PDA

View Full Version : Large groups on the AT



Pages : [1] 2

barefoot
12-10-2007, 16:40
Every summer I lead a group of teenagers from our church on the AT for a 60+/- mile week. We have a great time and many of these kids come year after year and continue backpacking even after they age out of the youth group. It's one of our most popular summer trips. Don't faint but the group size is 25-30. We break up into 5 smaller groups for cooking, equipment, tents, etc. I stress regularly about being sensitive to other hikers, the environment, shelter etiquette due to our group size. In past postings I have read some negative remarks about the Boy Scouts. Do these comments get generated because of their group size, attitudes, or practices? I'll probably continue to lead this group in the future but I'm interested in what people think when they see church groups or Boy Scout troops.
Thanks

Lilred
12-10-2007, 16:51
Your doing good to break up the groups, but I hope they are not all camping in the same place at night. That's the main reason you break up a group. I've seen large groups break up and one head north on the trail, while the other group goes to the opposite trailhead and heads south. The groups will meet on the trail, but not impact the camping areas with too many people at once.

DawnTreader
12-10-2007, 16:53
I think its great what you do for the teens. I have led teen groups before and have directly seen the positive effects backpacking has on their lives. That being said, I have never taken a group with more than 9. 25-30 is outrageous. I think your church should seriously consider maybe 3 or 4 different trips to cut the size of your group. Or, spread the group out a few days apart. Most negative comments toward groups i.e. boyscouts, summer camp ect. come from larger groups.. usually 12 or more, but I've never encountered a 30 person group on the AT, nor would I care to. I think the problem is that large groups create a lot of noise and general chaos, detracting from many solo or small groups on the trail. However, with a few exceptions, i.e. White Mt. National Forest, it is not against the law, and it is a free country to take as many people out as you want..
my .02, keep the group size under ten, take multiple trips to ensure nobody gets left out, and everyone will have a more enjoyable time in the woods..

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 16:53
i personally have never had any problems with any groups. i don't use shelters. it seems any problems are associated with shelters. thru-hikers are more a PIA than organized groups

Minerva
12-10-2007, 16:57
Taking any groups of over 25 on an overnighter on the Trail shows how insensitive you really are to "other hikers, the environment, and shelter etiquette". Take a minute to review the ATC's guidelines on Group Hiking http://tinyurl.com/yradsu and rethink your next outing with these kids.

I'd suggest sending the 5 smaller groups to 5 different areas to reduce the impact and concentration of your large group outing!

Mrs Gorp

Lilred
12-10-2007, 17:02
I'll probably continue to lead this group in the future but I'm interested in what people think when they see church groups or Boy Scout troops.
Thanks

When I see church groups or boy scouts come into the area I'm camping, whether a shelter or campsite, I have been known to pack up my tent, even if I've already set up, and move on. Being female, I don't want to have to negotiate bathroom space with a bunch of adolescent boys. I have in the past, when a group comes in, told them where the women's bathroom is, they need to go in the opposite direction. It's the teacher in me that gets bossy with kids. Occupational hazard.

DawnTreader
12-10-2007, 17:05
This may not be an issue of insensitivity.. some just don't know.. I think this poster is genuinly naive of the seriousness of a group this large. Minerva, for you to say
"Taking any groups of over 25 on an overnighter on the Trail shows how insensitive you really are to "other hikers, the environment, and shelter etiquette".
I think this is a bit unfair. Best try and explain why before casting stones... He did ask why people complained about it a lot. Not to mention, the poster never said that he stayed in Shelters.. If you find large groups in shelters, move on... no biggy.. shelters suck anyways..

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 17:14
I agree with all of the above posts. A group of 25-30 is outrageous, it is very inconsiderate of everyone else that you see. Regardless of their behavior the sheer numbers are noisy and disruptive. When a group like that is on the trail you can't get by.

Like Lilred tend to see a big group (I recently ran into a group of about 25-30 Boy Scouts at Virgin Falls. They had absolutely taken over the camping area (I wouldn't have stayed there anyway even had there been some room left).

If you want to teach these kids proper outdoor consideration, take them in smaller groups and tell them why you are.

If you know that people complain a lot about large groups and you are with these large groups, I would be willing to bet that you know better than anyone else why we complain.

If you continue to take these large groups out, please post your travel plans on here so that I will not run into your group.

Gaiter
12-10-2007, 17:15
i've ran into some really great groups and some really horrible groups, the best one's driver shared his whiskey w/ me, the two worst: one had no leadership/discipline/knowledge of what they were doing and didn't belong in the woods w/o it, the other were sooo rude and they didn't have enough tents.
I think you can just look at how the leaders act when a group shows up, that will tell you how the rest of the group will act

just remember to make your group is aware of other people, and breaking them up is great, just remember there needs to be someone who knows what they are doing in every small group

The Old Fhart
12-10-2007, 17:17
It is good work that you are doing but as others have said, group size can be a problem. Some areas, like the White Mountain National Forest, have rules limiting group size to 10. Also, whether it is scouts and other non-profits or profit making excursion groups, you may be required to have an 'outfitters permit', or whatever they will call it, to be legal. Generally non-profits will get free permits.

There is generally no problem with the smaller groups meeting during the day for lunch at an outlook, etc., just understand what the local rules are. I have met several groups of scouts, etc., and generally they have been typical kids and managed by the adults who don't destroy all their fun.;)

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 17:20
the two worst: one had no leadership/discipline/knowledge of what they were doing and didn't belong in the woods w/o it, the other were sooo rude and they didn't have enough tents.



this describes thru-hikers between the 3rd week of March and the 2nd week of April in Georgia. Hawk Mtn. shelter area on any given night is an absolute zoo with 30 or so thru-hike attempters

hopefulhiker
12-10-2007, 17:24
My experience with large groups has been pretty good.. One time in 05 a group of thru hikers filled up a shelter somewhere along NC/TN during a really bad storm.. All that was left was the overhang. A group of scouts came along in the pouring down rain.. We offered to make what room we could but they decided to head out into the storm..It was cold too, and these kids were in cotton and jeans.. I sort of felt sorry for them. But they must have survived...

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 17:24
I don't know. As a Scout leader, I have been wrestling with this problem myself. I think a large overnight group can be a problem. The AT shelter/camp site system is not built to accommodate that many people in one group. However, I don't think breaking them up and spreading them around is a solution either, at least for the Boy Scouts. We have a 2 adult minimum requirement and our troop takes 3 adults minimum in order to respect the scouts' youth protection program. We barely have enough adults for the troop and could not separate them as suggested. Plus, I would hate to potentially piss off people in multiple locations. We do have a camp just off the AT that we use for AT hikes that works well, but it doesn't help for doing longer hikes or covering different sections. I am now looking at alternatives to the AT and have found some interesting options in CT.

Gaiter
12-10-2007, 17:28
this describes thru-hikers between the 3rd week of March and the 2nd week of April in Georgia. Hawk Mtn. shelter area on any given night is an absolute zoo with 30 or so thru-hike attempters

lol, no i was referering to church groups i had meet, but from what i've heard, they do sound similar

Lellers
12-10-2007, 17:29
Lilred, I soooo know what you mean! I am the lone female assistant scoutmaster of a boy scout troop, and I'm the backpacking merit badge counselor. It is an altogether different experience to be the only female in a group of predominantly adolescent boys (and a few adult males who may as well be adolescents). I hope that my presence over the last 12 years has made my group of kids a little more sensitive to the females around them.


I teach my kids LNT including being considerate of others along the trail. We break into ability groups and set out from different directions. I admit to allowing a bit of raucous rejoicing at the point where the groups cross each other, but that is mercifully brief. The boys are fascinated by the shelters, not having had the experience of actually sleeping in many of them. If we're on the AT, I like to stop at a shelter at some point on the hike just so the kids can see what one looks like, sit in it for a while, read the register, and watch the mice. That seems to satisfy them.

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 17:45
Tin Man, get more adult involvement or just take more trips with less scouts in each trip. The fact that it doesn't work out is not a reason to go ahead and put 25-30 out there at a time. Why not set up different trips with groups of 8 or less and set different levels of difficulty based upon the various experience level of the kids that are going.

Truthfully with large groups the shelters are probably the best place for them, because there are tons of people that beat down that ground and disrupt that ecosystem anyway. But if you put that many folks in an unused area, there is no-way that you can LNT.

I am sensitive to the plight of groups, but I know what I mumble under my breath when I run across them.

I'm all for introducing these kids to the outdoors. I'm an Eagle Scout, but when my scoutmaster buddies ask where I like to go backpacking: I give them good spots but I don't tell them my real favorite spots, because I don't want to go back and see the unavoidable damage caused by large groups and I don't want the info to get passed from troop to troop.

Question: Who is being insensitive, folks like myself who don't want big groups out there together that disrupt my experience and do damage, or the large groups that go out there and disrupt the experience of others.

Note to self: Press Think button and wait before sending

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 18:01
Tin Man, get more adult involvement or just take more trips with less scouts in each trip. The fact that it doesn't work out is not a reason to go ahead and put 25-30 out there at a time. Why not set up different trips with groups of 8 or less and set different levels of difficulty based upon the various experience level of the kids that are going.

Nice idea, but there are problems here. We go on trips monthly and don't want to go weekly, at least not with the Scouts. And we would never have enough adults for that anyway. The skill level idea is an issue too as the older boys teach the younger boys, since scouts is a scout lead activity.


Truthfully with large groups the shelters are probably the best place for them, because there are tons of people that beat down that ground and disrupt that ecosystem anyway. But if you put that many folks in an unused area, there is no-way that you can LNT.

I would never take the scouts to an unused area or stealth. And, as a AT hiker, I have been bumped from campsites by large groups, so I don't want to take them there either.


I am sensitive to the plight of groups, but I know what I mumble under my breath when I run across them.

Me too. Ugghhh! :D


I'm all for introducing these kids to the outdoors. I'm an Eagle Scout, but when my scoutmaster buddies ask where I like to go backpacking: I give them good spots but I don't tell them my real favorite spots, because I don't want to go back and see the unavoidable damage caused by large groups and I don't want the info to get passed from troop to troop.

Question: Who is being insensitive, folks like myself who don't want big groups out there together that disrupt my experience and do damage, or the large groups that go out there and disrupt the experience of others.

Large groups are a pain, whether you are leading them or witnessing them. I merely try to keep mine out of the way and have them camp off the AT.


Note to self: Press Think button and wait before sending :cool:

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 18:01
Question: Who is being insensitive, folks like myself who don't want big groups out there together that disrupt my experience and do damage, or the large groups that go out there and disrupt the experience of others.

Note to self: Press Think button and wait before sending

have you attempted a thru-hike by starting at Springer around the 1st of April? if you have then you're being insensitive cuz you're part of a LARGE group which does a lot of damage year after year.


Note: ain't no more think button. it went the way of wankers

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 18:05
Note: ain't no more think button. it went the way of wankers

Yup, long live the cynics. :rolleyes:

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 18:05
Yup, long live the cynics. :rolleyes:

nope. i'm a realist :rolleyes:

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 18:08
have you attempted a thru-hike by starting at Springer around the 1st of April? if you have then you're being insensitive cuz you're part of a LARGE group which does a lot of damage year after year.

Nope I haven't been a part of that group, but I'm sure it's quite a circus.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-10-2007, 18:09
::: Dino peeks over trifocals at toes of LW and TM :::

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 18:12
Nope I haven't been a part of that group, but I'm sure it's quite a circus.

even though it's not organized or sanctioned it's still a large group and a problem every year. all the shelter areas/campsites in georgia are totally over-used. the ATC should assign start dates for thru-hike attempters between March 1st and April 15th

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 18:13
Big groups can be either really good or really bad, I haven't seen too much inbetween. Three obnoxious people at a tenting area staying up late & making noise or getting in after midnight and setting up tents and shining lights is much worse than a good group, however. It's hard to begrudge a well-behaved group the space they occupy.

The Weasel
12-10-2007, 18:23
Several reasons (some similar to what's above) why a group that size is a mistake:

1) Hiking should be a small group experience, not a large group one. Small groups learn initiative and self-reliance. Large ones don't.

2) Large groups - even strung out - aren't supported by the minimal infrastructure the AT has. Springs and watersources, with a lot of people (even strung out) end up with long lines. The same for privies. Shelters get "taken over" by even smallish groups who want to stay up (or sleep early) or talk or sing at the campfire, etc. There aren't enough tables, and there really isn't even the space for more tents.

3) Having that many adolescents is a challenge for them, their leaders and others, for reasons noted in other posts.

4) Remoteness is lost when that many people are put in a limited mileage range.

