Saturday, May 17, 2014

What Back Country Behavior Do We Hate The Most?

IMG_0013I’ll never forget the last few yards of my five-day fiftieth birthday mega-hike in late May of 2011. I had just come through the worst conditions I have ever experienced: six to seven feet of snow above Slant Rock on the way out and a nearly impossible slog up to the Four Corners on the loop back, with torrents of water rushing beneath unconsolidated snow, post-holing up to my armpits, my boots getting sucked and dragged down slope; and in between, three days of rain, drizzle, fog, frost and slush… in short, a brutal trek over a massive Adirondack dome of deteriorating snow pack the likes of which I’d never seen. And on top of the snow? Black files, hovering and swarming. Of course.

How incredible is it then, that in those last few yards I came upon a man experiencing far more grueling and exhausting circumstances than anything I had endured in the five days preceding?  But there he was, the poor DEC Forest Ranger assigned to man the Adirondack Loj trail head on Victoria Day weekend. Here stood an overwhelmed would-be gauntlet, futilely attempting to hold the line between the worst late-spring conditions he had ever seen (his description) and a phalanx of sunnily ill-prepared visitors in retro tennis shoes and sandals, tank tops and perfume, designer sunglasses, cell phones and little backpacks with single-serve Greek yogurts, Nutribars and spritzers.

I had seen a stream of them coming in toward Marcy Dam, gingerly attempting to avoid soiling their overpriced footwear by walking right along the far edges of the trail, atop the nice, clean, young green vegetation and delicate moss, blithely absent anything like awareness of their actions or of wilderness responsibility. I have never committed a deliberate act of violence in the Adirondacks but there are times that I have sorely wanted to.

So here it is, Victoria Day Weekend once again, the beginning of busy season and in particular the beginning of busy season for irresponsible hikers. My thoughts wander unhappily to the tawdry collection of back country behaviors I have either seen myself or whose aftermath I have enjoyed. While I am busy juggling five or six unfinished columns, stalled by final exam season and the busiest month of paperwork in my business, I thought it would be fun to conduct a little mud-season survey.  Which appalling back country behavior bothers you the most?

Here’s my list. Feel free to add your own:

  1. Littering
  2. Traipsing on arctic vegetation above the tree line
  3. Making inappropriate noise on trails or at camp sites
  4. Leaving food or messes out to attract animals small and large
  5. Eroding trails by walking wherever desired to avoid muck
  6. Being woefully under-prepared, inviting the need for help or rescue
  7. Damaging vegetation or trees
  8. Making fires where prohibited and/or making dangerous fires
  9. Washing or dumping waste in streams or lakes
  10. Defecating improperly and/or leaving toilet paper above ground
  11. Defacing lean-tos or signs

Full disclosure: I have a clear winner.  I wonder how it compares to reader opinions.  Five points if you guess mine.  Bonus points will go to the most creative suggestion for retribution against these perpetrators.

Let ‘er rip!

Photo: spring moss, untrampled

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Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson is a teacher, writer, essayist and activist whose work has appeared in a variety of Adirondack publications, and regularly in the Adirondack Almanack since 2005. Pete is also a founder and current Coordinator of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, which is working to make the Park more welcoming and inclusive.

When not writing or teaching mathematics at North Country Community College, Pete can be found in the back country, making music or even walking on stilts, which he and his wife Amy have done professionally throughout the United States for nearly two decades.

Pete is a proud resident of Keene, and along with Amy and his dog Henderson owns Lost Brook Tract, a forty-acre inholding deep in the High Peaks Wilderness.




82 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Postholing!

  2. Rob says:

    I don’t mind people walking their dogs, but keep it on a leash I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost pepper sprayed somebodies unrestrained dog because it ran at my kids, barking and snarling, while the owner yells “It’s OK, He’s friendly” from 100 yards down the trail.

    • Michael says:

      The law provides where we may have our dogs off leash. In the high peaks they must be on leash. Elsewhere, they needn’t be. If you attack my dog where the law doesn’t require that he be on leash, you will have your due coming.

      • Paul says:

        When you are in an area where a dog can be off leash it still needs to be under the control of the owner/handler at all times. That is what the law requires. So if you can have it off leash and it can be under control like a dog on leash than fine. Otherwise leave it at home.

