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  1. #41
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The steep, open ledges can be intimidating, especially when wet and going down. There is usually a herd path around the worst of them, or at least go along the edges so you can grab onto roots and tree branches. If no other option, sit down and slide on your butt. I've done a lot of that on White Mountain trails.
    I've used those herd paths from time to time--going down from the Baldpates, up Mahoosuc Arm, and other steep descents and ascents--and usually when the rock was wet. If I could go down the rock I did. I recently watched a video by Craig "Hawk" Mains, where he criticizes hikers who do that and stated if you don't want to take the risk of going down the middle of the trail, don't hike the AT. I disagree, but I wonder what others think.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuietStorm View Post
    I've used those herd paths from time to time--going down from the Baldpates, up Mahoosuc Arm, and other steep descents and ascents--and usually when the rock was wet. If I could go down the rock I did. I recently watched a video by Craig "Hawk" Mains, where he criticizes hikers who do that and stated if you don't want to take the risk of going down the middle of the trail, don't hike the AT. I disagree, but I wonder what others think.
    A multitude of hikers avoiding the middle of the trail in favor of the safer edges results in widening and degrading the trail. This can be avoided by routing, designing, and building trails that can handle the traffic without subjecting users to high risk maneuvers.

    I don't think we should ask hikers to risk their lives to climb a mountain. In some areas it appears those who laid out the trail took some shortcuts: Cover a rock in paint and roll it off the mountain. Every tree it hits is a blaze. Done!* Once the trail is worn down to bedrock, it's "paved" and no further maintenance is needed.

    I don't mind that the trail is hard. I don't even mind that some risk is involved. But it bothers me when the trail is deeply eroded like a permanently open wound. It doesn't have to be that way. Go around cliffs. Build switchbacks, bridges, and stairs.

    Please forgive my exaggeration. Many places on the trail show evidence of incredible labor-intensive back-breaking work, and I am truly grateful! That doesn't take away from the point I'm making.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    A multitude of hikers avoiding the middle of the trail in favor of the safer edges results in widening and degrading the trail. This can be avoided by routing, designing, and building trails that can handle the traffic without subjecting users to high risk maneuvers.

    I don't think we should ask hikers to risk their lives to climb a mountain. In some areas it appears those who laid out the trail took some shortcuts: Cover a rock in paint and roll it off the mountain. Every tree it hits is a blaze. Done!* Once the trail is worn down to bedrock, it's "paved" and no further maintenance is needed.

    I don't mind that the trail is hard. I don't even mind that some risk is involved. But it bothers me when the trail is deeply eroded like a permanently open wound. It doesn't have to be that way. Go around cliffs. Build switchbacks, bridges, and stairs.
    Well said!

    Not sure who Chris "Hawk" Mains is, but I would argue that the A.T. is a hiking trail, not a climbing route. When some of these steep trails were first laid out, there were roots and vegetation over the thin soils on top of the steep, slick bare rock faces in question. They were passable. Over time traffic has turned it into what we have today. The suggestion that hikers should risk injury to preserve a "trail" that was inadequately constructed for the foot traffic it now carries is ludicrous.

    Certainly, some sections of the A.T. are far more difficult to maintain than other parts. Volunteers carry out most, if not all trail maintenance and deserve big thanks. It is my understanding that they are handcuffed to some extent regarding what they can do, i.e., permission must be granted before certain changes can be made; "engineering" has to be carried out before funds can be released for even the most basic change in a route. That is part of dealing with the complex bureaucracy that comprises the A.T. oversight. Of course, without this hierarchy we would not even have an A.T. Still, there is room for improvement.

    The A.T. has widely varying levels of trail construction/maintenance. Some of the states with the most challenging terrain have the poorest maintenance ... even blazing is sketchy. No need to mention any names. Anyone who has hiked the A.T. knows.

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    I don't mind that the trail is hard. I don't even mind that some risk is involved. But it bothers me when the trail is deeply eroded like a permanently open wound. It doesn't have to be that way. Go around cliffs. Build switchbacks, bridges, and stairs.