TW

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-10-2007, 18:23
Perhaps an area with a large camping area away from the AT would be a better choice for such a large group. My church does this sort of thing a couple of times a year with teens - one is in the Slickrock wilderness near where Slickrock Creek enters the lake and the other is backcountry site 17 in the GSMNP. Both are really wonderful sites for a group this size.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 18:28
nope. i'm a realist :rolleyes:

Civility is not wankerous, nor does it need to be sacrificed just because this is the Internet. Just saying. :cool:

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 18:30
Every summer I lead a group of teenagers from our church on the AT for a 60+/- mile week. We have a great time and many of these kids come year after year and continue backpacking even after they age out of the youth group. It's one of our most popular summer trips. Don't faint but the group size is 25-30. We break up into 5 smaller groups for cooking, equipment, tents, etc. I stress regularly about being sensitive to other hikers, the environment, shelter etiquette due to our group size. In past postings I have read some negative remarks about the Boy Scouts. Do these comments get generated because of their group size, attitudes, or practices? I'll probably continue to lead this group in the future but I'm interested in what people think when they see church groups or Boy Scout troops.
Thanks

your group will do less damage and leave less of an impact than large groups of thr-hikers do. take the kids out and have fun

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 18:32
Civility is not wankerous, nor does it need to be sacrificed just because this is the Internet. Just saying. :cool:

start a new wanker thread in SENSITIVE SUBJECTS. i know your feelings are hurt cuz your thread got whacked. leave this thread to hiking groups

Huffy1
12-10-2007, 18:38
Speaking as a former Asst Scoutmaster I beleive most people haven't had the privalage of arranging trips for groups of young people. Getting enough acceptable adult leadership, transportation, and everything else can (most always) be a bear. When everything falls into place I wouldn't want to be the one whom has to pick who gets to goes and who doesn't.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 18:39
start a new wanker thread in SENSITIVE SUBJECTS. i know your feelings are hurt cuz your thread got whacked. leave this thread to hiking groups

My feelings are not hurt and no thanks to your suggestion, but thanks for the thought. :D

totally Boagus
12-10-2007, 18:42
some things we have done with scout groups in the summer which seems to reduce any friction with other hikers is to 1. hike in areas when thru hikers are not there. 2. Try to schedule the trip to be mid week to avoid the weekend crowd. By doing this I have been out with a group of 15 and not seen anyone other than the members of our group.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 18:44
Boy Scouts are large groups of boys that are actually broken down into manageable patrols. They don't really tear up the place either and do a great job of cleaning up after themselves. I haven't let them camp on the AT because I know how when I hike the AT, I don't large noisy groups. And there are plenty of off-trail youth group campsites that are more appropriate. When I get a few interested in pursuing backpacking merit badge, then we will probably camp along the AT.

Desert Lobster
12-10-2007, 18:45
Take a group of 100. Not an issue. Some folks just have too much to complain about.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 18:46
Speaking as a former Asst Scoutmaster I beleive most people haven't had the privalage of arranging trips for groups of young people. Getting enough acceptable adult leadership, transportation, and everything else can (most always) be a bear. When everything falls into place I wouldn't want to be the one whom has to pick who gets to goes and who doesn't.

Fairly distributing limited resources is one of the things a leader should be able to do. By lottery is one method, but there are many others.

kayak karl
12-10-2007, 18:50
Have you concidered hiking elsewhere. our church group (30-40) hikes the jersey pines, but ther only camp in the "group section" of the wilderness sites, its set a couple hundred yard from other campers or in the state park group sections. when hiking they stay in small groups and sometimes take different routes (no blazing, they use compass and topo) leader knows the way but we let them get lost now and then.
the only thing we did near the AT was mt. tammany and its sister mt. minsi. smaller groups, but they split up. 8 up each and they then split on different blue blazes.
check out your area. state parks have alot of info.
have fun:)

oh,i was up mt. tammanny with my son 4 weeks ago. there were 5 bus groups (20 in each) it was bad. we hiked an extra 5 mi around fire road just to get away from them. and both our day packs were full of trash we picked up.

Kirby
12-10-2007, 18:53
The groups I have encountered while hiking have been pleasant, although 25-30 does seem large, but as LW said, there is the potential for that many people, and I assume more, on any given day at a shelter in Georgia in thru-hiker season, I would assume especially between Springer and Neels Gap when a lot of hikers are still on trail. All the lean-tos I have encountered in Maine, and the tent sites that go with them are no where near the ability to hold 30 people on any given night.

Kirby

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 19:02
I assume more

Try more than fifty, even; there will be seas of those little orange tents.

Pedaling Fool
12-10-2007, 19:06
Try more than fifty, even; there will be seas of those little orange tents.
I don't even wait for the privy in those conditions, just start hiking and pull off down the trail.

Programbo
12-10-2007, 19:07
In past postings I have read some negative remarks about the Boy Scouts. Do these comments get generated because of their group size, attitudes, or practices? Thanks

I would think it is the size of the group which is the cause for most concern...If your group hikes spread out along the trail that would help and IF you end up camping at one of the shelters I would advise staying as far away from the shelter area as possible (Or stopping at a strictly "campsite" away from a shelter)..I would strongly suggest your group NOT use the shelter system at all

Huffy1
12-10-2007, 19:10
Fairly distributing limited resources is one of the things a leader should be able to do. By lottery is one method, but there are many others.

If I told a young teen and his parents that and I'd be running to prevent bloodshed, Mine.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 19:19
If I told a young teen and his parents that and I'd be running to prevent bloodshed, Mine.

Then you shouldn't be leading the group. Seriously. Let someone lead it who is willing to make necessary decisions, no matter how tough. Happens all the time, just step down, or aside, or demote yourself to assistant. Or do what really smart leaders do, get a committee to make the tough decisions for you, so you can avoid being directly responsible.

But I find it hard to believe you can't come up with a way to take a bunch of kids backpacking without imposing on others and the environment.

Ashman
12-10-2007, 19:26
Just to help me understand you Tater, have you been in such a position? Have you led a local youth or scout group and had to make such decisions?

Machine
12-10-2007, 19:27
I have no problem with groups on the AT. The AT is a big place. If you don't like what you may encounter out there, then hike a more remote trail/area or find another activity more suitable to your needs.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 19:32
People who bring such large groups onto the trail are indeed inconsiderate on more than one level. Break up such a large group into sub groups of 6-10, or less, and go on separate hikes, or stagger your sub groups.

The main reason groups are frowned upon is the huge amount of damage they cause to campsites, and anywhere else they head off trail (like a scenic overlook or a pond, for instance). It's also considered rude by a lot of hikers because if there's a small, more quiet group of 1-4 people hiking in the same direction, and they are going at the same pace as the huge group, all the noise and commotion caused by your group of 30 will be really hard to escape without the smaller group deliberately stopping for an hour to allow enough distance to be put between your huge noisy group and those more quiet people who are trying to listen to the chirruping birds and such. This is unfair to small groups and solo hikers.

There's also a certain group dynamic with large groups of kids that is generally undesirable to have on the trail. Once I passed a group of 30-40 kids and some adults going the opposite direction on a trail and only about half of them looked at me, less than half acknowledged my "Hello" and only about one in ten stepped off the trail to allow me to pass. The rest just averted their eyes from me and expected me to step off the trail for them. It's this same group dynamic of not caring that leads to exponentially more destruction at campsites and along the trail, more littering, and less consideration along the trail, which leads to members of the group getting lost. Now, Barefoot, you may think that all the kids in your group are perfectly behaved teenagers, and indeed they may be, but I really doubt that any group of teenagers, Boy Scouts or churchgoers, can be as alert and self conscious of themselves in the woods in a group of 30 as they'd be in a group of 5 or less.

Do the right thing and limit your group size.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 19:34
I have no problem with groups on the AT. The AT is a big place. If you don't like what you may encounter out there, then hike a more remote trail/area or find another activity more suitable to your needs.

By your logic, if I don't enjoy my morning commute to work through rush hour traffic, I should quit my job and start working out of the home or something.

Bob S
12-10-2007, 19:35
If you continue to take these large groups out, please post your travel plans on here so that I will not run into your group.
__________________
If you don't make waves, it means you ain't paddling



Isnít a large group making waves?







Question: Who is being insensitive, folks like myself who don't want big groups out there together that disrupt my experience and do damage, or the large groups that go out there and disrupt the experience of others.

Note to self: Press Think button and wait before sending
__________________
If you don't make waves, it means you ain't paddling


Again, isnít this making waves. Your tag line says to make waves, then you complain about those that do????

Jack Tarlin
12-10-2007, 19:35
Machine:

With all due respect, large groups definitely have a greater impact on the Trail and on other people than do smaller groups.

Ever camped with 30 young people? It ain't a barrel of laughs.

Likewise, larger groups do lots more damage to shelters and campsite; they tend to leave more garbage; they leave a ton more human waste; frequently disposed of improperly; they build enormous fires and leave permanent fire pits; they often abuse or pollute water sources.

In short, there's a very good reason that oversized groups are discouraged on the A.T. as well as on many other Trails.

Groups this size would do well to split into smaller sub-groups, and if they wish to camp together, they should make plans ahead of time and only do so in large-group camping areas that have been specifically designed for this purpose.

I think it's great that these leaders are encouraging more young people to get out in the backcountry and on to the Trail. But there are ways to do this in a responsible manner, so that their impact is minimized.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 19:45
large groups of thru-hiker wannabes are encourged to attempt a thru-hike by the ATC causing major crowding and damage in georgia every year. this seems o.k. a group of 20 on the AT in summer will hurt nothing. throngs of wannabe 2000 milers are causing serious damage but nobody seems to give 2 s**ts. pretty funny. but pick on the occaisional church, youth, or scouting group led by responsible adults

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 19:47
Just to help me understand you Tater, have you been in such a position? Have you led a local youth or scout group and had to make such decisions?

I have to ration limited healthcare resources at work all the time. That has been the essence of my work for many years now. It is a rotten business but it must be done. It isn't pleasant and sometimes I have trouble sleeping if I feel like people are suffering because they need more health care than they can get.

If you are having trouble, I will be glad to tell a bunch of parents that because none of them have volunteered to assist with the outing, only eight kids will be able to go, and they will be chosen by whatever method of chance or lot that the kids want to use, and that the kids that don't get to go this year get first choice next year. Piece of cake.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 19:48
I keep our Scout troop away from the AT in CT to help prevent what happens in GA in the spring. We hike it, but we don't camp it.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 19:49
only about one in ten stepped off the trail to allow me to pass. The rest just averted their eyes from me and expected me to step off the trail for them.

Which is another good reason to carry hiking poles.

Machine
12-10-2007, 19:49
By your logic, if I don't enjoy my morning commute to work through rush hour traffic, I should quit my job and start working out of the home or something.
Absolutely! Accept it or change it, but don't friggin' whine about it.

Bob S
12-10-2007, 19:52
I have no problem with groups on the AT. The AT is a big place. If you don't like what you may encounter out there, then hike a more remote trail/area or find another activity more suitable to your needs.


Good point, if you come across a group you donít like for whatever reason, how long does it really take to get past them? 10-min of walking and they are a memory, I canít believe some of you let others have such control of things in your life.

If this group is camped in a spot, walk on. Or if they are hiking in the same direction, stop for a min.


Itís like another driver cutting you off, forget him, he drives off and becomes a fading memory and you go about your life none the worst for it.


The trail is 2000+ miles long, to think every mile of it is going to be perfect and every person to your likening is just a tad unrealistic, donít you think?

And to say one person or persons has more right then others to be on the trail is wrong.


As far as getting more scout leaders to help with the boys and make smaller groups, itís hard to get people to do this, especially in todayís sue-happy World. Iím surprised as many adults step up to do this as do.
:confused:

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 19:52
Absolutely! Accept it or change it, but don't friggin' whine about it.

welcome my son, welcome...to the machine... :)

Machine
12-10-2007, 19:57
Ever camped with 30 young people? It ain't a barrel of laughs.

No, I avoid camping near large groups on the trail. Why would someone choose to camp near a group of that size? I'd love to hike on the trail and not have to encounter smokers, drug users, drinkers, partiers, and loud children. But it comes with the territory, I know this before I hit the trail and I accept it.

I simply move on down the trail and find a more isolated location to camp.

rickb
12-10-2007, 19:57
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 19:58
As far as getting more scout leaders to help with the boys and make smaller groups, itís hard to get people to do this, especially in todayís sue-happy World. Iím surprised as many adults step up to do this as do.
:confused:

It's not the sue happy world that prevents adults from helping. It's the missing the modern comforts thinking that keeps them away. "Oh you sleep on the ground and poop in the woods and its too cold. And I just hate spiders!" That mentality.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 19:59
Absolutely! Accept it or change it, but don't friggin' whine about it.

Your logic is truly laudable. Tell me more.

Jack Tarlin
12-10-2007, 19:59
Moving down the Trail a bit might help solve your problems on where to get a nice quiet night's rest.

But it won't address the other points I made. Merely avoiding large groups and leaving them to their own devices doesn't do a thing to decrease the damage they do.

The answer isn't to just avoid groups like this. The answer is to gently and tactfully educate people, especially youth leaders, so they learn to act more responsibly in the future.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 20:01
No, I avoid camping near large groups on the trail. Why would someone choose to camp near a group of that size? I'd love to hike on the trail and not have to encounter smokers, drug users, drinkers, partiers, and loud children. But it comes with the territory, I know this before I hit the trail and I accept it.

I simply move on down the trail and find a more isolated location to camp.

Unfortunately, I have had youth groups choose to camp near me. It is not fun packing up after you think you are set for the night.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 20:05
Good point, if you come across a group you donít like for whatever reason, how long does it really take to get past them? 10-min of walking and they are a memory, I canít believe some of you let others have such control of things in your life.

If this group is camped in a spot, walk on. Or if they are hiking in the same direction, stop for a min.


Itís like another driver cutting you off, forget him, he drives off and becomes a fading memory and you go about your life none the worst for it.


The trail is 2000+ miles long, to think every mile of it is going to be perfect and every person to your likening is just a tad unrealistic, donít you think?

