Sunday, October 18, 2009

no more self serve??

no more self serve
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Possibly the biggest annoyance to hiking in the Whites is that you must pay to park at any trailhead. I believe New Hampshire should change their motto from "Live Free or Die" to "Pay Fee or be Fined" (I also pay $3 in tolls during each visit to the Whites).

In fact, the fee, which is only $3/day (soon to be $5/day) is not so painful to me. Rather, it's the effort that I have to make to pay the fee which annoys me. If I have to buy it in advance, I might as well not go, since I rarely know more than a few days in advance what my plans will be. If I have to go to one of the few WMNF offices to pay, I waste time and gas just to pay a fee which is only a few dollars.

Fortunately, WMNF addresses this issue with self serve pay locations at many of the trailheads. You can stop at any of these areas, grab an envelope, pay the fee, and you're good to park anywhere in the Whites.

Two weeks ago, I used the self serve pay area at the East Osceola trailhead off the Kancamagus Highway. After that worked out so perfectly, I made the foolish assumption that I could continue to rely on these self serve areas for all my trips to the Whites from now on.

Well, yesterday, all of the self serve pay areas along Tripoli Rd were closed. The self serve pay area for camp sites was still available. But I checked the parking lots at East Pond, Mt Tecumseh, and Mt Osceola trailheads. They were all closed - there were no envelopes, and the deposit box was wrapped up in plastic as shown in the above photograph.

I was stymied, and kind of angry - there's no notice as to why this was done, not online and not at the site. It screwed up my plans, and my time had been wasted by driving to a spot where I couldn't park. If I'd known, I would have gone directly to a WMNF office to get a pass. It's out of my way, but close enough that it would have been possible.

[Edit (Oct 24 2009): today I called the ranger station and asked about this. I was told that you don't have to pay for parking wherever the pay stations are covered and the envelopes are gone. Apparently this is standard for some of the self-serve areas once winter approaches. I wish they had posted a notice to make this clear!]

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