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stevec
01-20-2003, 20:17
Hi,

I've been reading alot of stuff about the Whites and the AMC and it seems like a very heated topic so its hard for me to build a picture of what issues will actually affect me in that area. Sorry if this is an unwelcome or heated topic but I'm growing increasingly concerned about New Hampshire and I'm hoping for some hard, usable information.

I hear stuff along the lines that they outlaw camping in the area and essentially force you to stay in shelters that you can't stay in because they are full or expensive. Since its still public land I can't believe they have THAT much control over it, and if they indeed do why is this tolerated ?

I've heard about all kinds of negativity directed at thru-hikers there and all sorts of difficulties getting though the area. I'm wondering what the real issues are and if there are any tips for getting around those difficulties ?

Team GAK
01-20-2003, 20:39
Hey Steve -

You shoud go onto their web site and ask that question. (outdoors.org). I go there from time to time, but I only read. The whites are a high traffic area with lots of regulations and regulators. The crew is generally helpful, but somewhat inconsistant. Make sure you get the guide books and know the rules.

Keep an open mind and alway be nice. Don't ever walk into a hut or campsite with an attitude, nothing good will come of that. If the last crew were jerks the next crew might be great. Let it be as good as it can be for you. You may have the time of you life.

DRRouner
01-20-2003, 21:07
I agree with Team GAK. I had no problems going thru the whites. The crew, were for the most part were very laid back (some were former thru hikers). While the policies and regulations are far from perfect, please don't take it out on the crew. I remember coming to a free site and the girl was extremely nervous around me when I told her I was a thru-hiker. She finally told me a group of thru hikers the night before had taken their anger out on her instead of the AMC and scared her so bad she hid in her tent with her dog. There are places you can stealth camp and you can get maps when you get to NH. if you are a nobo.

peter2003
01-20-2003, 21:15
You will not have a problem until you hit Franconia Notch, Route 3, near North Woodstock, NH. I would probable go into North Woodstock and or Lincoln and stay at a cheap motel, resupply, and continue my hike.

1. Stay at Liberty Springs Tentsite, cost $8.00.

2. After hikking the Franconia Ridge stay at Garfield Ridge Campsite, cost another $8.00.

3. From here you can hike to Ethan Pond Campsite and pay another $8.00, or go bootleg camp near Crawford Notch (this is what I would do).

4. The next stop would be the Nauman Tensite at Mizpah Spring Hut, or bootleg again after loading up with water at the hut. Could cost you another $8.00 but have option of working at hut for free room and board. Another option is to hike clear to Lake of the Clouds Hut and stay in the basement for another $8.00.

5. From Mizpah I would get up early and hike the entire Northern and Southern Presidential range camping somewhere after Madison Hut; but if the weather is bad, there a few places to stay such as the Randolph Moutain Club cabins, however, you have to drop about 1,000 feet to get to them. If the weather is rearly bad stay in camp and rest and wait for a good day.

5. After Pinkham Notch you can bootleg camp in a number of places so I would worry too much about camping.

While I am a long standing AMC member I not a big fan of the huts because the hostels are so expensive (about $70.00 a night) for a bunk and breakfast an supper. The cost along excludes a lot of low and middle income people. My wife and I used to stay at the huts when the cost was more hike a hostel fee, however, ever since the AMC got their permit renewed with the US Forest Service the price increased a lot. I surposed you need the higher fees to pay the high salary's at the AMC. I will not quote the figures, but beleive me they are higher than anyone I know makes.

Youngblood
01-20-2003, 22:22
I have a very negative attitude about the AMC in the Whites.

The Whites are breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the trail on the AT seemed like drainage run-off and where usually damp, steep and involved scaling large boulders/small cliffs. When it rained, sometimes it was like hiking in a waterfall. Sometimes the trail there seemed like an obstacle course...a very dangerous one. Probably more falls there than anywhere else and a few folks got hurt pretty badly.

The AMC's policies were not 'thru-hiker friendly'. Very, very hard to find campsites that were not 'owned and controlled' by the AMC, which required fees and reservations. Some of the campsites required decending about a 1000 feet down a side trail to what might be a full campsite. Most of the croo's at the huts where college kids and where very nice, but...they seemed to be on somewhat of a 'power trip' with the thru-hikers the year I went through. My 2nd work for stay left me and my hiking companions with a very negative attitude with the croo's, even though we all got along great with them. After that we stayed at Hiker's Paradise in Gorham and 'slack-packed' the rest of the White's. It was much less difficult hiking the obstacle course type trails with a day pack and might have allowed us to complete the thru-hike without a serious injury, who knows?

Just my $0.02 worth. BTY, I was 51 yo at the time (2000) and am a pretty easy going and understanding type guy (I think), just didn't like the way the AMC runs the Whites. Seemed like a power trip gone amuck. Apparently the AMC ... never mind, I have probably said too many negative thinks already. The Whites are probably the toughest part of the AT, but they are outstanding and are a part of the trip that you will never forget.

Youngblood

Sleepy the Arab
01-21-2003, 00:42
There are a few things worth keeping in mind when traversing the Presidentials. About .6 miles down the Valley Way Path right by Madison Hut is the Valley Way Tentsites. This site, like Osgood tentsite another three (rough) miles north on the AT, are FREE. That's right, they're opperated/owned by the US Forest service and not the AMC.

If these tent platformed areas are still a little too developed for your tastes then push on past Osgood Tentsite until you reach the junction with the Great Gulf Trail. Go LEFT (down the non-whiteblazed path) down the Great Gulf trail for about a tenth of a mile. You should find two wilderness campsites, both marked by a simple post sign. These are nothing more than a clear space of earth (water from the nearby brook) but hey, that's all a thru-hiker needs. There are also some good views up the Gulf of the mountains you just slogged over. These are such primo sites and so close to the AT that I'm surprised that they haven't been mentioned in any of the 2 primary guides.

And the RMC Cabins Grey Knob and Crag Camp, despite being 1000 feet off the ridgeline, are worth checking out, if only to thumb your nose at the AMC from the inexpensive competition across the ravine. I believe the cost is $10/night/person, only two bucks more than what the AMC charges for a stay in a building with 25% fewer walls.