        I see poorly trained dogs and handlers all over the Adirondacks. Some of these dogs are what destroys alpine vegetation (even if they are on a leash).

        Dogs should not be allowed above tree-line in my opinion.

        • Brian says:

          If we’re banning species because of the harm they’ve caused or potential damage they can foment, then we needn’t go any farther than humans.

          • Paul says:

            True. But at least humans have the ability (not that they do) to know what they should not stomp on.

    • Ray says:

      I have spent hundreds of days hiking in the Adirondacks, the Green and White mountains and met plenty of dogs. Not once have I had an unpleasant encounter. Some people have an unreasonable fear of dogs and pass it on to their kids. Too bad.

      • Paul says:

        Ray, You have no idea what you are talking about. Some people simply have a fear of dogs. It is not something that is “passed on to their kids” by any type of learned behavior. Ridiculous.

        “I have spent hundreds of days hiking in the Adirondacks, the Green and White mountains and met plenty of dogs.”

        So have I, but you and I are not afraid of dogs. And I have seen plenty of dogs running right at me, the kind of thing that would ruin my hike if I was afraid of them.

        • Michael says:

          People who are that afraid of dogs should lobby to have the regulations changed and in the mean time stay off the trails where dogs are allowed off leash. I agree with Ray. Some trail dogs are enthusiastic and will run up to people. But I have never seen an aggressive dog. So if Rob above can’t count the number of times he has seen aggressive dogs, I would say he is too sensitive. And this does not give him the right to attack these dogs with mace. Rob should stick to the high peaks where dogs have to be on leash (and even there he has no right to attack off leash dogs with mace).

          • Paul says:

            “Some trail dogs are enthusiastic and will run up to people”

            Technically that dog is not under the control of the owner/handler and is therefore technically in violation of the law. Anyone who wants to is within their rights to mace the dog or do whatever they feel they need to do to protect themselves. I wouldn’t do it but if you were afraid of dogs why not (don’t forget (according to the CDC) 2.4 million people in the US alone are bitten by dogs and half of those are children so this is by no stretch an illogical fear that some folks have).

            Michael, They don’t need the regulations changed the dog owner needs to comply with the regulations. If they can’t keep their dog under control they should leave it at home.

            Like I said I have two dogs and I don’t let them run all over the trails when I go hiking. It is irresponsible. When I want them to hunt birds (which is what they were bred for) I take them where they can run all over the place and if I need them to come right back to me at any time they will. (the stop dead on one whistle and run to my side at two).

            • Paul says:

              Sorry that is 4.5 million people per year bitten.

              • dave says:

                That is a bad statistic to try to apply to this conversation. The VAST majority of the bites reported by the CDC take place in and around the home. Their statistics also show that most bites involve variables and scenarios that just do not translate to meeting a companion animal on a hiking trail.

                The only data relevant to this discussion would be the number of dog bites recorded while hiking/camping/recreating outdoors, which I’d be willing to bet are microscopic.

                • Paul says:

                  Dave, my guess is that these folks don’t get their fear of dogs specifically from their encounters with them while hiking so that stat is totally relevant. If they are afraid of dogs they are afraid of dogs. Also some people just don’t like dogs why should we as pet owners shove them in the face of people who don’t like them? That is why I don’t do it with mine.

                • Paul says:

                  Dave, this is akin to folks that have a fear that they will be shot while hiking during hunting season (expressed by a number of people here at the Almanack) they don’t have that fear based on statistics of hikers being shot (almost a non existent occurrence) but by people being shot accidentally by a hunter anywhere in the woods. And here the chances of an incident are much much much higher. Sure it most likely will not occur but that isn’t where the fear that some have comes from.

                  • dave says:

                    Very poor analogy construction, Paul.

                    Statistics show that people actually do get shot in Adirondack woods. Every year. Sure, the chance that it will happen to you is slim, especially if you are a hiker and not a hunter, but the fear is based on something that does actually happen.

                    Statistics do not show that people get attacked by domestic dogs in the woods. Dog bite statistics show that dog bites take place at and around the home. So carrying that fear into the woods is an example of a fear based on something that doesn’t actually happen.

                    The comparison you are trying to make would only work if people were afraid of being shot in the woods because people also happen to be shot at home. But that is not the case. People are afraid of being shot in the woods, because people do actually get shot in the woods.

