According to a recent story by NH Public Radio, it’s not uncommon to find 300 cars parked sometimes even double-parked along the Kancamagus Highway from those trying to access the trails for outdoor recreation on weekends. The article goes on to explain that for the first-time graffiti is appearing along the trails on rocks and trees, and volunteers have been known to pull out 300 pounds of trash (including human waste) after a busy weekend.
The same phenomenon is happening throughout Mt Washington Valley. From parking lots to recreation areas, overcrowding is resulting in an abundance of trash, a disregard for parking regulations and social distancing requests, a lack of mask-wearing, and a general disregard for the community.
“We carefully crafted our way through a phased opening here in Mt Washington Valley,” said Janice Crawford, executive director of Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber took great care to be the best resource possible for the community and the visitors who come here. We’ve created signage reminding people to wear masks and placed signs throughout the Valley reminding visitors to maintain a six-foot social distance, and to respect our community.”
“Yet, we continue to see and hear stories at the chamber about the general disregard for good old American manners. It’s taken us all by surprise,” Crawford said, voicing concerns that the hard work to keep Mt. Washington Valley safe is being eroded by visitors’ behavior.
A compendium of advice is offered as a helpful primer for anyone planning a visit to the Valley.
Gone are the days of walk-ins for many businesses. Lodging properties are observing time for guest rooms to “rest” in-between visitors to allow safe sanitization. New cleaning protocols mean more time to get rooms ready. Restaurants have eliminated tables and are operating at 50% occupancy to allow social distancing. Even attractions are bound to limit the number of guests, so visitors need to be reminded they must have reservations. The bottom line for would-be visitors? Plan and reserve your stay, dining, and fun before you visit to avoid being turned away.
Once reservations are made, show up at the appointed time. Remember, all businesses in the Valley are operating under strict guidelines and diminished occupancy, so when a guest doesn't show up for a reservation, it’s a double loss for the business as they are operating under capacity and can’t re-sell that space at the last minute. Also, arriving late means there be less time to enjoy the meal or attraction.
Pack a pandemic survival kit when you go out
Pack in & Pack Out – bring a trash bag
One man’s (woman or child’s) trash is not another’s treasure. Visitors are asked to properly dispose of any trash they create. Whether it’s along the trails or along the roads or parking lot of businesses in Mt. Washington Valley, people are asked to dispose of trash carefully and completely in receptacles for that purpose or by taking it home. Carry a few grocery plastic bags for trash pick-up throughout Mt. Washington Valley.
Wear a mask
Masks are a requirement by most businesses in Mt. Washington Valley. The chamber asks all visitors to wear a mask when visiting businesses in the Valley. Without one, it’s possible that entry to the business may be denied. “You want to visit us in the Valley? Then wear a mask,” says Crawford.
Touch it, take it
To avoid as little contact as possible, all those in Mt. Washington Valley are asked to take whatever they touch. “If you pick up a brochure in our information booths, we ask you to take it with you or we’ll have to throw it away,” Crawford says.
It used to be that water and snacks were enough to fill a backpack when hitting the trail, but that’s no longer adequate. When planning a visit, pack a mask, hand sanitizer, surface cleaner wipes, trash bag(s), cell phone, water, and snacks. Gloves are also encouraged.
“We’re counting on both the residents and the visitors to keep Mt. Washington Valley a safe place,” says Crawford. “We love our visitors ... We simply ask them to remember the Golden Rule while visiting."