Ann
01-21-2003, 07:45
Steve, here is my main beef with the AMC. This is an organization who has literally millions in contribution dollars arriving at their doorstep every year. If you have even the SLIGHTEST amount of doubt about this please go to www.guidestar.org and type in Appalachian Mountain Club. It will give you what they took in for contributions plus a LOT MORE info. If you spend even 30 seconds at that site you will get a good picture of things, spend more time there and you'll get an even better view. It is of my opinion that a awful lot of good could be done with that money. A mere pittance is put into backcountry sites...roughly ONLY 1/3 of 1 cent per contribution dollar...the bulk of the money goes for huts, new building endeavors such as the "hotel" that is going up in Crawford Notch right now, salaries for the CEO...ooops I mean Executive Director and glossy marketing efforts that include an obscene amount of money for telemarketing. (I believe on another board Baltimore Jack came up with the figure of $180,000 for telemarketing efforts alone.) That $180,000 figure, spent dialing for dollars, is 3 TIMES the amount of money they pitched in to help run backcountry sites. In the mean time the backcountry sites are crowded and the hut system flourishes and the building efforts continue. It is my opnion that this area of the woods is becoming more elitist as each year passes and it is primarly due to the way money is allocated in this region.

There is an awful lot more I could say about this BUT I will NOT add any more unless others want this discussion to continue and believe me I will gladly add to this thread if anyone out there is interested.

My final words are this: Please, please, enjoy your time in the Whites, I say that from my heart and honestly mean it. I may be partial but the area is absolutely beautiful. My best suggestion to you is to avoid the highest traffic areas during the weekends...this includes: Franconia Ridge...a spectacular hike best enjoyed with the least amount of people...try to plan it for weekdays if possible. The Presi's...again a high traffic area and to truly be enjoyed, hit this area on weekdays if possible. I wish you good weather and spectacular views and bring lots of film.

Oh, and finally, I urge you to take the opportunity to moon the Cog...and take a picture to commemorate the occasion. It will be something you can look back and smile about when you are old and grey!!!!

Blue Jay
01-21-2003, 08:57
Ann, that was the best post I have ever read. You hit the nail on the head. The AMC is just another corporation whose sole purpose is using the Whites to make money. In spite of that it is very important to enjoy that part of the trail. Your posts are always great and a delight to read.

Ann
01-21-2003, 09:19
Thanks Blue Jay.

And Steve, I wish there WAS an answer to one of your questions on why this is allowed to occur. It amazes me as well. I do however find it very interesting that this is the third board within 6 months that discussion involving this matter and related matters has taken place. If you are interested in a lively discussion on AMC lodging options in the Whites click on this link,
it will demonstrate not only the needsand problems of the area but also the difficulties involved in changing mindsets.

The first link is a great thread initiated by Baltimore Jack and has EXCELLENT questions, and commentary he brings up to the AMC BB DIRECTLY, it is more than several pages long, to contiue reading to the next page click the small link provided that says next.

http://appalachia.outdoors.org/bbs/messageview.cfm?catid=4&threadid=1301&STARTPAGE=1




For more on the Crawford Hotel expansion project I cannot provide a direct link but can provide directions on getting there:

1. Go to www.viewsfromthetop.com

2. Click on Search

3. Type in the term-- hotel at Crawford
(in the search area provided)

4. A small list will come up. The last selection, "New AMC Hotel at
Crawford" is what you will be looking for, highlight it to select it.

The thread is about 3 pages long...it is set up just like this site and you just need to click on the bottom buttons to get to the next page in order to read through the thread.

On both BB's you do NOT need to be a registered member to lurk, search or read...if you decide to add to any posts you will need to register.

Peaks
01-21-2003, 09:33
The White Mountains are heavily used. The closer to Washington you get, the more people you see. Above treeline, and in the harsh environment, the more fragil is the plants and trees. To minimize the impact, the USFS has imposed certain regulations, like no camping areas.

AMC is very visible in the Whites. The other clubs and agencies are not as visible. So, the AMC bears the brunt of all criticism from thru-hikers who have basically had a free and unregulated hike up to this point.

Campsites: if you have ever stayed at a unstaffed campsite that has been heavily used, then you appreciate a caretaker site that keeps things under control.

AMC maintains hundreds of miles of trail in this area besides the AT. That costs. AMC hauls out and disposes of human waste. That costs big time.

If you don't want to stay at the AMC campsites or huts, that's your right. If you look around, there are places to stealth camp. The basic regulation is don't camp above treeline because of the fragil environment. So, plan accordingly. No camping between Liberty Springs and the other side of Lafayette, and no camping between Mizpah until after Madison, unless you go down a side trail.

The hut experience is unique. However, the closer you get to Washington, the more GI are the crews (largely because of the crowds). Most crews are laid back and great. Ask other hikers going the other way which ones are good. Usually, one or two crews appear to have a chip in their shoulder, and there are some that rock. Some work for stays are very nominal. Some work your tail off. Ask before committing.

Oh, one last thing, don't go in there with the attitude that just because you are thru-hiking that you should get special treatment. Expecially late in the summer after the crew has put up with the general public all summer long.

rickb
01-21-2003, 11:54
Hear are a few thoughts.

In the interest of full disclosure I am an inactive AMC member who thu hiked without staying at a hut, but who has subseqently has enjoyed a few hut stays in both winter and summer. I do most of my hiking in the Whites now, but off the AT. My WMNF maps are a web of red lines showing the trails I've hiked over the past dozen years.

1. While a detour to the Perch or another RMC camp (off the Presidential ridgeline) may seem unatractive when you are looking at a map (because it looks like you will drop some hard earned elevation), I'd recommend one not worry about that. The hiking to and from these sites is wonderful, with much of it above treeline. Its simply great hiking. By staying at one of these sites you may well enjoy another sunrise in a fabulous section of the Trail, and another shot at a clear day. I'd strongly encourage people to consider a stay at one of these sites, especially if the alternative is getting through the WHites faster.

2. The White Mountains above tree line are especially heavily used. While some of these folks may be nitwits, a whole bunch of them love the mountains every bit as much as thru hikers. You have any idea how manyformer thru hikers don't get back to the woods and mountains they professed to love? Still, crowds are crowds. If you hit the Trail at 6AM you will have more than a couple hours of hiking in TOTAL solitude. If solitude is important to you, you might want to adjust your schedules. If not important, that's OK too.

3. The AMC is not just another corporation whose sole purpose is to make money. I understand how it seams that way, but this is just not true. While I might agree that some of its approaches are flawed, I sincerely believe that the motivation behind the club's decisions are sincere.

