Baxter State Park Issues 3 Citations to Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek Celebrating Atop Katahdin ~ Photo from Runners World

Scott Jurek Celebrating Atop Katahdin ~ Photo from Runners World

In what is certain to be a controversial application of its well publicized rules and regulations, Baxter State Park issued three summons to Scott Jurek for violations incurred when Scott climbed Katahdin to break the record for the fastest assisted hike of the Appalachian Trail on Sunday, July 12, 2015.

I spoke today with Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell. He expressed admiration for the stunning accomplishment of Scott Jurek and said he was personally impressed. Jensen expressed sincere concerns, however, about the corporate event that took place at the summit of Katahdin, the end of the Trail for northbound hikers.

In a post on the park's Facebook page titled "Ultramarathoning in Baxter Park - another perspective," those who manage the park wrote: "With all due respect to Mr. Jurek's ability, Baxter State Park was not the appropriate place for such an event."

That particular corporate event in Baxter State Park was not the only issue. At least three violations of park policy, rules and regulations were cited.

On Thursday, July 16th, the Baxter State Park Facebook page also posted this comment:

Mr. Jurek and the corporate sponsors were careful not to mention in the media coverage that one of the unfortunate outcomes of the celebration party at Baxter Peak at the completion of the event were the three summons issued to Mr. Jurek by a Baxter Park Ranger for the drinking of alcoholic beverages in public places (BSP Rule 7 and Maine State General Law), for littering (BSP Rule 4.5) and for hiking with an oversize group (BSP Rule 2.2). In addition, media personnel were issued a summons for violation of a commercial media permit which prohibited filming within 500' of Baxter Peak. Not much to be proud of there.

During my years of reporting on the subculture that is the Appalachian Trail, it's obvious that many -- if not most -- "thru-hikers" believe they are above rules, norms, regulations and/or personal restrictions because they are on a personal quest that no person, organization, state or agency has the right to impede.

When I saw the photograph and the elated group of fifty or so celebrants atop Katahdin -- in Baxter State Park -- with a bottle of champagne and a film crew, I was disappointed at the disrespect shown by Scott and his followers.

With all the good Scott did -- for the Appalachian Trail, his enthusiastic endorsement of a plant-based diet, and for endurance running -- that was a poor demonstration of how to mark his victory. The bad example he set -- although he's certainly not the first to pop a bottle of champagne or wine by the iconic sign -- will be emulated by others in their exuberance.

Will the mountain tumble or will Baxter State Park be ruined? No. There will be long-term repercussions, however. Think that's an exaggeration? The Park's Facebook post:

The profile of the AT is large enough to attract the corporate sponsorship necessary to support and carry such an event. The AT is apparently comfortable with the fit of this type of event in its mission.

The formal federal designation and authority of the Appalachian Trial [sic] does not extend into Baxter State Park. The AT within the Park is hosted at the consideration of the Baxter State Park Authority.

The Authority is currently considering the increasing pressures, impacts and conflicts that the Appalachian Trail brings to the Park and if a continued relationship is in the best interests of Baxter State Park.

They continue:

These "corporate events" have no place in the Park and are incongruous with the Park's mission of resource protection, the appreciation of nature and the respect of the experience of others in the Park. We hope for the support of the AT and BSP communities to help us steer these events to more appropriate venues in the future.

Baxter State Park perceives hikers as guests. Guests who are allowed to enter their sanctuary and obey its rules.

Yes, I said "obey its rules." I hope you don't have a stoke.

2. HIKING AND DAY USE

2.1. The maximum size of hiking groups shall be 12 persons. Affiliated groups on the same trail separated by less than one mile shall be considered one group.

4.5. All trash, rubbish, litter, camping gear, equipment, and materials carried into the Park must be carried out of the Park. No trash, rubbish, or litter shall be deposited in any type of vaulted or un-vaulted toilet.

6.5. General laws of the State pertaining to alcohol and drugs apply within the Park. Maine law prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages in public places.

7. VIOLATIONS:

A person who violates any of the rules of the Baxter State Park Authority or a condition of a permit issued under those rules commits a civil violation for which a fine of not more than $1,000 may be adjudged. Persons violating other applicable laws within the Park may also be punished in accordance with the provisions of those laws. In addition, persons violating these rules may be required immediately to leave the Park, and the Authority may revoke the privilege of any person who violates these rules to enter the Park for a specified period.

Baxter's 200,000+ acres offer, according to its website, "over 40 peaks and ridges besides Katahdin in the Park. The trail system features over 215 miles of trails popular with hikers, mountain climbers and naturalists. Baxter State Park operates eight (8) roadside campgrounds and two (2) backcountry campgrounds. There are also numerous individual backcountry sites for backpackers."

To many of us, perhaps, Baxter State Park exists -- and perhaps should be honored -- to be a terminus for the Appalachian Trail.

