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No permit?

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No permit?
August 21, 2012 08:27AM
Have you ever gone backpacking without the required permit? Would you? We got to thinking about this after a recent trip to the Ansel Adams Wilderness. We had arranged for our permit to be left for after-hours pickup at the Mono Lake station. But when we got there, the permit box was empty. We looked and looked. Poor Mother Hubbard!

It wasn't a big deal. We were camping at Silver Lake, about fifteen minutes away, and so we simply got up the next morning and drove back to the ranger station and picked up our permit from a live and slightly apologetic ranger. The phones had been down the night before, and they never got the word from the main office. End result? We hit the trail about an hour later than planned. As we said, no big deal.



But what if the situation had been different? We once called the El Dorado National Forest to make sure that we could pick up a permit at the trailhead for a trip we were going to make out of Carson Pass. We were assured that it was not a problem--the Carson Pass station was open 9-5 or so. We left home early the next morning, and drove to Carson Pass...only to find that the USFS station up there was not open during the week (This was in the fall. Summer hours may well be different.) The station was boarded up, there was no phone (or cell phone coverage) and not even another car in the parking lot.

Our only option was to drive another hour or more back down to Placerville, pick up a permit, and then drive back up to Carson Pass and start hiking. We'd already been in the car for more than three hours, and it was now 11:30 in the morning. If we drove to Placerville, we would not get on the trail until 2 p.m. or so. We read the warning signs carefully, all of which stressed that we could not make a campfire (or cook on a stove) without a permit. But we did have our CDF campfire permit. We get one of those every year.



So we decided to hit the trail. We spent three lovely days in the not yet established Meiss Meadow Wilderness Area, and hiked back out on Saturday afternoon. We'd seen very few people, and by the time we got to the car, we'd forgotten that we didn't have a permit.

No, we didn't get stopped at the trailhead and arrested. In fact, we weren't noticed at all.



Clearly, this is not something we would consider in Yosemite National Park or other high traffic and highly regulated areas. And some of the other areas allow you to simply self-registed for a permit at the trailhead. We did that at Leavitt Meadows. But now you know our secret confession. We once backpacked without a permit.

We expect to appear on the next season of America's Most Wanted. Photos are of the fugitives during their escapade.



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 08:57AM
I've already forwarded this link to the authorities. They should be knocking on your door sometime later today!!! wink

That's really funny and got me thinking....I've never even had to consider going without a permit before. I always plan ahead, but It might just add a new element of excitement! JK

No matter how remote the routes I choose (not nearly as remote as most of you), I always seem to run into a Ranger on my trips. So its a good thing I am permitted. I love talking to the Rangers...I'd hate to have to avoid them!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 09:09AM
Quote
balzaccom
So we decided to hit the trail. We spent three lovely days in the not yet established Meiss Meadow Wilderness Area, and hiked back out on Saturday afternoon. We'd seen very few people, and by the time we got to the car, we'd forgotten that we didn't have a permit.

There's no wilderness permit required for Meiss, only a campfire permit.

Wilderness permits are required south of CA-88 in the Mokelumne Wilderness, w/ designated site requirements as far south as Fourth of July Lake (edit: designated site requirements don't apply when there's snow, permit requirements still do, the one time I camped at Fourth of July they didn't bother assigning a campsite because of snow cover)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2012 10:16AM by ttilley.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 09:19AM
I swear he looks 3 years younger...
tongue sticking out smiley

Been burned by Groveland RS once. No permit in box. Or someone stole it...
like they stole my Cream o Wheat out of the bear box at Kibbie Ridge.
Kinda like getting to permit station and your first choice isn't avail, or 2nd, or 3rd.
Go with the flow.

Frosts my chick-on balls when I hear people saying they just go without a permit.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 09:54AM
Quote
chick-on
they stole my Cream o Wheat out of the bear box at Kibbie Ridge.

Why would anybody steal Cream o Wheat? (Perhaps to save you from eating it?)
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 08:28PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
chick-on
they stole my Cream o Wheat out of the bear box at Kibbie Ridge.

Why would anybody steal Cream o Wheat? (Perhaps to save you from eating it?)

