10 comments on “High and Low in Shenandoah National Park

  1. With all those people, maybe the trail is too well maintained. 😉

    Joking aside, my point is that with all the guidebooks, apps, technological tools, and myriad of other things, it seems like the barrier to entry for the trail is lower than ever. Hopefully, NPS is working on something.

    • I won’t avoid the blame that is due to me for providing more guides to hikers on the AT in the form of my apps, but I do think that a larger part of the problem is the mentality of valuing the hiker experience over the preservation of the trail itself– specifically the insane amount of hiker feeding going on, and the pandering that communities do to the hikers (I’ll write a post on this later).

      The NPS actually doesn’t do maintenance on the trail– I’m not 100% certain of this in Shenandoah, but I’m pretty sure the Potomac ATC is the only entity that organizes trail work. The NPS funds and approves trail work there, but the PATC are the workers. The delegation of trail maintenance and funding is actually really complicated compared to what most people imagine it to be… maybe another blog post there, too.

      • Sorry, I was not trying to lay blame. Your apps, the guidebooks that are out there, the prevalence of high-quality backpacking gear from the cottagers to REI, and all the back-breaking trail maintenance, are wonderful things. (Please keep updating your apps; they are fantastic resources!)

        However, all those things also make it easy for people with no backpacking experience—and no LNT ethic—to jump in unprepared. Yes, they may have all the right gear, but are lacking the right knowledge and care. I hate to think that it may come down to some kind of certification or educational requirement, but losing the trail to damage may be worse.

        • Heh. I didn’t think you were laying blame, although I volunteer to take some of it anyway– I am hypersensitive to many of the issues I may be exacerbating with the apps, but I’m trying to offset them by being a paying member of all of my local trail maintenance clubs, and eventually doing some trail adopting myself, donating to ATC, and as much else as I can do.

          The thing that’s been bothering me the most with this trip hasn’t been the inexperienced people so much as the people who just don’t care. There’s a lot of that on the AT and PCT these days– the people to whom the trail is just a big party, and nothing matters but themselves. I don’t care for that one bit, and I was right in the middle of it this time around.

  2. You never hike the same trail twice. Enjoyed your story of the second time through the Shenandoah Nat. Park. Funny how our memories of a place can seem so off base when we hit that same trail again. Appreciate your comments about trail maintainers. It’s rewarding work! Keep sharing.

    • Yeah! It has also reminded me that next year I’m going to finally do what I’ve been saying I’ll do for years and adopt a few sections of the AT in Maine. I do love trail maintenance, but it’s been a while since I’ve done the heavy lifting.

  3. Guthook,
    I hope you’re working out there as well.
    Very true. Hike the hike but always try and give something back.
    Have a blast.
    ~ Fozzie

    • Definitely getting a lot of work done! With all the time I’ve spent at the computer today, I’m starting to wish I was back on the trail… 😉

  4. i guess you can only hope that past transgression will result in more informed actions in the future with some people, but that isn’t often the case. A lot of times what people are complaining about aren’t at all what is truly bothering them. Bad trail conditions? What did you expect? Wait til you get north and theres boulders in the way.

    • Yeah, seriously. The trail conditions in Shenandoah particularly were immaculate. I found a lot of the complaining seemed to be from younger, more party-oriented folks, who were used to getting everything they wanted from admiring non-hikers. I’m just a grumpy old man, though.

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