From the perspective of Baxter State Park, many Appalachian Trail hikers abuse the nature of the park and ignore its regulations. Dogs, for example, are not allowed in the park, yet some owners skirt the rules by obtaining bogus "service dog" credentials to get their canine friends into the park.

If hikers continue to ignore regulations relating to camping, alcohol and group size in Baxter State Park, it's only a matter of time before the Appalachian Trail terminus will be forced to move elsewhere.

Click Here for Baxter State Park's Facebook Page

Click Here for the History of Baxter State Park


Tags: Attractions, Events, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, and Hikers

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Comments
Mark Walker Brown on Jul 16, 2015
Mmmhmmmm
Appalachian Swede on Jul 16, 2015
Are we perhaps looking at a reroute of the northern terminus of the AT?
Alwx on Jul 16, 2015
Better not. I have been there and that's where it needs to be. Scott and his team should have thought if these things prior to stepping foot inside Baxter National
Hopefully this will be a learning experience for all
guy i on Jul 16, 2015
BSP should enforce their rules and visitors should follow them. I think the author's prejudice against thru-hikers ("it's obvious that many -- if not most -- "thru-hikers" believe they are above rules...), lessens the impact of the article and detracts from the reasonable concerns noted by BSP. Looks like the author enjoyed the opportunity to grind his ax. -Uncle Shoe 2001.
NE - Outdoorsman on Jul 18, 2015
Having worked in a local outfitter store right off the trail for 15 years servicing thru-hikers; I must agree with the author. Many hikers feel they are entitled to free replacement
of worn out gear because it should have lasted longer and if you don't provide
it they will take it when you are not looking. It is a stain on the majority of
hikers who are respectful and follow the rules. Commando camping where it is
not permitted, bypassing closed off sections with the justification of 'I'm on
the trail!'. Being more respectful of those that live on or near the trail will
bring about more good will and trail magic. Arrogance and rule breaking will
make those same folks look down upon a fringe group of hikers as unwanted
rabble. What happened in BSP is unsavory and I am glad to hear they were dealt
with. I have been to Baxter many, many times and most times avoid Katahdin as
the solitude and serenity of what the park is and stands for does not exist
along the AT leading to the summit.
Gary on Jul 16, 2015
This is hogwash.
john_c47 on Jul 16, 2015
Those who think this is an overraction and hogwash on the part of the park are not welcome there due to your dumbass opinions. LNT!
Charlton Vaughan on Jul 17, 2015
I think that rules and regulations should be as much of a part of the Appalachian Trail as much as it is to the other myriad parks and wilderness areas that it participates with. I live outside Big Bend National Park and work at a facility that deals largely with the tourists that arrive here to visit the park. Unfortunately our society has apparently become a culture that disregards the rules as someone else's problem. Dogs are constantly brought into the park and trails where they are prohibited. The Appalachian Trail is not an exception to those types of people. I feel that eventually beginning to hike the park at either end will require a rules and regs orientation and signature etc. It's just the world we live in now.
Granna-Pops Salmon on Jul 17, 2015
This was a monumental feat of human achievement. Could Scott have been more respectful of the rules? Perhaps, but it seems that park officials were set to pounce because of their own peculiar prejudices about wilderness use and corporate sponsorship. More important than Scott's "unapproved" celebration of his doing something beyond truly exceptional, perhaps your focus should be on why park officials didn't choose instead to join in and even plan the celebration. It's not like they couldn't see it coming. These guys' smugness in the face of something epic gives even bureaucrats a bad name.
Lana on Jul 19, 2015
He ran what a woman hiked in 3 hours less... and he had a huge support crew. The only thing monumental was his press. He's not above the rules because he is a man or because he's got corporate sponsors.
Granna-Pops Salmon on Jul 19, 2015
Lana, personally, I think what the previous record holder (who happens to be a woman) did was "monumental" as well. And I also think that the one to break Scott's record is likely to be another woman (who will likely have to have corporate sponsors), and that will be even more monumental. And when she does break Scott's record, I hope that the Baxter Stare Park officialdome treats her with more dignity, honor and respect than they treated Scott.