    Please forgive my exaggeration. Many places on the trail show evidence of incredible labor-intensive back-breaking work, and I am truly grateful! That doesn't take away from the point I'm making.
    If you take a close look, you'll see there really isn't any other option. That's just the nature of these mountains and how the glaciers scored them and left behind a lot of really big rocks in inconvenient places.
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  5. #45

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    In many cases in the whites of NH the trails were built long ago and the cost in time and resources makes it very difficult to do a reroute. Look a the time and effort BSP has spent on the Hunt trail (AT) Abol and Dudley (all approach routes to Katahdin). 2/3rds of Abol took 3 years by using a completely new trail route and reportedly the new reroute is already in need of rebuilding. Dudley has been two years and counting and Hunt has been under rerouting and construction for 30 plus years. Probably the "king" of trail reconstructions in Maine is the east side of White Cap which was just finished after around 20 years of continuous work every summer. The reality is all the maintaining clubs can do is do triage on the worst of the worst.

    The soils and weather conditions are far more difficult to deal with up north than down south. If the rebuild is too heavy handed like blasting or cutting steps in stone the trail crews get complaints that they destroying nature. Folks are drawn to Maine and the whites for the views and extreme terrain, there are plenty of options to bypass the extreme sections but then the hikers miss the above treeline sections. In the Catskills the popular Devils Path is currently closed indefinitely as the DEC installed steel bars in a ledge that was difficult for some to cross. Some folks objected to the bars being installed and someone took it upon themselves to remove two of the bars so the DEC has indefinitely closed the trail.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    ...Some folks objected to the bars being installed and someone took it upon themselves to remove two of the bars so the DEC has indefinitely closed the trail.
    Wow, hard to believe how crazy some people are.

    I'm not going to pretend I know about the difficulties of trail building in your area. Still, I do think it's a shame that so many trails are deeply eroded. I wish that were not the case.

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Wow, hard to believe how crazy some people are.

    I'm not going to pretend I know about the difficulties of trail building in your area. Still, I do think it's a shame that so many trails are deeply eroded. I wish that were not the case.
    Given the steep trails and thin soil, it's impossible to avoid. That and some of these trails have been in the same place for over a 100 years. If it's raining and your not walking in a stream, your not on the trail.
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  8. #48
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_zavocki View Post
    I would disagree and say northbound is a little better.
    I think I got lost somewhere in the conversation. Starting from Kinsman Notch to Franconia Notch is northbound and after the Eliza Brook Shelter there is a nearly 2,000 foot ascent to South Kinsman's summit. That is the climb to which I was referring (ie. not wanting to go down on a southbound hike). The hike from Kinsman Notch to the Eliza Brook Shelter was not bad at all.
    Last edited by ldsailor; 11-11-2019 at 12:59.
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  9. #49

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    Then you come across something like this and think "how the heck am I suppose to get across that?", then look up and see the rope and say "thank you". Pretty much wouldn't have been possible without the rope.

    This is on a blue blaze which eventually connects to the AT just before it leaves NH.
    SAM_4703.JPG
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  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Then you come across something like this and think "how the heck am I suppose to get across that?", then look up and see the rope and say "thank you". Pretty much wouldn't have been possible without the rope.

    This is on a blue blaze which eventually connects to the AT just before it leaves NH.
    SAM_4703.JPG
    Pictures never do justice to the reality. Looks wet and slick, maybe a little bit of slope? Hard to tell from the picture, but I'll take your word for it. I've been a few places where a well-placed rope or cable made all the difference between safe and unsafe.

  11. #51
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    87B4BB58-6414-4B0D-93AE-8823E7BC06EB.jpeg

    A rope leading to a ladder. One of my favorites.

  12. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by QuietStorm View Post
    87B4BB58-6414-4B0D-93AE-8823E7BC06EB.jpeg
    A rope leading to a ladder. One of my favorites.
    I believe I just did this in July, north of Grafton Notch and Bald Plate in Southern Maine.
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  13. #53
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    I think I saw the rope posted by Slo on a day Hike looping up to the Gentian Pond shelter. Giant Falls Trail, perhaps.

    Not needed, and possibly the product of some scouts having fun playing “technical”. I regret not removing the litter.
    Last edited by rickb; 11-09-2019 at 22:10.

