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Old 09-21-2017, 06:59 AM   #61
Justin
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What can be done? Nothing
Wrong!
I think if there was a similar trailhead steward program at the popular Upper Works trailhead over Labor Day Weekend (like the one at the Cascade Mountain trailhead in Peter Bauer's story), Mr. Stevens would still be alive today.
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Old 09-21-2017, 07:14 AM   #62
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Wrong!
I think if there was a similar trailhead steward program at the popular Upper Works trailhead over Labor Day Weekend (like the one at the Cascade Mountain trailhead in Peter Bauer's story), Mr. Stevens would still be alive today.
I have no inside information, but I think that the next place you'll see Trailhead Stewards will be at the Loj. If you're a 46R, please support the program by offering to volunteer. Expansion of the program will depend on the DEC and the number of volunteers. See you at the Trailhead this weekend!
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:17 AM   #63
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Trailhead stewards can only advise and make suggestions. Unprepared hikers are still free to ignore advice and forge ahead with their plans (or lack thereof). Alex Stevens really wanted to climb Wallface. Do you think he would have abandoned his trip because a trailhead steward told him he was ill-prepared? He would have just got in his car and went back home? Not likely.
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:28 AM   #64
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Trailhead stewards can only advise and make suggestions. Unprepared hikers are still free to ignore advice and forge ahead with their plans (or lack thereof). Alex Stevens really wanted to climb Wallface. Do you think he would have abandoned his trip because a trailhead steward told him he was ill-prepared? He would have just got in his car and went back home? Not likely.
We'll never know if it would have made a difference. I will tell you that hikers are getting sized up as they approach the trailhead stewards and if they appear unprepared or not up to the task, gentle suggestions to try a different hike are made and some people do turn around and go to other easier areas to hike! But "guardian angels" can't be there 24/7, 365 to prevent people from making bad decisions.
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:40 AM   #65
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+1 for what richard70 said.

On Sunday, I spoke to the new trailhead stewards and watched how they interact with the public. They are educators, not border patrol. They have no power to prevent you from entering the woods.

Even if they could stop you there would need to be cause. Currently, there are no regulations against being "unprepared".

The best a trailhead steward can do is appeal to a person's sense of self-preservation.

Example:

It's late Sunday afternoon and two young men appear with just water bottles stuffed into the back pockets of their pants. One of the 4 stewards reminds them that sunset is at 7:00 PM and it'll be dark 20 minutes later. They have no more than 3.5 hours of daylight remaining. Do you have flashlights? Yes, on our phones. He cautions them that their phones may be inadequate. They assure him that they'll keep an eye on the time and be quick. The steward points at the display table and asks if they are familiar with proper disposal of human waste. They reply they know all about it. The steward wishes them a safe trip and off they go with nothing more than a phone and water bottle apiece.

After they leave I joke "I'd have asked him what did he plan to wipe his a$$ with?"

PS
For an experienced hiker, Cascade and Porter, from route 73, is not a particularly difficult hike. 3.5 hours is adequate and you could do it with very little gear. Speedy hikers, and trail-runners, can do it in less time. Plus the weather was warm and cloudless. However, it's difficult to assess someone's knowledge, abilities, and experience just by looking at them. So you have to assume they know little when they show up with little. Even if one of them is wearing a 46er cap (which he was).
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:41 AM   #66
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"How many 40-50 year old guys with big to huge guts, beet red and pouring sweat have I seen on the trail?"

Hee hee - we may have met on trail! I should spend less time worrying about ounces in the backpack and focus more on pounds in the 'front pack'. Big not huge, grapefruit not beet, and trickling not pouring but definitely would benefit from better shape.

Justin - trip tick idea is ok as long as the expectation is not that the Rangers have to empty the box at every trail-head every night and sort out who is overdue. I think that should stay with friends & family; even though it would have saved Alex. Or maybe volunteers. My boss had a saying 'do that which only you can do' - don't want highly trained Rangers getting more paperwork. But a steward maybe instead of spending 2 hours at one trail head could reconcile 3-4 trail head boxes?

I'm a tech guy. To bad some of these trail heads are out of cell range. If people registered electronically with a gadget bolted to the sign with a time in/out someone in an office somewhere could watch live who is overdue. Big brotherish...
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:48 AM   #67
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Wow - daughter is looking for a Girl Scout Gold Project (similar to Boy Scout Eagle). If there was a FREE web application you could access from phone, computer, etc. where you fill out the trip tick and provided a cell phone number and estimated time of return and the silly thing emailed/texted you starting one hour after your expected return for you to close out your trip ticket and than after x hours of no response someone contacted DEC (plus any other people on your list) on your behalf would people use it?

