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  1. #1

    Default Upper Goose Pond Cabin - Section Hikers May As Well Pass It By

    Since my first visit to UGPC in 2013, I've touted this spot to all who'd listen of it's beauty, it's serenity, the friendliness and welcome found there. No more. My last two encounters with the caretakers there have been far from friendly, and anything but welcoming.

    Last Tuesday, June 26, I met my son and his friend in Lee, MA to resupply them on their section hike through MA and CT. The plan was they would then get to UGPC for that night and zero the following day. Though I'd literally been shooed away on my last visit there with kids for having the audacity to arrive as a day hiker, I'd assured them they'd enjoy the spot and be welcomed as section hikers (per the website). However, by 7:00 that night I received a text asking if they could stay somewhere else for both that night and their zero as they felt completely unwelcome. Apparently the caretaker grudgingly allowed them the last 2 bunks with under-the-breath-yet-audible comments about "these section hikers", but when 5 thruhikers arrived later they were told they no longer had bunks and that they'd have to tent.

    They had little choice but to stay the night, and chose to take their zero there also, but stayed clear of the caretaker for the most part. But the next day, when it was clear that no crowds were coming (5 hikers total including them), they asked if they could have bunks. The caretaker made them wait until dusk before very grudgingly allowing them space, even though not another hiker had arrived all day. Also, they were told in no uncertain terms that if any thru hikers arrived, they'd again have to give up their space and tent.

    Nowhere on the website does it claim that thruhikers get priority over section hikers, yet these VERY QUIET and VERY SHY young men were made to feel like second-class citizens.

    "
    Upper Goose Pond Cabin is owned by the National Park Service and managed by AMC volunteers. Located on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires, Upper Goose Pond is exclusively for thru-hikers and section hikers of the AT.".
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  2. #2

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    Personally, I'd rather tent then sleep in the stuffy bunk room with 20 other people - so long as it wasn't forecast to rain of course. Last time I stayed there I tented, as did my hiking partner at the time, plus a friend who come out just for the night. He brought a package of hot dogs, which we shared with the caretaker, so I guess that helped.

    "the exclusive use for thru-hikers and section hikers" clause is no doubt intended to keep the place from becoming a day destination for picnicking and partying. So, showing up as a day hiker would result in getting the cold shoulder.

    Of course, that doesn't excuse the apparent treatment the kids received. However, not having witnessed to how all that went down, I reserve judgement of both parties. The caretaker is a volunteer who doesn't get paid (I don't believe) who basically gets a free stay at the cabin for a week or two. Your experience can depend on who happens to be the caretaker at the time and what kind of week they've had.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3
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    I came through here as a section hiker just about a year ago this weekend (so wonder if it was the same caretaker, a mom and daughter).

    Had been there two years before and it was wonderful... last year not quite so much. The caretakers were super into shaming section hikers and I was forced to query each thru-hiker, as he or she arrived, whether they wanted my bunk. And was told I'd have to give it up if anyone wanted it. It was a mortifying experience.

    Tell your son, he's not alone. I understand the caretakers are volunteers, I get that and also that putting up with a stream of self-centered, needy hikers can be difficult, but really there is no excuse for gratuitous nastiness.

  4. #4

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    Yes, it was the mom-daughter-humiliation-tag-team this time too. I was appalled at the behavior as it was reported to me. If a person can't manage being civil to those whom she is there to serve/assist, she has no business volunteering for the responsibility.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  5. #5

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    Do you pay afee to stay there? Because if it's National Park Service property and there is no fee or reservations, they aren't going to be able to stop me from using a bunk if I choose to do so. Thru hiker, section hiker, doesn't matter. First come first served.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Burrhead View Post
    Do you pay afee to stay there? Because if it's National Park Service property and there is no fee or reservations, they aren't going to be able to stop me from using a bunk if I choose to do so. Thru hiker, section hiker, doesn't matter. First come first served.

    The cabin is owned by the AMC and is on private property. They can make what ever rules they want. Not only is it free to stay, free pancakes and coffee is served in the morning. Whether the Thru-hiker gets first dibs on a bunk is a house rule or something these caretakers came up with on their own, I can't say. However, I can't imagine a thru hiker kicking someone out of a bunk just because.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #7
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    Unless things have changed, the caretakers are volunteers. In the past they had more volunteers then slots to fill. One of the problems with volunteers is its tough to train them and if things don't work out, fire them.

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    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    “Upper Goose Pond Cabin is owned by the National Park Service and managed by AMC volunteers. Located on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires, Upper Goose Pond is exclusively for thru-hikers and section hikers of the AT.”


    7B4768E5-E599-4016-AB53-36A5E49D64E0.jpeg

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    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    There definitely was a bias in favor of thru hikers when I stayed there. Only thru hikers were allowed to sleep in the cabin. Thru hikers were first to get pancakes. An off-duty caretaker stopped by with 3 gallons of ice cream and only thru hikers were invited to indulge.
    More walking, less talking.

