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kythruhiker
01-11-2003, 21:41
Interesting discussion lately on the AT-L list regarding park director Buzz Caverly's "Wilder Within" proposal. Any thoughts on making Baxter "wilder" to help contend with over usage? It's impact on thru-hikers?

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To reduce foot traffic on the Abol and Hunt trails (the latter from Katahdin Stream Campground):

-Set limits on the number of day hikers. Develop a resource protection plan which controls the numbers on these two trails and enforces limitations. Explore a reservation option for day use, free of charge, for those who plan ahead.


To reduce noise and water pollution:

-Eliminate the use of outboard motors, aircraft and snowmobiles on Webster Lake. Restrict snowmobile use on Togue Ponds. Outboard motor use on Lower Togue would be restricted to the inholders on Clark Island.


To reduce the growing pressure of automobiles and to increase the wilderness character of campgrounds:

-Have road access to Kidney Pond end at Foster Field (on the Perimeter Road) or the bridge over Nesowdnehunk Stream, making the campground a walk-in site. Over the years, as the cabins required major repairs, they would be replaced with lean-tos. Under this proposal, Daicey Pond would continue to have vehicle access and facilities for cabin camping.

-Have road access to Roaring Brook Campground end at Windey Pitch, as it did in the 1940's, thus making Roaring Brook (about three miles away) and all points beyond backpacking sites. At present, on any given day, over 300 people hike into Chimney Pond. Many are unprepared, from going barefoot to wearing sandals, and without other proper gear. Their ignorance of the difficulties of such a hike results in unreasonable impact on the Chimney Pond Campground. The additional distance proposed within the ³Wilder Within² concept would tend to separate out the curious and unprepared.

-Close the Perimeter Road from Trout Brook Crossing southwest to Camp Phoenix (approximately 10 to 12 miles). This would eliminate transient and thorofare traffic using the Tote Road, which then would become an access road to trailheads and facilities, as intended by Governor Baxter.

TJ aka Teej
02-02-2003, 23:24
Not a concern for thruhikers. The Birches is reached by foot, and spaces are already by 'reservation' when you sign in at the kiosk.
The plan is to limit day hikers - those that drive in to the trail heads. The only concern might be the potential inability for friends and family to rendezvous with finishing thruhikers.

Blue Jay
02-03-2003, 13:27
A wonderful plan. The entire National Park System in the United States should adopt similar plans.

Kozmic Zian
04-03-2004, 13:26
Yea.....Wilderness Plan. Sounds great to me. Bout time somebody did something to 'preserve the wilderness'. We been talking about it for a long time, it's like the others said, we wish the other parks and public areas along The Trail would adopt similar kinds of 'improvements'. Maine has always been a 'trend setter' in these respects. Maybe it can bounce down to other interested groups and areas of concern. I wish this kind of info could be shown to other conservation concerns. A network of sorts to show what the conservation leaders are capable of. Good for you Maine. [email protected]

chris
04-04-2004, 15:39
Most of what the Baxter people do really disgusts me, but limiting car and other motor traffic seems like a good idea. Restricting people via reservation systems and quotas isn't something I generally like, especially if you already cut down the number of people by making access a foot-only affair.

attroll
04-04-2004, 17:48
Most of what the Baxter people do really disgusts me, but limiting car and other motor traffic seems like a good idea. Restricting people via reservation systems and quotas isn't something I generally like, especially if you already cut down the number of people by making access a foot-only affair.
Well Chris I have to side with Baxter on this. If you did not limit the amount of people to reservation then you could not imagine how many people would be coming and going in and out of that park all the time. They only have a certian amount of campsites so you can not expect people to come any time they want and expect a campsite. But you can go there without reservations and if there is something available they will let you go in.

Jaybird
04-04-2004, 17:56
A wonderful plan. The entire National Park System in the United States should adopt similar plans.


Yes! Where can we sign up the GREAT SMOKY MTNS NAT'L PARK?

The MOST visited park & the most polluted because of OVER-use (Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg..mega-tourist traps) & relaxed EPA standards as of late.