            • michael says:

              Paul,

              You cite a lot of law without citing any law.

              I imagine there is a whole lot of case law as to what “in control” is and it doesn’t mean staying 6 inches from your heal. A friendly dog who is within 10 feet of his master and greets a hiker that comes around a corner is “in control”.

              Any self defense has to be based on reasonable fear of bodily harm. It is not a subjective standard but an objective one. Your statement that “[a]nyone who wants to is within their rights to mace the dog or do whatever they feel they need to do to protect themselves” is false. It has to be based on a reasonable fear of bodily harm.

              • Paul says:

                Michael, sorry, here you go, NYS Ag and Market law, read for yourself:

                ARTICLE 7
                Of the Agriculture & Markets Law
                Relating to
                LICENSING, IDENTIFICATION AND CONTROL OF DOGS
                AND ANIMAL POPULATION CONTROL PROGRAM

                I think if a dog is running towards you there are two possibilities. It is going to be friendly or not. So you are saying that the person who is afraid of dogs (maybe even because they are one of the 4.5 million bitten each year (even if not while hiking)) should just hope that it is the former and not the latter?

                • John Warren says:

                  You don’t have to be afraid of dogs to be concerned about a dog running at you on the trail with an owner trying in vain (or not bothering) to control them.

                  I am not afraid of dogs. I’ve had them most of my life. However, people with dogs should recognize that if they can’t keep their dog off a hiker coming down the trail, or keep it from barking and snarling at them – which I’ve encountered many times, especially in more popular areas (though the last time was in the Dix Range) – then their dog should be leashed.

                  It’s simply being courteous to not let your dog jump on or otherwise harass people you meet on the trail – whether or not YOU think it’s harassment, or just a friendly greeting.

          • Dravens says:

            I believe I have a right to walk on public lands without being molested by dogs.
            I have been threatened by loose out of control dogs which have jumped on me and ripped my clothing. You don’t know how your dog will react in all situations.
            If you were walking with your child would you let them run up to strangers and jump on them.
            The woods are a place where I go for peace and perhaps to see wildlife not to meet an “enthusiastic” dog.

    • dave says:

      I get that people don’t want random dogs all up in their business while they are trying to enjoy the outdoors. It can be obnoxious. I agree with that. But these discussions too often turn into something entirely different. Instead of saying that they find it annoying when a dog runs around them or tries to give them an unwanted “hello”, it turns into hysterics and drama about snarling, aggressive, dangerous dogs.

      I have never – not once – in 20+ years of hiking the Adirondacks run into a truly aggressive or dangerous dog on a trail. What I have seen however, lots of times, is people who interpret a friendly dog coming up to them to investigate as an act of aggression and over react… which of course just makes things worse.

      At any rate, taking your annoyance out on the dog certainly doesn’t seem right, when it is the owner you should be mad at.

      • ChrisS says:

        I bring my dog into the woods and on the trails with me. Usually he is leashed unless we are bushwhacking and I let him run free. He’s a bird dog and is trained to stay within 30-50 yards or so.

        Last summer I had him off leash thinking that no one was on the trail (early season and no cars in the parking lot). He rounded a corner maybe 20 yards ahead of us and I saw him slam on the brakes and start barking, which is very odd because he rarely barks. I immediately thought bear, but it turned out to be a through hiker sitting on a stump changing his socks. My dog apparently wasn’t expecting to see someone and was startled. I felt awful for my dog nearly giving the hiker a heart attack.

        I don’t let me dog run off leash unless we’re hunting or camping on an island.

    • Bill says:

      Pepper spray is the least vicious-appearing dogs and their owners deserve. No excuse ever for a dog being allowed to threaten a hiker.

      I have heard that pepper spray will only enrage a big dangerous dog, however, so carry a big stick.

      I have even been charged inside my tent site by some idiot’s four-legged alter ego!

  3. Kurt Wisell says:

    Well you’ve pretty well covered my hot buttons when it comes to lousy back country behavior. I’m not going to hazard a guess as to which is your favorite but will say that the worst are those causing environmental degradation followed by those causing safety concerns. One item you did not include (though #7 hints at it and maybe it is number 11) that really bugs me is a lack of strict adherence to the “dead and down” policy on collecting firewood.