It's not an issue of whether a solo hiker or smaller group can slow down to let a large group pass or move on to a less occupied campsite: it's an issue of whether or not it's rude to have brought such a large group onto the trail in the first place if you know you're going to force the other hikers to "accomodate" all the people in the group. This is saying nothing of the huge impact large groups cause. Also, we're not talking about 2000 miles of trail. The OP said he takes these groups on 60 mile hikes.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 20:06
The answer isn't to just avoid groups like this. The answer is to gently and tactfully educate people, especially youth leaders, so they learn to act more responsibly in the future.

like the ATC does with the throngs that descend upon Springer Mtn each spring at thier urging. i hate to sound like a friggin broken record but this ain't being addressed. a few large groups here and there, up and down the AT are harmless

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 20:07
Unfortunately, I have had youth groups choose to camp near me. It is not fun packing up after you think you are set for the night.

and i've had packs of "thru-hikers" do the same to me

Jack Tarlin
12-10-2007, 20:08
Packs of 30?

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 20:09
like the ATC does with the throngs that descend upon Springer Mtn each spring at thier urging. i hate to sound like a friggin broken record but this ain't being addressed. a few large groups here and there, up and down the AT are harmless

Uh, well thru-hiking isn't going away and neither are the seasons. what do you suggest?

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 20:09
The other thing is, I can't imagine trying to lead more than ten or twelve people on a hike in the first place. You can only go as fast as the slowest member of the group. All of the problems one hiker has are multiplied by however many members are in the group. The noise is incredible, even if they are relatively quiet. Worst of all, you almost completely miss the whole point of being out in the woods, to interact with the natural world. You'd be lucky to see a chipmunk and you would never get to experience that perfect quiet uninterrupted by any human noise.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 20:13
The other thing is, I can't imagine trying to lead more than ten or twelve people on a hike in the first place. You can only go as fast as the slowest member of the group. All of the problems one hiker has are multiplied by however many members are in the group. The noise is incredible, even if they are relatively quiet. Worst of all, you almost completely miss the whole point of being out in the woods, to interact with the natural world. You'd be lucky to see a chipmunk and you would never get to experience that perfect quiet uninterrupted by any human noise.

But if we broke the scouts into smaller groups, I wouldn't be able to tell the parents there kids will not get eaten by a bear. :D

Kirby
12-10-2007, 20:25
I think we must also remember that the whole trail is not being taken over by any groups of the size of 30 people. Organized groups like to hit the popular areas, I believe, such as the Smokies, the Whites, the Bigelows, the notch in Maine I can not properly spell, and other spots.

Certain sections, from what I have gathered, recieve a lot of use during certain times of the year, like Georgia during thru hiker season and the Smokies during Spring break and the Whites in the late spring and most of the summer. People just need to be educated.

Kirby

saimyoji
12-10-2007, 20:26
But if we broke the scouts into smaller groups, I wouldn't be able to tell the parents there kids will not get eaten by a bear. :D

Bring along a "dummy" that will be bait. Tell the group its a lesson on how to deal with bears. The loudest and most annoying kid in the group gets labeled as the dummy. :eek:

Jack Tarlin
12-10-2007, 20:27
Sounds good to me, Saim.

Also sounds like it might be a childhood memory of yours. :D

Bob S
12-10-2007, 20:27
The other thing is, I can't imagine trying to lead more than ten or twelve people on a hike in the first place. You can only go as fast as the slowest member of the group. All of the problems one hiker has are multiplied by however many members are in the group. The noise is incredible, even if they are relatively quiet. Worst of all, you almost completely miss the whole point of being out in the woods, to interact with the natural world. You'd be lucky to see a chipmunk and you would never get to experience that perfect quiet uninterrupted by any human noise.


I guess Boy Scouts should not be allowed to go camping any more. So what they make a little noise and a chipmunk moves a few hundred yards away from them. If the chipmunk is bothered by them and is smart enough to do this, why isnít other hikers smart enough?

Some of you guys only want the trail for yourself or others that fit your mold. Never going to be that way. Itís there for all to enjoy if they want. Would you rather have all these boys sitting at home playing with the Playstation or posting on the net about all the stuck-up hikers they ran across one time on a camping trip, while swearing to never go back and have to deal with the rude hikers. Some point in the future these boys will be voting and deciding how to spend tax money.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 20:29
Bring along a "dummy" that will be bait. Tell the group its a lesson on how to deal with bears. The loudest and most annoying kid in the group gets labeled as the dummy. :eek:

We already have one (if not more) of them. Thanks.

Deb
12-10-2007, 20:29
Last summer, on the AT just north of Mt. Everett in Massachusetts, I met a group of southbound kids (roughly 12-14 years old). About 20 girls, 3 leaders. It was twilight and the nearest campsite was Race Brook, a good hour and a very steep, rocky descent away.
One of the leaders asked me a few questions. The kids were exhausted and complaining. She turned back to deal with them, but as I walked away I heard her say, "OK, we're going to camp right here." This was in a clearing near the day shelter on Everett's north shoulder, where 'No Camping' signs are prominently posted.
I know stuff happens, and the bottom line is the leaders may have acted in the best interests of the kids. But less than a mile away, in the direction they had come, were two shelters and two privies - Glen Brook and Hemlocks - and plenty of group camping at Glen Brook.
The biggest loser was the fragile environment around Everett. This encounter gave me a sinking feeling about groups.

swift
12-10-2007, 20:31
Barefoot asked a two-part question and since most replies have been on the size of the group I'll tackle that part about the Boy Scout reputation. I've encountered many fine boy scout troops out on the trail just as I've encountered many fine thru-hikers, section hikers, what have you. But just like the reputation thru-hikers as a group have gotten in some places, all it takes is one bad apple for an entire group to get a bad name and a long time to repair the image. With the Boy Scouts the responsibility sits completely on the adults in that group to make sure that the kids they take out in the woods have the knowledge and the etiquette for where they will be....either teach them first or leave them at home. Here is a perfect example of what NOT to do.... an excerpt I cut and pasted out of my journal. It took me a while after this to have anything to do with boyscouts that year and my impression was from the-morning-after. You can imagine what impression the people who were in the shelter that night and got the worst of it carried away.


April 1st, 2005

.... I didn't find out until this morning, a Boy Scout Troop hiked into Stover Creek Shelter last night. We had pitched tents, so we didnt hear them come in. When Eddie got up to cook he said there were 6 huge tents there that had been set up during the night, and Boy Scouts all over the place. They were not at all prepared, I was kind of in amazement at these troop leaders. They were 'good ole boys' and had taken their boys scouts out completely unequipped. Here it was 35 degrees in the morning and they did NOT have jackets and were asking thru-hikers to give them theirs. Then they started a campfire that smoked everyone out of the shelter and threw all of their plastic, tinfoil, all of their garbage in it. VERY uncool!! And yet they were planning on hiking on. I wonder what happened to them. I can't imagine them having hiked through the kind of weather we had today, which was essentially blizzard conditions all day long, 50 MPH winds at some places. Rob, Eddie and I were fully equipped and geared up for this and we still had a rough time....

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 20:38
I guess Boy Scouts should not be allowed to go camping any more. So what they make a little noise and a chipmunk moves a few hundred yards away from them. If the chipmunk is bothered by them and is smart enough to do this, why isnít other hikers smart enough?


Dude, I was worried about the kids in the group not seeing chipmunks or experiencing silence. They would have a better experience if they went in groups of six or seven.

And yes, the Boy Scouts should not be allowed to go camping in large groups except at group camps.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 20:40
Actually, there are alternatives to the AT for large groups of Scouts. I have found a few areas that combine youth groups camp sites with access to long trails. For example, in CT there is the Mohawk Trail, which I believe was the former AT, with youth campsites in the Mohawk State Forest. And I agree with others that there are no issue with bringing smaller groups of Scouts on the AT.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 20:40
Dude

And yes, the Boy Scouts should not be allowed to go camping in large groups except at group camps.

same as thru-hikers. dude

rickb
12-10-2007, 20:50
Is it OK for a group of 10 thru hikers to stay a shelter, Wolf?

Machine
12-10-2007, 20:51
Some of you guys only want the trail for yourself or others that fit your mold. Never going to be that way. Itís there for all to enjoy if they want.


True, very true.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 20:51
Is it OK for a group of 10 thru hikers to stay a shelter, Wolf?

shelters are first come, first served. group # means nothing

A-Train
12-10-2007, 20:52
Uh, well thru-hiking isn't going away and neither are the seasons. what do you suggest?

Re-locating to lesser populated trails (which may offer a lot more than the AT does).

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 20:56
Re-locating to lesser populated trails (which may offer a lot more than the AT does).

relocating thru-hikers? then they wouldn't be thru hikers.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 20:57
relocating thru-hikers? then they wouldn't be thru hikers.

who cares. thru-hiking is selfish and overrated

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 20:59
Itís there for all to enjoy if they want.



The trail is there for all to use, not to abuse. Bringing such a large group is abusive to the trail and the wilderness. This is more fundamental wilderness ethics, even, than LNT.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:00
who cares. thru-hiking is selfish and overrated

Sure, but thru-hikers are not going away anymore than the trail is going to be moved or the terminus's changed.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 21:01
The trail is there for all to use, not to abuse. Bringing such a large group is abusive to the trail and the wilderness. This is more fundamental wilderness ethics, even, than LNT.

BS. so you side with the ATC and thier lack of concern about georgia? NOTHING is being done about the ABUSE down there

A-Train
12-10-2007, 21:02
relocating thru-hikers? then they wouldn't be thru hikers.

Huh? How would deciding to hike a lesser frequented trail make you not a thru-hiker, if you intended to thru-hike that trail? My point is, there are millions of miles worth of other trails and lands to be explored other than the busy AT highway.

For instance, I met several folks this summer out on the PCT, who decided to have their first long-distance hike be out west, because of the high density of people on the AT. While I don't want to take anything away from the AT, I think these people are wiser for doing so.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:06
Huh? How would deciding to hike a lesser frequented trail make you not a thru-hiker, if you intended to thru-hike that trail? My point is, there are millions of miles worth of other trails and lands to be explored other than the busy AT highway.

For instance, I met several folks this summer out on the PCT, who decided to have their first long-distance hike be out west, because of the high density of people on the AT. While I don't want to take anything away from the AT, I think these people are wiser for doing so.

Okay. Thanks for clarifying. I like SGT Rock's approach of starting his hike on the BMT. However, my point was that there is too much history behind the AT thru-hike challenge and I am not sure many will be willing to go somewhere else.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 21:08
BS. so you side with the ATC and thier lack of concern about georgia? NOTHING is being done about the ABUSE down there

Mr-Know-It-All,
I never said that I side with the ATC or that I look the other way about masses of thru hikers. In fact I don't. Impact is impact. Especially damaging are large groups because of the effects of large group dynamics like many have given examples of in this thread. If there is a group of 30 thru hikers heading down the trail in pack formation, then they're nearly the same in terms of impact as a pack of 30 boy scouts or a youth church group.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:12
Mr-Know-It-All,
If there is a group of 30 thru hikers heading down the trail in pack formation, then they're nearly the same in terms of impact as a pack of 30 boy scouts or a youth church group.

I think the point is the spring thru hiker pack is actually closer to 2000. Random groups of 30 scouts spread out here and there on the AT are nothing in comparison.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 21:16
Random groups of 30 scouts spread out here and there on the AT are nothing in comparison.

Nothing in comparison =/= Nothing

Are we saying that it's OK to cause a lot of damage with a 30 person group just because there are lots of thru hikers that cause damage in Georgia??

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:21
Nothing in comparison =/= Nothing

Are we saying that it's OK to cause a lot of damage with a 30 person group just because there are lots of thru hikers that cause damage in Georgia??

Scouts that I have hiked with didn't cause any damage. They campout for a night or two and practice LNT. The damage comes from repeated usage like in 30 thru-hikers per day, day-in and day-out, where the area around the campsites does not have a chance to recover before the next group comes in.

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 21:22
Isnít a large group making waves?

Actually it's me that's making the waves, by speaking out against large groups.





Again, isnít this making waves. Your tag line says to make waves, then you complain about those that do????

Bob you don't get my tag line so I probably can't explain it to you, but I'll try...imagine me speaking very clearly and slow. My tag line means that if you don't speak out aginst things that you feel are wrong then your not doing your part and don't whine about those things.

I'm not speaking out against church groups of teenagers or the Boy Scouts (I have great love for the Boy Scouts, as I said earlier I'm an Eagle Scout and regularly attend and participate in the Eagle Scout Banquet, they introduced me to the outdioors which other than my children is the thing that I love the most). I simply want some of the troops to be more responsible with the way that they go about their backpacking trips. There is no way that you can convince anyone that taking 25-30 kids on any trail AT or another is responsible.

Sorry, but it just ain't

canerunner
12-10-2007, 21:25
Speaking as a former Asst Scoutmaster I beleive most people haven't had the privalage of arranging trips for groups of young people. Getting enough acceptable adult leadership, transportation, and everything else can (most always) be a bear. When everything falls into place I wouldn't want to be the one whom has to pick who gets to goes and who doesn't.

You got that dead right!

My experience is that all most parents want is a baby sitting service for the kids. It is unusual to have enough parents that are truly involved to be able to meet the minumum acceptable number of adults. When you throw in mention of backpacking and sleeping on the ground, the number of available adults falls dramatically.

