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Re: Wilderness Permit System

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Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 11:21AM
Which wilderness permit system is best - the one for Yosemite or the one run by recreation.gov for Inyo National Forest. It seems to me that the internet system for the Inyo National Forest is more efficient and easier to use.

I have been disappointed for three days straight trying to get a wilderness permit for the JMT between Lyell Canyon and Red's Meadow. Yes, I know this is probably the most popular hiking trip in the world, but sending in a fax everyday for a spot, hoping whoever is in the office chooses your permit for the lottery and then waiting for an email seems more difficult than it has to be.

Any opinions from the more experienced?
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 11:49AM
Haven't reserved in many years... but...
Have you tried to fax in at 5pm so that you are the first in "line"?



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 12:17PM
Yes, every day. My fax is first in at 5pm. But I think they bundle all the faxes received after hours (5pm until 7:30am) and then put them in some sort of lottery. So there's no advantage to being the first to fax in at 5pm.

I will keep on faxing.

Do you have to know someone at the Yosemite Conservancy or be a donor to get preference? Yes, I am that cynical.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 02:48PM
Quote
Mom
I think they bundle all the faxes received after hours (5pm until 7:30am) and then put them in some sort of lottery. So there's no advantage to being the first to fax in at 5pm.
I'm no expert, but that's my understanding. From their website:

Faxes and letters will be processed before phone calls. To be considered for this priority, faxes can be received anytime between 5 pm and 7:30 am PT. Faxes and letters received by 7:30 am will then be processed randomly.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 02:58PM
Well... there you go. I didn't read it as such. But I see.

Not really much of a priority now is it?

I'd be cynical with this too.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 02:18PM
Quote
Mom
Yes, every day. My fax is first in at 5pm. But I think they bundle all the faxes received after hours (5pm until 7:30am) and then put them in some sort of lottery. So there's no advantage to being the first to fax in at 5pm.

I will keep on faxing.

Do you have to know someone at the Yosemite Conservancy or be a donor to get preference? Yes, I am that cynical.

Fax? Wow, how 1980s!
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 12:30PM
Mine went straight through last week. Booked for the Cathedral lakes trailhead in July.

Maybe I got lucky.

Steve
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 04:53PM
I just got permits for 3 persons in August starting at Happy Isle and first night will be LYV - I am hiking the first leg of the JMT to Reds Meadow - I called and asked for a little clarification on the selection process - they were very nice to me - said it was a lottery and she expected to send out 150 rejections!! - I figured I had a 15% chance and, my gosh, I really lucked out - I sent the reservation in at 5:03 - I have no idea if this made any difference - What amazed even more was getting LYV the first night, I was thinking maybe I would have a shot if I camped on the way to Sunrise - This was my second choice

The ranger recommended reserving from Reds Meadow with Recreation.gov to hike from the other side which I did as a backup in the unlikely event I got lucky and got the permits from the valley - I had no problem with the system and it was nice to see how many spaces were reserved already - that will never happen in Yosemite since there is too much demand

I'm actually tempted to go this route instead to avoid the elevation which wouldn't be as bad if I started at Red's



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2013 04:54PM by SoCalCPA.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 06:16PM
How large is your party?

With respect to which system I prefer...the recreation.gov system works, reasonably displays day-by-day open slots, though Inyo messed it up a bit last year by having "trailhead - cross country" options separate from "trailhead" (reality: there's no quota-related difference, they're not separate trailheads, the party size limitation is lower). The Yosemite system - FAX machines really should be sent off to museums. On the other hand, the reservation fee went up when Inyo adopted recreation.gov, same with Desolation wilderness, I think its safe to assume Yosemite's reservation fee would be higher if the park moved to recreation.gov.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 07:24PM
Yes. Too bad they don't have an option to email the request for a wilderness permit. I'm becoming a regular at the fax machine at Staples.

The cross-country designation confused me too. My party is 4 people. It looks like the only trailhead option for my route is John Muir Trail north of Devil's Postpile. Doesn't seem to matter where you start, Red's or Agnew. Am I reading that correctly? But the days we have off work seem to be taken already since they are on a six month system and Yosemite is 168 days, a few days less in advance of the date we want to travel. So I was behind on getting a permit from Inyo, since I thought it wouldn't be this hard to get one from Yosemite.

I'll just keep trying. I can't just show up at 4am and hope to get sufficient spaces for a party of 4, two of whom are coming in from out of state.

I'm just disappointed since I've been living on the dream of this trip all winter.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 07:59PM
Quote
Mom
It looks like the only trailhead option for my route is John Muir Trail north of Devil's Postpile. Doesn't seem to matter where you start, Red's or Agnew. Am I reading that correctly?