I guess I'll throw you in the Malt o Meal camp.
tongue sticking out smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 07:07PM
Quote
chick-on
I guess I'll throw you in the Malt o Meal camp.
tongue sticking out smiley

Begged my mother to buy some way back when. It sounded great in the ads; tasted awful.
Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 03:05PM
Quote
ttilley
Quote
balzaccom
So we decided to hit the trail. We spent three lovely days in the not yet established Meiss Meadow Wilderness Area, and hiked back out on Saturday afternoon. We'd seen very few people, and by the time we got to the car, we'd forgotten that we didn't have a permit.

There's no wilderness permit required for Meiss, only a campfire permit.

Wilderness permits are required south of CA-88 in the Mokelumne Wilderness, w/ designated site requirements as far south as Fourth of July Lake (edit: designated site requirements don't apply when there's snow, permit requirements still do, the one time I camped at Fourth of July they didn't bother assigning a campsite because of snow cover)

So we were legal after all? Dang. There goes my street cred. It's the only time we've ever NOT had a permit...



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 06:08PM
Quote
balzaccom
So we were legal after all? Dang. There goes my street cred. It's the only time we've ever NOT had a permit...

So far this year I've backpacked in three places that don't require wilderness permits:

- Joshua Tree: sign-in at trailhead required, no permit.
- Ventana Wilderness: no permit, campfire permit required.
- Sky Lakes Wilderness (OR): no permit required.
Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 10:38AM
Useful topic for discussion. Have I ever gone out backpacking without a permit? Indeed decades ago when lots of the backpacking community was very irritated at the often hassle of obtaining permits.

It was during the 1970s backpacking became huge and some authorities were slow to accomodate that change. By the 80s most national parks and forests had revised their policies. In the 1970s one could drive up to Yosmite trailheads like at Lembert Dome and simply toss out a sleeping bag till morning. Many climbers never bothered with permits.

The hours when ranger stations opened were sometimes unreasonably late in the morning. For some trailheads getting a permit required driving so far out of the way, it was non-sense. Much more. Inyo National Forest in particular has been instrumental in making good changes that other agencies eventually adopted. The night box system in particular is awesome.

Even as late as a decade ago some national forests like Toyabe were more often to have a group write their own permits at a kiosk at most trailheads. And then one would drive up and find the permit box was empty and looked like it had been so a long time like no one cared. I'd end up writing usual info on a sheet of paper, stuff it in the box, then leave. Of course all this was before the Internet when the only other way to communicate what was going on was to either phone up a ranger station or visit one. Trying to figure out what policy and hours were was often a pain of phone tag. There was even one yearly publication that tried to list all the mumbo jumbo.

Today my number one complaint often has me wondering about ignoring it because I'm frustrated. I've complained about it to various national forests and on web boards like this usually with little response. The issue is about we working 8-5 m-f enthusiasts that want to backpack on some weekends. I would take a lot of weekend trips if I was more confident I had a chance of walk up permits. Just like going skiing in the winter, I sometimes prefer to make decisions on whether to do a trip based on weather conditions. Very important as a photographer because it is all about good light.

The day before policy is generally an excellent process...for 6 days of the week. But since the vast majority of people work 5 days and get off Friday afternoon, that eliminates them having a reasonable chance to get a wilderness permit for popular destinations. The alternative is of course to take valuable PTO vacation time off at one's work place. Yeah waste a valuable day just to get a permit. Of course sometimes I end up doing just that when it involves a multi-day trip and I have not reservation.

So policies on being able to fill walk up permits the morning before make such a notion impractical. Why is someone going to bother driving up several hours 200 miles or so given the cost of gas and one's weekend time, only to stand in line when a ranger station opens gambling that other groups that came the day before have not already filled quotas? Thus I would like to see a change that made Saturday wilderness permits an exception, leveling the playing field.



http://www.davidsenesac.com



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2012 10:39AM by DavidSenesac.
Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 12:55PM
While we're wishing for changes... I'd like to see Yosemite (and SEKI) institute a night-drop/pickup system for reservations. I think Zion has one for frequent backcountry visitors. It's all computerized nowadays, so they could easily look up how many trips you've done to see if you qualify, just to make sure you've heard the ranger's talk enough times to have memorized the answers ("6", 100', hard or previously impacted, everything that looks/smells like food, smaller than your wrist, dead and down, existing rings, 9600'..."winking smiley.