Rain Man
04-04-2004, 20:07
Yes! Where can we sign up the GREAT SMOKY MTNS NAT'L PARK?

Ain't THAT the truth?!!!!

Rain Man

.

TJ aka Teej
04-05-2004, 00:03
Most of what the Baxter people do really disgusts me,

Hi Chris,
Man, I'm just the opposite I guess. I think the rules are very fair and sensible, and I like the look of the 'Wilder Within' proposal. I don't think it goes far enough, because I'd remove all the rental cabins, gate the perimeter road to eliminate drive thru tourism, end all commercial uses like moose tours and photo safaris, and stop the logging operations inside the Park.
What do the Baxter people do that disgusts you, Chris?

chris
04-05-2004, 09:45
If no cars or other motorized vehicles were allowed into Baxter Park, would there suddenly be a mob of irresposible, destructive hikers descending upon it? Baxter is a large place and I suspect that by stopping vehicular traffic the backcountry would not receive that much abuse. In fact, I would assert that much of the place would receive less than before. Get rid of the cabins. Get rid of the restrictions and most of the regulation while you're at it. Wilderness is supposed to be a place of freedom, not a place where you have to fill out forms well in advance, put down a large amount of cash, and then go for your hike.


What is a large amount of cash? Under current rules, lets imagine a five day trip for an out-of-stater. I may not be interpreting the fees right, but here goes. Assuming the person drives in (which I'd like to ****-can), they have to pony up $12 a day for the car. Being sensible, they buy an annual pass for $37 instead of the $60. The person wants to camp, but they have are all by themselves,as they wish to try to get a little solitude. The tent site costs $9 per person, per night, with a minimum charge of $18 per night. So, the cost is $18 a night. Over four nights (5 days, 4 nights), that is another $72. The visitor is now in the hole for $109 for their 5 day trip. I don't think this is terribly reasonable, but that is how things are. Of course, I could also spend 5 days in the Smokys, see almost no one, and do it for free.

The Smokys, yes indeed. The most visited National Park in the US. But., if you get into the backcountry and off the AT or a few other trails, you won't find anyone. I've gone almost 2 days in the Smokys, in prime season (early Sept.) without seeing another person. The Smokys are so heavily used because of the roads. The majority of visitors to the Smokys just drive to something: Newfound Gap, Clingman's Dome (and then refuse to walk up to the tower), Cades Cover, the Motor Trail. Or, they use the park road as a short cut between TN and NC. The park people try to regular the AT by requiring nights only in shelters, and then requiring reservations for this. But, being understanding people, they don't require this for long distance hikers (starting and ending more than 50 miles outside the park) on the AT. Being even more sensible, they realize that many of the other trails and campsites do not receive much visitation, and so the AT rules should not apply. They do require one to stay in established sites, but there are a lot of these and they are free, with the vast majority not requiring reservations. I don't particularly like being forced to stay in established places, but the Smokys at least try to make it as pain free as possible.

Ok, back to Baxter. Here are some thing that I dislike about the park. Note that many of these are also rules at national parks.

1) The mountain is closed. What? How can you close a mountain? Maybe I want to climb in high winds, snow, and cold. Perhaps I am training for a climb of Denali. Maybe I want to test myself. The notion that rangers can shut down the mountain is repulsive to the idea of wilderness: The wilderness is supposed to be a dangerous place. To prevent rangers from getting hurt rescuing idiots, institute a no-rescue policy if there is a cloud in the sky or it is between September and July (yes, I know this is a short window). If the mountain wipes out a few families or hikers climbing beyond their ability, perhaps park traffic will decrease.

2) The money/reservation/designation thing that I whined about above.

3) Pets are not allowed, even in the front country. The front country is already ruined, so you might as well allow people to bring their damn dog in on a leash. This is the most restrictive pet law I've seen. Can I drive through, from end-to-end, without ever getting out of my car, if I have a cat inside? No, sorry, go somewhere else. The car being their in the first place is bad enough. The cat doesn't detract from the wilderness in proportion to the car.

4) Registration. In the wilderness? So rangers can check on you! Its for your safety, you know. Well, a wilderness isn't supposed to be safe and cuddly. A pox on registration!