I was very lucky to have a few good adults involved with my Scout troop, and we would usually have 12-16 Scouts and 4 adults on a backpacking or camping trip. That was very workable. We would split the Scouts into patrols, and have two adults with each camp (usually two patrols). We would camp in relatively secluded campsites (never at shelters), and usually 100 to 200 yards apart. It makes a huge amount of difference when the adults set a good example, and the youth learn how to do it right.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 21:26
There is no way that you can convince anyone that taking 25-30 kids on any trail AT or another is responsible.

Sorry, but it just ain't

but the ATC has no problem with sending hundreds and hundreds to the georgia AT every spring. 30 scouts camping on bare ground hurts nothing

Marta
12-10-2007, 21:30
Every summer I lead a group of teenagers from our church on the AT for a 60+/- mile week. We have a great time and many of these kids come year after year and continue backpacking even after they age out of the youth group. It's one of our most popular summer trips. Don't faint but the group size is 25-30. We break up into 5 smaller groups for cooking, equipment, tents, etc. I stress regularly about being sensitive to other hikers, the environment, shelter etiquette due to our group size. In past postings I have read some negative remarks about the Boy Scouts. Do these comments get generated because of their group size, attitudes, or practices? I'll probably continue to lead this group in the future but I'm interested in what people think when they see church groups or Boy Scout troops.
Thanks

Size does matter. Perhaps your practice of breaking up into sub-groups deals with some of the issues, but probably not all. I think there are some realistic reasons to limit group sizes besides elitism.

1) As other people have mentioned, having 30 people camped in one spot is about 20 people too many. (Thru-hikers not excepted.) The trampled area expands ever outward. The load of human waste per day is too large. Too much food waste, spilled cooking fuel, pollution of the water source, etc.

2) Kids (and adults) build up a certain momentum as the group gets larger, even if the child-to-adult ratio is fairly low. More noise, more horsing around, more chance that unacceptable behavior will go unnoticed and uncorrected by the adults in charge. (For that very reason I also think it's asking for trouble to have high schools with 4,000 students.)

3) The larger the group leadership is, the more chance that poor decisions will be made. The military spends a lot of time teaching people how to give and receive orders. Most youth groups don't have that sort of discipline. The parents who come along to help may not know what they're doing in the woods, and may be actively unhelpful in keeping control of the kids. The adult leaders often don't know how to command a group and the kids run wild.

To me groups are inherently more about the social experience and less about whatever the group is supposedly doing. I'm talking about stuff like sending a class full of kids on an expensive trip to Europe during which they mostly horse around with each other to fend off the experience they're supposed to be learning from.

Sorry to be so negative about this. I am a parent (of youngish adults now) and have put in more than my fair share of time volunteering in youth organizations back in the day.

If you have already succeeded in getting a group that large through that much distance, you must be doing something right. More power to ya!

A-Train
12-10-2007, 21:31
but the ATC has no problem with sending hundreds and hundreds to the georgia AT every spring. 30 scouts camping on bare ground hurts nothing

Your concern is totally legit. Have you mentioned or inquired about this with Laurie Potteiger and the ATC? We discussed issues of high impact at the Ridgerunner wrap-up meeting but this was for the mid-atlantic region. I wonder what has been said by the folks in the Georgia region

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:32
There certainly is a lot of tradition behind the NOBO AT thru-hike that would be difficult, at best, to change. And even if the ATC were to take some sort of action to discourage it, I don't think it would make much of a difference.

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 21:34
There certainly is a lot of tradition behind the NOBO AT thru-hike that would be difficult, at best, to change. And even if the ATC were to take some sort of action to discourage it, I don't think it would make much of a difference.

so all this whining about an occasional large group is really ridiculous.

Kirby
12-10-2007, 21:36
The ATC could make things a little easier by accepting the BMT as an official alternate to the AT through the region, I hear the BMT is quite nice.

Kirby

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:40
so all this whining about an occasional large group is really ridiculous.

If we are talking about the impact to the trail, then the impact of the occasional large group is unfounded. I certainly can understand if people would prefer not to share a campsite with a large rowdy group, then I can relate and that is why I have our troop camp off the AT.

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 21:40
[]


but the ATC has no problem with sending hundreds and hundreds to the georgia AT every spring. 30 scouts camping on bare ground hurts nothing

LW I get your point and think it is a good one. My choice is to stay away from large groups...period. So maybe the answer is to put all groups of people over 10 on the AT. Sacrafice it and then everyone whose main purpose is to just be a part of and enjoy the outdoors can go elsewhere. Ther are a bunch of great places to backpack other than the AT. But, it is very trendy. Frankly I rarely hike the AT for just that reason, I use it as a connector trail. I like to sleep outside and many AT hikers are counting on the mouse infested shelters for their overnight accomidations.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 21:43
There certainly is a lot of tradition behind the NOBO AT thru-hike that would be difficult, at best, to change. And even if the ATC were to take some sort of action to discourage it, I don't think it would make much of a difference.

The first step to change is conceiving it and discussing it. This has already begun.

There will always be false starts and dead ends, such as conceiving of the A.T. as a corridor rather than a trail. A trail is a trail and has been what it is since prehistory. No need to redefine it.

But discussion of taking alternate routes and trails hasn't been a big topic around here, at least until lately. With the Florida trail and the connecting trails through Alabama and Georgia, and the IAT completing the Appalachian Trail to its rightful conclusion, as well as the Great Eastern Trail, and the CDT and PCT coming to maturity, it is a good time to reconsider what the AT is and what it means to thru-hike in general.

Sgt. Rock has already decided to do the BMT instead of the first section of the AT. I might have done the same on my thru if I had been aware of that option, and would definitely take that route if I were to thru again. Some of the annual hikers could also take that route and encourage others to do so if they wanted to. An alternative route will appeal to some.

The ATC already encourages alternatives to the "traditional" spring NOBO including SOBO and flip-flops, and discussing them on their website.

The time is ripe for change, and it will come, and the naysayers will be left behind.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 21:46
I am all for change. Just saying it is hard to fight history especially with all that has been written about the AT. It will take time.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 21:47
Size does matter.

Yes, though some are afraid to admit it.

canerunner
12-10-2007, 21:51
The trail is there for all to use, not to abuse. Bringing such a large group is abusive to the trail and the wilderness. This is more fundamental wilderness ethics, even, than LNT.

The number of people involved is immaterial. What counts is how they conduct themselves, and whether or not they exhibit respect for the environment and others who may travel along the same way.

Some of the others on here can attest to what I say, but I've been with a group of 24 that could be within 10 feet of most hikers, and the hiker would never know they were there. It really depends on how much attention to detail is exerted.

My youngest son is a product of my Scout troop, and he can practice LNT with the best of them. He and I hike and camp in stealth mode, and there are only a few on this list that could find where we camped after we leave.

Any group can camp and enjoy the trail. It is a matter of their courtesy and respect as to how much they disturb the environment and their fellow hikers.

Bearpaw
12-10-2007, 21:55
I've hiked with a couple of different scout troops as an Assistant Scoutmaster. One troop was small, 10 or 11 scouts at most, and backpacking trips were rarely more than 8 or 9 including adult leaders. No problems.

My original troop was BIG, 60-70 boys. Still, on a backpacking trip, we rarely managed more than the high teens. The solution was fairly simple: hiker where there weren't large numbers of other hikers. Mammoth Cave National Park was seriously underused in the early 80's. My troop actually maintained a decent chunk of the trail there. A number of the sites were set up to accomodate large groups, maybe a couple of dozens.

Our regional scout camp offered some great trails. So did Big South Fork NRA. We never took big groups to backpack in the Smokies, even in the valleys. Too crowded.

If we were going to do bigger miles, we just went with the Explorer Post, which has mostly become the Venture Crew (older boy's patrol). This returned numbers to something reasonable again, 12 at most with adults, and usually less.

12 or less is the policy with scout crews at Philmont Scout Ranch, the hallmark of BSA backpacking. It could be done with the AT.

As for the larger groups that I encountered when hiking, I usually thought "Oh man". But I never saw damage other than to the relative calm of the evening.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 21:58
Scouts that I have hiked with didn't cause any damage. They campout for a night or two and practice LNT. The damage comes from repeated usage like in 30 thru-hikers per day, day-in and day-out, where the area around the campsites does not have a chance to recover before the next group comes in.

I don't disagree with you but I think you are trying to defeat an argument that you actually don't disagree with. Nobody is saying that backpackers can't successfully practice LNT. Nobody is saying that Scouts can't successfully practice LNT. What people are saying is that large groups of people are decidedly not "no trace" no matter who they are.

Let me explain.

LNT is a set of guidelines, but "no trace" is an illusion. Completely fictional. No matter how carefully you select your campsite, no matter how successfully you bury the ashes from your fire, bury your feces, every footstep you take, everything you do leaves a trace. Your fire, which is perhaps built on a mound of mineral soil you dredged from a creek so as not to char the ground, is nevertheless killing the microscopic organisms in the natural soil below. The mosses, lichens and fungi that may have sprouted in that area later in the year will now never sprout. The moths that fly into your fire and die, the earthworm holes you may step on as you walk around your campsite, the fungi who you are depriving of food by burning the rotting wood on the ground, soil compaction from sleeping, plant trampling from making trips from your campsite to a water source: it all adds up. LNT allows people to minimize their impact of camping to usually unnoticeable effects like I just listed. When you increase the size of your group, you increase the magnitude of these effects and introduce new, highly noticeable effects. The path between the campsite and the water source is no longer marked by just a bent stem of grass, but rather by a highway of injured plants and compacted soil. The chances of inadvertent littering increases, the amount of human waste deposited into the area increases, usually the fire site is much more visible after it's been cleaned up due to the increased spots and area where people sat around, walked around, stood in one place. The list goes on... and that's not to mention the various ways that large groups of people will find to amuse their unslakable boredom while in camp. A list of these kinds of activities is only limited by you imagination.

Am I getting through to the people who think that only thru hikers are blameable for impact? High impact is literally unavoidable with groups of 10 or larger, no matter what remote corner of the trail they are hiking, no matter how unimportant they think they are ("what, little old me?"). The logic of rationalization stops with the rationalizer. Impact is impact, and everyone who hikes with groups of 10 or larger, or otherwise causes a lot of impact is blameable.

Bearpaw
12-10-2007, 22:02
High impact is literally unavoidable with groups of 10 or larger,

You've never patrolled with a veteran squad of Marines. When leaving no trace means staying alive longer, you'd be surprised what you can do.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 22:02
The number of people involved is immaterial. What counts is how they conduct themselves, and whether or not they exhibit respect for the environment and others who may travel along the same way.


Both matter. As I said in my previous post, even a single person has an impact, no matter how LNT he or she is. Add more people to the same area where the original one person is being "LNT" and that minor impact is now doubled. Add ten people and you have at least 10x the minimal possible impact all in the same small area.

Dirtygaiters
12-10-2007, 22:03
You've never patrolled with a veteran squad of Marines. When leaving no trace means staying alive longer, you'd be surprised what you can do.

1- we're talking about measurable trace, not visible trace

2- we're talking about hikers of the AT, not Marines

Lone Wolf
12-10-2007, 22:06
Both matter. As I said in my previous post, even a single person has an impact, no matter how LNT he or she is. Add more people to the same area where the original one person is being "LNT" and that minor impact is now doubled. Add ten people and you have at least 10x the minimal possible impact all in the same small area.

have you been to georgia or spent much time on the AT? it's heavily impacted. always has been always will be. there's gonna be a group of over 40 on springer in a few weeks. 20 more scouts joining won't hurt

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 22:07
Dirtygaiters, Leave no trace at the level you are describing ain't going to happen with any group, perhaps even with groups of one who aren't dedicated and specifically trained.

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 22:13
You've never patrolled with a veteran squad of Marines. When leaving no trace means staying alive longer, you'd be surprised what you can do.

That type of ethic needs to be taught to us all. I'm all for introducing kids to the outdoors. It's our responsibility as adults to ensure that they understand the effects of their actions, that 1 little piece of litter is not OK. We have to teach these kids. Having warm body adults do end of the line watch serves a purpose, but they should also be taught proper principles of LNT. The pre-hike work that groups do is probably more important than trail work. So the kids are properly equipped and informed

Skidsteer
12-10-2007, 22:17
That type of ethic needs to be taught to us all. I'm all for introducing kids to the outdoors. It's our responsibility as adults to ensure that they understand the effects of their actions, that 1 little piece of litter is not OK. We have to teach these kids. Having warm body adults do end of the line watch serves a purpose, but they should also be taught proper principles of LNT. The pre-hike work that groups do is probably more important than trail work. So the kids are properly equipped and informed

Most folk wouldn't bother hiking if they had to do it like Marines.

Bearpaw
12-10-2007, 22:19
1- we're talking about measurable trace, not visible trace

2- we're talking about hikers of the AT, not Marines

But the measurable trace that you mention, microbes, moths, and so forths are constantly affected by virtually every element of the natural world, whether by humans, other animals, or even simple weather.

I've taught LNT principles as a scout and as a NOLS instructor. The degree to which you attribute "impact" is true. However, I would retort that the natural cycle of disturbance that the typical hiker using LNT prinicples creates is no more damage than that created by the "natural" denizens of the backcountry such as bears, deer, boars, rabbits, beavers, a host of nesting birds, coons, etc,etc which dig, burrow, nest, poop without burying or packing out, and eat each other or the vegetation of the forest. Folks who make genuine thought-out efforts to leave no trace have as much right to the backcountry as the creatures already there.

