Soft Adventure

-- by press release

"SOFT ADVENTURE" GROWING IN APPEAL FOR WHITE MOUNTAINS VISITORS PINKHAM NOTCH, NH - Adventure vacations - with vacationers looking to spend downtime "out there" - are arguably the fastest growing segment of the vacation market. But perhaps the fastest growing segment with that "out there" segment is the "soft adventure" vacation.

Soft adventurers are those who, for whatever the reason, don't necessarily have to climb Everest by lunchtime, don't have kayak the Grand Canyon or canoe Idaho's Snake River, don't have to spend a week in the wilderness. They want to do something more than browsing a museum or hitting a cluster of outlet stores, something with a little more get-up-and-go than a cooking class or baking on a beach. They want a vacation that may include a bit more survival than coping with black and white TV or no nearby mall. Something where frost means more than a poet.

And soft adventurers in increasing numbers have learned to love New Hampshire's White Mountains.

Whether it's schlepping up - and spending a night on - Mount Washington from the Appalachian Mountain Club base here in Pinkham Notch or getting an introduction to rock climbing at Chuck Woodman's Profile Mountaineering in North Woodstock, more and more vacationers each year are enjoying "soft" adventures. Or perhaps a kayaking or canoe trip with Saco Bound in North Conway.

"They read about Mount Everest and they hear about other extreme adventures, and they think they'd like to sample like that," Woodman said. "But most people may want to try something, but they don't want to commit to anything that extreme. Believe me, the number of people who want to try climbing far exceeds the number who want to hang from The Old Man."

Rob Burbank of the Appalachian Mountain Club agrees. "There are a lot of different trends, and maybe some feed into others; there's a big rise in the interest in kayaking and canoeing. We hear all the time about extreme sport - extreme skiing, extreme this and that - and there definitely are people who like to push the limit and get bloody and be extreme...but I think there's a greater number that wants the experience that feels extreme without the pain."

As an example, he says while there are those, who undeniably prefer the isolation of spending time in a wilderness area near Mount Washington, there also are far more who enjoy the chance to hike the highest peak in northeastern North America (elev. 6,288 feet) and spend a night or two (or three) at one of the AMC huts. Overnight lodging includes not only a mattress and pillow and blanket but also dinner and breakfast the next morning, prepared by AMC staffers. And then you're on your way.

"The hut experience is a great for people who want to try something different - perhaps a greater level of challenge than roadside camping, but easier than heavy-duty backpacking," Burbank says. "You carry a day pack and some extra clothing, but you don't need to carry a lot of gear - no cook stove, no heavy stuff."

While there are thru-hikers who savor the opportunity to hike the entire 2,100-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail between Maine and Georgia, far more prefer the bite-size trails which spider-web the White Mountains, including the one-day hike from the base of Mount Washington to the summit and back.

About the author:

Profile Mountaineering includes a small rock climbing gym and a variety of programs that take place at several spots in the White Mountains. It's designed to be an incubator for vacationers who think they'd like to try various activities.

Appalachian Mountain Club offers beginner to expert workshops and classes.



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