Lana, if you don't find running, walking, hiking and climbing an average of 50 miles a day for 46 days over rough terrain to be "monumental", no matter what the sex of the person who does it and no matter how well they are supported (even if it's by those evil corporate sponsors who want to make a buck by supporting healthy activities), then you must be an amazing person. I hope you go for the record next and I will applaud you all the way. But please don't invite any friends or celebrate your monumental, indeed epic, feat of human endurance at the end.
Sara Llewellyn on Jul 20, 2015
50 miles a day is often beyond the endurance of those of us who are trained for hardship - such as soldiers and marines, who endure 10-15 mile marches while carrying heavy gear. By the time they're done though, many of them have been seen pouring blood out of their boots.
Andrew G Topham on Aug 31, 2015
Everyone thinks in terms of me me me today. MY right to enjoy, MY right to celebrate however I want because I accomplished this feat of human endurance. Good for you. The park wasn't designated for YOU. It has rules for a reason. So that EVERYONE can enjoy unspoiled wilderness. Baxter Peak is an alpine location with plants that only grow at that elevation and are sensitive (excuse them for not giving a rats butt about individual accomplishment) to being stepped on, littered on, and being showered with alcohol. Don't confuse corporate support for this athlete for any noble nature driven altruistic motivation. They make money off it honey, plain and simple..and yes I do know the park and the peak and have hiked it more times than I can remember. Shame on YOU. Those "potentates" are there to protect the park, the wildlife and those who go there to enjoy both. They have to make tough choices, and they sometimes piss people off because they don't bend the rules, but that's their job. They and the myriad of volunteers have to fix the fallout from the countless morons who visit the park every year and spill fuel, leave trash, broken glass and destroy wildlife. They are the ones who hike the peaks every day and save the lives of lost hikers, their children and the pets they aren't supposed to have. They risk their lives so that people like YOU and your children's children can enjoy the parks pristine wilderness long after they are gone and the memory of some guy who broke the record for fastest end to end through run. Personally the name Percival Baxter and the hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal funds he gave, and years he spent establishing the park and the requirement that it be maintained in a natural state will live on long after Scott what's his name's run is left in the dust of history
Ire38 on Jul 18, 2015
Thank you for writing this. The 200,000 acres of Baxter and Mt. Katahdin were deeded to Maine under specific conditions (rules) that the Baxter park service is required to preserve. Mt. Katahdin is special to many in Maine, sacred to some, and is a symbol of one way of treating the wilderness.

The opinion of any of us, including Scott Jurek and his corporate sponsors, about Baxter SP's rules is beside the point. Similarly, my opinion that I should be able to use Scott Jurek's house, or the property around brooks headquarters, or cliff-barzz factories for my own celebration, doesn't matter. They have the right to make me leave and assess a fine if I try.

Baxter SP's mandate is to preserve the original wilderness around Mt. Kahtadin, and from the beginning that has included refusing entry as needed. Anyone with different plans can easily find another spot nearby for their photo op or brand promotion.

Scott Jurek and his sponsors need to speak up in support of Baxter's rules, and address those fans who think that insulting the park service or the state of Maine is the way to show admiration for Mr. Jurek. Their complaints are actually tarnishing Mr. Jurek's achievement, and turning it into a controversy that will come up whenever he is mentioned. As it stands now, promotional activities intended to advertise the books, candy, and shoes related to Mr. Jurek's accomplishment will soon bring negative associations to many.


The hard work and achievements of the Baxter Park Service also deserve respect from Mr. Jurek and his sponsors.
Granna-Pops Salmon on Jul 18, 2015
Ire 38, you are right in that, because of their quasi public/private status, Baxter Park officials apparently feel beyond normal public accountability. One can only hope that they do not feel that they are beyond public shaming.

Shame on them for sneering on at an exceptional moment of natural human physical achievement and then trying to veil their strange animosity of that natural achievement in their supposed love of nature. Shame on them for being so fastidious about their rules that they forgot to bring their souls to work. Shame on them for not finding a way to guide a finish of something awesome and exceptional happening in their park in a way that both respected the amazing beauty of the park and celebrated the epic beauty of the accomplishment. Shame on them for what can only be intentionally and premeditatedly attempting to spoil a great moment in order to promote some other underlying agendas.

There is nothing more human or more natural than a human being running, walking, climbing through wilderness. Our ability transcend vast distance over natural terrain is a big part of what makes us human and natural and successful creatures on this green planet. The reality that it takes corporate sponsors (who, God forbid, expect to make money off of promoting healthy natural activities) is a strange thing for park officials to focus on, and actually says more about their motivations and prejudices than it says about Scott or his achievement, which will live on after these potentates are long forgotten.

Once again, shame on them.
Sara Llewellyn on Jul 20, 2015
BS. Absolute garbage. A) People are allowed to travel together in the united states. B) People are allowed to film in public in the united states. C) Therefore, these summonses have no merit.
Robert Sutherland on Aug 31, 2015
When you choose to enter Baxter State Park, you are required to follow their rules & regulations or you will be subject to being asked to leave. There are many places where American citizens are not allowed to video tape their surroundings, and millions of places where drinking/spraying champagne is not allowed. Every public meeting room has posted occupancy limits.

You might not like the limits enforced at Baxter State Park, but they are not at all unusual.

Thanks,


RJS
Tim Kelley on Jul 20, 2015
Now we know what BSP stands for. Bastard State Park. Or as it would be pronounced in Maine: "Baastid Steet Paak".
Jared Williams on Jul 23, 2015
Part of the issue is Baxter is unlike any other park in the world and as such unlike any other section of the AT. As a frequent visitor of Baxter this is 100% expected and par for the course, I don't agree with it but the Ranger feel like they personally own the park and land and it will not survive if they do not collect enough fines from those humans daring to use the land too.