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  1. #1

    Default Trail Names on the AT in the Whites, and Defacing Trail Signs

    This photo was recently posted on a FB page for people who volunteer in the White Mountain National Forest (mostly as stewards at trailheads who try to stop unprepared hikers from venturing out on hikes with flip flops, no maps, etc.). It appears to show a sign defaced to change the established trail name to an AT symbol, reflecting a long running issue among some thru hikers for using traditional trail names. Apparently such defacing is an ongoing issue on the Ethan Pond Trail and a few other locations.

    Take a look at the comments in this FB post if you want to get a sense of how some locals that are very involved with the trails and hiking in the Whites perceive the thru hiker community. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...&theater&ifg=1



  2. #2
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Good and balanced comments in the link.

    Vandalism is wrong.

    So long as signs are intended help people stay found, this one was poor executed. The AT symbol should have been included after Ethan Pond. Crazy that it was not.

    Not saying the damage was justified, but this is still an improvement albeit one the vandal had no right making.

    Hopefully future signs will all include the AT symbol too.

    Many do, right?

    Hopefully enlightened thru hikers will speak up when others wrongfully malign the AMC in their presence.

    Hopefully the AT symbol will be included on future signs, if that is not already being done. This one is on state land, right?

  3. #3

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    Looks like sign is near the trail head in Crawford Notch. I can't recall if there is any other signage there to indicate that is also the AT.

    Now that I have been looking for it, I have noticed a lot of the local trail name signs also include the AT symbol for a confidence check. Anyway, adding AT to the sign is no doubt justified, but scratching out the trail name isn't.
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    If someone can't find a trail by another name, using maps, they really don't belong out there, especially in the Whites.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    That was done last year.

  6. #6

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    Most thru hikers are using AWOL's guide today. Few carry maps and some carry nothing, just look for the white blazes. There are some sections in the Whites that are the most difficult to follow on all of the AT. There are many trails in those beautiful mountains, but to an outsider it seems the AMC may go out of it's way to retain it's historical trail names and enjoy seeing some of the AT thru hikers complain and sometimes circle around to find the right trail by not adding the AT logo on many of their trail signs. I recall a crossroads just beyond the Wildcat Ski Lift where there was no marking at a trail junction and we walked for 15 minutes before seeing a white blaze.

    Having said all that, there is no excuse for anyone defacing a trail sign. Hikers should self police if they see it and report those that engage in that type of vandalism.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    . . . So long as signs are intended help people stay found, this one was poor executed. The AT symbol should have been included after Ethan Pond. Crazy that it was not.

    Not saying the damage was justified, but this is still an improvement albeit one the vandal had no right making.

    Hopefully future signs will all include the AT symbol too.

    Many do, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Looks like sign is near the trail head in Crawford Notch. I can't recall if there is any other signage there to indicate that is also the AT.

    Now that I have been looking for it, I have noticed a lot of the local trail name signs also include the AT symbol for a confidence check. Anyway, adding AT to the sign is no doubt justified, but scratching out the trail name isn't.
    Many signs do include an indication of the AT (either with the AT symbol or just the initials AT). The FB post states that "directly opposite this sign is another sign, saying Ethan Pond Trail, Appalachian Trail" so all a hiker would have to do is look to the other side of the trail to confirm that the AT follows the Ethan Pond Trail.

    One of the comments to the post includes a photo of another sign that has at AT indication that was also defaced:



    I wish there was a way to help more thru/section hikers understand that although their entire focus is the AT, that the vast majority of people that hike on the trails that make up the AT in the Whites are not really concerned with the AT. They come to experience the beauty and challenges presented by the mountains of NH, often along some of the oldest hiking trails in the country. I really don't understand why anyone would react to the use of the traditional trail names with such an AT-centric way. Maybe somehere on WB can offer some perspective.

    Putting aside the issue of vandalism, I agree that the AT could be better marked by signs and blazes in many parts of NH. I have long felt that the SOBO route is less well marked than NOBO through the Whites. I think I read a comment by JPF along similar lines. It would be easy enough to add an AT on more signs and a few more blazes along some sections of the trail.

  8. #8

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    There are several blazing standards used on the AT and the big confusion is the a hiker is supposed to be able to follow a trail by blaze alone. The blazes are intended to be supplemental to a map (be it paper or electronic). Blazes are intended for confirmation where the trail bed may be confusing. I suspect taken to its logical conclusion some folks would want a steady white line painted on the ground from Springer to Katahdin, anything less than that is compromise in that an idiot can inadvertently step off the trail in the intervening space between blazes. Long ago when I helped to blaze one the last new major trails in the whites I had to go through mandatory USFS blaze training. One of the key things they emphasized is that overblazing was worst than underblazing as the expectation is that blazing is supplemental to using a map not the other way around. Some folks think that the next blaze should be visible from the last blaze, that is rarely the case except where the trail bed is extremely confusing usually where there are multiple trails be they official or not or a significant change in direction. Generally if the trail was straight with an established trail bed we might only make a blaze 5 to 10 minutes apart. One thing I did disagree on was that we were not allowed to damage the bark of the tree which in any area with a lot of white birch tends mean that the blazes do not last very long.

    I do not know when the expectation that the navigation of the AT was to be dumbed down to the lowest level of competency but its does seem to be case. I was hiking with someone this weekend that was arguing that concept. Her rational was the local S&R folks are having to do increasing rescues due to people getting lost on the trails so the logical solution is paint more blazes so they cannot miss them. IMHO the time is far better spent setting expectations of hikers of their abilities before they head into the woods.

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