The whole purpose of LNT is designed for people to minimize their impact when they walk and live in the backcountry. When LNT becomes a platform to exclude people from the backcountry, somebody has missed the whole point in creating the principles.

As for point 2, I understand and agree, but couldn't help poking a little fun at the sort of absolute you threw out (though it generally is true.) ;)

swift
12-10-2007, 22:26
Kudos to the excellent scoutmasters out there

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 22:26
True, my point was the issue of LNT. We can all learn more.

I bet that most of us participating in this thread exit a hike with more trash than we generate. Because we want to.

That will not change, there will always be inconsiderate folk that can't see the forest for the trees. We must instill this in the kids coming up. That should be the focus of these groups of church/scouts taking kids into the woods. Respect the environment, some day it will be on their watch.

Out of site out of mind.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 22:42
What is funny is you can discuss LNT along the AT but then humans are wrecking the entire planet with pollution, on a large scale.

envirodiver
12-10-2007, 22:46
As an environmental engineer I've seen this for many years. Ironic is probably a better word than funny. It's not funny at all. But, I know what you mean. Don't get me started on this or the thread will be sent to the political area.

The Old Fhart
12-10-2007, 22:58
Dirtygaiters-"The trail is there for all to use, not to abuse. Bringing such a large group is abusive to the trail and the wilderness. This is more fundamental wilderness ethics, even, than LNT." Actually You are correct and LNT.org (http://lnt.org/programs/principles_1.php) covers that as well.

Other Elements to Consider:
* Weather
* Terrain
* Regulations/restrictions
* Private land boundaries
* Average hiking speed of group n anticipated food consumption (leftovers create waste which leaves a trace!)
* Group size (does it meet regulations, trip purpose and Leave No Trace criteria?)

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 23:06
What is funny is you can discuss LNT along the AT but then humans are wrecking the entire planet with pollution, on a large scale.

All the more reason to protect this little piece of the planet.

.

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 23:11
All the more reason to protect this little piece of the planet.

What I'm referring to is worrying about dropping an orange peel on the trail after driving to the trailhead in a 12 mpg SUV. A huge trace is being left on the trail, it's not just the immediate impact of hikers.

Witness the dead trees in the Smokeys. That's something that's hard for anyone to rationalize or deny. LNT on the planet, not just on the trail. There's no use emptying the bathtub on a sinking ship.

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 23:16
What I'm referring to is worrying about dropping an orange peel on the trail after driving to the trailhead in a 12 mpg SUV. A huge trace is being left on the trail, it's not just the immediate impact of hikers.

Witness the dead trees in the Smokeys. That's something that's hard for anyone to rationalize or deny. LNT on the planet, not just on the trail. There's no use emptying the bathtub on a sinking ship.

I picked up my orange peel. What should I do with my SUV that was purchased before we knew the planet was going to hell in a hand-basket?

Appalachian Tater
12-10-2007, 23:19
I picked up my orange peel. What should I do with my SUV that was purchased before we knew the planet was going to hell in a hand-basket?

You are still driving an SUV you bought in the 1950s???? Must have been WWII surplus.:eek:

Tin Man
12-10-2007, 23:29
You are still driving an SUV you bought in the 1950s???? Must have been WWII surplus.:eek:

Ha Ha. Actually, I am not sure how I would get the scouts to their car camping sites without the space. I know, "teach them ultra-light", but even managing with a 300 dollar challenge is too much for most folks.

Blissful
12-10-2007, 23:55
this describes thru-hikers between the 3rd week of March and the 2nd week of April in Georgia. Hawk Mtn. shelter area on any given night is an absolute zoo with 30 or so thru-hike attempters


I was just going to say the same thing! :)
There's nothng larger than thru hikers in March and September. There was a group of fifteen to eighteen of us traveling shelter to shelter in the Smokies this past March. And we had at least fifteen camped up at Pierce Pond in ME in Sept!

I think it's amazing that a bunch of youth want to do this and think this is the best trip there is. wow. (!) We can't get but five out of 15 Boy Scouts to go anywhere away from their gaming. My hat's off to the leader.

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 00:11
I think it's amazing that a bunch of youth want to do this and think this is the best trip there is. wow. (!) We can't get but five out of 15 Boy Scouts to go anywhere away from their gaming. My hat's off to the leader.

Gaming? Yikes, our Troop has banned electronic devices including gaming devices on ALL trips except for the winter cabin trip, which I hope to bow out of this year. Too much noise all cooped up in a cabin. Ugh!

Jim Adams
12-11-2007, 00:31
Too much whining here!
Yes large groups impact the trail.
Yes a single person impacts the trail if for no other reason than footprints.
The AT is already a well used trail and that will never be changed...it IS The Appalachian Trail.
I agree with LW.
These large groups, although POSSIBLY noisy and hard on the environment are no worse than Springer to Erwin from 3/1 to 4/1 by attempting thru hikers.
I love the AT and especially thru hiking but to attempt to limit large group use is a fairly elitist attitude.
Want me to stir the pot?......how about this.
If you have ever hiked any part of the AT then don't ever hike it again. You are causing impact and you have already seen it. Go somewhere else and let those who haven't seen it hike there!
Don't like that attitude?
Alot of these groups may never get out onto a trail any other way and yet you are trying to limit them.
I don't like the impact and noise any better than you guys do but these are American voters....I certainly hope they get to experience the AT!

geek

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 09:42
In past postings I have read some negative remarks about the Boy Scouts. Do these comments get generated because of their group size, attitudes, or practices? I'll probably continue to lead this group in the future but I'm interested in what people think when they see church groups or Boy Scout troops.
Thanks

now you know what folks think. :) i think you should continue with your trips.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 10:13
Every summer I lead a group of teenagers from our church on the AT for a 60+/- mile week. We have a great time and many of these kids come year after year and continue backpacking even after they age out of the youth group. It's one of our most popular summer trips. Don't faint but the group size is 25-30. We break up into 5 smaller groups for cooking, equipment, tents, etc. I stress regularly about being sensitive to other hikers, the environment, shelter etiquette due to our group size.Have you considered using the Foothills Trail (a 76 mile long path) instead of the AT? It is a really nice trail with lots of waterfalls. Not sure about the availablity of campsites for such a large group on the FT - sure some others here can address that.

Peaks
12-11-2007, 10:21
Well, I didn't read the entire thread, but over 20,000 scouts go to Philmont every summer. Yet, the back country is better maintained than most of the AT. How do they do it? By spreading the groups out, and limiting group size to not more than 12. It works.

JAK
12-11-2007, 10:23
I don't see the problem. Personally I would find it easier to avoid 1 group of 25 than 5 groups of 5. Also, I don't see why one group of 25 causes any more harm than 5 groups of 5 as long as they practive minimal impact, which it sounds like they are doing. Are we really concerned about the environment here, or just being selfish?

Tabasco
12-11-2007, 10:28
Are we really concerned about the environment here, or just being selfish?

.......................

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 10:28
If 25 people walk single file on a given section of trail or you separate them into 5 groups of 5 and they walk the same section of the trail, what's the difference in how the trail is eroded?

JAK
12-11-2007, 10:28
The ATC could make things a little easier by accepting the BMT as an official alternate to the AT through the region, I hear the BMT is quite nice.

KirbyI agree. But if the ATC doesn't do so, people should just ignore them.
We should all be working towards a common goal. Failing that, just do the right thing.

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 10:30
If 25 people walk single file on a given section of trail or you separate them into 5 groups of 5 and they walk the same section of the trail, what's the difference in how the trail is eroded?

and what about all those high dollar walking sticks that poke erosion holes?

JAK
12-11-2007, 10:30
shelters are first come, first served. group # means nothingI agree with L.Wolf.
The more people you pack into shelters, the better for the rest of us. :)

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 10:30
If 25 people walk single file on a given section of trail or you separate them into 5 groups of 5 and they walk the same section of the trail, what's the difference in how the trail is eroded?
How'd that happen, I just noticed my question is basically the same as JAK's, sorry JAK didn't mean to plagiarize.

JAK
12-11-2007, 10:34
How'd that happen, I just noticed my question is basically the same as JAK's, sorry JAK didn't mean to plagiarize.Fools seldom differ. ;)

Actually I think you put it much better.

The only real argument for splitting up large groups is that it makes them easier to lead. This presumes you have enough leaders to split them up. If you don't have enough leaders to split them up into groups of 5 or 6 then I would argue you should learn to do that. Taking 5 would be leaders for a walk in the woods is perhaps the best way to do that. ;)

Johnny Thunder
12-11-2007, 10:40
Here's what I see as universal...

Everyone damages something. No one damages nothing. We can all learn new ways to limit our own footprint. This is as true on the trail as it is at home.

Everyone can help limit other people's damage. People can teach others. People can pick up after others. Look at it as a blessing and not a chore. I do this and know others that do this too.

The people are the trail. That counts large groups, small groups, thru-hikers, pack-sniffers, talking dogs, etc. Everyone experiences the trail in their own way. No one stands in a position to decry any other flavor of trail experience.

You are a thru-HIKER not a thru-CAMPER. If you can't pack up your junk one extra time every once in a while then what are you doing it for? There's lots of times when you can't campe exactly where you want to. Bend, don't break.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Earth girls are easy.(movie title)

<bleep>

(those last three were lessons I tried to impart on my troup as an SPL)

Most importantly...the AT is not a Wilderness trail. It should be viewed as a piece of American History and treated as part of our collective psyche.

troglobil
12-11-2007, 10:53
and what about all those high dollar walking sticks that poke erosion holes?
Don't you mean the trail compaction reversal holes? :D

Frosty
12-11-2007, 10:55
Every summer I lead a group of teenagers from our church on the AT for a 60+/- mile week. We have a great time and many of these kids come year after year and continue backpacking even after they age out of the youth group. It's one of our most popular summer trips. Don't faint but the group size is 25-30.The only problem I see is if you can manage to control a group that big. If so, keep it up. The more kids that get exposed to the outdoors and camping the better. The only exception would be some wilderness areas where group size is limited.

Ignore those who say you shouldn't do it because it impacts them. You and each of your kids have as much right to be there as they do. They pick the most popular trail in the known universe, then demand that people stop going there so they can enjoy it in solitude. Piffle.

Some people believe that their desires are paramount, but that is merely egocentricity. If they want peace and quiet in the woods, they have a zillion trails to be on.

There are certainly rude and PITA kids in the woods who test one's patience, but these are exactly the kids who benefit most being in the woods.

Want to cut down on the chances of your house being burglarized or you car stolen ten years from now? Support getting kids into the woods today.

Adults who take the time to bring kids into the woods should be commended, and I commend you. Good job!!!!!!!!

JAK
12-11-2007, 11:11
Groups and individuals should be judged on their behaviour, not their size.

Encouraging smaller group sizes might be a way to train better leaders though, which can lead to better behaviour. Still, I think it is quite natural that younger children should be organized into larger groups. Heck, there are still families out there larger than 5. Five of six scouts plus one or two leaders is a good size for teenagers. For younger than teens I would organize them all into similar groups, but keep them all together in a pack. If the pack was more than say 25 I would break them up into multiple packs. I am not a big fan of huge groups for hiking and camping, except for field day competitions and such, which I think is only a small part of scouting.

Thoughtful Owl
12-11-2007, 14:05
Every summer I lead a group of teenagers from our church on the AT for a 60+/- mile week. We have a great time and many of these kids come year after year and continue backpacking even after they age out of the youth group. It's one of our most popular summer trips. Don't faint but the group size is 25-30. We break up into 5 smaller groups for cooking, equipment, tents, etc. I stress regularly about being sensitive to other hikers, the environment, shelter etiquette due to our group size. In past postings I have read some negative remarks about the Boy Scouts. Do these comments get generated because of their group size, attitudes, or practices? I'll probably continue to lead this group in the future but I'm interested in what people think when they see church groups or Boy Scout troops.
Thanks

I would hope you wouldn't sterotype a group based upon your experience of a like group. I take small groups (total of 6 youth & 2 adults) of scouts on backpacking trips on the AT & other places. We do not stay in the shelters, the group is not loud and noisy, and are attentative to LNT principles. The scouts seem to like the small group enviornment as they get more of my undivided attention and it is a great learning opportunity for them. We have met through hikers on the AT and they have commented to me about how disciplined the scouts are and have taken the time to share some of their experiences with the scouts.

The Weasel
12-11-2007, 14:09
BSA "High Adventure" policies discourage groups of more than 10 youth on backpacking trips, at least 2 of which must be adults (1 over 21). If it is a full troop hike, with more than that, the groups are (or should be) broken into smaller ("Patrol" or "Crew") sizes. This includes camping locations.

TW

The Old Fhart
12-11-2007, 14:21
What The Weasel says is entirely consistent with LNT.org principals and many places like the WMNF.

Thoughtful Owl
12-11-2007, 14:41
What The Weasel says is entirely consistent with LNT.org principals and many places like the WMNF.

What Weasel said is entirely consistent with scouting principals too. It's just that some leaders to not adhere to this principle, thereby setting a poor example for the scouts. In a scout troop, Patrol size depends upon a troop's enrollment and the needs of its members, though an ideal patrol size is eight scouts.

The outdoors is the laboratory in which Boy Scouts learn ecology and practice conservation of nature's resources.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 14:45
While I understand that scouting groups may be limited in size due to constraints in place by the BSA, the original poster is asking about a church group which would likely want to stay together for group worship and such.

