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Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices

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avatar Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 01:53PM
Ok, so I'm a little cranky. Why is it so hard to find the backcountry offices and hours of operation?
Perhaps I am the first and only person to be frustrated by the Yosemite Park backcountry information websites but here is my travel looking for hours and info on the Backcountry Offices:


A reasonable person would first go to:

General Backpacking info:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/backpacking.htm
Or to:
Trailhead info:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trailheads.htm

However, there is no obvious info that I can find on the permit office locations.

So, where are the wilderness offices and what are the hours?
There is no obvious link to the wilderness office locatons at the websites that one would normally check for general information about backpacking. However, trying randoms links eventually yields some liimited information. You could chance upon the "wilderness conditions" link on the backpacking website which will give you:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm

Of course, even when you find the general locations of the offices on that website, the exact location is not listed and I don't see a link to detailed information.

There is a website, http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/permitstations.htm

that shows the locations of the offices. However, I was not able to find it by searching "backcountry office" or "wilderness office" although "permit office" did finally yield a positive result.


Seems like a preventable problem dealing with very basic information.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 01:59PM
Me no understand.

nps.gov/yose

Clicky: Plan your visit
Clicky: Things to do
Clicky: Backpackng
Clicky: Wilderness Permits
down below there is:
Clicky: "any issuing permit station"
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 02:58PM
Quote
bill-e-g
Me no understand.

nps.gov/yose

Clicky: Plan your visit
Clicky: Things to do
Clicky: Backpackng
Clicky: Wilderness Permits
down below there is:
Clicky: "any issuing permit station"



OK, now that you mention it, yes there is a link. I just wish web designers would think like "average joes" or test drive these with people who actually have to use them.
I just should have tried every highlighted link I could find on the page. Central to the whole backpacking process is finding the permit issueing authority. It certainly does not jump out at you on this page.
But I cannot believe that I am the only person who finds this organization of information misleading. Nowhere on the two major websites for backpacking does it clearly indicate where the permit stations are located (some parks call them wilderness centers, wilderness offices, backcountry offices, etc).

And whats all this about: "It is your responsibility to research trails and trail conditions to decide which trip is right for you and your group. Park rangers will not plan your trip for you."
That sort of comment can be interpreted to mean that you are not supposed to ask questions about the trail conditions and possible hazards, information that the rangers will know better than anyone else!



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 02:30PM
That's because of the bureaucracy. Somebody has to wait in line forever so that somebody else can do the job. That somebody else has no clue how the average person finds information. He/she assumes he/she knows best and does what he/she pleases. There's no accountability and no feedback because it's a bureaucracy. I speculate lots of people at the NPS are fuming because they want to change the web site so that it's easy to find the information but they can't do a thing because they have to wait their turn.
Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 02:43PM
It's not that hard. I found the link in the text on the wilderness permit page. Form, trailheads, quotas, which ones are full... everything I need on one page for the clicking. One click on the left menu bar got me to it.

I know it's not always intuitive for everyone, cause everyone's intuition is a little unique, but it's there, with maps.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/21/2009 02:43PM by AlmostThere.
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 02:48PM
Quote
AlmostThere
It's not that hard. I found the link in the text on the wilderness permit page. Form, trailheads, quotas, which ones are full... everything I need on one page for the clicking. One click on the left menu bar got me to it.

I know it's not always intuitive for everyone, cause everyone's intuition is a little unique, but it's there, with maps.


Appropriate USERNAME for this thread's topic.
Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 02:56PM
Quote
szalkowski



Appropriate USERNAME for this thread's topic.

Appropriate trail name for the optimistic gal at the front of the hiking group. smiling smiley
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 03:11PM
Diggity Dog,
The "Park Rangers will not plan your trip." just means that you should go there with a clue.
Do some up front planning. For sure you can go in there and ask as many questions as you like.
At TM and Valley they sometimes have "trip helpers" there.
They just don't have any idea what you are up for. Do you want to hike in the snow?
If you go early in the year they will tell you what you are getting into.
Like "there is snow above here". And they rely on people coming in and telling the the conditions.
So it's word of mouth. (I never report back conditions to them btw).
It's the same in SEKI.
They just don't know what YOU can do or what you want to do. It takes long enough to get
a permit as it is. (somehow if I'm 3rd in line it still take 1/2 hour to get the stinking permit)
(was 2nd in line at Wawoan Friday and I wasted 15 minutes to get the permit b/c the
schmos in front of me were so considerate to ask so many questions about "is this nice?"
hello... McFly! can I get my permit .. and then you can chit chit all day... )