Apart from what thru hikers see, the AMC has a web of chapter activities and participation that is very active, and for all intents and purposes, free. I can't document the amount of volunteer trail efforts the club generates, but it is substancial. The club has some 90,000 members and the huts remain very popular.

4. The work-for-stay program has been a source of bitching for years. Someday it will be eliminated, and the problem solved. Thru hikers will then either camp away from huts (very doable) or pay the same as everyone else. I think this will lead to less angst and hurt feelings.

5. The Whites are great. The only thing logistiacally different about them is you need to think more than one night ahead. Peter2003 shows one good approach. Its simply not hard working around the huts and the special above tree line conditions.

6. Do Sign all the hut registers.! They keep them for decades. WHen you return to the dreaded huts with your yet unborn 8-year old, or a new high-heel loving wife, or Niles Crane like husband, or with a wide-eyed grand kid, or on a -15 degree winter day a score of years into the future, you can point out your witty prose and enjoy the momement. Hell, you can even enjoy the hut ;-).

Rick B

Ann
01-21-2003, 13:21
Peter...
There are some work arounds for those campsites. I gave some suggestions on the camping thread under the AT Shelters and Lean-to's catagory. I think the only one I didn't give was for Ethan Pond...and there are quite a few options as you head towards Ethan Pond to stay legal there camp 200' off the trail and outside any FPA's. Oh, and don't miss Thoreau Falls!! I HAVE NOT SEEN the list suggested by another poster that is available from the Hostel in Glenncliff (since I've NEVER thru-ed and never stayed there) but it certainly sounds like the BEST source for campsites....most likely better than what I could suggest because I am looking at things via a weekenders or two week vacation hikers eyes.

Jumpstart
01-21-2003, 21:16
There was a great list of stealth-camping spots posted at the hostel in Glenlciff...free for the copying. We base-camped at Lafayette Campground and did NH as a series of high-mileage dayhikes, since we had friends and family hiking with us; but as much complaining and whining we heard from thru-hikers about the huts, I never saw a hiker the whole time who didn't appreciate the left-over free breakfasts, the opoprtunity to buy an orange, or a chance to just sit down, dry out, and to get out of the rain.

It's just another experience on the trail, and usually the bitterness we came across was due to the fact that hikers had already blown their allotted budget for their hikes long ago on beer and hotel rooms, and couldn't stay at the huts because someone was more motivated to get up early and beat them out for work-for-stay. The big rumor circulating this year was that they planned to re-route the AT out of New Hampshire all together...maybe their getting sick of all the thru-hiker whining...but I doubt it....

Ann
01-22-2003, 07:54
Peaks

Just wanted to mention a few points regarding your post:

You wrote:
>>" The White Mountains are heavily used. The closer to Washington you get, the more people you see. Above treeline, and in the harsh environment, the more fragil is the plants and trees."<<

That is perhaps the ONLY sentence that I am in 100% agreement with you.

You also wrote:
>>"AMC maintains hundreds of miles of trail in this area besides the AT. That costs. AMC hauls out and disposes of human waste. That costs big time."<<

As far as "hauling out human waste"...exactly which backcountry sites are you talking about??? ALL of the backcountry campsites use COMPOSTING...that is done by hand. The compost is then used around the backcountry sites. If you don't believe me take a gander at their site, www.outdoors.org click on lodging and then go to the backcountry sites area...it will confirm this. The caretakers of the sites compost as part of their jobs...there is NO waste that is hauled out from any backcountry campsites, those days are long gone. Now you will say, but they have to PAY the caretakers of the sites, YES this is true however they also collect 8 buck per head to run the sites. The ENTIRE COST to run the sites come in at a slight loss but that is a drop in the bucket as far as contributions go and it works out to cost the membership less than 1/3 of 1 cent per contribution dollar...again, the bulk of the contribution dollars goes towards new building efforts, administration costs and marketing
efforts. IF the backcountry sites were FREE...and that included having a caretaker present at the sites it would cost the membership approximately 1 cent per contribution dollar. (The entire annual cost to run them could possibly be absorbed by the profits from one hut alone..but I won't go there either.) Making the sites free is something I personally would like to see done. It would provide options for more hikers, it would benefit a great number of people out there, is an excellent use of 1 cent per contribution dollar and would be a very inexpensive way to create some good will.

As far as trail maintenance goes...yes, the trails on the AT are nicely maintained. The trails in other parts of the Whites are in SORE need of some attention. The trails that head to ANY hut are in great shape also. Now, the AMC runs "sub-clubs" within it's membership. One is the 4000 footer club. It would seem to me that a club who promotes and runs this sub-club would also want to do a good job in maintaining these trails, since it is part of their OWN membership...this is not the case. There are more trails than you can imagine out there that are so overrun with brush and foliage and the blazes so worn or not visible at all that they are difficult to follow for many people. I would like to mention that in this past year alone I can site a few cases that hikers have become lost, and have required rescue assistance due to what they called the inability to follow the trail. I won't go there in making a judgment call on the rescue validity because that is another can of
worms and I am a firm believer in having good navigational skills despite trail conditions however, I also feel that the club should at a minimum make sure there are visible blazes on the trails that lead to these peaks.


So Peaks, that is just my 2 cents also.

Moose2001
01-22-2003, 08:10
I came to the conclusion that if the AMC was really serious about spending it's money on what it's "stated" mission is, they would dump that Boston palace they call their headquarters and move into some reasonable digs, like Pinkham Notch. How much of your membership dollars go into keeping the AMC staff in such a palatial setting? Just take a look at the difference between the headquarters of the ATC and the AMC. ATC is nice but it's functional. No blown money on non-hiking extras.

Of course, AMC will tell you that's their traditional headquarters. AMC was founded by a bunch of rich Boston businessmen. They figured they knew better than anyone in New Hampshire how to manage the resources in the White Mountains. I still see that same paternalistic attitude in AMC's dealing with their members and their approach to the White Mountains. IMHO, the best thing that could ever happen to the AMC is a group of disgruntled members get together, stage a "coup" and turn the club to what its mission really should be, protecting and preserving the Whites for everyone.

Ann
01-22-2003, 08:16
Moose...

Very well put!!!


IMHO, the best thing that could ever happen to the AMC is a group of disgruntled members get together, stage a "coup" and turn the club to what its mission really should be, protecting and preserving the Whites for everyone.