The Weasel
12-11-2007, 14:55
While I understand that scouting groups may be limited in size due to constraints in place by the BSA, the original poster is asking about a church group which would likely want to stay together for group worship and such.

Yes, but the principles of Scouting aren't there for Scouting reasons, but for environmental reasons, which are just as appropriate for other groups.

TW

dessertrat
12-11-2007, 15:59
If someone is going to bring 30 people in close proximity onto the trail, I would rather they all stay in one group. That way I can avoid them "all at once', rather than keep running into "long range patrols" of boy scouts.

Grampie
12-11-2007, 16:25
Moving down the Trail a bit might help solve your problems on where to get a nice quiet night's rest.

But it won't address the other points I made. Merely avoiding large groups and leaving them to their own devices doesn't do a thing to decrease the damage they do.

The answer isn't to just avoid groups like this. The answer is to gently and tactfully educate people, especially youth leaders, so they learn to act more responsibly in the future.

Jack, You hit the nail on the head. Properly trained leaders would prevent most of the problems larger groups cause.
During my thru I met several groups that were well behaved because of their leaders. These were Boy Scout and Girl scout groups. The groups that were not well behaved and lacked good camping skills were mostly college groups out for freshman oriantion.

WalkingStick75
12-11-2007, 16:39
Most groups I have run into were great, to the extreme! A group this year at Chairback (Maine) when I walked in it was a downpour the group leader said they were setting up tents and even though I told him to give it some time and let the rain pass by they were out setting up tents. It wasn't 30 minutes later the rain slowed to a drizzle.

JAK
12-11-2007, 17:03
While I understand that scouting groups may be limited in size due to constraints in place by the BSA, the original poster is asking about a church group which would likely want to stay together for group worship and such.On a linear trail it might be harder to diverge and reconverge, so they would have to seperate themselves more in time, perhaps taking turns which group leaves first and which group takes the middle and which group stays behind to cleanup. I think it is still more of an organizational thing than a impact thing. If a group is easier to keep organized by remaining together in a large group rather than smaller groups it is usually for lack of leaders. I think this applies to religious groups as much as any other. ;)

Still, I don't think its the size of the group that should matter so much as the behaviour of individuals within the group. Large groups are not neccessarily harder on the environment. It depends on how they are trained and lead, and ultimately how well they behave. As far as how long it takes the ground to bounce back, 30 people in one hour is no worse than the same 30 people spread out over 24 hours. As far as sleeping arrangements go, that also depends more on the type of shelter and how it is pitched and how much stomping is done around it rather than how many people are in one area on one night versus spreading out the damage with other individuals.

It's individual behaviour that matters most, not the size of the group.

JAK
12-11-2007, 17:07
There might be something said for large groups hiking at a time of year it would cause less impact, or when there is less traffic in total. Same can be said for individuals however. Traffic is traffic. The ultimate solution is more and more parallel trails, extending right into our communities and daily lives. Failing that, fewer people on the planet. Wonder how that might go over with most religious groups? ;)

JAK
12-11-2007, 17:17
I'm not wanting to bash religious groups, in general or any in particular. Many of them might have a questionable record as being friendly towards nature and the environment, but this is a reflection of our society in general over the past 5000 years, and the past 250 years in particular. I expect religious groups will also do their part in leading us back towards a more sustainable future, or at least until the Rapture, whenever that may be. ;)

Many groups such as the Mennonites, the Quakers, and the Shakers, to name but a few, have a tradition and history of being very much in tune with the concept of sustainability. The Shakers were not so good at sustaining themselves however, but their hearts were in the right place. Anyhow, the more these groups seek out the inspiration and guidance from our creator through his creation, rather than his words alone (and our interpretation of them), the better off we all shall be in my opinion.

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 17:19
I'm not wanting to bash religious groups, in general or any in particular. Many of them might have a questionable record as being friendly towards nature and the environment, but this is a reflection of our society in general over the past 5000 years, and the past 250 years in particular. I expect religious groups will also do their part in leading us back towards a more sustainable future, or at least until the Rapture, whenever that may be. ;)

Many groups such as the Mennonites, the Quakers, and the Shakers, to name but a few, have a tradition and history of being very much in tune with the concept of sustainability. The Shakers were not so good at sustaining themselves however, but their hearts were in the right place. Anyhow, the more these groups seek out the inspiration and guidance from our creator through his creation, rather than his words alone (and our interpretation of them), the better off we all shall be in my opinion.

dude. you're rambling for crissakes! you need to go walking :rolleyes:

barefoot
12-11-2007, 17:29
As the original poster of this thread thank you for your comments! Both for and against groups such as mine. I appreciate your passion and love for the AT. I share that passion and enjoy seeing my guys and girls enjoying it too and seeing what they see walking in God's creation. I still have a week long trip planned for this July. It will probably be in the southwest Virginia area this year. I already have teens asking where we are going and them telling me about the backpack equipment they have asked for Christmas. We have done every section of the AT from Maryland south except for the Smokies because of reserving campsites, etc. Your comments and thoughts will be shared with my group and should be enlightening and educational.

minnesotasmith
12-11-2007, 17:46
But if we broke the scouts into smaller groups, I wouldn't be able to tell the parents there kids will not get eaten by a bear. :D

I believe I read in the book on bear attacks entitled "Mark of the Grizzly" that no group of nine or more people has ever been mauled by a wild bear in North America. Breaking these double-digit mobs into groups of around 9 would go a long way towards addressing both the LNT and bear-safety issues IMO.

minnesotasmith
12-11-2007, 17:52
Is it OK for a group of 10 thru hikers to stay a shelter, Wolf?

You mean, should 10 thruhikers, consisting of an individual, an individual, an individual, a couple, an individual, an individual, a couple, and an individual, be allowed to stay the same night at a shelter that has that capacity? Sure IMO, as there are no groups there of a size over two (way under the five-size that should camp in their entirety).

Johnny Thunder
12-11-2007, 17:54
I believe I read in the book on bear attacks entitled "Mark of the Grizzly" that no group of nine or more people has ever been mauled by a wild bear in North America. Breaking these double-digit mobs into groups of around 9 would go a long way towards addressing both the LNT and bear-safety issues IMO.


Of course not...between stealing picnic baskets and raiding bear cables it'd take a Grizz at least 15 minutes to chase down 9 people. I mean, the first one's easy as pie but after that they do start moving around.

Nean
12-11-2007, 18:27
dude. you're rambling for crissakes! you need to go walking :rolleyes:

That good advice was good :eek: . thanks LW :)

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 18:44
Maybe I'm missing something here - why would the impact of a group of 25 to 30 hikers camping in a group be greater than the impact of 25 to 30 thru hikers camping at the same site or shelter? If individual thru-hikers routinely camp at the same site in these numbers -- and several have said they do and some suggested that the number in GA is more like 50 some nights -- why tell one group not to do it and allow the other group to go unchallenged? Can someone explain this (without rancor please)?

minnesotasmith
12-11-2007, 19:23
Maybe I'm missing something here - why would the impact of a group of 25 to 30 hikers camping in a group be greater than the impact of 25 to 30 thru hikers camping at the same site or shelter? If individual thru-hikers routinely camp at the same site in these numbers -- and several have said they do and some suggested that the number in GA is more like 50 some nights -- why tell one group not to do it and allow the other group to go unchallenged? Can someone explain this (without rancor please)?

The organized group of 50 knew that they'd all be together. They knew they'd need shelter far beyond what any AT shelter, or even single AT trailside campsite would have. They knew that if they camped (or even more so, sheltered) at such sites, they would seriously inconvenience others not part of their group, who could have had no way to know that such a mob would be present. Thus, they had IMO an obligation to arrange for sleeping accomodations that would not be anywhere near so likely to inconvenience others. If outdoors, a state or private park with semi- to fully-hardened large-group camping grounds would seem to be a good fit for them. They can always form groups of under 5 to go do traditional hiking and camping at a later time and other place.

OTOH, imagine a lone thruhiker, happening upon Deep Gap Shelter in early April, and it's packed. He could hardly have been expected to have split himself up into smaller numbers, or to not stop by there to see if he could get a shelter space, or failing that, to not tent there on ground intended for tenting, which would avoid damaging virgin land elsewhere. He belongs there, unlike the group of 50 (roughly an infantry company, FWIW).

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 19:31
MS - the organized group is 25 to 30 -- the number 50 was suggested as the number of thru's at sites in GA some nights. And I fail to see how the thru in your story is differently impacted if he or she arrives at a shelter where 30 people are already settling in for the night regardless of whether they are thru-hikers or part of a group.

My point is either the site can handle 30 people or it can't -- thru's shouldn't get a free pass for the same behavior that is labeled unsound due to overuse and LNT concerns in this thread.

Mags
12-11-2007, 19:36
I think it would be great if a crowd of 25-30+ people are on the trail they be would required to wear pirate, ninja or viking costumes.

Personally, I think it would be pretty fricken' cool to see 30 hikers clad in black all coming down the trail at once. Cool and kinda scary.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 19:38
I think it would be great if a crowd of 25-30+ people are on the trail they be would required to wear pirate, ninja or viking costumes.

Personally, I think it would be pretty fricken' cool to see 30 hikers clad in black all coming down the trail at once. Cool and kinda scary.I'd just think it was Billville :p

AT-HITMAN2005
12-11-2007, 19:44
or someone being slackpacked by miss janet

Jim Adams
12-11-2007, 19:48
I believe I read in the book on bear attacks entitled "Mark of the Grizzly" that no group of nine or more people has ever been mauled by a wild bear in North America. Breaking these double-digit mobs into groups of around 9 would go a long way towards addressing both the LNT and bear-safety issues IMO.

I think MS has hit on the solution here!!!!!
I don't care if it is church groups, boy scouts, family reunions or thru hikers,send them out in groups of 8.
It is just a matter of time until the over use, group impact and over population issues are handled by the bear!:D

geek

Marta
12-11-2007, 20:19
I think it would be great if a crowd of 25-30+ people are on the trail they be would required to wear pirate, ninja or viking costumes.

Personally, I think it would be pretty fricken' cool to see 30 hikers clad in black all coming down the trail at once. Cool and kinda scary.

I was hiking on the AT near Standing Indian this winter and met a HUGE group from the military college in North Georgia. Probably 100 of them. All dressed in "costume."

Marta
12-11-2007, 20:31
MS - the organized group is 25 to 30 -- the number 50 was suggested as the number of thru's at sites in GA some nights. And I fail to see how the thru in your story is differently impacted if he or she arrives at a shelter where 30 people are already settling in for the night regardless of whether they are thru-hikers or part of a group.

My point is either the site can handle 30 people or it can't -- thru's shouldn't get a free pass for the same behavior that is labeled unsound due to overuse and LNT concerns in this thread.

I can hardly believe I'm doing this, but I'm going to side with MS on this issue. I also think there's a difference between 30 people travelling as a group and 30 individuals travelling alone who happen to be in the same place at the same time. A group will probably form a more compact mass, i.e., eat and camp closer to each other, which will cause a more concentrated trampled area. 30 individuals will spread out more, for example, they'll be on different schedules and will tend to eat in shifts at the shelter picnic table as opposed to sitting around in a big group all at once.

Another concern I have about big groups... If youth and/or adult groups habitually go out in packs of 30, what happens if TWO groups show up at the same place at the same time. Now you have 60 people milling around the same campsite, plus whatever random individual campers show up. If group size is limited to 10 and 2 groups show up, it's a lot more manageable.

To expand on what MS is saying, even if you have a group of 30 thru-hikers, that exact group of 30 will probably never be together again, not even the next night. Some will go ahead, some will lag behind, and some will quit.:D

warraghiyagey
12-11-2007, 20:39
Most of the large groups I've seen on the trail had a definitive schedule that had been registered with the local trail conference and I never saw to large groups at the same site.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 20:46
Thanks Marta - that made sense. i can see were 30 friends would likely camp closer and trample the same area more.

The Old Fhart
12-11-2007, 20:51
Part of LNT is knowing the area you're going to and its limitations:

Plan Ahead and Prepare
* Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
* Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
* Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
* Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.If you are on the A.T. it is easy to find the capacity of campsites and shelters along the way. The ALDHA Companion, for instance, list this information and it is available elsewhere.

If all the hundreds of thru hikers left Springer the same day, there would be much more of an impact than them leaving in smaller clumps like they do now. One reason some hikers start earlier or later is to avoid the crowds and make it easier on the trail and themselves.

Huffy1
12-11-2007, 21:15
Bring along a "dummy" that will be bait. Tell the group its a lesson on how to deal with bears. The loudest and most annoying kid in the group gets labeled as the dummy. :eek:
Scouts always bring a "dummy' along, usually addressed as Mr Asst Scoutmaster.

Frosty
12-11-2007, 21:22
If all the hundreds of thru hikers left Springer the same day, there would be much more of an impact than them leaving in smaller clumps like they do now. I don't know about this, or about the idea that fifty campgrounds of one person each is all that much difference overall than ten campgrounds of five each, or one campground of 50.

If 600 people left Springer Mar 1 walking single file, or if 20 people left left each day throughout the month, either way 600 people walk the trail. Come back in the fall and you would be hard pressed to see the difference.

People get so riled up about such small things and overlook the big picture. It is a good thing to get kids into the woods. It is worth disturbing the woods with the sound of kids having fun. These are the folks who will be voting and making decisions when we're in our dotage.

Wouldn't it be nice to have more people who love the woods, rather than more people interested only in material things.