5) A strange one: "Use of plastic sheeting is prohibited in outlying sites." Does this mean I can't use a 2 mil plastic drop cloth? Or, that I can only use it in the front country?

6) When mountain hiking, people are required to: "Hikers must wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and must carry a working flashlight." Unless the rangers provide an exact list of what is appropriate, people will use their own judgement. I think running shoes are perfectly approrpiate. If a ranger sees me in sandals, will I get a fine, even if I think they are ok? Does my Photon qualify as a flashlight? Does it even have to work? I'd rather see them make suggestions and not do rescues, than have attempts at legislating sense.

7) Motorcycles are not allowed in the park. I'm sure they mean off road riding isn't allowed, butthe rule actually bans motorcycles. So, Lone Wolf can't ride from end to end, on the roads, but I can speed across in my car. Of course, I would get rid of the car and the motorcycle, but this seems like a silly restriction.

8) No audio devices, including cell phones (but sat phones are ok). Why not ban GPS units? How does a person having an I-pod, all by themselves, listening at a quiet level, detract from the wilderness anymore than a person in a high-tech tent? Or a battery powered fleece jacket?

That is about it for now. To be constructive, here is what I would do if I suddenly became The Supreme Dictator of Maine. No cars inside the park, period. Rangers get to walk too. No cabins, no developed sites, no bunkhouses. Money that comes in to the park is for minimal trail maintenance and for paying rangers. Rangers would actually patrol the park, including the back areas. Katahdin is open to climbing at anytime, but with the provision that no rescues will be done if it is a Class (whatever) day, or if it is between September and July. Allow hunting at the appropriate time of the year. While not a hunter myself, I believe it to be a very valid wilderness activity. Done without car support, I do not think that it would negatively impact the wildlife of Baxter, nor would it detract from the wilderness experience. Neither am I a wildlife biologist, so take that for what its worth. Funding can come from private donations and the Baxter Trust Fund. If that isn't enough, let the park revert to a wild state.

TJ aka Teej
04-05-2004, 19:06
Chris;
Your concerns and comments aren't all that unusual, most are common complaints by folks who think the Park should be 'wilder.' And believe me, lots of folks think it should be much 'wilder.'
A few rambling comments:
Always keep in mind that the Park is a unique circumstance. It was a tremendous gift, and it was offered with conditions.
Poaching is a tremendous problem in Maine, restricted access and even monitored usage is the price paid by honest folks. The auto restrictions wouldn't end cars in the Park, but would turn the most popular "car campground" into a hike in site. I'd love to see that happen, no matter how much my little girl likes the tame deer. It's 12 bucks for an out of state car to enter the Park, not per day of stay. $18 for a tentsite for one person is steep, true. Still much cheaper than the AMC's $130 per person Lyford Pond camp. Mountain closings: Right now the Park thinks it should rescue people, so to limit the chances people will need rescue they close trails. To them, that's logical - so philosophical arguments are listened to, but not heard. It's not just idiots that need rescue, accidents and illness do happen. The no pets rule is odd, Percy Baxter would bring his dogs every visit! Bill Irwin brings his guide dogs, but even he needed a rescue last year. The plastic sheeting rule is to stop people tacking tarps up across the fronts of lean-tos. Hunting; I'd ban it all. Gov. Baxter wanted the Park to be a game preserve, and hunting is only allowed in limited form in the 'new' southern parts to mollify the hunting industry. I say screw 'em, I'd rather hang my food than hear gunshots and bear dogs. So except for a few small things, you have my vote for Supreme Dictator :D

rickb
04-05-2004, 19:35
TJ--

I was wondering about the new reservation system which will go into effect in 2005.

Did I understand it correctly that those of us who are unable to make reservations in person, will only be able to do so 10 days in advance-- subject to availability?

I guess that's good for people who can schedule thier family's vacations on short notice, but kind of screws those who can't.

Rick B

TJ aka Teej
04-05-2004, 20:34
I was wondering about the new reservation system which will go into effect in 2005.

Did I understand it correctly that those of us who are unable to make reservations in person, will only be able to do so 10 days in advance-- subject to availability?