Trip tick would also get in your face a bit about if you had certain types of gear. Could also possibly give you a glimpse at current weather and include some verbiage I see in the Ontario Provincial Parks how your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:49 AM   #68
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I would assume the trailheads stewards would perhaps also inquire about one's plans & itinerary, and maybe, just maybe there's a chance that a steward might notice that the person they spoke to the other day hasn't checked out yet, and then could notify the Ranger.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:12 AM   #69
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.. If people registered electronically with a gadget bolted to the sign with a time in/out someone in an office somewhere could watch live who is overdue....
This idea (electronic registration) has been proposed here before and it's effectiveness is limited by the reason you mentioned (no network) plus the same issue that affects the paper-based system, namely people sometimes overlook to sign-out (or even sign-in).

I agree we shouldn't saddle rangers with more paper-shuffling, they have enough on their plate. There aren't many summit stewards (and even fewer trailhead stewards, given it's a new program) so there's insufficient manpower to go around to all the trailheads and "examine the ledgers" every day.

The current system works for people who take precautions. It does not work for people who come unprepared and leave no record of their plan with anyone. It has never worked for this category of visitor.

Apologies for the coldness of what I'm about to state but it's a matter of diminishing returns. You may have a system that serves 98% of the population but to include the last 2% you may have to make the system twice as complicated or twice as expensive, or twice as labor-intensive, or all of the above.

NYS taxpayers will have to decide if they want to go down that bumpy road in order to prevent the next Alex Stevens or Hua Davis even though the current time-honored system sees 100,000+ annual High Peaks visitors safely entering and exiting the backcountry.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:43 AM   #70
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There is just no way that you can protect everyone from their bad decisions. There has to be some personal responsibility when you're going in to what can be a very unforgiving environment.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:49 AM   #71
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This know it all attitude makes it seem like the trailhead steward program is a waste of time. I agree that people need to plan ahead. Of course!
My comments are in response to there's nothing that can be done about it. I think the trailhead steward is a step in the right direction, and I hope it does grow in popularity & spreads to several other popular trailheads, especially in the high peaks region with its high level (and increasing) number of visitors every year, to help educate those who may be unprepared. What we can do, is help support ideas like this and/or become invovled, instead of being negative on how they won't help prevent incidents like this again in the future.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:53 AM   #72
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This know it all attitude makes it seem like the trailhead steward program is a waste of time. I agree that people need to plan ahead. Of course!
My comments are in response to there's nothing that can be done about it. I think the trailhead steward is a step in the right direction, and I hope it does grow in popularity & spreads to several other popular trailheads, especially in the high peaks region with its high level (and increasing) number of visitors every year, to help educate those who may be unprepared. What we [B]can[B] do, is help support ideas like this and/or become invovled, instead of being negative on how they won't help prevent insidents like this again in the future.
If that's directed at me, you're reading me wrong. I believe in the Trailhead Steward program, in fact, I'm on the Cascade trailhead this weekend, I just don't think you can prevent every person from making every bad decision they are going to make. Are you involved with the program?
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:54 AM   #73
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I for one would be quicker to volunteer for a trail head steward rather than a summit steward. Although the reward of getting to the summit is great, so is the time commitment. Great idea.

We regularly spend two nights in the woods on our trips since we live 6 hours away. One prior to day on trail and one after. I would welcome an opportunity to spend a few hours at the trail head prior to heading home chatting with folks about hiking and such.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:56 AM   #74
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Are you involved with the program?
Not currently, but I do support the effort.
Perhaps you can post a link for anyone who may be interested in helping out.
Thank you for your help.
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Old 09-21-2017, 09:58 AM   #75
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I would assume the trailheads stewards would perhaps also inquire about one's plans & itinerary, and maybe, just maybe there's a chance that a steward might notice that the person they spoke to the other day hasn't checked out yet, and then could notify the Ranger.
I had my first encounter with a trailhead steward on Friday at the Ausable Club parking lot. I was able to hear him talking to a few groups while I was getting ready at my car. His longer conversations with groups basically consisted of making sure they knew where they were going and pointing it out on a map. His conversation with me consisted of

"Where you headed?" Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong and maybe Gothics
"Do you know how to get there?" Yep, I've been to Lower Wolfjaw before and it's basically the same way
"Enjoy your hike"

I'm not sure if he was taking notes on it or not, but by the time I got back out to my car around 6pm he was gone. If he was taking notes, I'm not sure if he would cross reference them with the register up the road (it would be easier to do so at the Cascade trailhead). He also didn't take down my name or anything though so not sure how he would know who I was.

