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Mountain Access Debate
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“This was touched upon on another thread, and I grew curious. Perhaps it's been debated before on it's own thread before, and I apologize if it has.
Mt. Washington in NH is the tallest in the NE. As I found out last weekend, it's a fun hike up. However, there's a cog train that takes people to the top, and also a road where one can drive their car to the summit. I know several other mountains across the U.S. are set up the same way.
On one hand, the train and roads probably generate a lot of money (you have to pay to drive up and also use the train) that I assume is put to good use for the benefit of the park. Geobeet brought up the point that it could open some people's eyes to the beauty of nature, and perhaps spark an interest to get involved in hiking or conservation issues. It also affords access for the handicapped to witness something they might not otherwise.
On the other hand, what a buzzkill. If you want to summit a mountain, shouldn't you climb it and not drive it? Shouldn't you have to work for the reward? Aren't Americans not exercising enough as it is?
I personally lean towards the latter point of view. But that's just my opinion. I was curious about what you everyone was thought..”
“I think fat, lazy people should have some access, there taxes pay for parks etc... just like ours.”
“"I personally lean towards the latter point of view. But that's just my opinion. I was curious about what you everyone was thought.."
I think, you think too much.
“I suppose that last sentence could have used some editing. :-)”
“I agree with your lean Artex. Sometimes life isn't fair to all. I can't to make it to the top of Everest. Should there be a tram? I can either train, stay down or view it from my highest accessible point. Before anyone jumps in about the handicapped, Eric Wei..... did it. You could say the same thing about other areas in the backcountry.”
“I believe that the Mt. Washington Auto Road is the oldest existing pay road in the US, or at least I heard that rumor somewhere. I doubt it's going anywhere, cause it makes moola. To my knowledge most of the highest peaks on the East coast have access roads to the top - Mt. Mitchell and Clingman's dome to name a couple. This is the price we pay for being Americans, comrade! As long as they don't turn more high summits into ski resorts, I guess I'm cool with that. Watchya gonna do, push over the grandfolks in your quest to beat them to the benchmark?!?”
“There's a similar situation in Wales, on Mount Snowdon, with the railway that goes to the top, and I think they recently built another in the grampians in Scotland.
I think there's a place for these. Ok it may ruin the experience for a few who wish to hike/climb to the top, but it also gives a chance for those who would never do this to take in the views.
While I went up through NH oon Friday, I stopped and took the tramway up Cannon Mountain. The views up there were fantastic, but I did feel that I'd somehow cheated by paying $10 to get up there. Having said that, if I wanted the satisfaction of summiting then I could have gone up Lafayette, or numberous other mountains in the Whites, or even hiked up Cannon myself.”
“Last October I did a week long section hike on the AT. One particular day, I was looking forward to hiking up Big Bald (North Carolina/Tennessee area) and then cooking some lunch while I enjoyed the view from the top. I arrived at the summit of Big Bald and found a parking lot there with several cars. After getting over the initial shock of seeing a parking lot there (I could have drove up there and not went through the suffering?), I sat down and started making lunch. That's when people come by and start saying stuff like, "what cha doin?", "you cooking?", "why?", "you walk up here?", "you crazy?", "you carry a gun?", "why not?"
Anyway, I got a candy bar and pepsi out of the deal, but I was rather disappointed to see the parking lot at the summit. It took the steam out of my hike up the mountain. I don't have a problem with roads to the tops of mountains...I just don't want to see them after I hike 2 hours to get there. :D”
“When we hiked up Mt Mitchell it did feel a little odd to walk into this parking lot full of people who smelled way better than we did. But, a lot of those folks looked at us with a little curiosity. One big guy on a Harley asked me how far we'd hiked, and nodded approval at the answer (13 miles I think at that point).
So, the roads are probably not all bad, gives people a chance to see stuff that they otherwise never would and maybe lets them develop an appreciation for wild things. If they never got to see such things, our chances of keeping the wild space we still have just might dwindle away.”