    Best retribution? Cuff them to a dead and down tree, preferably low, out of the wind and adjacent to a wet area, spritz with Counter Assault Black Fly Lure and let them enjoy a muggy night communing with nature.

  4. jon says:

    Overstaying the 3 day campsite rules
    Noise

  5. Michele says:

    All of the above but especially # 10

  6. Bill Ott says:

    These are just variations on yours; I did not realize how many things bothered me.

    1) Leaving burnt out trash in fire places; burying trash. (Ignoring the carry it in – carry it out rule.)
    2) Not cleaning out or repairing fire ring/fire place.
    3) Leaving unwanted items as gifts at shelters.
    4) Leaving survey tape on trees – it can last decades.
    5) Not helping to clear trails or rivers – one cannot count on the DEC to do it all. (I don’t mean to clear all the stuff all the time – just some of the stuff some of the time is great.)

  7. Dennis says:

    Seeing more than 15 people hiking together on a trail. I’ve seen bus loads hiking up the trail while I was hiking down. It’s the most annoying thing in the world.

  8. I’m a lean-to adopter and it breaks my heart to approach my lean-to and see young, living trees hacked off, 3 feet above the ground, for the purpose of firewood. I also hate it when visitors “donate” their unwanted canned food or other items – believing future lean-to visitors might actually want to use them.
    Very loud people are also annoying.

  9. George L says:

    the breadth and depth and frequency of good behavior is hugely greater

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      George:

      I agree with this completely. For example, like everyone else I have seen litter in the back country, but I have never seen anyone actually do it. The vast majority of hikers are good with most of these things – with, in my experience, one glaring exception. That one happens to be my top choice.

      Pete

  10. Chris Wrzenski says:

    An interesting topic that will collect many responses. It’s always easier to get negative responses than positive ones. I wonder if there would be as many responses if there was a companion list of “back country behavior I enjoy most”. Let’s put a positive spin on our back country experience. I’ll start, 1. Hikers and walkers that use non cleated shoes and boots that do not tear up the trails. 2. Hiking groups that individually space themselves out on the trail and enjoy the sounds, sights and smells of the forest, then later meet at a few points along the trail to enjoy conversation. Your turn.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      Positives?

      People who rock hop
      People who pace themselves to give their party and your party solitude
      People who pick up litter or trash
      People who bury other people’s poop
      People who remove the signs of illegal fires

      Most people, actually.

      You’re right, that wasn’t as much fun.

      • Bill Ott says:

        The poop thing has to be at the bottom or the top; it just cannot be mixed in there anonymously!

      • Paul says:

        People actually bury other peoples poop? That is good, but there is no way I am going there!

        I always pick up other peoples trash but that is where I draw the line.

  11. Wally Elton Wally says:

    I have to go with loud noises of any type (except an emergency). They destroy the here and now, the experience I seek, the reason I am out there, which can’t be recovered. I can pick up litter, and recovery from most of the others is possible over time. I’m not defending those behaviors, mind you. I might add to the list the whole “conquering the wilderness” mentality.

  12. Bob Meyer says:

    i’d move #10 way up the list… and don’t even ask what i’d do for retribution. 🙂

  13. Meredith says:

    It’s funny that you would describe your late spring slog over the High Peaks as intro to remarks about environmental degradation. Every Thursday the DEC publishes commentary and advice about back country conditions. Just this past Thursday they said: “Trails continue to be wet and muddy, and their [sic] remains some snow above about 4,00[0 sic] feet, especially on northern slopes in the High Peaks. Avoid elevations above 3,000 at this time of year to protect trails and sensitive vegetation.”
    Furthermore: “DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. Steep trails with thin soils can be heavily eroded when muddy and sensitive vegetation is easily destroyed when trampled.”
    Sorry to come back at you like this. The topic is thought provoking.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      Meredith:

      Ah but you are not too sorry to throw out what is essentially a personal judgment about someone without having any idea of them or how they are in the wilderness. Such a response, blithely made in ignorance, is cute and facile, passing for clever, I guess. That’s apparently why it earns a unanimous comment rating.

      And so it goes in the blogosphere.

      I didn’t really mind your comment that much when I first read it – as I say, you don’t know me. But the 12-0 at the bottom says too much about what we all think passes for discourse these days for me to ignore.

