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Thread: AMC/Whites

  1. #1
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    Default AMC/Whites

    OK folks, we're finishing up the AT this summer, taking off around June in northern CT. so, should be in the whites by mid/end of june. Honestly starting a new thread hoping to get new and up to date info so if any of ya'll got advice it would be great.

    1: How regulated are you in free-camping in the whites? Like am are we gonna have some AMC guy kicking our tent down if the shelters and campsites (AKA we don't agree with paying to stay in a shelter or to camp) are "full." IE how is stealth-ing?

    2: Lets say no stealth-ing, I only have an outdated guide book (at the moment). How much are the camping fee's?

    3: Even out of trail shape we can bang out 10-15 miles in a half a day in the Berkshires (aka MA section and side trails). How hard are the white's really? Such as, should 10-15 in the whites be a full day or can you push farther?

    I guess the bottom line is really, how much bull$#!^ are we going to have to deal with through AMC land?

    Thanks to anyone with some info!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMRSWalkinghome View Post
    OK folks, we're finishing up the AT this summer, taking off around June in northern CT. so, should be in the whites by mid/end of june. Honestly starting a new thread hoping to get new and up to date info so if any of ya'll got advice it would be great.

    1: How regulated are you in free-camping in the whites? Like am are we gonna have some AMC guy kicking our tent down if the shelters and campsites (AKA we don't agree with paying to stay in a shelter or to camp) are "full." IE how is stealth-ing?

    2: Lets say no stealth-ing, I only have an outdated guide book (at the moment). How much are the camping fee's?

    3: Even out of trail shape we can bang out 10-15 miles in a half a day in the Berkshires (aka MA section and side trails). How hard are the white's really? Such as, should 10-15 in the whites be a full day or can you push farther?

    I guess the bottom line is really, how much bull$#!^ are we going to have to deal with through AMC land?

    Thanks to anyone with some info!
    go to www.outdoors.org for rate info on sites and huts.
    as an AMC member, Id like to thank you for your kind comments about the people who work their butts off maintaining one of the most beautiful(and challenging) stretches of the AT.campsites are $8 person, the huts rates are posted on outdoors.org and camping above treeline is not permitted,except for designated sites.10-12 miles/day in the whites is a good day.
    you can stay at the RMC sites too, but they do charge.

  3. #3

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    If you are still "out of trail shape" by the time you hit Mt. Moosilauke, then even 10 mpd will be tough for you. Now of course starting in CT, you'll have attained some trail hardiness by the time you reach the Whites but I still wouldn't plan on 15 per day there.

    I wouldn't start off the bat with 15 mpd, not even in the relatively easier terrain of CT and MA. Give your out-of-shape body some time to adjust (feet, knees, etc) and work up to 12-15 mpd by the time you're in Vermont.

  4. #4

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    The rules on where hiking is allowed in the Whites are established by the USFS, not the AMC. You may want to check the USFS website for the regulations.

  5. #5

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    You can abolute hike thru the Whites without staying at a shelter, campsite or hut.

    To do it legally, takes proper planning and a willingness to add some non-AT miles to your hike.

    Get the backcountry camping regulations from the USFS website. Look at the topos and make a plan.

    Yes, of course, USFS Forest Rangers, AMC caretakers, & RMC caretakers will request you move if they catch you camping illegally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerboy57 View Post
    go to www.outdoors.org for rate info on sites and huts.
    as an AMC member, Id like to thank you for your kind comments about the people who work their butts off maintaining one of the most beautiful(and challenging) stretches of the AT.campsites are $8 person, the huts rates are posted on outdoors.org and camping above treeline is not permitted,except for designated sites.10-12 miles/day in the whites is a good day.
    you can stay at the RMC sites too, but they do charge.
    First, we would like to take a step back, as we see our post could easily be misinterpreted. Believe us, we appreciate what everyone does to maintain the AT. We go out and volunteer plenty of time in our neck of the woods to trail maintenance and ensuring all areas are clean and cared for. To clarify our statements, we have heard, a number of times, negative feedback from folks that hiked through the whites, mainly due to AMC staffers. That's not to say that maybe these stories were exaggerated, as we only heard their side of it. Additionally the whites are the ONLY part of the entire AT that thru-hikers have to pay to camp out. THAT is what we don't agree with. The huts and the services they provide we have heard are exceptional, especially after a long day hiking, and we can understand fee's for such services. But if we just want to camp out, make our own meals, filter our own water, and maintain our area following LNT standards, we don't think having to spend $8 a night to camp in a designated area to complete a journey in which someone has already made a great financial sacrifice is reasonable. If that is what it is then so be it, and we will prepare for it. And sometimes what is posted on websites is different then what happens in real life, and we were mainly wanting in person feedback. Thank you for your feedback hikerboy, and again, we apologize if you felt disrespected, that was not where we were coming from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMRSWalkinghome View Post
    First, we would like to take a step back, as we see our post could easily be misinterpreted. Believe us, we appreciate what everyone does to maintain the AT. We go out and volunteer plenty of time in our neck of the woods to trail maintenance and ensuring all areas are clean and cared for. To clarify our statements, we have heard, a number of times, negative feedback from folks that hiked through the whites, mainly due to AMC staffers. That's not to say that maybe these stories were exaggerated, as we only heard their side of it. Additionally the whites are the ONLY part of the entire AT that thru-hikers have to pay to camp out. THAT is what we don't agree with. The huts and the services they provide we have heard are exceptional, especially after a long day hiking, and we can understand fee's for such services. But if we just want to camp out, make our own meals, filter our own water, and maintain our area following LNT standards, we don't think having to spend $8 a night to camp in a designated area to complete a journey in which someone has already made a great financial sacrifice is reasonable. If that is what it is then so be it, and we will prepare for it. And sometimes what is posted on websites is different then what happens in real life, and we were mainly wanting in person feedback. Thank you for your feedback hikerboy, and again, we apologize if you felt disrespected, that was not where we were coming from.
    NP. You can get the info you want at outdoors.org, theres actually a white mountain guidebook you can download that has all the usfs regs as well as othr camping restrictions. stealth is difficult but not impossible. omost caretakers ive met are reasonable as long as pone leaves ones attitude at the door.there have been enough stories posted here both pro and con-AMC, and from time to time i feel the need to defend.
    but in the end its all good. we all just want to enjoy ourselves out there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerboy57 View Post
    ...but in the end its all good. we all just want to enjoy ourselves out there.
    And as in the hokey-pokey, that's what it's all about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMRSWalkinghome View Post
    And as in the hokey-pokey, that's what it's all about.
    i have a white mountain guidebook thats a year or two old, but if you want it, send me a PM. Im probalbly heading up to Maine this summer, so i dont need it anymore.