“What's wrong with ski areas, CapnBobo? ;-)”
“On the subject, I see both sides.
1) On one hand, how can you deny the chance to enjoy some of the incredible views we see?
2) On another hand, danggit sorry. Life sucks. I busted my butt to get here, and the last thing I want is some idiot carcamping on top of Springer. ;)
I wonder if I still have that quote on my site about the conversation I had with a woman once about the Appalachian Trail? We were sitting at Charlies Bunion.
If that opinion didn't epitomize my disdain for easy access.. (Please don't crucify me..).. I just hate it when folks don't appreciate WHERE THEY ARE.”
I had a feeling you'd call me on that one!
“Actually, I wouldn't worry about the roads too much. At some point in time the Apes will take over the planet and most roads will return back to nature.
“Mote point: I suspect that the road to the top of Mount Washington exists because of the weather research station. The cog railroad was built in the late 1800's before environmentalism became a popular concept.
There are plenty of mountains left unblemished, and hopefully will remain as such, by the scars of railroads and roadways. Most backpackers/hikers will undoubtedly opt to venture up those peaks. For the rest of the folk out there, let them have a few mountains to drive up. Isn't public awareness/education worth a momentary buzzkill if the end result is that people who might otherwise have not had the pleasure of experiencing their natural surroundings decide to take action and preserve what little reamins of it?
PS - besides, at the top you can still roar "Arrgghh, I am the uberhiking king of the world!!"...that is, before Pennsy runs up behind you after completing his second jog up the hill.”
“yeah, when we did the Mt. Mitchell hike and hiked 13 miles on the Crest Trail to get there and then reached the parking lot near the summit and it was full of cars and people picnicing and walking up to the tower it was sorta a buzz kill. They were probably thinking about how hard their cars worked to get up there and we were thinking how hard our legs and arms had worked to get there. It was a Sunday and people were dressed in nice Sunday clothes it seemed. We got a couple stairs. Same thing on Washington when I climbed it in May. I poked out on top and at the same time a train pulled in. It kinda sucks waiting in line to stand on the very top behind people who took the train up when you hiked the dang trail. The train isn't cheap though. I am glad that people can see the wilderness and I hope it does affect them in a good way. Conservation of the wilderness is more important than ever and exposure to its beauty is probably the best way to wake people up to its plight. They have been talking about building a rode from Fontana Dam to connect with the auto road at Clingmans Dome. I hope this never happens. That would ruin that wilderness. Clingmans Dome is already the most visited mountain summit in the world as it stands. It's a catch 22 I guess.”
“Most of the mountains I want to climb have no road access. I am OK with the proportion of roaded/nonroaded peaks we have. I do think it is good for the handicapped and the elderly to have places where they can see natural beauty. As long as most of the peaks are left to the hikers--and they will be--I don't complain.
Of course...when I hiked Mt. Washington it was a bit of an anti-climax. Still remember sitting up there, exhausted but exhiliarated, and seeing the group photo being taken next to the cog railway. Those peeps had their arms in the air, flexing muscles, triumphant, as if they had really accomplished something, surviving the cog railway ride to the summit. :-)”
“Fritz, I had to laugh how the peeps on the cog railway would look out the window and point at the backpackers and go, "OOO-OOO!", like they just spotted a wild animal!
Silly, silly, peeps!”
“Fritz: lmao.. hehe.. for real??”
“Itís definitely a buzz kill. Iíve had that experience on Mt. Washington and also on Killington in Vermont. There are more raodless peaks to bag than there are ones with roads, so I would simply avoid ones with roads. I also find it a bit of a buzz kill to reach the top on a mountain that doesnít have a road and see a couple dozen people sitting around.”
“It's good that those unfit to hike can see some of what we get to see.
Some where in the last few days of our hike around Rainier we got to an over look that was crawling with non-backpackers.
We dropped our packs by the rail to get a look at the waterfall and catch a break.
