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Plan Ahead and Prepare

Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit. If you plan to camp, familiarize yourself with the U.S. Forest Service camping rules and guidelines - camping is restricted in the designated Forest Protection Areas (for instance, you may not camp within 200 feet of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail): in the Cutler River Drainage (on the eastern side of the mountain), camping is limited to designated sites. No camping is allowed in the summit area (Mount Washington State Park). With some limited wintertime exceptions, no camping is allowed above treeline. Wilderness areas, such as the Great Gulf Wilderness and Presidential -Dry River Wilderness, merit special concerns. For more information, see: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/white/recreation/land_above/backcountry_rules.html

Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. High winds, cold temperatures, and poor visibility are commonplace on Mount Washington. Donšt use bad weather for an excuse to justify camping in a fragile area - good planning can prevent many so-called "emergencies".

You may wish to schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Frankly, several trails on the mountain get "crowded" on weekends, especially in summer and fall. If you want more solitude, plan a trip for midweek or, if you are up to the added challenge, "off season".

Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4-6. Ten is probably the largest size group you should consider even for a daytrip, due to the extra environmental and social impact of larger groups. Be sure your group has a knowledgeable leader, too!

Repackage food to minimize waste, and pack out any leftovers or food scraps.

Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of additional rock cairns, or flagging; compass, map, altimeter, and good route finding skills can help you avoid the temptation to "flag" a winter route.

Consider a daytrip instead of an overnight trip. Trying to find a low-impact (and legal) site in the upper forests on the mountain is very challenging - the vegetation is dense, and the slopes are steep and uneven. There is little that would be considered a "good" campsite, so campers can all too often be tempted to camp too close to the trail, in fragile areas, or in already abused areas.

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