See the big picture. Don't be saving saplings and losing the forest.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 21:29
All good points, Frosty, and thanks for quoting the official line, TOF.

After seeing the mess in north GA (though the maintainers do a fantastic job, the overuse is beyond any group's ablity to undo) and in the Smokies (it would take a decade or more to rectify that mess). I have to say that 30 more campers wouldn't make much of a difference in the south. Maybe they would further north.

Skidsteer
12-11-2007, 21:31
I don't know about this, or about the idea that fifty campgrounds of one person each is all that much difference overall than ten campgrounds of five each, or one campground of 50.

If 600 people left Springer Mar 1 walking single file, or if 20 people left left each day throughout the month, either way 600 people walk the trail. Come back in the fall and you would be hard pressed to see the difference.

People get so riled up about such small things and overlook the big picture. It is a good thing to get kids into the woods. It is worth disturbing the woods with the sound of kids having fun. These are the folks who will be voting and making decisions when we're in our dotage.

Wouldn't it be nice to have more people who love the woods, rather than more people interested only in material things.

See the big picture. Don't be saving saplings and losing the forest.

Remember Slaughter Gap? Not the tentsites but the real Slaughter Gap?

It's a testament to large group camping by thru-hikers and others.

Huffy1
12-11-2007, 21:31
Dude, I was worried about the kids in the group not seeing chipmunks or experiencing silence. They would have a better experience if they went in groups of six or seven.

And yes, the Boy Scouts should not be allowed to go camping in large groups except at group camps.

The sad truth to this is that most Scout Troops are under funded and under staffed in the Qualified adult leader area. If the few adults whom give of their time don't take the whole troop out on every outing it just means the boys will suffer. The only times I could justify not taking anyone is when going to Phimont, then they set the rules.
I also am not blind to the fact that there are scouts out there whom are not pristine characters. I only had them for one evening per week, one week-end outing per month, one two week summer camp session per year. I served for five years.

Lilred
12-11-2007, 21:39
I too, have to agree with MS and Marta. Lone hikers have the option of hiking on if many lone hikers have converged on one spot. Large groups don't have that option. A group of 25 arrives at a shelter and all 25 will stay.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 21:50
So if individual hikers have the option of moving on and not camping in large groups, then why do we have sites in terrible shape every year after the thru's hike through the south? Slaughter Gap is a good example, Skids, but there are many like it in GA, NC and TN every year. And if thru's are allowed to have massive camps, why shouldn't a group be allowed to as well?

Huffy1
12-11-2007, 21:52
Here's what I see as universal...

Everyone damages something. No one damages nothing. We can all learn new ways to limit our own footprint. This is as true on the trail as it is at home.

Everyone can help limit other people's damage. People can teach others. People can pick up after others. Look at it as a blessing and not a chore. I do this and know others that do this too.

The people are the trail. That counts large groups, small groups, thru-hikers, pack-sniffers, talking dogs, etc. Everyone experiences the trail in their own way. No one stands in a position to decry any other flavor of trail experience.

You are a thru-HIKER not a thru-CAMPER. If you can't pack up your junk one extra time every once in a while then what are you doing it for? There's lots of times when you can't campe exactly where you want to. Bend, don't break.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Earth girls are easy.(movie title)

<bleep>

(those last three were lessons I tried to impart on my troup as an SPL)

Most importantly...the AT is not a Wilderness trail. It should be viewed as a piece of American History and treated as part of our collective psyche.
Well Put

Kirby
12-11-2007, 21:58
So if individual hikers have the option of moving on and not camping in large groups, then why do we have sites in terrible shape every year after the thru's hike through the south? Slaughter Gap is a good example, Skids, but there are many like it in GA, NC and TN every year. And if thru's are allowed to have massive camps, why shouldn't a group be allowed to as well?

I think one problem is that we do not know how many thru hikers will start on the same day, or end up at the same campsite. However, large groups know when they are going out, and they already have planned out where they intend to stay.

Perhaps a system can be created where large groups(10 or more?) give the local maintaining club a heads up they will be out and staying a X campsite night 1, and X shelter night two. Then these maintaining clubs could get word out to hikers about these groups through sites like these and other forms of easy communication.

Just a thought,
Kirby

Huffy1
12-11-2007, 21:58
Of course not...between stealing picnic baskets and raiding bear cables it'd take a Grizz at least 15 minutes to chase down 9 people. I mean, the first one's easy as pie but after that they do start moving around.
And old man Giz will slow down after several large bites.:D

Skidsteer
12-11-2007, 22:01
So if individual hikers have the option of moving on and not camping in large groups, then why do we have sites in terrible shape every year after the thru's hike through the south? Slaughter Gap is a good example, Skids, but there are many like it in GA, NC and TN every year. And if thru's are allowed to have massive camps, why shouldn't a group be allowed to as well?

Boy Scouts and church groups plan their hikes with manageability and convenience for the trip leaders as the lowest common denominator. Thru hikers(on the AT, anyway) camp together because most of them have never been alone and are scared of the prospect.

End result is high impact either way but the thru hikers in GA cause more damage IMO. The land can't take a full breath from mid March to Mid April or early May.

Marta
12-11-2007, 22:04
If 600 people left Springer Mar 1 walking single file, or if 20 people left left each day throughout the month, either way 600 people walk the trail. Come back in the fall and you would be hard pressed to see the difference.



This is where I disagree with you. If, for example, I walk randomly around my grassy yard for a couple of hours every day during the year, that would be 365 people-days of stepping on the grass. The effect would be negligable, though, because every day the grass would spring back up, the worms would aerate the soil, the sun and rain would make the grass grow.

If, however, I have a nice lawn and one day have 365 people mill around on it for a couple of hours, it would be severely damaged. The soil would be compacted to the point of damaging the roots of the grass, and possibly compacted to the point where worms could no longer push through the clay soil. A year later you could probably see where the party had been.

That's the difference between a large group and random individuals.

I absolutely think that youth groups should get out in the woods as much as possible. But when the group size grows from small/medium to large (more than 10) I think they should stick with hardened campsites/picnic areas.

Wargy--a lot of the southern areas don't require approval to bring groups, the way the areas controlled by the Green Mtn. Club and the like do. You can just gather up a group and go. I like the lack of rules, but it also means there's a lot of "let your conscience be your guide."

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 22:06
Skids, what could be done to help the trail in GA out? Is there anything we could teach or practice(s) we could encourage to help lessen the damage? BTW, would camping in groups of eight or so be just as effective at banishing the boogyman as camping in groups of 25 to 50?

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 22:07
Skids, what could be done to help the trail in GA out? Is there anything we could teach or practice(s) we could encourage to help lessen the damage? BTW, would camping in groups of eight or so be just as effective at banishing the boogyman as camping in groups of 25 to 50?

reservations

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 22:11
Reservations would be a logistical nightmare... perhaps teaching and encouraging better trail practice would be easier and more effective. You know what a lawless bunch we are :D...

The Old Fhart
12-11-2007, 22:13
Anyone who can't understand the difference between 25 people in a group and 5 groups of 5 spread out has never been to a small restaurant during rush hour.:-?

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 22:13
Reservations would be a logistical nightmare... perhaps teaching and encouraging better trail practice would be easier and more effective. You know what a lawless bunch we are :D...

just like the Smokys. buncha BS

Appalachian Tater
12-11-2007, 22:18
I think one problem is that we do not know how many thru hikers will start on the same day, or end up at the same campsite. However, large groups know when they are going out, and they already have planned out where they intend to stay.

Thru-hikers sometimes form groups but thru-hikers as a whole are not a group in the definition given in relation to trail usage. I started the same time as dozens of other people, none of whom I had ever heard of or met until the night before. The effects of thru-hikers on the trail are real, but thru-hikers are not a group.

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 22:21
I think the argument of environment impact is overdone. Yes Geogia is beaten up every year, as well as other sections of the AT. But so what, it's only a small corridor, look past the trail (to the right or left) and there is untouched wilderness that goes on and on, it's actually kind of ugly in some parts, but that's besides the point.

Environmental impact is what you get when you have a trail like the AT. All one can do is limit the impact through common sense actions, we don't have to nuke this.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 22:22
just like the Smokys. buncha BSThru's don't have to get reservations because reservations for thru's is a logistical nightmare.

Kirby
12-11-2007, 22:23
Thru-hikers sometimes form groups but thru-hikers as a whole are not a group in the definition given in relation to trail usage. I started the same time as dozens of other people, none of whom I had ever heard of or met until the night before. The effects of thru-hikers on the trail are real, but thru-hikers are not a group.

Exactly. It would be easier to control organized groups, such as the boy scouts and church groups, than thru hikers. Although it would not be fair to impose special rules on organized groups when thru hikers, as mentioned in this thread, cause great damage to the trail, especially down south.

Kirby

Skidsteer
12-11-2007, 22:23
Skids, what could be done to help the trail in GA out? Is there anything we could teach or practice(s) we could encourage to help lessen the damage? BTW, would camping in groups of eight or so be just as effective at banishing the boogyman as camping in groups of 25 to 50?

Tear down the shelters.

I'm serious. I doubt most of them would start a thru hike if they didn't have the shelters. Just my opinion.

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 22:25
Tear down the shelters.

I'm serious. I doubt most of them would start a thru hike if they didn't have the shelters. Just my opinion.

no s**t. that's a start

Montego
12-11-2007, 22:26
Tear down the shelters.

I'm serious. I doubt most of them would start a thru hike if they didn't have the shelters. Just my opinion.

Homeless mice?:confused:

Kirby
12-11-2007, 22:28
I would think the shelters down south recieve a large beating every spring.

Kirby

Lilred
12-11-2007, 22:37
This is where I disagree with you. If, for example, I walk randomly around my grassy yard for a couple of hours every day during the year, that would be 365 people-days of stepping on the grass. The effect would be negligable, though, because every day the grass would spring back up, the worms would aerate the soil, the sun and rain would make the grass grow.

If, however, I have a nice lawn and one day have 365 people mill around on it for a couple of hours, it would be severely damaged. The soil would be compacted to the point of damaging the roots of the grass, and possibly compacted to the point where worms could no longer push through the clay soil. A year later you could probably see where the party had been.

That's the difference between a large group and random individuals.

Excellent analogy!

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 22:38
Scouts always bring a "dummy' along, usually addressed as Mr Asst Scoutmaster.

That must be why I get all those strange looks when I am helping the Scoutmaster. ;)

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 22:39
The analogy sounds good, but I don't believe it's accurate.

Lilred
12-11-2007, 22:42
Tear down the shelters.

I'm serious. I doubt most of them would start a thru hike if they didn't have the shelters. Just my opinion.

I'd bet my last dollar that that would stop the onslaught in the south every year. Leave a shelter up every 50 or more miles apart and they would become a luxury on the trail for hikers, instead of the necessity they've become for some.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 22:47
Tearing down the shelters certainly might limit the numbers,

What other things would help limit the damage?

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 22:48
So the shelters are closed. Do the campsites get closed too? Do hikers simply sleep, cook, and, heaven forbid, camp wherever?

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 22:51
I haven't been to the AT in Georgia to see the damage. Could someone describe "the damage" to me?

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 22:51
Tearing down the shelters certainly might limit the numbers,

What other things would help limit the damage?

the ATC not marketing and encouraging thru-hikes

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 22:52
I haven't been to the AT in Georgia to see the damage. Could someone describe "the damage" to me?
It ain't that bad. Georgia is a very pretty state. It's just ugly around the shelters when they're packed.

A-Train
12-11-2007, 22:53
the ATC not marketing and encouraging thru-hikes

How else are they gonna sell their memberships, maps, t-shirts, poisonous nalgenes, etc?

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 22:54
I haven't been to the AT in Georgia to see the damage. Could someone describe "the damage" to me?

bare ground, fire pits full of trash, hacked up trees, severely worn trail

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 22:57
This is Georgia, what's so ugly about it?
http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=15603&original=1&c=member&imageuser=6936

The Old Fhart
12-11-2007, 22:58
Both sides of the trail look like someone took a rototiller to them from all the Leki poles.

Hikerhead
12-11-2007, 22:58
Tearing down the shelters certainly might limit the numbers,

What other things would help limit the damage?

How about stopping the trail maintaintence and pulling up all the trail signs. Make it a real wilderness adventure.

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 22:59
It ain't that bad. Georgia is a very pretty state. It's just ugly around the shelters when they're packed.

How much area around the shelter is damaged? I have seen some busy shelters in MA and VT that are damaged extensively for perhaps an area of 50 feet or more around the shelter. It can be ugly. So, I go to the edge of the damaged area, setup my tent and look out at the hundreds, if not thousands of surrounding acres that are not damaged.

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 23:02
How much area around the shelter is damaged? I have seen some busy shelters in MA and VT that are damaged extensively for perhaps an area of 50 feet or more around the shelter. It can be ugly. So, I go to the edge of the damaged area, setup my tent and look out at the hundreds, if not thousands of surrounding acres that are not damaged.

50 - 100 yards

Smile
12-11-2007, 23:02
Most shelters are like this, but yes, the ones in GA have quite a bit of 'wear and tear' on them.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 23:03
bare ground, fire pits full of trash, hacked up trees, severely worn trail
Both sides of the trail look like someone took a rototiller to them from all the Leki poles.Pretty good description.

How about stopping the trail maintenance and pulling up all the trail signs. Make it a real wilderness adventure.Interesting idea. Might make S&R's job a bit harder.