Actually leaving permits in a box would probably be a bad idea (I mean, if people are stealing cream-of-wheat, they'll steal anything...)--instead, I'm thinking a system where your reservation receipt (email/website printout) acts as your permit, but you have to drop a form (that is clearly not a permit, or cream-of-wheat) in a box by a certain time so that no-shows can be opened up.

This would allow for hitting the trail before the permit stations open, or at least not having to wait in line with all the walk-ups. (Although, that said, the wait in TM was much shorter than usual the last time I was there, probably because everything was basically sold out for same-day permits, and everyone waiting for a next-day permit had to wait until 11:00...)
avatar Re: No permit?
August 21, 2012 06:22PM
Inyo's drop box doesn't apply to permits that include SEKI travel, an Inyo NF ranger told me SEKI asked them not to and they complied.

I generally like your idea. Desolation started allowing people to print permits via recreation.gov this year, but of course that doesn't provide a way to recycle quotas which end up unused as your suggestion would. Still, there's the inconveniently-located ranger station problem. For the Piute/Feather/etc. trip I picked up my permit in Mammoth where I stayed the night before, I had no plans to drive into Bishop (the actual RD) since Ed Powers Rd. is so convenient. A bigger convenience issue would be any hike starting on Toiyabe's Carson RD, in Carson City, no way would any Californian drive to Carson City to drop off a piece of paper so they could hike in the eastern Carson-Iceberg.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/2012 06:24PM by ttilley.
Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 01:31PM
For the forests that don't have quotas, there would be no need to drop off anything before the trip--it could be done at any FS ranger station (even for a differnet forest, or it could be mailed/faxed in/web form) before or after the trip. This would be done more so the agencies can record visitor usage, not to free up unused slots.

For the places with quotas (Yosemite, SEKI, Inyo), the major permit stations seem to be linked by computer, so you could drop off your "yep, I'm coming" form at any of them. For the East Side (Inyo and Ansel Adams), the Mono Lake and Lone Pine/Mt. Whitney vistor centers would cover most visitors from the west, and all entrances to Yosemite and SEKI have computer-linked permit stations. The quota trailheads out of Bridgeport (Robinson Creek) would be a challenge, but maybe the west-side Stanislaus stations (Groveland, Pinecrest) could participate.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 08:06AM
The answers I use are:
Away from the clowns with a view, "6", I don't use TP, I don't make bonfires, and I have my bear can within arms reach to protect my Cream-of-Wheat



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 05:23PM
Quote
chick-on
The answers I use are:
Away from the clowns with a view, "6", I don't use TP, I don't make bonfires, and I have my bear can within arms reach to protect my Cream-of-Wheat
Man you really like Cream of Wheat. You may need to change your Avatar to Cream of Wheat.smiling smiley
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 05:31PM
Quote
yosemitejim
Man you really like Cream of Wheat. You may need to change your Avatar to Cream of Wheat.smiling smiley

Probably mixes it with Twinkies.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 05:38PM
Maybe he replaces the Twinkie filling with Cream of Wheat.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 05:53PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
yosemitejim

Man you really like Cream of Wheat. You may need to change your Avatar to Cream of Wheat.smiling smiley

Probably mixes it with Twinkies.

My guess: he coats the Twinkies with Cream of Wheat before he deep fries them!
.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 06:05PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
yosemitejim
Man you really like Cream of Wheat. You may need to change your Avatar to Cream of Wheat.smiling smiley

Probably mixes it with Twinkies.

I just think its noteworthy that while someone stole his Cream of Wheat, nobody has stolen the Twinkees[tm].
Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 06:22AM
There should be self register from the trailheads in the valley in winter. Waiting till the office opens at 9am sucks.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 08:00AM
Quote
steelcup
There should be self register from the trailheads in the valley in winter. Waiting till the office opens at 9am sucks.

If you ever come in on 120... take a look at the filled out permits... that may give a state of affairs.

Location of Entry: Yosemite
Location of Entry: Glacier Point
Location of Entry: Trail
Location of Entry: Badger Pass

etc.

More than likely the no permits out in the valley is simply for education. It's nice and warm and sunny down in the valley...
Let's go backpacking.

Anyway, I've seen a number of clowns on multiple occasions now camped right at the first jct. to LYV.
And multiple times now a new fire ring has popped up.
So imho ... education is required.