People looked at us with a certain amount of awe.......and then there was the shock of the stank!
When we trooped outta there we went smokin' past those slackers with our loads as they struggled without any load.
That was more of a buzz than a buzz-kill.”
“I had to wait in line to get this picture.
Whiteface is the only Adirondack High peak with a ski area and road to the summit. While I don't care for the road up. At least it is on a mountain that is away form most of the other peaks.”
“That's a few feet higher than Spruce Knob in West Vriginia, zac.
There is a road to the top and a stone observation tower.
Each of the four views has a map etched in stainless steel naming significant mountains and ridges and plateaus.”
“Hmmm, good question Artex.
At Macchu Pichu there is an endless onslaught of buses taking people to the top even though there is an ancient stairway that takes 2.5 hours to climb. They wanted to build a cable car between two of the peaks as well but that idea was shot down (for the time being). I rode the bus to the top because I wanted to spend my day exploring the ruins and not walking up and down the stairway. Because there was a road to the top, it allowed me to enjoy the site more. Granted, if there wasn't a road to the top, I would have hiked the mother regardless. And probably if there wasn't motorized transport to the top, the site wouldn't be suffering from the degradation that it is.
In Rio, I didn't take the gondola across to Sugarloaf Mtn. (the prominent one in the bay that you see in all the pics). I climbed the mtn. next to it that had a cog train going up the side instead.
Where do you draw the line? I've been in the backcountry and come across hikers just skipping along because they have a mule, horse or llama train. Some of them are on horseback. I always have to step to the side and let them by. Sure, it diminished the experience somewhat but I also happened to choose to do a trail that permits that sort of activity.
If you don't want to see car loads of people at a lookout point on your hike, it's best to choose a hike that doesn't cross their paths. There are many, many more hiking trails then there are drive-up lookout points...”
“I laughed pretty hard when the cog railway riders got off the train and stepped out into the wind and cold and were pelted by the blowing rim ice. HAHAHA they all went darting into the visiter center and the kids were crying trying to not be swept away. Yes, I found humour in that. I had climatized to the cold temps and conditions on the way up. As soon as I stepped onto the Lionshead I got my first I knew what I was getting into. they had no idea.”
“Of course...when I hiked Mt. Washington it was a bit of an anti-climax. Still remember sitting up there, exhausted but exhiliarated, and seeing the group photo being taken next to the cog railway. Those peeps had their arms in the air, flexing muscles, triumphant, as if they had really accomplished something, surviving the cog railway ride to the summit. :-)"
LOL! It seemed there was a lot of this sort of mentality when I was there as well. It boggles the mind.”
“MAN LAUGHS AT CRYING CHILDREN, DETAILS AT 11:00
“TD- there is a road on top of Springer??? I'm glad I didnt see that last weekend:)”
“Geez bit, I'd rather see someone laugh at crying children than see them yell at them...>8^O”
“There's no road to the top of Springer, but there is road access to within about a mile of the top of Springer.”
“everyone here woulda laughed at it. It was funny”
“LOL @ EarthNSky! At the risk of sounding heartless, I would have cracked up as well.”
“me too, i must admit. hey - they weren't in any real danger.”
“Artex, wait until you go up the other side. When the wind is just right you can breathe in that lovley buring coal aroma all the way up.
Those people flexing after getting off the cog have every right IMO, they just don't know why. I looked at that thing, went through the machine shop that keeps it running and met some of the guys. That is one scarey mofo.:)”
“I rode the Cog Railway when I was 10. I was one of those crying kids once. That's partly why it was funny. Yeah, that is a tough job keeping that thing on the tracks. Way to defeat gravity.”
“I like to climb the peaks...it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Some people don't need this sense of accomplishment, and they rather drive up to the top.
My sister is one of them, and I accept it.
