>New Hampshire officials stress they only bill those who are negligent.<
The defense lawyer is going to have a field day here. I remember this case and chided the kid for choosing the trail he followed. Then I learned what occurred. He took the "main" trail on his ascent, but was looking for a faster way down. He went to the Appalachian Mountain Club hut on the summit and sought their advice. It was on the descent he ran into problems and he was on that trail because of *the advice and guidance* of those manning the AMC hut.
If someone is to blame it is the yahoos who advised the kid to take the "bee-line" trail. No way anyone should advise an early season day hiker to use that trail - it's rarely used, (bee-line = steep) and crosses streams that are swollen with early season snow melt. Those in the AMC hut should have advised and warned him not to use that trail and to return the way he came up. They are just as culpable, if not more so in this situation. Given that the AMC is a quasi-official organization, NH is going to but themselves in a tight spot if they pursue this action.