Lone Wolf
12-11-2007, 23:06
forgot to mention all the trash left by the Army Ranger wannabe trainees. lotsa brass and MRE empties

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 23:07
50 - 100 yards

100 Yards! Wow! Now that sucks. Need help with the shelter torches? Sounds like a real blight. What percentage would you say the damaged area is of the undisturbed surrounding forest?

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 23:12
North GA is bad and the AT in the GSMNP is worse... this is why I plan to hike the BMT instead of that part of the AT. We've done the AT in GA and it was sad.

warraghiyagey
12-11-2007, 23:21
How about stopping the trail maintaintence and pulling up all the trail signs. Make it a real wilderness adventure.
Wow. That is actually as close to the best ideal I've read here as there is. It makes sense. Could use a little tweak here and there but it makes sense.
Nice work HH.:sun

Tin Man
12-11-2007, 23:25
How about stopping the trail maintaintence and pulling up all the trail signs. Make it a real wilderness adventure.

Don't forget the brown paint to use over the white paint.

Hikerhead
12-11-2007, 23:28
Wow. That is actually as close to the best ideal I've read here as there is. It makes sense. Could use a little tweak here and there but it makes sense.
Nice work HH.:sun


I said that tongue in cheek but thanks. Sgt Rock and a few others know that if I didn't have trail signs and blazes I would get lost and die. Even with maps! :)

warraghiyagey
12-11-2007, 23:35
I said that tongue in check but thanks. Sgt Rock and a few others know that if I didn't have trail signs and blazes I would get lost and die. Even with maps! :)
Interesting the direction that good ideas can come from.

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 23:45
What's funny is that everyone complains about "environmental impact" and what we can do to reduce it. Yet when someone mentions the negative impact that hiking poles have on the trail, well then everyone ignores the problem and continues to chase their tail in a circle about the number of hikers on the trail. Who's willing to give up their hiking poles?

Frosty
12-11-2007, 23:47
North GA is bad I found North Georgia to be a nice place to hike. The trail is very pretty, and reasonably level. Every local I've met on the trail has been a joy to chat with, and Hiawassee is a great trail town. I'm from the north, but love hiking in the south.

The AT simply isn't wilderness. It was never intended to be. It was to be a place where people could get out of the cities and spend some time surrounded by trees.

If there are overcamped areas, they are miniscule to the area not overcamped, and easily avoided by anyone who is not feeling like enjoying the company of others.

And, as you said, the BMT is nice alternative to anyone going north who prefers solitude.

Hikerhead
12-11-2007, 23:48
What's funny is that everyone complains about "environmental impact" and what we can do to reduce it. Yet when someone mentions the negative impact that hiking poles have on the trail, well then everyone ignores the problem and continues to chase their tail in a circle about the number of hikers on the trail. Who's willing to give up their hiking poles?

No can do but I do use rubber tips.

Frosty
12-11-2007, 23:53
What's funny is that everyone complains about "environmental impact" and what we can do to reduce it. Yet when someone mentions the negative impact that hiking poles have on the trail, well then everyone ignores the problem and continues to chase their tail in a circle about the number of hikers on the trail. Who's willing to give up their hiking poles?Not me. With my arthritis, giving up poles is giving up hiking.

Some people put rubber tips on their poles but to me, the damage to the trail by poles is highly over-exaggerated. My neighbor pays a guy to run a machine over his lawn every year that makes holes in it. He calls it aerating. His lawn does look a lot better than mine...

The "roto-tilled" areas people are talking about are most likely made by hogs rooting.

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-11-2007, 23:53
I use two off-set cane to hike - they have wide rubber tips. They don't damage hard ground, but I have to be careful not to do real damage in marsh areas.

Hikerhead
12-11-2007, 23:55
I found North Georgia to be a nice place to hike. The trail is very pretty, and reasonably level. Every local I've met on the trail has been a joy to chat with, and Hiawassee is a great trail town. I'm from the north, but love hiking in the south.

The AT simply isn't wilderness. It was never intended to be. It was to be a place where people could get out of the cities and spend some time surrounded by trees.

If there are overcamped areas, they are miniscule to the area not overcamped, and easily avoided by anyone who is not feeling like enjoying the company of others.

And, as you said, the BMT is nice alternative to anyone going north who prefers solitude.

I agree with everything you said. I really enjoyed my hike of GA the first of April a few years ago. Only trash I remember was a coat. We didn't stay at any shelters, we did stay at a cemetary that had a whirlygig and heard good stories from Crosscut. Probably saw more scouts than hikers.

Pedaling Fool
12-11-2007, 23:59
No can do but I do use rubber tips.
You're one of the few. Whenever I'm in question about being on the AT, I just start looking for those little holes from hiking poles.

Appalachian Tater
12-12-2007, 00:01
the damage to the trail by poles is highly over-exaggerated.

Absolutely. There are small holes along the trail in certain places, but I don't see it causing erosion. Certainly hikers' feet cause more damage, especially if they cut switchbacks and walk around puddles. There are some rocks with lots of little pole scratches, it's not attractive, but hardly damaging--nothing that a few hundred years of weather won't eradicate completely.


Whenever I'm in question about being on the AT, I just start looking for those little holes from hiking poles.Once when I got sidetracked in Virginia, there were plenty of pole holes, but it must have been a cowpath instead of a hiker path. Pole holes can lie.

warraghiyagey
12-12-2007, 00:05
Absolutely. There are small holes along the trail in certain places, but I don't see it causing erosion. Certainly hikers' feet cause more damage, especially if they cut switchbacks and walk around puddles. There are some rocks with lots of little pole scratches, it's not attractive, but hardly damaging--nothing that a few hundred years of weather won't eradicate completely. .
Agreed. Tomato-Tumato, erosion-aeration.

Tin Man
12-12-2007, 00:07
What's funny is that everyone complains about "environmental impact" and what we can do to reduce it. Yet when someone mentions the negative impact that hiking poles have on the trail, well then everyone ignores the problem and continues to chase their tail in a circle about the number of hikers on the trail. Who's willing to give up their hiking poles?

Perhaps if we called for an environmental impact study, a soil and conservation plan, and a few other government sponsored trips to the believe it or not paper mill, then we would know for sure if poles should be banned. Of course the Leki Lobbyists are likely to libate, lactate and shake and rattle their sticks when they catch wind of this. Then where will be? I'll tell you where, we will be wanking our wonkers and still walking with Leki.

Tin Man
12-12-2007, 00:11
You're one of the few. Whenever I'm in question about being on the AT, I just start looking for those little holes from hiking poles.

Little holes from hiking poles pose no problems if you plant a plant in them. Plant a plant, save a trail, just let me hike and Leki.

warraghiyagey
12-12-2007, 00:12
Perhaps if we called for an environmental impact study, a soil and conservation plan, and a few other government sponsored trips to the believe it or not paper mill, then we would know for sure if poles should be banned. Of course the Leki Lobbyists are likely to libate, lactate and shake and rattle their sticks when they catch wind of this. Then where will be? I'll tell you where, we will be wanking our wonkers and still walking with Leki.
This whole thing just sounds very splashy.

Pedaling Fool
12-12-2007, 00:14
Little holes from hiking poles pose no problems if you plant a plant in them. Plant a plant, save a trail, just let me hike and Leki.
I also don't believe they are a problem, in most cases, but I hear a lot about them from many who whine about environmental impact.

Pedaling Fool
12-12-2007, 00:17
Absolutely. There are small holes along the trail in certain places, but I don't see it causing erosion. Certainly hikers' feet cause more damage, especially if they cut switchbacks and walk around puddles. There are some rocks with lots of little pole scratches, it's not attractive, but hardly damaging--nothing that a few hundred years of weather won't eradicate completely.
I don't see a problem with the pole holes either, as far as feet, it's a good thing they cause damage, if they didn't we wouldn't have a trail.

Hikerhead
12-12-2007, 00:19
You're one of the few. Whenever I'm in question about being on the AT, I just start looking for those little holes from hiking poles.

You thru hiked the trail without poles? Did you see many others doing the same? I had to go from Amicalola to Hiawasee without mine when I left them in the car. I thought I was screwed because I have always hiked with them but I did ok, just felt funny at first.
I use rubber tips mainly to keep the noise down. I walked up within 30 or 40 yards of two bears on the Allegheny Trail this year and they didn't hear me, nor smell me. Watched them for about 10 minutes searching under rocks.

Bob S
12-12-2007, 00:24
Itís a trail, itís meant to be walked on, guess what, when you walk on something it gets mashed down. But I would guess for the most part the trail looks about like it did in the 1970ís It will survive a few Boy Scouts or Church groups just fine. Humans are part of the environment, not the bane of it. :rolleyes:

JAK
12-12-2007, 00:28
[QUOTE=Lilred;470755]Originally Posted by Marta
This is where I disagree with you. If, for example, I walk randomly around my grassy yard for a couple of hours every day during the year, that would be 365 people-days of stepping on the grass. The effect would be negligable, though, because every day the grass would spring back up, the worms would aerate the soil, the sun and rain would make the grass grow.

If, however, I have a nice lawn and one day have 365 people mill around on it for a couple of hours, it would be severely damaged. The soil would be compacted to the point of damaging the roots of the grass, and possibly compacted to the point where worms could no longer push through the clay soil. A year later you could probably see where the party had been.

That's the difference between a large group and random individuals.
[QUOTE]I don't think that is the same.

A better comparison would be 365 people on your lawn for one hour versus 24 groups of 15 people for one hour over a 24 hour period. I doubt there would be any difference, except that you would get less sleep. Either way you would treat them all as intruders, and rightly so, but that is your home. The AT isn't.

Pedaling Fool
12-12-2007, 00:28
You thru hiked the trail without poles? Did you see many others doing the same? I had to go from Amicalola to Hiawasee without mine when I left them in the car. I thought I was screwed because I have always hiked with them but I did ok, just felt funny at first.
I use rubber tips mainly to keep the noise down. I walked up within 30 or 40 yards of two bears on the Allegheny Trail this year and they didn't hear me, nor smell me. Watched them for about 10 minutes searching under rocks.
I use poles, I was just playing Devil's Advocate, I don't even use rubber tips.
The bears may have known you were there. I think some bears just don't care about humans anymore, just my personal experience during my hike. I had two run ins with bears, one in SNP and the other in New York, they were almost aggressive, but at least you I can say they were annoyed by my presence. Others had similar experiences, not sure what's going on, but bears seem to be getting use to us.

JAK
12-12-2007, 00:31
dude. you're rambling for crissakes! you need to go walking :rolleyes:Dude. You are so right.

What I really need to do is finish this marking by Friday, then go walking.
Nuff said. Cheers.

JAK
12-12-2007, 00:35
I use two off-set cane to hike - they have wide rubber tips. They don't damage hard ground, but I have to be careful not to do real damage in marsh areas.Dinos don't count. Dinos are considered part of the ecosystem.
Still, nice of you to set an example for us to follow. ;)

JAK
12-12-2007, 00:44
This is Georgia, what's so ugly about it?
http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=15603&original=1&c=member&imageuser=6936Beauty eh. On that thought I will call it a night, finish my marking this week, get out walking or skiing and post some pics. Hopefully there will still be snow, perhaps that beautiful, we shall see. Lets keep our eye on the ball folks. Cheers all.

Hikerhead
12-12-2007, 00:48
I use poles, I was just playing Devil's Advocate, I don't even use rubber tips.
The bears may have known you were there. I think some bears just don't care about humans anymore, just my personal experience during my hike. I had two run ins with bears, one in SNP and the other in New York, they were almost aggressive, but at least you I can say they were annoyed by my presence. Others had similar experiences, not sure what's going on, but bears seem to be getting use to us.

These were in a area that's hunted. The smaller one (2 year old?) finally saw us and high tailed it doing that huffing sound. When it passed by moma she took off behind it for about 20 yards then she like said *** am I running for and stopped. Then the smaller one figured out mom wasn't running anymore and it stopped. This was a good day. Saw an owl, 2 bears and a raccon, all very close up within 30 or 40 yards.
Yeah, one day they'll figure out what good eating we can be. What was this thread about anyway?

Sly
12-12-2007, 01:13
heh... missed this thread somehow. It's not kosher to bring any more than the allowed size group hiking. Generally, mandated numbers are too high IMO, but if you bring 24 or 26 when the number is 25 , does it really make that much a difference?

Tin Man
12-12-2007, 07:55
heh... missed this thread somehow. It's not kosher to bring any more than the allowed size group hiking. Generally, mandated numbers are too high IMO, but if you bring 24 or 26 when the number is 25 , does it really make that much a difference?

What if you bring 10 kids that, on average, weigh 100 lbs. vs. 10 overweight adults weighing, on average, 250 lbs. each, assuming training and skills are the same? Does bulk matter?

Frolicking Dinosaurs
12-12-2007, 08:53
I've observed the roto-tiller effect mentioned by TOF earlier in the thread in GA, NC and TN... and I'm way too familiar with what a wild hog rooting area looks like to mistake pole damage for a 'hog heaven' (southern nickname for area frequented by hogs). While aeration maybe good for yards, roto-tilling the edge of trails isn't good for maintaining treadway.
What if you bring 10 kids that, on average, weigh 100 lbs. vs. 10 overweight adults weighing, on average, 250 lbs. each, assuming training and skills are the same? Does bulk matter?::: Dino registers for GSMNP as two teenagers :::