Tomcat. I admire your passion and love of the hills and I appreciated your response. Fair question about my allegiances and potential conflicts: For the record I am an AMC member, though far from avid - I think i send em $50/year. My dad and I use the CT section of the trail and have tried to be supportiuve of that chapter. (I'm also an AAC member and they want $70! But with them you get insurance and the library, so that's a great deal.) It's been years since I stayed at an AMC hut in the summer - I only use Zealand and Carter occasionally in the winter so I should probably spend some time around the huts in the summer to understand a bit better some of the abuses that you are speaking about. I stay away from them in the summer for reasons that I would gather are not dissimiliar from you and Dave.
Here are a few of my thoughts - and I think we might agree on these. Anyway, curious to hear your thoughts:
***Pinkham provides a good service without encroaching on the wilderness experience.(I can only imagine how many more dead day-hikers we would have without that place. Can't tell you how many time's I've heard "Washington's only 4.3 miles???")
***Highland Center is a travesty.Â It sends the wrong message. It's out of place.
*** The AMC should abolish the "full-service" option that dominates the summer visitors to the huts. The concept of people paying $100/night to have someone cook a 3-course meal for them in the wilderness is distasteful, sends the wrong message about self-sufficiency in the mountains, teaches a poor lesson and is just plain silly.
*** The AMC should never have someone lecturing on the summit. You had me howlin' with the "bury the body" chatter. Summits are places for celebration, reflection and solitude, not some dude preaching about conservation. I was on the summit of Camel's Head in VT with my Dad a few weeks ag0 and we saw a party wandering off the boulders trampling the flowers and fragile alpine plantlife. We asked them to stay on the rocks (as the sign on the trail says!) and they apologized. We werent jerks about it. You dont need a full-time employee for that.
Still, I think the AMC raises an awareness of the mountains that inlfuences people's worldviews. And our society needs more of that. I envy your dedication to the mountains and that you committed your life to that. Most people cant or havent made that level of comittment. Instead they are weekenders. And we need more of them - to understand what we have, what you already knnow, what we are losing each day - and bring that back to their communities and into the voting booths. The AMC is not perfect but they do a lot of good in that regard.