Argh!
Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 03:29PM
I do the research - check the wilderness conditions page, check NOAA, read the guidebook if there's an entry on the trail, read a few forums for trip reports on the area - and call the ranger to ask about current conditions - water sources, snow level, bear activity, anything else I need to know. I ask any questions on behalf of group members - like the dude who wanted to come a day late and meet us out there (no problem) and the dude who wanted to go out a day early (definitely a problem, no permit in existence yet) and the other guy who hikes like a snail (just tell the ranger your group leader is ahead, or ask for another copy of the permit in the office and we'll print it for you).

Rangers are quite appreciative of people who read the website, I gather. Also of frequent hikers - last time I got a permit I didn't even get the lecture. One of the gals in the Wawona office recognizes me now.
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 04:40PM
Quote
bill-e-g
Diggity Dog,
The "Park Rangers will not plan your trip."
I am not impugning the rangers and my point was not about that sentence but the one before it about research. In actuality, I have not had any problem getting answers to specific questions face-to-face; I think the website falls short and there is a clear implication (incorrect) that rangers are not going to offer information. Regarding the delays in line, most people on the trail are on vay-cay and have the mentality that their trip is the most important. Just human nature -- but, doesn't make it less annoying, of course.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 04:58PM
Ok I guess you are confusing me.

There is info on the website regarding trail conditions and also information on all the trailheads in the park
with what the "destinations" are and the mileage.
As long as you an read a topo map you should be able to figure out if it is right for you.

Trail conditions:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm

Trails:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trails.htm

I really think they did a great job. What are you looking for?
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 03:00PM
I think the operative word is "permit". I've found that if you don't have the right word when searching the NPS sites you get taken to some high level page.



Old Dude



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/21/2009 03:00PM by mrcondron.
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 03:48PM
Quote
almost
like the dude who wanted to come a day late and meet us out there (no problem)

Huh? Permit is only good for entry on the TH the day of entry.
I take it they made the dude get his own permit for that day and meet you.
If not... that is just asking for abuse.

ranger: "hi.. can I see your permit?"
dude: "I don't have one... I'm meeting Billy at Dingleberry Lake"
ranger: "uh... sorry you need a permit... that will cost you one twinkie"
ranger: "I didn't see anyone at the Lake"
dude: "well... that is what they told me..."
Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 03:56PM
They did in fact let him come in a day late. He had to give them my name but they let him in.

The computers were down and they were backed up with requests, so they probably humored my request out of expediency. I think it might have been different were we at Tuolumne Meadows or in the valley, but Hetch Hetchy is sort of like the bastard stepchild wilderness of the park, I've never had a problem just getting a permit at the gate. They'll ask what kind of bear can you have but I've never had them actually look.
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 05:22PM
Quote
bill-e-g
Ok I guess you are confusing me.

There is info on the website regarding trail conditions and also information on all the trailheads in the park
with what the "destinations" are and the mileage.
As long as you an read a topo map you should be able to figure out if it is right for you.

Trail conditions:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildcond.htm

Trails:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/trails.htm

I really think they did a great job. What are you looking for?

Well, I don't want to back over all my arguments. My complaint is not about the trails section or what is listed under the trails conditions; it concerns the suggestion that the rangers will not provide supplemental information. It seems to me that they would want to ENCOURAGE people to ask last minute questions about trail and general backcountry conditions. That does not come through on the website.

I think there are crucial aspects of information that are hard to find on the website, unless you have navigated to them before. I do not doubt that those that have used the site repeatedly will find it satisfactory or even seamless. I don't think it is constructed very well for the casual observer or first time hiker. One very simple solution would be to put ALL the backcountry info on one page. In addition, simply highlighting words does not indicate to everyone that they represent hyperlinked text.

Some parks have specifically required equipment (beyond bear canisters, like a shovel for toilet activities) to be carried by all backpackers or require all overnight hikers in a group to watch a movie on the backcountry. I haven't even tried to find THAT info summarized on the website.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 05:39PM
Well, I don't want to back over all my points.
But if you say you want to go to Sunrise Lakes in May they will tell you where the snow is. You don't have to ask.
Again, I'm being as dumb as a board here.