Peaks
01-22-2003, 09:01
Don't mean to pick a fight with Ann. OK, I guess that the days of flying poop is finally over. The last ones should have been replaced this past year or so.

That's an interesting idea to move AMC out of Joy Street. ATC moved out of DC,a nd PATC moved out of DC also. Maybe AMC should do likewise.

I'm not involved with club politics. Maybe we should be. I just like to go out and hike.

rickb
01-22-2003, 09:51
"ENTIRE COST to run the sites come in at a slight loss but that is a drop in the bucket as far as contributions go and it works out to cost the membership less than 1/3 of 1 cent per contribution dollar", says Ann.

Ann makes a good point. Her numbers might even be accurate for a year in which the AMC recieved some specatacular one-time contibutions dedicated to building the Highland Center and support specific endowments, like one dedicated to maintaining trails.

Basically what she is saying is that the $8.00 campsite fee is subsidized by the club, but not enough.

She has a good point. This bothers some AMC members, too. The funny thing is the club's failure to further underwrite the costs of the caretaker sites more seems to most bother those who don't contribute to the AMC.

I'd recommend hikers passing through not get sucked in to that way of thinking. Enjoy the free beneftits, and the subsidized ones. Get a shower in Pinkham notch with a clear conscience. Dry out at a Hut as you pass by, and enjoy the people there. Camp in the woods if you want.

To the extent that 90,000 people contribute to an organization with goals that don't fully relfect your own, I'd just chill. And enjoy the free benefits of those which do, and when it comes time to making your own contributions, think of the ATC. When you pay your $8.00 for a tent platform, understand that other's money has subsidized your stay a little, and that the AMC isn't making a profit on your visit. When you move a bit farther North and stay at a free caretaker site run by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, ask yourselves how they were able to do that. And whether or not its likely your will ever support them with a contribution, either.

As for how other trails have been kept up in the Whites, a very few are not kept up well. Frankly, these are the trails that wouldn't be attractive to backpackers if they were. The vast majority are. Perhaps Ann will recall what a mess the mountains were after a major ice storm a few years back, and the great job done to clear them.

Rick B

Grimace
01-22-2003, 10:02
Had to jump in on this one. Sorry, Ann, you made me a little angry. I am an active AMC member. I took part in there How to Thru-Hike Workshop which was insturmental in my completion of the AT. I am an active Trail Maintenance Volunteer maintaining a section of trail from Full Goose Shelter to the top of Goose Eye.

I will agree that some of their policies may be a bit flawed. Maybe they do spend too much money on fundraising. However, IMHO, they do spend their money on other important things.

They run a program for impoverished youth to get out into the woods.

They hold many a workshop including Leave No Trace, Avalanch Safety, the afformentioned how to Thru-Hike, Ice Climbing, Rock Climbing. I can go on and on.

They maintain a ridiculous amount of trail from NH down to Deleware.

They promote conservation.

You are right about the composting toilets. OH wait, those were free right? Oh, and so are the tons and tons of bark they helicopter in to help all of the feces compost. I forgot, so are the employees that hike into the campsites to literally stir your **** to aid in the composting. Then they spead it onto screens to dry, then they disperse it into the woods, never the same place twice.

How about those Huts. I might agree with you ont his one. I had some bad experiences heading through the Whites. But, as I think Mr Boudrie said, they are not there for Thru Hikers. THey are there to create revenue to the AMC and to give families a chance to enjoy the mountains way. I have no problem that huts exist. You think every hotel along the trail should let thrus stay for free?

I'm sorry, Ann, that the trails through the Whites don't meet your standards. HOwever, let's just say that your front yard had the same amount of thin top soil you find in the Whites. Don't forget the bedrock real close to the surface. Then think about the average grade of trail in the Whites (Switchbacks are not feasible in this terrain and soil). Don't forget to add the rainfall, snowfall, snow melt, high winds. Then add Millions of people walking to your front door every year. Don't you think you'd have a bit of a gully in your front yard? We trail maintainers work tirelessly to create drainage, clean out the gullys, cut back the brush, prevent the creation of rogue campsites and trails. Despite our efforts we always come back to our trails to find litter, clogged drainages, overturned rocks, rogue campsites and trails. You have not known work until you hike up to Goose Eye with hoes, shovels, loppers, and clippers then hike down to the shelter digging and cutting along the way. Don't forget to drop off the 2 six packs you lugged with you to drop off for thrus at the shelter, then hike back up to Goose Eye and down the other side. We do the best we can. There are plenty of trails in the Whites that don't have full time maintainers. Perhaps you should pitch in some day, or even adopt a trail you find particularly bad. Or, you could just bitch.

The AMC kindly runs a lodge near Gorham (which puts thru hikers up for free) solely to aid the trail voluteers. THey provide food, lodging, and tools at no cost.

Any organization that promotes leave no trace, conservation, enjoyment of the outdoors, and the AT gets a check in my book.

peter2003
01-22-2003, 10:19
A few other thoughts about the AMC:

1. I think it is hard to respect the AMC due the high executive salary's (how many memberships does it take to pay the CEO salary).

2. I have never been impressed with the AMC trailcrew efforts; for a club the size and financial strength of the AMC they could do a whole lot more and have more trailcrew.

3. It seems that the AMC is more interested in becoming a guide service for the rich Boston folks rather than protecting the environment and the white's. Just take a look at the guided hikes and workshops the club offers at a very high cost while the AMC membership could receive the same training/skills from the chapters for free or a much smaller charge.

4. Some of my friends can recall the above tree line campsites controlled by the AMC/USFS a number of years ago, that have been torn down. One has to questions whether the motive for such action was to protect the environment or decrease competition for the AMC huts.

5. As an AMC member I would vote to take the huts down and or turn them into European type self service hostels offering service at a cost basis, ie lodging at about $25.00 a night.

Peter

Ann
01-22-2003, 11:05
Grimace:
I certainly do NOT want to anger anyone on this board. My intent is only to create discussion on where things might improve. I do agree with you that the AMC does MANY wonderful things.

You wrote:
>>"I am an active Trail MaintenanceVolunteer maintaining a section of trail from Full Goose Shelter to the top of Goose Eye."<<

There is NO dispute that the AT section of trail is WONDERFULLY maintained. I mentioned that in my previous post and will agree with you 100%.