      And is there any room for discourse on this topic? Sure. My number one pet peeve is in fact trail eroders, so I am especially sensitive to where feet land. One might suggest that all trails be closed during at least part of mud season, period. Or any trails deemed especially sensitive could be identified and closed. It could suggested that new regs be drafted specific to trail erosion with an enforcement mechanism.

      Or you could just click on the vote thing.

      • Paul says:

        You really should close the trails at certain times of the year. We should treat this land like we own it since we do. Most private roads are closed during mud season on many lands so we don’t wreck them.

        • Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

          And we could call those periods bushwhacking season!

          • Bill Ott says:

            Do not entice those idiots to get lost.

          • Paul says:

            Now please don’t encourage people to get off the trail. That is number 2, number 5, and number 7.

            • Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

              It is perfectly acceptable to go off-trail, as long as the nearest trail is miles away. Otherwise, we’d have to round-up all bears, deer, moose, etc. and lock them up for all the erosion and vegetation damage they are doing.

  14. Charlotte Hall says:

    No. 2, and by extension No. 7.
    I like to watch the lovely forest floor and alpine vegetation as I hike. Nothing worse than seeing the delicate understory crushed by careless boots. Litter of all types is a close third.

    A lot of the list has to do with over use of trails in the High Peaks wilderness and lack of respect by some visitors. But the large majority of hikers do respect the mountains and other on the trail.

  15. JPGrant says:

    I feel better about myself.

  16. I worked as a Summit Steward for three seasons and trampling arctic alpine vegetation and improper human waste disposal are on the top of my lists. During my time as a Summit Steward I caught several people defecating and urinating on or directly adjacent to the trail. That always made for a unique educational moment…

    This book should be a mandatory read before people enter the backcountry >> http://www.amazon.com/How-Shit-Woods-Edition-Environmentally/dp/1580083633

    • Phil Brown says:

      A few years ago I was skiing down an icy Marcy Dam Truck Trail and passed a woman who was urinating and/or defecating in the MIDDLE of the trail.

      • Don Dew Jr. says:

        Phil, maybe Kate Smith had this same experience and thus created the song “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain”!

  17. Bob Kibbey says:

    My specific grievance with bad behavior in the back woods, dealt with fishing a trout pond, not hiking, but this could as well been a hiking situation.
    I was with two friends fishing along the shore of a well known trout pond, near Putnam Pond. We had brought in tents for sleeping. Later that day we saw two men and a young boy (12 or so) come in and go to the lean-to that was on the pond.
    That evening there was loud talk, gun fire and bad language coming from the lean-to. In the morning, there was more periodic gun fire.
    The three of us decided to leave in the morning and not fish around the pond as we had originally planned.
    I can’t be sure whether those guys had beer with them, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if they did. All I thought about was how such behavior would influence that young boy and that in only a few years, he would end up behaving the same as those idiots.

    Bob

  18. Kirk says:

    Some want “a brutal trek”. Some want to eat yogurt in sandals and a tank top.

  19. Marco says:

    Large groups really bother me. I have seen many larger groups simply destroy a small area of forest to set up tents. Strip the surrounding area of any bloody wood they can find to build a blazing, HUGE, fire somewhere (no fireplace there.) Pack up in the morning, leaving embers smouldering in the “fireplace”, and hike on. I invariably find pieces wrappers (usually mylar) along the trail while folowing them (after making sure the fire was out and scattering some of the larger pieces…what the hey, it was only another half hour.) Yup, large groups really bother me.

  20. Walt says:

    “Bonus points will go to the most creative suggestion for retribution against these perpetrators.”

    I’m glad to see someone mention education. But how much will we ever invest in that?

    I almost despaired over nobody mentioning firearms abuse, until Bob Kibbey restored my faith. Of course there WAS beer involved, and the cans were left behind, along with the shells.

    Carrying a long gun and a case of beer and heavy lead ammo into the woods causes so much back pain that they can’t bend over to pick up the almost weightless empties.

    Or call it a behavioral health disorder: Shoot-Pollute Syndrome. If I shoot, I must pollute.

    Most hunters are responsible, respectful conservationists. Still, there are too many people in the woods with guns (whether huntering — i.e., pretending to be hunters — or otherwise) who should be sentenced to picking up beer cans and shells until they truly can’t bend over any more, then have them dumped by the truckload in their front yard.