  14. #54

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    Sounds like the 16 mile day may be a bad idea.
    Bringing the packs with only a few meals required shouldn't be too burdensome. I would think that would be much more enjoyable

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    Sounds like the 16 mile day may be a bad idea.
    Bringing the packs with only a few meals required shouldn't be too burdensome. I would think that would be much more enjoyable
    I think either choice is going to be seriously tough.

    Uh... uh... I mean "enjoyable."

  16. #56
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slumgum View Post
    Well said!

    Not sure who Chris "Hawk" Mains is, but I would argue that the A.T. is a hiking trail, not a climbing route. When some of these steep trails were first laid out, there were roots and vegetation over the thin soils on top of the steep, slick bare rock faces in question. They were passable. Over time traffic has turned it into what we have today. The suggestion that hikers should risk injury to preserve a "trail" that was inadequately constructed for the foot traffic it now carries is ludicrous.

    Certainly, some sections of the A.T. are far more difficult to maintain than other parts. Volunteers carry out most, if not all trail maintenance and deserve big thanks. It is my understanding that they are handcuffed to some extent regarding what they can do, i.e., permission must be granted before certain changes can be made; "engineering" has to be carried out before funds can be released for even the most basic change in a route. That is part of dealing with the complex bureaucracy that comprises the A.T. oversight. Of course, without this hierarchy we would not even have an A.T. Still, there is room for improvement.

    The A.T. has widely varying levels of trail construction/maintenance. Some of the states with the most challenging terrain have the poorest maintenance ... even blazing is sketchy. No need to mention any names. Anyone who has hiked the A.T. knows.

    When much of the original trail was built the emphasis was on developing a continuous path and not sustainability. The ATC has been working to rebuild trails that will last into the future. If you have never worked building trail you probably do not have an idea how hard this is and long it takes. Trail degradation does not occur just on the steep, rocky sections. Many flat, wet areas are damaged by hikers straying off the treadway to avoid getting muddy boots. The best thing hikers can do is to stick to the middle of the trail.
    More walking, less talking.

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuietStorm View Post
    87B4BB58-6414-4B0D-93AE-8823E7BC06EB.jpeg

    A rope leading to a ladder. One of my favorites.
    Did this section in August in a thunderstorm. Probably the most scared I was on the trail aside from running across the Roan Balds in sleet and hail

  18. #58
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    I backpacked the section from Franconia to Kinsman Notch sobo. I didnt think it was particularly onerous. Top mile of South Kinsman is really steep. I'm pretty sure I butt slid down a lot of it, but before Eliza Brook, it mellowed out quite a bit. We went from Kinsman pond shelter in about 10 hours or so. I do remember seeing the exhausted nobos and being thankful I wasn't climbing up from that side. It's comparable to the ascent from Garfield hut up South Twin.

  19. #59

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    I did 2/3rds of the AT stretch one day as a day hike but I went up the North Kinsman trail from Easton instead of down to the notch. Its about on mile shorter but has the most of the terrain that many folks find "interesting" including South Kinsman. I spotted a bike at Kinsman Notch then drove back to Easton and headed out hiking up North Kinsman. At the end of the hike I rode my bike back along RT 116 to my car. It was long day but not a killer (except for the bike ride on hot day).

    Cascade Brook trail from Lonesome Lake to the Notch is an old logging road bed, easy walking.

  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    I backpacked the section from Franconia to Kinsman Notch sobo. I didnt think it was particularly onerous. Top mile of South Kinsman is really steep. I'm pretty sure I butt slid down a lot of it, but before Eliza Brook, it mellowed out quite a bit. We went from Kinsman pond shelter in about 10 hours or so. I do remember seeing the exhausted nobos and being thankful I wasn't climbing up from that side. It's comparable to the ascent from Garfield hut up South Twin.
    I remember that stretch. We went SOBO from ST to Garfield, and it seemed like it was straight down. We carefully worked our way down, taking care with our footing and joints, and feeling sorry for those who were climbing up.

    Somewhere in the middle of the descent we were passed by a young man who was quickly hopping down from rock to rock with the confidence of a goat. We thought he was kinda crazy. It was crazy to see.

    Learned later that he was part of the hut croo, and I guess he climbed up and down ST often (probably showing off to fat struggling section hikers like us).

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