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    Additionally the whites are the ONLY part of the entire AT that thru-hikers have to pay to camp out.
    Thru hikers don't need to pay to camp out in the Whites. Many do, because they apprecite the convenience of a shelter that has been built and maintained by others. The woods are free and, apart from areas that are very close (1/4 mile) to man-made facilities like roads and huts and shelters are fair game-- for the most part. In some (certainy not all) areas you are required to walk 200 feet from the AT. In other stretches, you can camp virtually on it. But please don't.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMRSWalkinghome View Post
    Additionally the whites are the ONLY part of the entire AT that thru-hikers have to pay to camp out.
    You haven't been to Baxter yet?
    When you get to Glencliff you'll find info on current usable legal non-pay campsites. Re-think your aversion to pay sites and huts in the Whites. You'll be missing out on some spectacular camping, and the Hut experience for an AT hiker is one you might enjoy.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  12. #12

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    From Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch, you have little choice as to where you can camp as this section is primarly above tree line. Plan carefully.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrMRSWalkinghome View Post
    3: Even out of trail shape we can bang out 10-15 miles in a half a day in the Berkshires (aka MA section and side trails). How hard are the white's really? Such as, should 10-15 in the whites be a full day or can you push farther?

    10 miles in MA isnt "banging out" anything. you cant even begin to comprehend how much harder of a hike youre talking about comparing the whites to MA. i can "bang out" 20s in MA no sweat, 15 in the whites is harder than that.

  14. #14

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    I always thought that you could camp 200' off the trail below treeline except in "restricted areas" - most of which are within 1/4 mile of huts or trail heads. 200' isn't that far. It does require some planning. 200' after all could put you in some awful ravine in the right spot. And through the presidentials, it may not work so well. But there are hundreds of miles of trails in the Whites that lead below tree line that intersect with the AT.
    Quilteresq
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    And in many non-wilderness areas there isn't even a REQUIREMENT that you move off the trail 200'. It is a recommendation only.

    The Forest Service prohibitions about camping above treeline, and the lack of obviouse flat places along much of the trail do make a couple of the $8.00 +/- AMC and RMC sites tempting, however.

  16. #16

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    $8 isn't a fortune, I can't tell you how many $8 restaurant meals I have had in trail towns. There is always work for stay as well. The camping fees don't even cover expenses to keep the campsites running, the huts subsidize the campsites. Spend some time in the Whites and look at the amount of people that come through there combined with the harsh conditions. Some things that don't make sense on the outside, make a lot more sense after you have seen how thing actually work and talked with caretakers/crew.

  17. #17

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    I recently posted a link to the USFS regulations on a Jewell trail post. Basically USFS is in charge of enforcing backcountry regulations. AMC has designated campsites where they are "in charge" and have a caretaker. Given the terrain and vegetation, camping along the AT in much of the whites with a tent is close to impossible as the terrain on either side of the trail is dense spruce fir with mossy rocks underneath. The designated campsites are usually heavilly used and the caretaker has to maximize the number of people who can stay at a site and make a decision on when they need to route people to an overflow site. The areas around developed facilities are posted no camping as they could rapidly get trashed with concentrated use.