I think maybe (not sure) I would have a even greater sense of accomplishment if the only way to the top would be to climb to the top. I guess it would make me feel like I accomplished just a little more then everyone else because they never saw what I saw??
does that make sense??”
“It was pretty good feeling of accomplishment when we reached Deep Gap on the Black Mountain trip.”
“It's like eating an Oreo. Is there a right way or a wrong way? No. I think if you get pissed off about someone elses method, especially if it doesn't affect yours, you lose out.”
“before I got into hiking, I drove up Mt Washington. To date, that is the scariest thing I've ever done.
The first time I hiked Mt Washington, I carried a tripod, and within 30 seconds after setting it up, I got invaded by about 20 foreigners yelling "you take our picture!" One part of me was thinking "this is wrong," but then again, I sure did like going inside to dry off and warm up. I got a nice big bowl of chili and tooted down the mountain alongside the cog train.
The next day I hiked up neighboring Mt Adams and had the summit to myself. The solitude was nice but the winds were howling at 60mph and I couldn't find that hot bowl of chili!
Anywho, my opinion on this debate (nice thread btw, Lovey) is that it's no big deal. Everybody has their own reasons on getting to the top, and I don't mind sharing the view with those who can't make it up on their own 2 feet.”
“I gotta agree with Artex here; it does detract from the summit experience to have it sooo commercialized. Yet, this whole point of view is kind of selfish, as other people's tax money goes to the funding of the park just as ours.
Perhaps they could implement a cleaner way of trucking people to the summit of Washington, like a Gondola. Clean, scenic, high-capacity, chargeable per ride, and most importantly, not nearly as much of an eyesore as that nasty, dirty, pollution-spewing monster of a thing they call the cog train...
Many AT thru hikers pride themselves in mooning the cog train on Mt Washington as one of the highlight traditions of the New Hampshire stretch. Everytime I think of it, it makes me laugh hysterically...”
“I had a friend who was in a wheelchair (she has since passed away), she loved to do all kinds of activities. She would have loved to go to see the views, which she couldn't have seen any other way.”
“I don't like the crowds that are at the top of drive up mountains so I don't usually participate. I go in the off season. Granted, that will change when we start traveling more with our daughter.
I've been at the top of Clingmans Dome and the only other people there were the people I was with because we went when the road was closed.
But we all need to remember that these places belong to all of us and that we need to find a way to accomodate each other without harming that which we call came to see and admire.”
“embear: FR42 I think.. gravel.. not a great road.. but passable.. forest service road..
Takes you to within 0.9mi N of the summit..
Takes the fun outta it, I think?.. How else could it be a rite of passage?? You hafta climb the approach trail.. 8.8 of hades for sure.. but its there, and it has to be climbed.. :)”
“Fartex, I was pissed to see the weather station and hut and dining hall at the top of washington when I summited”
“on the flipside, those hotdogs tasted real good!!!”
“1. What the hell is a cog train?
2. My beef is that the peaks with roads leading up to them are alway's the best ones. I think maybe they should put the road up the next mountain and let everybody watch, as those who dare hike the daunting chunk of rock before them.”
“Roads and trains are need to the mountain tops so that the large condo developers can build up there. It would be great to live on a mountain top condo complex like the tall one, which I believe is across the valley from Grandfather Mountain. You can see and be seen from 50 or more miles up there. Plus you get great sunrises and sunsets. Build more! Build more! Build more!
“those condo builders should be drug out in the street and shot”
“Everyone has the right to see the tops of mountains but taking the urban sprawl to the mountain tops is just plain wrong and needs to be stopped. Hopefully, people will realize that when they take the roads or trains to the summits. Hopefully they will realize how ugly it looks to peer across the valley and see the next ridge over having condos on the top of it.”
“I went to the top of Mt. Washington and did it the tough way. Walked it! I'm proud of it and that is a celabration that all the train and car riders do not get to feel. It don't piss me off to see people up there that didn't earn it. It just make me better than them in that way. There is no way they enjoyed the view as much as me.”
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