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  1. #1

    Default AMC's Reputation

    Let me qualifiy this by saying so far all my hiking has been confined to the south (resident of NC), but I've seen the AMC trashed pretty much everywhere it's mentioned. Do these people how they are viewed by the long distance community? Do they care? Is there any effort to make a connection between the two?

    It seems to me that any organization dedicated to the outdoor experience would at least consider the criticisms leveled. They may or may not be totally justified. Any AMC-types lurking here that would like to reply?

  2. #2

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    Long distance hikers makes up less than 1% of the hiking community. Day hikers and weekenders seem to really like the AMC. Especially when you consider the AMC's membership numbers (I'm not a member). I think it's pretty easy to disregard a small vocal minority. Also, it is my opinion that unfortunately, the majority of thru-hikers do not give back to the trail by doing trail maintenance and the other work that is necessary. There are of course exceptions, and some of them are members of Whiteblaze.

    Although I had a very unpleasant experience at Galehead Hut during my thru-hike, overall, I would be ignorant not to acknowledge that the AMC has done an excellent job managing some of the busiest trails in the country. With the amount of visitors in the White Mountains, if careful management was not done, the place would be totally trashed. How many USDA Forest Service folks did anyone encounter while in The Whites? There aren't enough Rangers, and those that do exist are stretched thin. The AMC does alot of the work that the FS can't do because of staff & budget problems.
    'All my lies are always wishes" ~Jeff Tweedy~

  3. #3
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    If you are refering to the critism against the fees for backcountry tent sites and the hotel-like cost of staying at the AMC Huts I think they hear us but aren't about to change their fee-collecting and credit card swiping ways because most of the money from those sources are collected from non thru hikers who are willing to pay for AMC services and facilities. Thru hikers are in the extreme minority in the White Mountain National Forest. I know on thru hiker websites and in trail registers on the AT the anti AMC topic sounds hot but I think its a much cooler subject in regular thru hiking circles and with the AMC.

    The AMC definitly seems rich and elitist especially to a hiker coming from south of Vermont where those impressions are almost non existent, although I once heard a thru hiker refer to all thru hikers as elitist. I did't agree with her. Anyways... I think the Whites took a real beating during the backpacking boom of the 60's and 70's and the old high impact way of travelling in the backcountry had to be retired in favor of a lower impact way of travel and one thing the AMC did was to provide education in this new school of thought. The caretakers and croos are apart of that education. They chose to pass the cost onto the users of the backcountry sites. I know the huts don't give a first impression of low impact but they are another subject alltogether...

  4. #4
    Registered User Mr. Clean's Avatar
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    I'm an AMC member, and while I don't agree with everything theydo or stand for, the work they do on the trails is very good. As mentioned, the Forest Service would have a hard time, especially with Government cutbacks, to maintain all the trails. AMC's volunteer trail maintenance program seems to be working very well, and last I knew there were no trails without a volunteer.
    I'm not sure how I feel about the huts, but know I'll never stay in one. I'm also disappointed with their new Highland center in Crawford Notch, but I realize that it does fill a segment of society.
    They say they are trying to raise money so that they can lobby for the outdoors more and to buy land when available. If true, more power to them. On the whole, I guess we are better off with them than without them.
    Greg P.

  5. #5

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    Taking a different tack; it seems that day hikers and to a lesser extent weekenders or even sectioners are considered a less worthy form of life, at least by a vocal segment of the long distance community. If long distance hikers are in the 1% minority, perhaps instead of alienating the majority, we should be cultivating them. They have a potential impact (positive and negative) in proportion to their numbers.
    In training for the Chappaquiddick Triathlon "Drink - Drive - Swim"

  6. #6
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Default AMC

    Let's hope that I can express my self correctly.

    The Whites are very popular. Mostly it's people out for a short time, either just for the day, or for a few days to do a range walk or something similiar. Much of what the AMC does or is involved with is basically crowd control, and education of the public. Just listen to the typical questions asked at any hut. #1 is where are the bathrooms. #2 is where do I put my trash.

    Like others have said, but for the AMC, both the paid staff and the volunteers, the Whites would be even more over used and trashed. The US Forest Service does not have the funds and staff to do it all.