  10. #10

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    [QUOTE=rickb;2214421][CENTER][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Avenir]“Upper Goose Pond Cabin is owned by the National Park Service and managed by AMC volunteers. Located on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires, Upper Goose Pond is exclusively for thru-hikers and section hikers of the AT.”


    Sorry you had a bad experience Teacher, our policy is that overnight hikers are created equally, and the services available at the cabin are on a first come, first served basis. Sounds like we need to do some calibration. Organized groups (college, schools, camps, scouts etc) are welcome to camp at the campsites, but all the services at the cabin may not be available to them--at the discretion of the caretaker. I'll PM you my contact info so we can talk more.

    Cosmo

  11. #11

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    [QUOTE=rickb;2214421][CENTER][COLOR=#333333][FONT=Avenir]“Upper Goose Pond Cabin is owned by the National Park Service and managed by AMC volunteers. Located on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires, Upper Goose Pond is exclusively for thru-hikers and section hikers of the AT.”


    Sorry you had a bad experience Teacher, our policy is that overnight hikers are created equally, and the services available at the cabin are on a first come, first served basis. Sounds like we need to do some calibration. Organized groups (college, schools, camps, scouts etc) are welcome to camp at the campsites, but all the services at the cabin may not be available to them--at the discretion of the caretaker. I'll PM you my contact info so we can talk more.

    Cosmo

  12. #12

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    Thank you Cosmo for the chat, and the assurance that these complaints will be addressed. It was heartbreaking for me and the young boys to have this special place spoiled, and infuriating when I heard what my son went through. Thank you for handling this, and yes, I'll go back next week with the younger boys to give it another chance.
    ...the maddest of all is to see life as it is, and not as it should be. Cervantes

  13. #13
    Registered User QuietStorm's Avatar
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    Stayed there one night last September on my section hike of Mass. Had absolutely no issues. Was made to feel very welcome even though the bunk house was full.


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    I stayed there last year the 3rd week of July - and was clear that I was a section hiker (although I was traveling with a Thru hike "Tramily" that I met about 100 miles earlier.)

    The caretakers (husband/wife team with at least one teen daughter...might have had another.) were extremely kind and gracious. They said they volunteered for that week each year... bless them!

    I did hear that there are more volunteers for this spot than weeks available... maybe the AMC could have hikers complete an online Google Survey during their stay (most hikers have smart phones, and if necessary, I would gladly create the survey for you...). Then, for the following year, the AMC would be clear on who is the best fit for the hikers they want at GP.

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    Default Upper Goose Pond Cabin

    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher & Snacktime View Post
    Since my first visit to UGPC in 2013, I've touted this spot to all who'd listen of it's beauty, it's serenity, the friendliness and welcome found there. No more. My last two encounters with the caretakers there have been far from friendly, and anything but welcoming.

    Last Tuesday, June 26, I met my son and his friend in Lee, MA to resupply them on their section hike through MA and CT. The plan was they would then get to UGPC for that night and zero the following day. Though I'd literally been shooed away on my last visit there with kids for having the audacity to arrive as a day hiker, I'd assured them they'd enjoy the spot and be welcomed as section hikers (per the website). However, by 7:00 that night I received a text asking if they could stay somewhere else for both that night and their zero as they felt completely unwelcome. Apparently the caretaker grudgingly allowed them the last 2 bunks with under-the-breath-yet-audible comments about "these section hikers", but when 5 thruhikers arrived later they were told they no longer had bunks and that they'd have to tent.

    They had little choice but to stay the night, and chose to take their zero there also, but stayed clear of the caretaker for the most part. But the next day, when it was clear that no crowds were coming (5 hikers total including them), they asked if they could have bunks. The caretaker made them wait until dusk before very grudgingly allowing them space, even though not another hiker had arrived all day. Also, they were told in no uncertain terms that if any thru hikers arrived, they'd again have to give up their space and tent.

    Nowhere on the website does it claim that thruhikers get priority over section hikers, yet these VERY QUIET and VERY SHY young men were made to feel like second-class citizens.

    "
    Upper Goose Pond Cabin is owned by the National Park Service and managed by AMC volunteers. Located on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires, Upper Goose Pond is exclusively for thru-hikers and section hikers of the AT.".
    Pond Cabin

    It hurts me so to read posts by folks who visit UGP and are not happy with their experience.