Mail in will still be available, Rick. You can mail in (or walk in) next year 4 months prior to the month you want. If you want July 4th, you can't mail in (or walk in) before March 4th. The exception to this is the January Opening Day - you can make 2 reservations for anytime in person at HQ that day only. Details at www.baxterparkauthority.com
The 10 day deal was trialed the end of last year, and is on for this year too, a wicked good deal for flip-floppers and families trying to meet their thru-hiker.
When I was up there this winter they had a real live computer on one of the reservation counters! They couldn't get it to work, but at least it was indoors and hooked up to the electricity..

rickb
04-05-2004, 21:36
http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com/camping/newres2005.html


TJ--

Thanks. I am a product of the public school system. Seems all good.

Rick B

.

weary
04-05-2004, 22:49
Well, I'll second most of Chris's recommendations. Use has to be controlled. But the way to do it is to simply move the parking lots away from the campsites. How far? Whatever is needed to make it possible to climb Katahdin without damaging crowds jamming the summit.

I'd start with Togue Pond for Roaring Brook, maybe the Abol picnic area for Katahdin Stream. If that isn't enough, just turn the access road into a trail. I've done the walk from Abol Bridge and Togue many times in February and March so I know that may not be enough of a barrier. But a walk from Millinocket Lake probably would adequately thin the crowds.

Weary

kartoffsky
06-30-2005, 14:20
Most people refuse to stray more than 100 meters from their car. Keep the cars out and you'll keep most of the people out. Then treat the remainder like grownups.

Mags
06-30-2005, 14:50
Most people refuse to stray more than 100 meters from their car. Keep the cars out and you'll keep most of the people out. Then treat the remainder like grownups.


I like this idea myself. I would make one possible exception: for those who insist on "windshield tourism", allow only shuttle buses. No personal vehciles and only shuttle buses would cut down on traffic considerably and still allow those who can't (or won't) explore on foot to see the parks.

Yes, parks. Sometimes I think this Onion article may be a reality some day:

http://www.onion.com/2056-06-22/news/3/

WEST THUMB, WY—Overcrowding remains an enormous problem at Yellowstone National Parking Lot, officials reported Monday.

:) or maybe :( ?

Skyline
06-30-2005, 14:54
Four scenarios and their effect on thru-hikers (actually, all NOBO long-distance hikers):

1) If, when you get to the Birches, the next day is a good day for climbing K, a positive change because there will be fewer people in Baxter and fewer people attempting to climb K.

2) If, as is often the case, your intended summit day offers lousy weather or even worse weather and the mountain is closed, a negative change because BSP in all its wisdom won't let hikers wait it out at the Birches. You and up to 11 others get one night at the Birches, and then you must leave. So in that scenario you're faced with going into Millinockett or somewhere else and returning to Baxter at 5am or so via vehicle to compete for position with all the dayhikers trying to get in via vehicle.

3) If you believe in weather forecasts and don't mind waiting it out at Abol Bridge--you can sort of choose your day to come in to BSP and stay at the Birches, and summit the next day. So long as you're one of the 12 allowed at the Birches that night, no negative effect for long-distance hikers and the positive is fewer people on the mountain.

4) If you believe in weather forecasts, are a really strong hiker, and don't mind waiting it out at Abol Bridge--you can choose your day to enter BSP, summit that same day, and get out that same day (or stay at the Birches that night if you're one of the Lucky 12). In that scenario, no negative effect for long-distance hikers and the positive is fewer people on the mountain.

Footslogger
06-30-2005, 14:54
[QUOTE=Mags]WEST THUMB, WY—Overcrowding remains an enormous problem at Yellowstone National Parking Lot, officials reported Monday.
======================================
Awe damn ...and I'm headed there in the morning !!

'Slogger

The Solemates
06-30-2005, 15:16
For those of you who have been, a prime example of this "wilder" experience is Denali National Park. Personally, I believe all National Parks should adopt the same agenda as Denali.

The park is divided up into grids and the number of people per grid is monitored and you must register. Like Chris, I believe that registration is a necessary evil when it comes to such a popular place as Denali or Baxter. But, while it is a bit of a hassle and maybe even an infringement on my wilderness experience, it does keep the number of people to a minimum, thus optimizing a "wilder" state.