You also wrote:

>>"They hold many a workshop including Leave No Trace, Avalanch Safety, the afformentioned how to Thru-Hike, Ice Climbing, Rock Climbing. I can go on and on."<<

I have a couple of questions for you on that. Do your dues cover those workshops or is there a fee? If they are not covered do you feel that they are reasonably priced, so that MOST people could afford to attend them? I ask that because I am looking at my AMC Outdoors Magazine right here, in front of me (oh and yes, I am an AMC member) and I see a fee charged for most of those workshops you mentioned. Some of them that I see in the magazine are quite expensive, as in a few hundred dollars and might not be something that every family can afford. One of the cheaper ones is the Avalanche Safety course and that would total $340 for a family of four to attend. Now, I'm certain that someone out there will say, but it COSTS to hold those seminars,
some yes, and to that I'd suggest that in place of corporate sponsors to build new hotels there could be corporate sponsors to offer programs...this would enable people of limited economic means to participate in programs that are currently very pricey.


You wrote:

>>"You are right about the composting toilets. OH wait, those were free right? Oh, and so are the tons and tons of bark they helicopter in to help all of
the feces compost. I forgot, so are the employees that hike into the campsites to literally stir your **** to aid in the composting. Then they spead it onto screens to dry, then they disperse it into the woods, never the same place twice."<<

Just wanted to clarify that statement. 2/3's of the cost of composting, caretakers salaries, site upkeep, helicoptering in the bark etc. is picked up in site fees. The entire operation in I believe 2001 cost around $170,000. The had to float about $58,000 of that...this is taken from the AMC site itself. So free it is not. It is MOSTLY, as in 2/3'ds payed for by plunking down your 8 bucks to stay at a campsite.

You also wrote:
>>"I'm sorry, Ann, that the trails through the Whites don't meet your standards. HOwever, let's just say that your front yard had the same amount of thin top soil you find in the Whites. Don't forget the bedrock real close to the surface. Then think about the average grade of trail in the Whites
(Switchbacks are not feasible in this terrain and soil). Don't forget to add the rainfall, snowfall, snow melt, high winds. Then add Millions of people walking to your front door every year. Don't you think you'd have a bit of a gully in your front yard? We trail maintainers work tirelessly to create drainage, clean out the gullys, cut back the brush, prevent the creation of rogue campsites and trails. Despite our efforts we always come back to our trails to find litter, clogged drainages, overturned rocks, rogue campsites and trails. You have not known work until you hike up to Goose Eye with hoes, shovels, loppers, and clippers then hike down to the shelter digging and cutting along the way."<<

I think the maintainers work VERY hard. I think they do an EXCELLENT job and I personally thank you for your hard work. And, that is a TOUGH section of trail to maintain. Many of the NON AT trails are in need of something as simple as yes, paint...I would be happy with a dab of paint here and there on some of them. I can give you a list of trails that do NOT even have visible blazes, there are a lot of new hikers every year and they NEED some visable signs of where the trail should go. You cannot imagine what some of these trails look like. Just a thought on my part but perhaps a even a paid trail crew could dab some paint, I'd be willing to commit part of my dues to that effort.


You also wrote:

>>" Perhaps you should pitch in some day, or even adopt a trail you find particularly bad. Or, you could just bitch. The AMC kindly runs a lodge near Gorham (which puts thru hikers up for free) solely to aid the trail voluteers. THey provide food, lodging, and tools at no cost."<<

However they will NOT allow me to take my dog with me during training so I "help" with trail maintenance checks. This household, (my husband, myself and dog) have written checks that total $178 within the past year to the AMC 4K club (yes we are all members of that, even the dog)...that way it is SUPPOSED to go towards trail maintenance...otherwise I don't know where it's going to go, so that is how we've tried to get around the donation process. ( That is independant of the amount of money in dues that we've spent) I wish I could help via manpower but I since I cannot adopt a trail without training and my dog is NOT allowed to stay at Joe Dodge Center when training I have to give money.


You also wrote:

>>"Any organization that promotes leave no trace, conservation, enjoyment of the outdoors, and the AT gets a check in my book."<<

As I've said above, even though I am very critical I have been a member on and off for decades. I also contribute to other outdoor organizations.

I will exit gracefully from this thread because I do NOT want to alienate or anger ANYONE on this board. I believe I've stayed too long on this thread and I will simply lurk for a while. I simply feel that some of these issues need to be discussed before it is to late and it becomes an organization only for the fairly well-to-do hiker who's primary goal is to vacation at the huts and "education centers".

And Grimace, I really mean it on the Thanks for your trail maintanence efforts, they are honestly appreciated.

Ann

walkerat99
01-22-2003, 12:07
Ann,

I want to thank you for getting the truth out there for everyone to see and read. So what if someone gets angry, I am sure they will, when someone starts telling the facts about a club that is supposed to be doing so much, when in fact are lining their own pockets and controling a National Forest that geared only to the wealthy. We are should be standing up to this sort of abuse from a hiking club but I know some will never do such a thing. No where on the AT does a hiking club charge a person to camp or stay in a shelter, until you the get to the AMC. It is bad enough that they are allowed to control the National Forest, but they even go so far as to control the Appalachian Trail. I for one think it is a disgrace for them doing it, and also for the ATC for allowing it. That is why I have never renewed my ATC membership and doubt that I ever will. Since I don't think anyone will stand up to the big money folks in Boston and other areas of the east coast. All the excuses for the fees and ect. are all just lies and made up excuses to get your money and too keep the area for the wealthly peoples playground. I am sure this will raise some feathers, but I been there and seen it. The trail is in much better shape in all areas where there is no AMC and guess what... no fees either. At any rate, glad to know some people can see the AMC for what it really is, and I hope they are not afraid to keep saying it. Thanks to Ann, Peter and others.... Please do keep up the good work...

Just my 2 cents.. Since others can write and express themselves better than I, this will be my last post about it, but I sure hope people keep saying and maybe someday it will change.

rickb
01-22-2003, 14:59
I think this is a good discussion ands hope we don't go into debate mode too much. Hopefully, each of us can learn something from the other's perspectives. I'd like to address some points head on:

>>1. Peter said "I think it is hard to respect the AMC due the high executive salary's (how many memberships does it take to pay the CEO salary)."

I have heard this one quite a bit. How about putting ourselves in the position of the unpaid Board of Directors, charged with hiring individuals to run the club as it is currently constituted. How much would you buget for the p[rofessional leadership's salaries?