    To start off, I have thru-hiked and have been a caretaker at the cabin for the last 15 years. During that time I have met many hundreds of hiker visitors and have got to know most of the volunteer caretakers. Most, if not all, caretakers are outstanding folks who generously give their time to make a stay at the cabin a memorable experience.
    The cabin administration has created a set of caretakers rules that govern the daily operation of the cabin. These general rules leave flexibility for the caretaker, on duty, to intemperate them as they understand them. This flexibility leads to some different standards used by different caretakers.
    The caretakers position has become more and more taxing with the increased use over the past several years. A caretaker has to become more of a enforcer than just a vacationer at the cabin.
    The unfortunate results are that some folks can get upset when a rule is enforced in a manner not expectable by them.
    A thru-hiker who has walked hundreds of miles has experienced a lot of different circumstances during his or her hike. They have become hardened to the daily thru-hike grind and have learned to " go with the flow". Someone just walking in from the last road crossing expecting a certain predetermined experience and not finding it might just want to complain to Mom about it.
    Grampie-N->2001

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    i wonder if the confusion, if thats what it is, isn't caused by the fact that "section hiker" could easily mean person who walked the whole 1.6 miles from route 20, plans to hang out, row a canoe, sleep in a bunk, eat free pancakes and then turn around and trudge all the way back to route 20 the next morning. i can see why there could potentially be a problem with large quantities of people doing this. i'm not sure how you police it. if there are large crowds of such people showing up there and i were the caretaker i wouldnt want to deal with them either. i imagine the part about it not being for dayhikers is because of such a concern.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampie View Post
    A thru-hiker who has walked hundreds of miles has experienced a lot of different circumstances during his or her hike. They have become hardened to the daily thru-hike grind and have learned to "go with the flow". Someone just walking in from the last road crossing expecting a certain predetermined experience and not finding it might just want to complain to Mom about it.
    from interactions online and in person the opposite can also be true. i have met some very pliable section hikers who were happy to go with the flow and i have met thru hikers who definitely exuded a sense of entitlement.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i wonder if the confusion, if thats what it is, isn't caused by the fact that "section hiker" could easily mean person who walked the whole 1.6 miles from route 20, plans to hang out, row a canoe, sleep in a bunk, eat free pancakes and then turn around and trudge all the way back to route 20 the next morning. i can see why there could potentially be a problem with large quantities of people doing this. i'm not sure how you police it. if there are large crowds of such people showing up there and i were the caretaker i wouldnt want to deal with them either. i imagine the part about it not being for dayhikers is because of such a concern.
    the situation is certainly amplified by the drain tanglewood can put on local lodging. a free* bunk or camp spot is appealing for a lot of people during the weekends of the summer months. managing that potential volume without separating visitors into hiking 'classes' is not a task i envy at all.

    that said, in my one extended interaction with a caretaker i was also told that it was thru-hikers first for bunk spots, food, and canoes.

  18. #18

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    I hate to hear this...And hear is why.. I will be heading up to Mass to finish the state, and complete Vermont in a month. I have looked forward to stopping into UPG for oh about 3 years now however now there ain't no way I'm gunna waist my time with some yahoo telling me I'm not worthy of a bed. It makes me upset that Teacher's young boys had to deal with that crap, why are we not encouraging our youth to be out there, tell them "Good job guys keep it up! Come on in here and get some pancakes!" Instead you wanna look like some punk caretaker glorifying being homeless for 6 months. I would tell them to take a long walk off a short pier and hit the trail. I hope to hear of an improvement, some comments above are welcoming but not solution based.
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

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    Quote Originally Posted by greatexpectations View Post
    that said, in my one extended interaction with a caretaker i was also told that it was thru-hikers first for bunk spots, food, and canoes.
    that seems to be how things are handled, at least often, if not always, on the ground. it isnt the officially published policy. it reminds me of how my students often get what i tell them ever so slightly wrong, especially when i rely on one of them to in turn tell someone else something.

    i think perhaps the problem, as in a few other places, is this term "thru hiker." its come to mean person attempting to hike the whole trail. what it should mean for purposes of this kind of problem is "person who is hiking through." ie if you're hiking in one direction continuously, you're in. people who are hiking from the road, staying, and turning around to go back to the road in the morning are out.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdoczi View Post
    i think perhaps the problem, as in a few other places, is this term "thru hiker." its come to mean person attempting to hike the whole trail. what it should mean for purposes of this kind of problem is "person who is hiking through." ie if you're hiking in one direction continuously, you're in. people who are hiking from the road, staying, and turning around to go back to the road in the morning are out.
    I can agree with this. Or for people to divide the term "section" hiker and take on the name LASHER more often. I can definitely see how caretakers could get tired and snarky of the "drive ins" and folks out for 1 night to come in and take the place over, the same as I have felt when people park at the road I can hear at the shelter, and they have overtaken the shelter. This doesn't however negate their responsibility's to enforce, and if enforcing fairly means asking questions that are redundantly to them then well...welcome to the job. It took me a long time to learn not to give a damn what others think about my hike, my walks, my goal or intentions when it comes to me vacationing to the Appalachian Trail, now that I do not care, it becomes more of a "don't tell me what I can and cant do in the woods" mentality.

    I may still stop into the ol pond, may be a good chance for me to show my true colors
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

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