    I love this thing that seems to be an increasing trend: cans (usually beer, the breakfast of champion woodsmen) hung on trees. Makes it easier for tree huggers to find them. Gotta love it when people go along leaving nickels on the trail. I vote for making the deposit 25% of the purchase price. They might toss nickels along the trail, but maybe not quarters. Nah. The syndrome compels the action no matter the cost. We don’t need rangers on the trails. Psychologists.

    • Bill Ott says:

      Make the fines substantial. What is the fine for littering now, anyway? If one litters five hundred times and gets caught once for a fifty dollar fine, that is laughable.

  21. Unleashed dogs.

    I don’t care how friendly you *think* your dog is. I don’t want strange dogs, especially big ones, approaching me.

    • Paul says:

      I think I agree. See my reply to Michael above. Don’t get me wrong I own two hunting dogs I just think that people have the right to not have to deal with someone else’s dog.

  22. Elizabeth McCarthy says:

    In my extensive experience, dogs on hiking trails that are actually under the control of their owners happens about 25% of the time. The “friendly dog” comment is ubiquitous, while a strange animal is jumping on me with muddy feet, slobbering on my clothes, and sniffing me. How could anyone think this is okay? Please be considerate of PEOPLE who are hiking the trails.

  23. Andy Coney Andy says:

    How about walking in ski tracks when there’s plenty of room not to?

  24. Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

    As someone who no longer spends a lot of time on the trails, or in the overly crowded High Peaks region, I do not encounter a lot of these issues in the backcountry. In fact, the last time I saw anyone in the backcountry was way back in 2010!

    One activity that really disturbs me though, and it happens outside the backcountry, is the use of helium-filled Mylar balloons. I seem to pick up at least one every time I journey into the remote wilds of the Adirondacks. For example, I just picked up one this past weekend in the Pepperbox Wilderness.

    BAN HELIUM-FILLED BALLOONS!

    • Paul says:

      Dan, Have you ever seen some of these (what I think are) weather balloons. I have found two over the years. They are not much larger than the kind you are describing but have these weird boxes attached that appear to have some type of mechanicals (both were pretty well smashed from impact)?? NSA????

      • Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

        Paul,

        Nope, never saw one of those. I just find the ones with “Congratulations” or “Happy Birthday” on them. I doubt those are the NSA’s, but you never know.

      • Bill Ott says:

        Saw and photographed one last fall near the Robinson River. Left it where I found it, my pack was still full.

        75,000 Radiosondes are released each year (not all of them over the ADKs) by the National Weather Service. About 20% are recovered and returned. A radiosonde flight can last in excess of two hours, and during this time the radiosonde can ascend to over 35 km (about 115,000 feet) and drift more than 200 km (about 125 miles) from the release point. Info extracted from here:

        http://www.erh.noaa.gov/gyx/weather_balloons.htm

        • Paul says:

          Thanks for the info. So maybe the thing I saw with the box was the parachute designed to slow it down? It sounds like the balloons are pretty large?

  25. Mike says:

    “In fact, the last time I saw anyone in the backcountry was way back in 2010!

    Why did I know this was Dan Crane? 😉

    Anyway, did I ever tell you about the time (early 80’s?) when I came across a guy on the Algonquin trail- just below the Wright junction- carrying a full-size (and full volume) boom box on his shoulder? A true wilderness experience.

  26. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

    Wow this went to the dogs. Okay, dog column coming.

  27. Jim McCulley says:

    Always remember. Hiking is not a virtuous act.

  28. Jason Pedu says:

    Naggers.

  29. Mark Murray says:

    I find it terribly aggravating and potentially injury causing, to navigate around a party of people, with/without dogs, stopped on a narrow trail with cast off equipment and no easy pass route.

  30. I think #6 is the worst: being under-prepared. Backcountry rescues aren’t free, and I think that the cost of those rescues will most likely the driving factor behind areas of the Adirondacks requiring permits for entry at some point, or compensation for rescue. It’s hard to judge individual cases without knowing all of the details, but from what I can see in the DEC rescue reports, most of the reported rescues could have been avoided if the individuals involved had thought a little more about what they were doing. It’s amazing how many people don’t bother to bring a flashlight when hiking, and then don’t turn around when the hour is late and they know they don’t have a light.

