I am commenting on the article about Baxter State Park and the Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. My son completed the AT a few years ago, and I had a thoroughly unpleasant experience picking him up.

First, I was confronted with the arcane parking reservation process whereby you pay a fee to reserve a space, but you must arrive by 6:30 a.m. or they give it away. What? I reserved a space but arrived at 9:30 a.m., and was grumpily told my reservation had been given away.

I politely asked if I could just drive in, pick up my son and leave, and the gatekeeper reluctantly said OK. The parking lot was only one-third full despite the apparent high demand and strict reservation process. Just after my son and his friends finished their descent, a ranger arrived, and I mentioned their accomplishment, “Isn’t that great?” I asked. He literally ignored me.

I subsequently emailed the park director and explained the difficulty for those who only want to pick up someone, or just spend an afternoon at the park without having to get up before dawn. I offered suggestions such as moving the parking lot to the gate area and having electric shuttles move people around, having a more expensive day pass that actually guarantees a spot, or having a drop-off/pick-up permit process that has a strict time limit. His response was as dismissive and hostile as documented in your article.

I realize the park’s mission is nature, not people-based, but why such hostility to people who want to enjoy the park in a slightly different way? Why the refusal to consider new ideas? Yes, the park has a strict preservation mandate, but isn’t it ultimately meant to be enjoyed by the people of Maine?

Keith Taylor


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