Secondly, I also believe that cars should not be allowed, and there should be no roads within wilderness boundaries. Since there are already roads in Baxter, this would be a great leap that would take much effort, but I believe it for the better. Denali has one dirt road running the length of it. A Park that is the size of the state of Massachusetts has one dirt road. The only motorized vehicle allowed on the road is the Park Service's schoolbus, which shuttles hikers to their destinations. Lazy tourists can also pay to ride on the bus to get their "wilderness experience." For most, thats as close as they will come to setting foot in the backcountry. This would drastically reduce the amount of traffic in Baxter. Make a lot of people mad, yes, and is hard to grasp, yes, but certainly feasible if preserving the wild is truly your intention and not catering to tourism. The balance there is hard to edge.

Lastly, I also believe a mountain should be open year-round. "Closing" a mtn is ridiculous. Enforce the no rescue rule and let people get injured if they are ignorant enough. Maybe it will teach them a lesson.

Mags
06-30-2005, 15:39
[QUOTE=Mags]WEST THUMB, WY—Overcrowding remains an enormous problem at Yellowstone National Parking Lot, officials reported Monday.
======================================
Awe damn ...and I'm headed there in the morning !!

'Slogger


WEll, the artice does take place in 2056. Plenty of time. :)

sherrill
06-30-2005, 15:50
I concur, Denali is the deal for a true wilderness experience. Solemates didn't comment on the fact that there are no developed trails either. Bushwacking all the way.

Meadow Creek
06-30-2005, 16:40
Enforce the no rescue rule and let people get injured if they are ignorant enough. Maybe it will teach them a lesson.

To prevent rangers from getting hurt rescuing idiots, institute a no-rescue policy if there is a cloud in the sky or it is between September and July (yes, I know this is a short window). If the mountain wipes out a few families or hikers climbing beyond their ability, perhaps park traffic will decrease.
Since when are ignorant idiots the only people who ever get hurt? I agree that waaaaay too many folks get hurt because they're too ambitious or oblivious or downright stupid, but it's hubristic to think that your experience exempts you from accident or illness.

The Solemates
06-30-2005, 16:42
Since when are ignorant idiots the only people who ever get hurt? I agree that waaaaay too many folks get hurt because they're too ambitious or oblivious or downright stupid, but it's hubristic to think that your experience exempts you from accident or illness.

ok, granted. so you decide whether you want to go into the backcountry or not. you live with your decisions.

The Hog
07-01-2005, 06:55
Percival Baxter, who gifted the land to the state of Maine, was against automobile travel in the park. His wishes should be respected.

TJ aka Teej
07-01-2005, 09:50
Percival Baxter, who gifted the land to the state of Maine, was against automobile travel in the park.
Where'd you get that idea, Hog?

The Hog
07-01-2005, 10:56
You're right, I may have overstated the case. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Percival Baxter wanted to MINIMIZE automobile travel in BSP. I have cited a link and two quotes from that link as evidence.

http://www.rpts.tamu.edu/pugsley/Baxter.htm




After acquiring the tract, he gave it to the state to be held in trust with the proviso that the land:



…shall forever be used for public park and recreational purposes, shall be forever left in the natural wild state, shall forever be kept as a sanctuary for wild beasts and birds, that no road or ways for motor vehicles shall hereafter ever be constructed thereon or therein.



In a widely publicized statement late in 1941, he eloquently expressed his thinking with regard to the park:

Katahdin always should and must remain the wild stormswept, untouched-by-man region it now is; that is its great calm. Only small cabins for mountain climbers and those who love the wilderness should be allowed there, only trails for those who travel on foot or horseback, a place where nature rules and where the creatures of the forest hold undisputed dominion.

The Solemates
07-05-2005, 10:41
You're right, I may have overstated the case.

that no road or ways for motor vehicles shall hereafter ever be constructed thereon or therein.



doesnt sound like your overstating to me. I dont know what roads existed at the time of this statement, however, but I imagine fewer than are there today?