    Is the AMC sympathetic to thru-hikers? Well, they do employ former thru-hikers, usually off season after the college crowds have gone back to college, and Hawk, manager of shelters , is a thru hiker for both AT and PCT, is on the board of managers for the ATC. So, if you have an issue to raise, why not get in touch with Hawk in Pinkham Notch.

  7. #7

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    Originally posted by Saluki Dave
    it seems that day hikers and to a lesser extent weekenders or even sectioners are considered a less worthy form of life, at least by a vocal segment of the long distance community.
    I think this is a trap that some thru-hikers fall into. Thinking they are "special" and should be treated differently because they are on a long distance hike. This is a MAJOR mistake! The very elitism that some people accuse the AMC of is practiced by some thru-hikers. It's wrong, and it should be called out whenever you see it. We aren't special. In fact, we stink (literally).

    Who do I look up to? I look up to people who build & maintain trail. Now that's hard work!

    Little Bear
    GA-ME 2000

  8. #8
    Section Hiker 350 miles DebW's Avatar
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    At the ATC Conference in July, I did a workshop about backcountry waste management and campsite design led by Hawk Metheny (AMC) and Pete Ketchum (GMC). Hawk manages the caretakers in the Whites and is a past thru-hiker. His take on the AMC is that the huts are not designed for thru-hikers. Huts are for people who wouldn't get into the woods without them. Thru-hikers should stay at the campsites and avoid the huts (though he admits that the Lakes to Madison stretch is tough without them, as camping requires losing lots of elevation). I was surprised to learn from the lesson on human waste management at Liberty Spring that the $8 per person camping fee does not quite cover the AMC's cost of bringing in bark mulch for the composting toilets. And many sites in the Whites would be a disaster without them.

  9. #9
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    wow eight dollars for bark mulch and you only use a handful each time you crap!!!...having not hiked in the whites but having been a shelter caretaker in the smokies ...I have observed that there is more crap left in the privy by dayhikers than there is by folks backpacking...do you think this is true in the whites??? if so then why are the backpackers charged to camp and the dayhikers allowed to bring in crap for free..if bark mulch is the big expense then why not charge people to crap rather than sleep??? maybe you could get to camp for free if you packed out your own crap!!!
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

  10. #10
    Section Hiker 350 miles DebW's Avatar
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    Originally posted by smokymtnsteve
    wow eight dollars for bark mulch and you only use a handful each time you crap!!!...having not hiked in the whites but having been a shelter caretaker in the smokies ...I have observed that there is more crap left in the privy by dayhikers than there is by folks backpacking...do you think this is true in the whites??? if so then why are the backpackers charged to camp and the dayhikers allowed to bring in crap for free..if bark mulch is the big expense then why not charge people to crap rather than sleep??? maybe you could get to camp for free if you packed out your own crap!!!
    It costs that much because they bring in the bark mulch by helicopter. And the toilet really uses more than the handful that you throw in. When the caretaker stirs the pile and transfers it from one bin to another to compost, he adds quite a bit more. This is with a batch bin composting system (not a mouldering privy). This type is used in the Whites because a moldering privy or pit toilet would fill too fast given the high volume usage. Large groups seem to be a major source of overuse at Liberty Springs, so the caretaker's major job is keeping the large groups from ruining the wilderness experience for everyone else. The campsite design also minimizes the impact of large groups on others.

  11. #11
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    yea .... I probably don't know much about being that I worked as a caretaker...but I think maybe we should check out the AMC Executive Directors salary and benefits...just wonderin, I certainly have no figures about AMC..but I do know a little about some of the similar organizations surrounding the smokies...these guys ALWAYS have the answer about Money..

    are day hikers charged to use the privy or only overnighters?
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

  12. #12

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    I think one of the things you have to ask when questioning the salary of an Executive Director are;

    1. What are that persons qualifications in terms of education and workplace experience?

    2. What could or did that person earn in the for-profit arena based on question #1?

    3. What size budget and organization are they responsible for managing?

    4. How is organization they are responsible for performing?

    It's really easy to simply attack someone based on a six-figure salary in a non-profit organization. Just because you work for a "non-profit" does not mean that you are not entitled to a competitive wage in the workplace. In order for organizations like AMC to attract quality talent, they need to offer a competitive compensation package. Otherwise you'd have the ****house caretaker running your organization. (no offense Steve).
    'All my lies are always wishes" ~Jeff Tweedy~