    Full disclosure: I have been guilty of #5 in the past, but I’ve learned to embrace the mud. A lot.

  31. Curt Austin says:

    I am annoyed by people who can hike faster than me, which is nearly everyone. Don’t say “Thanks” when I pull over to let you through; that does not soften the blow.

    I dislike those with the special “Winter” patch below their 46er patches (I have only the latter).

    I am disturbed by people with clean pant legs, when mine are dirty.

    Excessive clicking of trekking poles is intrusive on my wilderness experience. As an old timer, I still think the whole concept of trekking poles is a conspiracy led by L.L. Bean. If you’re an old timer, using one (not two) is justifiable, if you can use it quietly.

    People are often too cheerful as you pass them going in while you are on the way out in death march mode.

    Surely, it is not necessary to consume fancy dinners out in the woods? Deluxe should be no more than boiled hot dogs wrapped in tortillas – maybe with condiments. (Guess who I’m thinking of?)

    The first thing to learn about paddling a canoe is not to bang the gunwales. Better you should capsize and drown than bang the gunwales.

    Bugs should never be mentioned in lean-to log books.

    If you love your children, you’ll teach them to give their elders the right of way.

    I’m OK with dogs, as long as they’re not wearing a bandanna.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      I’ve`been at this for a while, okay? So this is one of the single greatest comments ever. Young’uns, this is how it’s done. The canoe truism alone is worth the price of admission and should be drilled into a whole generation of younger visitors.

      Curt, we may part company just a little in the food area (boiled hot dogs?), but you just nailed it, sir. “Clicking of trekking poles…” thank god for hikers like Curt Austin.

      • Curt Austin says:

        Perhaps a good meal on the trail would be good. When will you be out here next? I have no dietary restrictions.

      • Curt Austin says:

        BTW, Pete, and completely OT: I have a gig this weekend at a Sagamore wedding, in an ad hoc brass group – the lead trumpet will be Chris Coletti of the Canadian Brass. Family connections.

        • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

          Nice. How will your nerves be?

          Because of who our leader was our band used to get guests of note who would just stop in out of the blue. One night the trombone player from Wynton Marsalis’ current quintet showed up and sat in. We didn’t even know who he was until he took a solo that left us agape. I played the gig but had a repeated urge to pack up.

          The worst story like this was a piano-playing friend of mine who got a last minute call to sub at a wedding reception at a private home out in the countryside. He drove out to find the fanciest reception he’d ever seen. As he was setting up he noticed a guest who looked a lot like the great pianist Emmanuel Ax. He dismissed it – at least until Yo Yo Ma came strolling in, with Isaac Stern just behind. Mr. Stern’s son Michael (himself a conductor of some note) was the groom, so my friend had to play keyboards in front of most of the great luminaries of classical music. I would not have handled that well.

    • Paul says:

      If you are going to be eating hotdogs you better boil them well. Or drag a refrigerator and a generator in with you! I guess you could use a cooler and just keep hiking out to get more ice!

      Great comment.

      Also people who don’t put there hand on the TOP of the paddle drive me crazy. Who taught them to paddle holding both hands around the paddle like you are supposed to have your bottom hand.

      You know what I mean?

    • Dan Crane Dan Crane says:

      This comment is priceless for its curmudgeonly aspect alone.

      Well said.

  32. Paul says:

    sorry “their hand” not “there hand”

  33. Kevin Sigourney says:

    I have to say the most annoying thing I have ever encountered is people moving right into my campsite while out hiking/paddling. It has happened twice to me . When I return from an all day hike/paddle, the last thing I want to see is another tent right next to mine, especially when other sites are available closeby. Both times, the campers were oblivious as to why I was upset.

  34. The things that always fire me up the most are a combination of 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11 – just generally leaving obvious signs of use/abuse of the woods (whether litter or human waste or cut trees). One of my favorite mountains is Crane near Wevertown, but it’s getting some heavy abuse from inconsiderate hikers. One hike we found human waste and toilet paper in a bush on the shoreline of the pond (where we were preparing to take a dip – ew). Another time we found someone had cut down multiple trees, also near the pond, and built some kind of structure (a frame for a tarp?). It will take years for that patch of woods to recover. We’ve also found graffiti and litter at the informal campsites. The views are great, but the mountain is clearly suffering from its popularity. We haven’t been back in a while.

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