As a board member you know that the organization does a bunch of things, including a publishing arm that puts out 90,000 magazines each month, as well as a rather cool journal twice a year. As a board member you know your organization will also publish books. Some of these like Hall's recount of her thru hike simply need to be printed and distributed. Simple to oversee, right? But you also know that other volumes and maps require substancial development efforts. As a board member you will also knows that the professional leadership will be charged with running the Huts with10's of thousands of visitor nights, as well as multiple camps, lodges and outdoor centers. As a board member you know that the executive team will be charged with raising 10's of millions of dollars and will be overseeing a construction of a multimillion dollar facility designed to take presure off of Pinkham Notch, not to mention construction of Galehead Hut. And building new trails in Grafton Notch and Maine. And actively promoting environmental education. As a board member you want the people you hire to be articulate in dealing with million dollar conributors and making being able to further a well articulated political agenda. You will want to hire a team that will be remain with the organization for the long-term, and have ist long-term interest in mind.

As a board member how much would you budget to get the right people for the job? Seriously, how much? In the case of the AMC, they pay a total of two people over $100K. The director and the chief financial officer, who just breaks that barrier BTW. Of the rest, only a handfull make over 50K. Its a matter of public record.

I can respect the idea that some may think thats too much. But lets be realistic. Just how much would we budget for executive compensation? These are not positions that anyone with a big heart and good intentions can just wing. Right?

>>2. Peter said "I have never been impressed with the AMC trailcrew efforts; for a club the size and financial strength of the AMC they could do a whole lot more and have more trailcrew."

I'm not sure whether the AMC deserves all the credit (they probably don't) but I remain perplexed by critisism of the trail conditions in the Whites. Unless one limits thier hiking to the early spring.

>>3. "It seems that the AMC is more interested in becoming a guide service for the rich Boston folks rather than protecting the environment and the white's. Just take a look at the guided hikes and workshops the club offers at a very high cost while the AMC membership could receive the same training/skills from the chapters for free or a much smaller charge. "

The chapters are an important part of the AMC. One should look at the club in its totality. I would be more upset if the professionally led AMC hikes were not self-supporting. There are plenty of AMC volunteer alternatives.

>>4. "Some of my friends can recall the above tree line campsites controlled by the AMC/USFS a number of years ago, that have been torn down. One has to questions whether the motive for such action was to protect the environment or decrease competition for the AMC huts."

Name one. Seriously, I am very curious what you are talking about. There used to be an emergency shelter near Thunderstorm Junction (I think), but that was never meant to be a campsite and was dismantled for other reasons. If there were AMC/Forest Service abover tree-line campsites you must be going way, way back, right?

>>5. Peter said "As an AMC member I would vote to take the huts down and or turn them into European type self service hostels offering service at a cost basis, ie lodging at about $25.00 a night."

Me too. But if they did tear them down I'd recognize that many, many thousands of people (I don't call them less because they can aford to stay at a hut) would not come to enjoy a stay in the mountains. I wouldn't have a problem with that, but I would recognize my motivations as being largely selfish. The thing is, our votes would be in the distict minority. The Huts are hugely popular with the AMC membership, and have been for decades.

Anyway, that's my take. Hope I am not settled in to debate mode too much, because I think it is appropriate to take a hard look at the AMC. There is probably somne real truth in what everyone says, but I hope future thru-hikers don't reduce thier understand of the AMC to quick conclusions.

Rick B

Blue Jay
01-22-2003, 15:07
If the AMC truly wanted to follow their corporate charter and limit erosion and prevent degredation of the Whites they would simply stop manning the Huts. All of the Boston Money would stop. The amazingly rich CEO would go to Exxon. Environmentalist hikers would seize control of the AMC. The Mountainsmith covered Yuppies would go back to their yachts and dinner parties. The AT in the Whites would become like the AT everywhere else, beautiful and quiet. Do we want this to happen, HELL NO. In the Whites you can suck more food out of the stupid rich bastards on Franconia alone than the rest of the Trail combined. I love intimidating the AMC Shelter Slaves into letting me stay in the few Rat Bag shelters for free. Once I even got luckey with the daughter of one of the $2000 Marmot clad bozos. Could that be even remotely posible without the AMC, HELL NO. If we did not have the AMC to hate that would leave us with only Uncle Johnny and Wingfoot, what horror. And the number one reason love to hate the AMC. Climbing all the way up Washington thinking up ways to piss off the Hut Croo.

DebW
01-22-2003, 15:39
[i]
>>4. "Some of my friends can recall the above tree line campsites controlled by the AMC/USFS a number of years ago, that have been torn down. One has to questions whether the motive for such action was to protect the environment or decrease competition for the AMC huts."

Name one. Seriously, I am very curious what you are talking about. There used to be an emergency shelter near Thunderstorm Junction (I think), but that was never meant to be a campsite and was dismantled for other reasons. If there were AMC/Forest Service abover tree-line campsites you must be going way, way back, right?

Rick B [/B]

The shelter was at Edmond's Col., between Jefferson and Adams. It was a metal emergency shelter, though by the smell of it was frequently used as a latrine. It absolutely reeked! I went inside it once or twice. Not a pleasant place Thunderstorm Junction used to have a cairn much taller than it does now. I also know of no above T-line campsites in the Whites, and I've been hiking there since 1975.

peter2003
01-22-2003, 18:27
I was told that there were shelters in the Northern Presidentials; my guess they were taken out around 1950-1960. Give me a couple of days to do research and I will report back on the type of sherler there and when they were removed by the AMC/USFS.

When I have more time I will respond to some of rickbroudie comments. But I will say now that the salary range I heard for the CEO was much higher than $100,000 figure referenced here.
And I think you give the CEO too much credit for running the operation.

Peter

rickb
01-22-2003, 22:49
Pete--

AMC's director makes something over $150K. Its the club's number 2 salary guy I said makes just over $100K.

You could well be right that I have given the director to much credit. My main point was that IF the club's principle goal is to make money, not many are doing so. Personally, I don't think that's the case, though.

My second point was that the AMC's operations are extensive, and that running such an operation requires professional management. While that may seem obvious, I just want to point out the fact that the AMC staff does far more than order chicken for the huts, and count the money that comes in. Others have and will argue that the club could have hired less expensive tallent. I don't doubt that. The question is if you would want to.