He also didn't talk to me or anyone else that I saw about gear and preparedness. Granted, I felt like I was well prepared and the other groups looked like they were too. I'm sure it's often a different case at Cascade
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:12 AM   #76
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FYI-the trailhead steward at the Ausable Club is something the Ausable Club is doing, not the 46ers. The only trailhead stewards with the 46ers are currently at the Cascade trailhead on weekends. It's more than just a commitment of a "few hours". The expectation if you volunteer to do it is two full days, 730 AM to 4 PM. If that's too much, please consider donating to the 46ers(tax deductible) to support the program. To be a trailhead steward with the 46ers, one needs to be a registered 46er. Please recognize that we are all volunteers and this program is in its nascent stages. I'm sure that as people get used to doing it, they will develop skills to be more interactive with hikers, but I know it is doing good already!

From the 46ers website.

Announcing the 46ers’ Trailhead Steward Program

Looking for a way to give back to the mountains? Want to share what you’ve learned with those who may be new to hiking in the Adirondacks?
Then here is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for! Become an Adirondack Forty-Sixers Trailhead Steward!

Beginning in 2017, the Forty-Sixers will be posting volunteer Trailhead Stewards at poplar trailheads (hoping to begin with the Cascade/Pitchoff trailhead on Route 73) every weekend and on holidays through the summer and fall. We will be working in tandem with the ADK Summit Stewards to educate, promote safety, share information, and encourage “Leave No Trace” principles and practices.

Training will be provided, and volunteer hours will be applied toward the Forty-Sixers’ Conservation Service Award.

Interested in learning more? Please contact Fran Shumway #7097, volunteer coordinator for the Trailhead Stewards at: trailstewards@adk46er.org.

Meet you at the trailhead!
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:40 AM   #77
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FYI-the trailhead steward at the Ausable Club is something the Ausable Club is doing, not the 46ers. The only trailhead stewards with the 46ers are currently at the Cascade trailhead on weekends.
Ah, that makes more sense. Thanks for that and the other info you provided as well!
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:42 AM   #78
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Wrong!
I think if there was a similar trailhead steward program at the popular Upper Works trailhead over Labor Day Weekend (like the one at the Cascade Mountain trailhead in Peter Bauer's story), Mr. Stevens would still be alive today.

There is/was a steward at the Upper Works this summer and has been for at least 2 years. He was on duty Thurs-Sun, IIRC. I'm not sure if Alex Stevens would be alive today if he had talked to the steward and I don't know what day of the week Alex went into the woods.

Would Alex have turned back if the steward told him he was ill prepared? Likely not, but you never know. I ran into some folks at a High Peaks trailhead, got chatting with them and asked if they had they bear cans with them (still lots of folks don't take them! . ) and they did not. They had been lucky in just using the old hang method. I nicely explained to them why they needed a can and I strongly urged them to go rent one somewhere and they did! Some folks do listen!

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Old 09-21-2017, 10:56 AM   #79
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This know it all attitude makes it seem like the trailhead steward program is a waste of time. ... What we can do, is help support ideas like this and/or become invovled, instead of being negative on how they won't help prevent incidents like this again in the future.
Justin,

Have you spent any time observing what the trailhead stewards actually do?

I have and I've already pointed out they don't work the way you think they do (or plan to do for now). That's not being a "know it all" or "negative"; that's the status quo so don't shoot the messenger.

Like the existing summit stewards, the trailhead stewards are educators, not police. They also serve as the ranger's assistants. If they witness a DEC violation they can call it in and a ranger can respond. That's a valuable service.

Having said that, entering the woods unprepared is not a DEC violation. All the stewards can do is caution the individual that this is a "bad idea" and explain what's needed to stay safe. That's a very valuable service to both visitors and the High Peaks Wilderness. I hope it helps to keep people safe and reduce impacts.

In contrast, if a ranger thinks a person is a hazard to themselves, the individual could, in theory, be told to leave. There's a DEC regulation requiring the public to comply with a ranger's instructions. So if you're told to leave, you have to leave (or be charged with violating a regulation).

Would they ever do this for someone like an Alex Stevens? I don't know but there is that avenue of action. However, stewards can't do it but must call in a ranger who would evaluate the situation.

Has this ever happened in the past? I don't know. I do know people have been ejected for violating other regulations so it stands to reason the same could happen for refusing to comply with a ranger's instructions.
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Old 09-21-2017, 11:15 AM   #80
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Justin,
Have you spent any time observing what the trailhead stewards actually do?
I usually stay away from the High Peaks region, but I have chatted with stewards in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness and was very impressed, and even mentioned that I was happy to see that efforts are being made to help educate people. I think it's a good idea & hope that it grows & expands into other areas as well. Who know's...it may even save someone's life someday. After all, isn't that what the steward program is all about...educating people to ensure better safety for the resource & the user?

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