Uncategorized, Upper East

Good Read: Don’t Underestimate the Whites

This is a photo essay from Gear Patrol magazine about a recent thru-hiking trip between the Appalachian Mountain Club‘s infamous huts in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Gear Patrol

While I thought this was a nice write up about the culture of the AMC huts and the terrain of the White Mountains, not all of us need to be persuaded to give the East a chance. Its too often that the northeast mountains are overlooked. There are many misconceptions about the East’s wilderness and the typical Western attitude is that the East is less wild and less extreme, and therefore means less adventure and fewer thrills. Its important to note that the East is older than the West, and though the mountains have been worn down and rounded out with time, that doesn’t make them irrelevant. “Out West, the trails were designed with pack horses in mind, so they cut switchbacks up the mountains…These trails in the Whites are some of the oldest in the country and they go straight up and down the sides of the mountains.”

The East vs. West debate is not a new one, as Adventure Journal put it in a reader poll they ran last year: The debate is swayed by aesthetics: The American West has more breathtaking, spectacular, and classically awesome-looking peaks than the East. Youngins, they are, not beat down and rubbed smooth like, say, the Appalachians. And given that we are first and foremost visual creatures, we are easily bent by the pretty, the flashy, the pointy and sky scraping. By the Tetons, for example.

But there’s more to mountains that just good looks. There’s the aesthetics of adventure, to start — whether a mountain or range has a certain rhythm and rhyme that feels right to a person on foot, to a cyclist, to a climber. There’s weather, and flora, and topography, there’s water (or not) and the relationship of verticality to itself. There’s culture and history. There’s attitude and the commitment of the people who live and play there. And the ratio of private to public land and who’s overseeing the public lands and what the mountains are being used for, aside from play.

The East is often defensive, the West often smug. These attitudes are predictable and, more to the point, simplistic. They overlook the richness of eastern recreation history, they ignore the ass-kicking potentiality that can lie in a playground not so overtly flamboyant. And they fall back on typical western brashness. They prevent a clear-eyed view of things, make it harder to have an honest debate.

All this to say – I think its time the East was given a bigger and better voice.

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