I think one could make a case that the club would be better run by a true believer that would work for practically nothing. If you did, I might be inclined to agree with that. I know that they don't pay the head of the ATC much at all and he seems to do a great job.

Its just that I don't think the AMC's decision to hire a well qualified Harvard MBA who commanded a professional salary reveals the AMC to be all about making money. Rather its a reflection (IMO) that the club has grown to encompass a whole lot of endeavours, with a huge membership and substancial budget. With a big organization paying the wrong guy any amount of money can be very expensive indeed.

In the end, I respect what you and Ann think. Who knows you might be right ;-). You guys have given a great deal of thought to the AMC. That said, one reason I wanted to jump in (apart from my obsessive nature) on this is that I think many thru hikers form quick opinions about the AMC. And that's not a good thing.

I pretty sure you heard wrong about those above tree-line campsites though. But I am prepared to learn something. Thats part of the fun of these lists.

Rick B

Papa Bear
01-23-2003, 10:27
The AMC seems to be one of those entities that engenders strong emotions both pro and con. I'm not shy to say that I am highly pro-AMC in general (not to say that everything they do is what I would have done).

In a general comment I would say without any doubt that the state of the trails and the state of the countryside in the Whites is MUCH better than it was in the 60s when I first hiked there. It's like night and day. The relationship between the forest service and the AMC is largely responsible for this. If you don't think this is significant, compare the state of say Yellowstone or the Smokeys now vs. the 1960s. Very much downhill there, and in most other places as well. The Whites are one of the few areas where "loving it to death" i.e. overuse, has not had this result. On the contrary I sincerely believe on the whole progress has been uphill, not down.

Now for specifics: I hiked the AT last summer from New Jersey to Maine. Without a doubt the area maintained by the AMC (Kinsman Notch, NH to Grafton Notch, Maine) was significantly better maintained than any other section. There were exactly NO BLOWDOWNS in this section during my transit. NONE. In other sections blowdowns tended from a few per mile (New Jersey) to a few per day.

And be careful to distinguish Trail Maintenance from Trail Building (or rebuilding). The former is done by volunteers each season. The later is often a much bigger job, sometimes (but not usually) involving professionals and that is where rocks are moved, stairs are built, erosions run offs are put into place etc.

Second specific. I'm looking at my first White Mountain Guide, published in 1966. I find NO campsites above treeline and only the emergency shelter in Edmand's Col (mentioned above) in the Presidentials. There are NO campsites between Liberty Springs and Garfield on the Franconia Ridge.

One other thing, I love the huts. Sorry if I'm no Daniel Boone or Meriweather Lewis. I think the young family members there (I saw 4 year olds who hiked to Lonesome Lake with a pack) are the next generations outdoor enthusiasts. Who knows, some of these 4 year olds may grow up to be Daniel Boone's and demand that the huts be torn down. ;) And practically all the thru-hikers I met (mostly the early group in July) loved the huts, and the hut croos really went out of their way to help the thrus. One croo member (at Mizpah) actually took a thru and his dog to a vet after the dog cut his foot. And the thrus made out royally food-wise in the huts (yes they did have to wash the dishes).

Pb

DebW
01-23-2003, 12:27
The Berkshire., Connecticut, and Delaware Valley AMC chapters do trail maintenance on the AT independent from the Joy St. office that handles maintenance in the Whites. I'm finding the Berkshire Chapter very low-key and pleasant to work with. They have no requirements for attending workshops prior to becoming a maintainer.

Trail Yeti
01-23-2003, 15:51
I have finally decided to add my two cents. So here we go....
On my thru-hike like most everybody I refered to the AMC as the
"Appalachian Money Club" and of ridiculed it. Especially when I was planning on staying the night and checked the handbook and found out I had to pay...pay to camp? HELL NO! I'm a thru-hiker, that's what stealth sites are for.
I also didn't like the fact that it cost so much to join the AMC, and that it cost so much to stay in the huts.
This is of course, before I got to the whites. God what mountains!
I LOVED the Whites, they are beautiful beyond words (especially for a Tennessee boy that had never been above treeline), and they are good, tough hiking. I liked the challenge. People said don't do more than 15 miles a day in the whites....yeah right.
You can do whatever mileage you are comfortable in the Whites, if you like big miles, they are doable, and you can still enjoy them.
So once I got there I stayed in 2 huts- lonesome lake and Madison. I tried to stay in mizpah, but got there too late for work for stay and so I went to the stealth site that the croo leader told me about.
Once I had seen the hut I changed my mind. I thought they were worthless, jsut for rich yuppies that can't hike. Of course, a lot of rich yuppies go to them, and I had a good time making fun of people whose gear cost more than my hike (and wasn't worth the money the paid for it), and that would wear their $600 goretex for that one little trip. But I also saw kids and families.
The huts are great things for people w/limited resources and or kids. They can hike in w/just clothes and sleeping gear, get a taste of the mtns, not have to worry about heavy food, lots of water etc. I think the huts are good for this reason alone.
Some of those kids and families (as they get older or more money) will return to the mtns and enjoy them as most of us do.
Sure the yuppies are a little more numerous, but if the huts bring about 1 future thru-hiker for every 5 yuppies than I think its a good thing.
The croos were nice, they tried to practice and educate the guests on good LNT practices etc.
Just my humble opinion.

peter2003
01-23-2003, 21:52
It's 10 below zero in Northern Vermont so I though I would do a little research on the old shelters on the Presidential Range in the Whites.

Went through Forest and Grag, by Laura and Guy Waterman without success; the book provides a history of hikking related things in the Northeast, so there was not much detailed information about the Huts and shelters.

Next I went through The Book of the White Mountains, by John Anderson and Stearns Morse, 1930 (a little old but good research). The book referers to a number of Huts at Madison Spring Huts on the Gulfside Trail (AT). The only other reference to a shelter was Mizpah Spring Shelter (AMC) which is probable on or near the location of the present day hut. A historical point was there were at least one shelter on the range back in 1930. Further the huts from my own observation starting in the 60's were a lot more hiker friendly and seemed to be run on more of a cost basis, not a profit center for a multi-million dollar outdoor
orrganization. It seems that somewhere around 1990 the AMC saw the Huts as a goldon goose to generate funds for other purposes. I think that this was totally wrong and gives a bad impression of the AMC.

Another point I think a reference was made that the Huts need positive cash flow to fund construction of huts. I believe that before the AMC has constructed many recent huts that they already and found donations to fund most, if not all of the construction.