    The reality is that a majority of the complaints by a small but vocal minority of thru hikers in the whites is caused by their sense of entitlement, general laziness and lack of planning. For everyone that complains, 99 have a great time. There is almost always dispersed camping spots once you drop off the ridge crest about 1000 feet in elevation and about 1 mile of hiking (note the exceptions are clearly spelled out in the USFS regs). When possible there are backcountry campsites closer to the ridgecrest but they are a magnet for many weekenders as well as thruhikers and therefore have to be managed. No one is forcing a person to do a 20 miler, its their decision, the other option would be do a 18, drop off the ridge and then hike back up in the morning. With the exception of a few sections, there are plenty of side trails dropping off the ridge and by looking at a map its pretty obvious where the exceptions are

    As for camping above treeline, its not a good idea in summer and early fall as thrunderstorms frequently form in the region and the ridgeline is a magnet for them. If you are up above treeline and a storm is nearby, the strikes will generally hit within yards not miles. I live near the base of the mountains and when a storm hits the summits it can be 45 minutes of almost continuous strikes. Thus the regulations on no camping above treeline. Even is there is no thunder, the nice soft spots in the moss between the rocks, frequenty harbor rare and endangered plants that only grow in a few spots in the world. They are not obvious and one footstep can wipe them out.

    The other issue is that human waste doesnt magically disapear and in unmanaged areas it can become quite obvious. The AMC caretakers most time consuming job is emptying out the privies on sometimes a daily basis, digging out the trash from the waste and then composting the waste and then ultimately dispersing it in the woods. Many folks say they practice LNT but few actually carry their waste out with them so consider the $8 the fee for someone deal with waste.

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    Yes there are stretches of trail in the Whites where there are no practical places to camp other than the huts or pay to camp sites.

    One of the things I noticed going through the Whites last year was that several popular sites had been posted "No Camping" and trees had been planted in the middle of obvious camping areas. One of the hut crew told me they did that because they were tired of picking up trash at the sites. It seemed to me to be an attempt to limit options other than the pay sites. The problem I ran into was that the pay tent sites were all full by the time I got there.
    "Chainsaw" GA-ME 2011

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    let me first say I find your attitude a bit disturbing. The whites are more frequented by day and weekend hikers than thru hikers so naturally the AMC caters to them. yes they are very regulated but they have to be. Being so well visited (over million a year I believe) they have to be regulated.

    Don't try and compare hiking in the Whites to the Berkshires. That's a really ignorant thing to do. Hikers in peak thru hiker condition may be able to do 15-20 mpd. For most of us, 10 miles per day is a good hard day. But what the hell's your rush? It's one of the most spectacular parts of the AT and you want to race through? Take your time and enjoy your hike! Also.. Trying to cover too many miles in a day may make an injury more likely. Keep in mind also, that the White Mountains are n0torious for bad weather, and it can be cold wet and miserable even in summer. You can have sub freezing windchills on the top of Mount Washington even in early August!
    Don't bother stealth camping. In most places, there is no good place to camp other than designated sites. The terrain is often steep and thick with brush. There are a few places you could put a small tent up, but there'd be no water. Most camp sites have a care taker and there is an 8 $ per night per site fee even if you stay in the shelter. Price may have gone up this year. check at www.outdoors.org.

    Now when you hit the Presidentials, you will have a considerable distance of above treeline hiking (From Mount Clinton all the way to Mount Madison. That's a three day hike for most. The most in shape and fast hikers may do it in one day (pre-dawn start, after dark finish). Camping of any sort is not allowed above tree line during summer so your only option (other than hiking DOWNHILL into the woods) is to stay at the Huts (Lakes and Madison). You won't want to hike down hill off the ridge to camp because of the elevation you'd have to come back up next morning.

    The huts cost 90+ dollars per night but that doesn't matter because in the summer they are full months in advance anyway. So what thru hikers do is arrive late afternoon and ask/beg very politely for a work for stay. You do a half hour of chores in evening or morning and in exchange you get to stay free (sleeping bag on tables, expect very early wake up) and eat free with croo). This is a courtesy the AMC extends to long distance hikers and they are in now way obligated to provide this service. Act like a jerk expecting/demanding this service and you'll be out in the cold with no place to say.

    Unless you are in good hiking shape.. you ARE NOT going to bang out 15 miles per day here. The terrain is very steep and rugged.

    Go buy the AMC white mountain guide (28th edition which is the most recent), and learn what you are getting into.


    If you don't like regulations so much, why don't ya just stay out of the popular areas like GSMNP, the White Mountains, and Baxter State Park. Especialy stay out of Baxter State Park. it's the most regulated park in the east. if a ranger catches you stealth camping out there.. you are in real big trouble.


    DavidNH

  20. #20

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    The AMC doesnt arbitrarilly post no camping signs and pile up debris in "popular camping spots" unless the spots are illegal. Usually the "popular camping spots" are in a restricted use area (RUA) which is typically within 1/4 of a mile of a campsite or hut or technically above treeline (note above treeline can still have trees as long as they are less than 6' high). RUAs are USFS mandated not the AMC.

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