  13. #13
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Per the AMC web site:

    Q. Why does the AMC charge an $8 fee at some backcountry campsites?

    A. In 2002, the AMC's 14 shelters in the White and Mahoosuc Mountains will cost about $167,000 to operate and maintain. Operational costs include caretaker salaries, airlifts, capital improvements, transportation, and food for our caretakers. We project that with the $8 fee, we will be receiving approximately $108,800 in user fees in 2002. The net loss of $58,200 will be absorbed by the AMC using income from membership dues, endowments, and fundraising

    end of quote
    ______________________________


    As an aside, the AMC has a program whereby youth groups can borrow all the neccessary camping equipment for free and stay at shelters and huts for a dramatically reduced charge. At a full service hut, the cost is something like $15 per night and includes a full breakfast and dinner.

    Rick B

  14. #14
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TNJED
    IOtherwise you'd have the ****house caretaker running your organization. (no offense Steve).
    actually I got a whole 8 dollars a day to be caretaker...I was a volunteer position...but seems to me that the ****house caretaker does a more important job than E.D. ...there is always an excuse for the NONprofit E.D. to be highly compensated...guess they couldn't make enough money in "real" business to be able to volunteer time and $$$$ to keeping up the ****house...no offense of course..but I've seen LOTS of the NONprofits types who couldn't make a living so they went to nonprofit work ....I've seen it over and over again....
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

  15. #15

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    So the AMC is providing a service at a loss to themselves. Perhaps the service is undervalued. If that's the case, they should raise the prices to cover the loss. Of course, that will probably result in a reduced demand, and they may wind up losing even more money. On the other hand, the service may be properly valued, which is to say they're offering something people aren't generally willing to pay for.

    I'm trying to imagine establishing a similar system for the southern mountains. I don't think it would fly. Maybe the only reason the AMC system does is because it's already in place. Inertia is a wonderful thing.
    In training for the Chappaquiddick Triathlon "Drink - Drive - Swim"

  16. #16
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    Originally posted by smokymtnsteve
    yea ....these guys ALWAYS have the answer about Money..
    Originally posted by smokymtnsteve
    are day hikers charged to use the privy or only overnighters?
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

  17. #17

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    I have an unusual perspective on this whole "For Profit" vs. "Non Profit" thing. After spending 19 years in the telecommunications industry, I opted for a job in the non-profit world this past April.

    Steve, just for the record, I admire anyone who is willing to work as a caretaker and deal with composting privvys. Its a difficult & important job. Thanks.

    I just think folks are too quick to criticize about salaries with non profits. I can guarantee you that no E.D. for any reputable non-profit is working any 40 hour weeks. They're pouring their heart & soul into their job because they have to. Non Profits also pay money to get money. Since they are dependent on grants for income, an E.D. has to appeal to funders, and be compensated appropriately. If they are underperforming, or are overcompensated, Foundations will pick that up, and reject the organizations grant applications, and the E.D. will be out the door in a hurry.

    In other words, there are checks and balances.
    'All my lies are always wishes" ~Jeff Tweedy~

  18. #18
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    I've been around some non-profits myself...as volunter ,,and not just in the hiking community...good luck ..you been there since last April...not very long ..give it sime time ...you will see what I'm talking about...
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

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    If the AMC wasn't embedded in the Whites those mountains would be trashed and ***ed up beyond belief. That's a FACT. I don't agree with a lot of AMC policies and I ain't no member but overall they do a fair job. Thru-hikers should get absolutely no special treatment as they hike thru the Whites. Pay like everybody else or learn to stealth. If a thru-hiker hasn't learned to stealth by then, their backpacking skills ain't worth a sht.

  20. #20

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    I do believe Money Hikers and the US Government would trash the Whites without the AMC. However the current AMC Hut System in the Whites does promote over use. If they were all like Carter Notch and the Money Hikers had to carry their own food, use would drop drastically. Closing the Mt. Washington Road and Railway would also be great. None of these things are going to happen, so you just have to deal with it. Yes, some fat cats in Boston are sucking money out of rich North Face/BMW hikers, let em. Stealth, it's part of the adventure.

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