The Adirondacks has been flooded with inexperienced hikers this whole season. The number of rescues in the high peaks is very high compared to other seasons, the reports of people comping overnight on the summits of many of the high peaks (Mt. Marcy is apparently huge for this) is insane.
NYS law is that you can not camp above 3500’, all of the high peaks are 3900’ and above.
Then there’s the egregious case of someone driving two miles down an access trail to Marcy Dam
All of this has increased the calls for required permitting in the High Peaks region. It’s something that I’ve been behind for a while, and this just may be the season that pushes everyone over the edge.
I was hiking up Snowy Mountain, right next to Indian Lake, it’s 3900’, 2100’ of elevation gain, about 8 miles round trip. It’s not a beginners hike, and the last 3rd is a crazy with a half mile of steep rock scramble along with a few sections where you have to literally climb up boulders. It’s so steep that if you were to find a flat spot to stand on you’d slide off, I know, I’ve tried.
My last climb of Snowy was the 5th of July, and the trail was packed with people including several families with various sizes of dogs. I love dogs on trails, Snowy is not that trail. I passed by one guy with his down going up the rock scramble and the dog, several times, lost it’s footing and started falling back down the mountain. I double checked that he and the dog were okay and I warned them that it gets worse further on but they were undeterred.
I passed several families with smaller dogs that you’d have to carry up the rock scramble and honestly I have no idea how they would make it to the summit.
I hate hiking on any mountain trail that has road access. The summit is always filled with shitty and disrespectful people and litter. The less accessible, the better, when it comes to my personal hiking.
Out west here in Utah I have lots of of experience with the issue of outdoors popularity generally, with a noticeable increase this summer due to Coronavirus. The outdoors here are the one of the biggest reasons I live here. I’m not hardcore, as I can often be found in front of my computer like lots of us, but I love exploring the mountains and the deserts frequently, and the fact that I can decide between a 30 minute drive to a trailhead or campsite or that driving 3-4 hours will get me to half a dozen National Parks & Monuments is a huge perk of living here that I relish.
I haven’t been working this summer and have been taking the opportunity to get outdoors much more frequently and for longer periods of time and to also try out new locations that are more off the beaten path or have always been “next time I should go to…” Long story short, I have been absolutely shocked at how crowded some places are and/or how many locations that probably rarely see more than a couple of groups of people at the same time are packed with crowds that make me wonder if it was an organized meetup or convention or something. If it is a National Park/Monument that has specific things I wanted to see, I do it as quickly as possible, staying only a night or two, and then moving on to a more remote and less well-known part of the wilderness. I have ended up finding some truly impressive scenes as a result, places I may not have ever gone to. Beautiful lonely mountains in the middle of the barren desert and even just appreciating the stark expanse of the Great Basin.
Like the author of that hiking blog commented, I think we have been trending towards much higher use/occupation of these wilderness areas anyway, but quarentimes have skyrocketed up the utilization rate and with fewer people willing to respectful and considerate of preservation for the future.
The other thing I am getting absolutely sick of related to this is the widespread and guaranteed to be seen display of Trump flags and Blue Stripe American Flags waving from camping trailers, trucks, UTV’s, etc… I would say 25-30% of all wilderness users are displaying this paraphernalia. Usually accompanied by blaring music, electric generators rumbling all night, and messy campsites with too many people. I try to stay as far away from these people as I can, for my safety and to fight the urge to rip that stuff down in the middle of the night.
One of my favorite hikes ever was up the Four Mile Trail in Yosemite Valley. Only later did I realize there was a road up there to a car park. And that’s because I hiked up in the snow. Only three other people had taken the trail before me that day, and one was a park ranger who was marking the route of the trail with his footprints.
I hiked up in the afternoon, and down in the dark. The sunset was incredible.
It wouldn’t have been the same if I’d have noticed the road and car park. But it was covered in snow.