I few quotes from The Book of the White Mountains:

1. Talking about the Presidential Range hike in 1930, the hike may of course, be done by an athletic person who wants to do that sort of thing in a day's hike but people who are not obsessed with the American mania for merely getting somewhere will want to take at least two days (not much has changed in 70 years).

2. But if it is growing dark, above all, if it is stormy and if the storm has given previous trouble let the climber possess his soul in patience and return to the Lakes-of-the-Clouds, thanking his stars that a benevolent AMC has provided a sheleter there. A nights sleep in the hut will do no harm. Buffeting the wind and weather on the exposed ridge or on the summit cone of Washington is not for human beings, as we shall subsequently see (good advise).

3. Cost of Gorham lodging; Mt. Madison House - $7.00, Willes House & Cottages - $4.50; Glenn House $5.00 and up. None of the prices were cheap in thoes day.

Peter

Papa Bear
01-23-2003, 23:00
Peter and everyone

Here's another great source of information. The University of New Hampshire has on-line a set of historic USGS maps. The Mt. Washington Quadrangle is represented by 1896, 1935 and 1938 versions:

Historic USGS Mt. Washington Quadrangle (http://docs.unh.edu/nhtopos/MountWashington.htm)

If you look at the 1896 version, click on the "southeast corner" you will see the AMC Hut clearly shown in the Madison-Adams col. We all know Madison Spring was the first hut. The map shows no other structures anywhere on the Presidentials except the Washington summit buildings. Interestingly both the Cog and the Road were in place by 1896. But the trails were sparse. Except for Adams there were no summit bypass trails and the Great Gulf was absolutly devoid of trails! And doesn't that look like a third lake close to Monroe above the other two?

Now look at the 1935 version. Now there are tons more trails, the cabin and camp down from Madison (the Perch) a shelter in the Great Gulf and a shelter and the HMC Cabin in Tuckerman. And above tree line there is Lakes of the Clouds Hut. But no other structures above tree line. Only Lakes Hut was added (above tree line) by 1935.

The 1938 map is essentially the same.

We also know that an emergency shelter was added at Edmands Col sometime before 1966 and removed sometime after. But otherwise there never was anything much up there at all.

But the trails, the trails, boy did they build those trails!

These maps are great fun to explore.

Pb

Chickenfeet
02-27-2004, 15:11
I agree with everything everyone has said that implies that perhaps the AMC should really be AMG (G for GREED). I'd like to hear more about CEO salaries and such. But i'm just writing with a suggestion for thruhiking in the whites...

If I had to do it over again, I would have scheduled my days so as to pass a hut for lunch every day. Most of the time you can rely on getting as much soup as you can eat for cheap (2 dollars, i think, and once we didn't have to pay cuz the croo boy was ashamed of his crappy soup). Every day soup, every night camp.

This way you spend the most of your time out in the beautiful whites, perhaps in solitude, perhaps forgetting that the amc exists at all, and enjoying the trail like you had been all along!

I really don't see why the huts don't get into selling hot dogs or other easy calorie rich food all day long. If thruhikers could really truly rely on there being hot dogs at every hut, hardly anyone would be trying to do work for stay, because no one would really need to STAY at a hut at all. Why do work for stay? You get all the dinner you can eat. If I could pay for all the dinner I could eat I would definitely decline the stay part. (It sucks so bad when it's 8pm and you're sooo tired and are about to fall asleep standing up, but you can't just get in your sleeping bag because all the people are out playing in your bedroom.) Anyway, if there was food without stay, staying would be much less popular, and therefore the issue of showing up and being rejected for work for stay would be eliminated. And think of all the money they could make selling thruhikers food!!!

Once you've got the food, the only other issue is finding the camping spot. We got the list of stealth spots in Gorham. We stayed at some of them, including the flash river at Ethan Pond. But a lot of the stealth spots, we just never figured out. One place we found the campsite. There were a bunch of flat cleared spots, invisible from the trail. They satisfied all the requirements of distance from trail, water etc. Perfectly legal spots. Except, somebody had CHOPPED DOWN TREES and flung them in heapson top of all of the spots to render them useless to campers. "Somebody" is obviously the AMC trying to divert traffic to their paid spots. Let me re-iterate, this was not above treeline, it was NOT a fragile area (though it looked pretty sorry with all the chopped down trees), it was LEGAL camping, and had been spoiled by those BASTARDS! We were real pissed, spent a 15 minutes clearing one spot, set up house, and then went around and cleared a couple other spots. What I really hate about the AMC is that I don't LIKE being pissed off. There is so much beautiful in the Whites, I just hate that every day in the whites brings something to be poopied out over. I told this to an AMC defender, and this person tried to argue that CHOPPING DOWN TREES to cover camp spots was a PROTECTIVE measure.

xoxoxoxoxoxox
CHICKENFEET GA-->ME '03

The Old Fhart
02-29-2004, 10:19
It seems a lot of people are interested in the AMC's huts and other buildings. One that is mentioned frequently is the new AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch. That is not on the A.T. but is a few miles north of where the A.T. crosses RT302 in Crawford Notch and thru hikers aren't likely to see it. The Highland Center is actually a cluster of several buildings the two largest being the Center's lodge and conference building and the Thayer building that housed offices, crew lodging, and a large conference room that now has a Brad Washburn photo exhibit. Just so posters who haven't been there can see what it looks like, I'll be posting a few pictures of the Center in the 'PHOTOS' section of Whiteblaze.net and you can get there by going to:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2768
http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2769&password=&sort=1&cat=561
http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2774&password=&sort=1&size=medium&cat=561&page=
http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2784&password=&sort=1&size=big&cat=561&page=
These pictures were taken on 02-28-04.

I have been an NHAMC volunteer trip leader/instructor for over two decades but spoke against the hutís 30 year re-licensing at those public meetings as well. What you will find is AMC members donít like everything the AMC does but find there is a lot of good that come from the AMC. What thru hikers have to realize is that, especially in congested areas like the Whites, they are a very small minority and there is no way any one is going to cater to them if it means ignoring or not giving services to the others who enjoy the mountains. The summit of Mount Washington is a state park and gets about 250,000 visitors per year and perhaps 500 of those could be thru hikers. As much as we might like to be the only people standing on the summit, it ainít gonna happen. The same is true in the Smokies.