I've said this before but I rarely get a permit in the valley in the self-reg time. I snag a couple extra when
coming in on 120 or 41... and use those if need be. Rangers aren't even apt to check for a permit
at that time anyway to be honest. Once I simply forgot the darn thing in my car (long story)... ran
into rangers on Aspen Valley Road... they never asked. Another time on Snow Creek... ask if
wanted to see permit... ranger said it's ok... it's self-reg.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 09:01AM
Ahhhh thanks. That's fantastic information. I had assumed the self register forms at those locations required you to drop the permit in a box, but I guess now that I think about it, that wouldn't make any sense for a ranger wanting to check it.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 09:14AM
Quote
steelcup
Ahhhh thanks. That's fantastic information. I had assumed the self register forms at those locations required you to drop the permit in a box, but I guess now that I think about it, that wouldn't make any sense for a ranger wanting to check it.
It's the typical take one copy with you and leave one copy for us.
So... since you aren't leaving a copy I guess someone could give you a hard time.
My rebuttal on that is simply... they don't even pick up those permits
very often... I know this b/c I've gone in many weeks in a row many times...
and there is my permit from last week... and the week before...
so they are just keeping track of you? The only thing it tells them is that you
got a permit. Other than that... start and end "TH". I dunno. Just leave a
plan with someone back at home... the usual thing you always do, right?
At times the permits will say "Not valid for Yosemite Valley TH" or "No LYV".
Just be aware of those timeframes. I never stay in LYV in the winter so
I just write NOT STAYING IN LYV on my permit and off we go.
For the Not valid for ANY Yosemite Valley TH... that is typically close to
when the self reg goes away anyway...

Have fun



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 01:23PM
Quote
chick-on
they don't even pick up those permits
very often... I know this b/c I've gone in many weeks in a row many times...
and there is my permit from last week... and the week before...

But if someone goes missing, I'll bet those permits are picked up and read. Other than that they are probably just used to compile statistics.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 02:43PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
chick-on
they don't even pick up those permits
very often... I know this b/c I've gone in many weeks in a row many times...
and there is my permit from last week... and the week before...

But if someone goes missing, I'll bet those permits are picked up and read. Other than that they are probably just used to compile statistics.
Sure

Thus my line:
"Just leave a plan with someone back at home... the usual thing you always do, right?"



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 09:09AM
chick-on do you mean just half a mile past Nevada Falls where the trail splits to head to either side of LYV? i saw people set up in the dark there last new years or so, right at the split, like 2 feet from either trail.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 09:15AM
Quote
steelcup
chick-on do you mean just half a mile past Nevada Falls where the trail splits to head to either side of LYV? i saw people set up in the dark there last new years or so, right at the split, like 2 feet from either trail.
Exactly



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 09:51AM
Quote
chick-on
Quote
steelcup
chick-on do you mean jus
t half a mile past Nevada Falls where the trail splits to head to either side of LYV? i saw people set up in the dark there last new years or so, right at the split, like 2 feet from either trail.

Exactly

One would think enough rangers walk by that location on a daily basis, even in the winter, that if a ranger saw someone setting up camp there the ranger would inform them that was an illegal campsite and ask them to setup camp elsewhere.

(Or maybe the rangers don't really care where someone sets up camp in winter.)
.
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 02:45PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
chick-on
Quote
steelcup
chick-on do you mean jus
t half a mile past Nevada Falls where the trail splits to head to either side of LYV? i saw people set up in the dark there last new years or so, right at the split, like 2 feet from either trail.

Exactly

One would think enough rangers walk by that location on a daily basis, even in the winter, that if a ranger saw someone setting up camp there the ranger would inform them that was an illegal campsite and ask them to setup camp elsewhere.

(Or maybe the rangers don't really care where someone sets up camp in winter.)
.

I've seen this kind of behavior twice in April.
And if it's Winter... no campfires are allowed in winter in the backcountry.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: No permit?
August 22, 2012 07:40PM
Anybody backpacking Yosemite in the summer and caught without a permit may be ordered to leave the park immediately. Another ranger will likely be waiting for you at the trailhead to escort you to the gate.

As for Cream of Wheat, it makes a great and quick breakfast on the trail. I usually use two packets at a time (flavored) and alternate it mornings with instant oatmeal (also flavored). That's all I ever eat for breakfasts while backpacking. It's simple, lightweight, and takes little room in the canister. Leaves more room for mid-day snacks.
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