are going to gravitate to where the most popular, scenic spots are. It’s no different in Lake Placid than it is elsewhere. When I tent camped near the Athabasca Glacier north of Banff and did the guided glacier hike, the nearby visitor center was a zoo. It was packed with people taking the tour bus “ride” onto the glacier to take pictures, followed by a tour bus ride back off again. People were inside the visitors center, standing next to posters of mountain goats, having their picture taken. When we backpacked in from Sunshine Meadows to Mt Assiniboine, most of the trail was quiet. The campground near Assiniboine was very busy, but I attribute that to the fact that they give people helicopter rides from Canmore to the Assiniboine Lodge. From there, “hikers” can hike all of about a kilometer to the Lake Magog Backcountry Campground. I saw people there with VERY POOR backpacking habits. They use sumps up there where you are supposed to dump your gray water. Signs clearly say it’s just for gray water. But you lift the steel top on the well, and the mesh screen is covered with coffee grounds, ramen noodles, and other nasty crap. It’s gross, but it’s better than people dumping it into Lake Magog.
When I hiked 93 miles of the John Muir Trail from Vermillion Valley Resort north to Yosemite, by far the VAST majority of people were at Tuolumne Meadows or along the first 2 miles of trail in Yosemite Valley.
Lake Placid / EHP is no different. Many of the best of the 46’ers are in the EHP. The ADK Loj and the Johns Brook Lodge is in the EHP. Keene Valley, Giant, the AMR, waterfalls, the great range, and IndianHead are all in the EHP. What “attractions” are in the Western High Peaks to draw people away from the EHP?
I’m not saying there aren’t any, but people are going to flock to what’s been promoted or what they see on social media.
In general, I think the problem is simply that our world population keeps growing. People seeking JMT back country permits out of Yosemite are already frustrated by the permit lottery. It’s only going to get worse, especially as more parks impose a permit quota system in an effort to limit the damage being done by over use.
My wife has already said she has no interest in trying to go backcountry backpacking at Glacier NP or the Grand Canyon, simply due to the crowds. I think we’d rather try out luck somewhere in the North Cascades, the Uintas, somewhere in the SW more obscure than the “big three”, or maybe the Faroe Islands. Who knows.
I think we’re ALL part of the problem. Just because many of us hang out on BPL.com, doesn’t mean we’re not still consuming parking spaces, using outhouses on public land, or consuming back country permits.
We’ve met the enemy and he is us.Nov 20, 2018 at 7:15 pm #3565048Tipi WalterBPL Member
The NPs won’t survive if they continue to encourage rolling traffic and road access. It’s like trying to control the extinction of elephants without once mentioning poaching for ivory.
Ed Abbey knew this years ago—read his words—
“No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs–anything–but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”
Edward AbbeyNov 21, 2018 at 5:01 am #3565140KarenBPL Member
I very much like the idea of banning cars, and instituting shuttles of whatever sort, for many parks. Denali has used that system for decades now, and it accommodates many people with minimal impact. But, the inability to drive cars in the park also creates a lot of local animosity, even before the concessionaire started charging outrageous prices for bus rides. Alaskans want to drive everywhere, and I imagine many others feel the same way. People seem unable to understand that if the park road became a paved high speed freeforall, the wildlife would leave, destroying the central reason so many wish to visit. They won’t believe it until they witness it personally, when it’s too late.
As far as crowd control or making everything safe, it’s a lost cause. Hard to fix stupid, like people jumping into hot pots in Yellowstone or falling off cliffs. I don’t really think it’s the responsibility of the park personnel to do so. The staff have my utmost sympathy and support.Nov 21, 2018 at 3:46 pm #3565191Tipi WalterBPL Member
Karen—We live in a country absolutely addicted to rolling and the Car. This addiction has brainwashed everyone and most especially National Park supervisors. I think one day backcountry managers will look back in disbelief at their actions and things will change.Nov 21, 2018 at 6:58 pm #3565207Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Colorado Plateau
What I found is that solitude is available in our national parks and other popular areas.
However, getting to those areas is the fly in the ointment.
The roads are congested and the entrances are often backed up. And the trailheads are usually full.
It is why I left the Front Range after twenty years. Arches NP is always backed up, of course, at the main entrance area. Luckily, once I am past the Moab crowds, very easy to find adjacent BLM land and explore less-known parts of the park.
I learned my lesson, though, and don’t reveal the exact area or even general area beyond “Arches NP” :)Nov 21, 2018 at 7:27 pm #3565214Tom KBPL Member
I have managed to backpack in solitude, for the most part, for 45 years by seeking out more difficult approaches into isolated areas, mostly in the Sierra, but also in the Middle and North Cascade Range of Washington state. Off trail hikes offer even more solitude for those who are both capable and comfortable with them. That being said, as population increases, I am encountering more and more people in areas where I formerly seldom encountered a soul. I think an exacerbating factor is social media, where posting one’s exploits spreads the word virally and leads to a cascade of oneupsmanship (is that a word?) by people ill qualified, both in skill set and wilderness etiquette, to venture into the backcountry. The consequences are disheartening, to say the least.
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