In Yosemite you can go for a hike in your underoos. Camp overnight in your underoos. If you bring food you
need to have a bear can. Obide by the rules on the permit you signed and you're good to go.

I found the video at Glacier a joke since I already read about Grizz's. And I got that info from the nps site for glacier.

SEKI is the same. Same with Lassen. It's pretty straight-forward. 100 ft. from water. 100ft. from trail.
Just leave no trace..

I thought the backpacking link had it all on one page.

Sorry I'm being thick here.
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 05:41PM
I'm probably irritating you now but:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildregs.htm

Welcome to the World Wide Web.

Information Overload.

tongue sticking out smiley
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 05:45PM
Ok, you're sick of me.. but I must point this out b/c I tried explaining it to the issuing "rangers" at Wawana on Friday:

"You must camp at least four trail miles from Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Hetch Hetchy, and Wawona, and at least one air mile from any road. Camping is prohibited in the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River. "

yet on the Permit itself it says "OR one trail mile from any road"

I gave up saying the OR didn't make any sense. At least they got it right on the website.
(see the beauty of the web)

Ok, Shoot me now
avatar Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 09:05PM
Quote
bill-e-g
Ok, Shoot me now

Never.
Hey, I appreciate the feedback and clarification.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Re: Complaint: Finding the Wilderness Permit Offices
July 21, 2009 10:05PM
You really are not the only person who finds the Yosemite Experience frustrating.

Just imagine how the rangers feel - they come into the office every single day to a pile of faxed wilderness permit requests a foot deep. Then when they are supposed to start answering the phones, they ring alllllllllll day, and when they answer there is some poor fella who's been hitting redial and listening to busy signals since two hours ago, rightfully frustrated that they were the fourth fax in the pile and got denied their permit and now what the $#%@^ are they doing for vacation when everyone in the family wanted to go to Little Yosemite Valley to have their food swiped by bears while they attempt Half Dome? I've faxed in and received an email ten minutes later telling me I didn't get the itinerary, first second or third choice. The system is pretty impressive.

And then there's the line of people who slept on the porch all night come in, get the whole lecture on current conditions, fires burning in the park, trail closures, bear safety and where to camp. Sometimes folks try to convince the ranger they don't need a bear can. Seriously - I stood in the Wawona office listening to a couple insist that because they were going overnight, they would eat all the powerbars before bed and hike back to the car first thing in the morning, they did not need that f'ing bear can. You'd think they actually believed the bear can was to protect their food instead of protecting the bear. They were rented a bear can.

And then, there's the yokels on the trails. Here's mr. ranger with his taser and his handgun, coming along to find that not only are people hanging food bags (badly, six feet from the ground) and not only are they digging catholes in the middle of an established campground and not only are they washing their pots and pans in the lake, they get all upset and make him pull the taser when all he wants is for them to leave because they ignored the permitting process! And then - the pot growers! They certainly didn't get a permit, and they're better armed than the rangers.

It is very, very frustrating to try to get a campsite in any of the campgrounds, or a wilderness permit, or one of the lodge rooms or tent cabins. But it's Yosemite and I love it enough to keep reserving permits whenever I can, or to stand in line at 5:30 am listening to people snore on the porch. I actually like to help people navigate the system, which is why I had such a hard time giving accurate info to the guy who was walking with his backpack in the rain along Mirror Lakes trail, asking where the trail to Half Dome was, an open beer in hand and six more in the side pockets of his pack. At 2 in the afternoon, he wanted to hike in the rain to Half Dome. Climb a peak in a storm with dark approaching - real smart.

I think the rangers are doing the best they can. They answer the same question a billion times a day and hand it out in a bunch of ways. All the information you need is on the website, on signs around the park, in the literature at the park gate, on the white boards at the park gate and in the wilderness center the day of the trip. I know it's not easy at first, but it gets easier, and there are forums where one can go to vent and get information from people who've been there and done that, too. People have shown up in other forums I visit wailing about how impossible it is, whhhhyyyy does it take a year's advance reservation to get a campsite, is it really that busy? Oh, yes, it is. Sorry. But there are other things you can do, like show up early in the morning to get a first come/first serve site, or stay outside the park.... and the learning curve starts.
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