I think that's incorrect, they're separate trailheads. Actually, Agnews Meadow is three trailheads, Shadow Trail (not relevant for your trip), River Trail (the trail following the SJ river north from Agnews) and High Trail (the trail high up on the right hand side of the valley).

John Muir Trail North appears to be the trail from the Devils Postpile area going northward.

From Inyo's Permits Page there's a Trip Planning Guide with a "map" showing "trail" locations, from which I can discern the above information, but I think you'd have to be already familiar with the area to get that information from the map.

So...back to your original question, Yosemite has a map of its trailhead designations and what they mean which is far superior to what Inyo's Planning Guide has.

Edit: I'm thinking either River or High trails would work the same for your trip if you go from the south, along High Trail there's no place to camp before the Badger Lakes and/or 1000 Island, but I'm thinking that's not an issue here.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2013 08:06PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 09:12PM
Quote
Mom

Yes. Too bad they don't have an option to email the request for a wilderness permit. I'm becoming a regular at the fax machine at Staples.

If you have access to a computer with a regular telephone modem, you ought to be able to fax the wilderness permit application directly from your computer using that modem. I'm

(Unfortunately, many computers no longer have built-in phone modems as they once did when dial-up internet access was more the norm.)
.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 09:17PM
Quote
plawrence
(Unfortunately, many computers no longer have built-in phone modems as they once did when dial-up internet access was more the norm.)
.

...hence my "museum" suggestion, FAX machines belong in a cage next to carrier pigeons.
.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 09:19PM
Used to be able to reserve online. Not sure exactly why they changed.

Hopefully they just keep them free for FCFS (day of).... unlike SEKI.



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2013 09:20PM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 09:25PM
SEKI has Reserve-By-FAX plus Not-Free-FCFS.

Desolation allows the permit itself to be printed on-line within two weeks of the reserved trip date.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2013 09:30PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 05:22PM
Quote
chick-on
Used to be able to reserve online. Not sure exactly why they changed.

A certain contact with a crappy reservation company?
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 05:21PM
Quote
plawrence
If you have access to a computer with a regular telephone modem

That would bring one up to the 1990s. Sigh.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 27, 2013 09:28PM
There was a way to apply online, not too many years ago. They stopped doing it.

I tend to just walk in anymore. I've gotten Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne that way. But that works best if you have a small group and some flexibility of starting point. Coming in midweek helps.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 09:02AM
Hi Mom -

I have three reservations from JMT Devils Postpile North on 8/13 that I do not need anymore - (I have conferred with my daughter and father-in-law and we are going to take advantage of our good fortune and start at Happy Isles) - Therefore, I will be releasing these back in to Recreation.Gov - I just checked and found there were 3 available right now so when I release mine, there will be 6 - enough to cover you for four.

If this date works for you, then please PM me and give me a specified time to release these so you can go in and get them.

Oh - and obviously, you would do the same for me, I feel stupid even saying this but I am not a no good scalper and expecting recompense - Just an earthy crunchy CPA looking to help out a fellow backpacker.

Cheers!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/28/2013 09:08AM by SoCalCPA.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 03:41PM
Thanks to everyone for the information. After being denied by Yosemite for a fourth straight day, I went through the recreation.gov and saw that there was plenty of availability for my dates for the River Trail. I got a person on the phone to answer my questions on the first ring, the system's email confirmation came back immediately. It's much better than the Yosemite system, all online, no faxing and waiting until the next afternoon to see if you got your trip.

So I'll hike in the other direction. Taking the River Trail to the spur trail to Garnet Lake and then on the JMT northward to Tuolumne.

Don't know why I didn't do it that way in the first place.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 07:56PM
Oops, while the spur trail to Garnet Lake from the River Trail is on the Inyo Forest Service website as not suggested for stock, it may not be appropriate for me.

Some people's photos make it look like a hands and feet steep climb. It's unmarked?

Anyone here ever done that.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
February 28, 2013 08:18PM
I day-hiked it on a trip when camping at Badger Lakes - from Badger to 1000 Island, to Garnet, then down the spur trail, then x-country back up to Badger.

Don't worry about the spur trail, it's an actual trail.

If you're worried anyway, then 1000 Island is a perfectly reasonable fallback for you to continue on your way if you find the spur not to your liking. But I don't think you'll need to resort to the fallback.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/28/2013 08:19PM by ttilley.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 01, 2013 05:01PM
Any other info or pictures for River Trail to Garnet? I've seen Garnet outlet from the River Trail, but didn't notice a way over there. Looked like a cool way to go.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 01, 2013 06:39PM
It was quite a few years ago, no, no pictures of the trail, and I'd have to dig deep into film archives for lake pics. I went the other way of course, Garnet to River Trail, but I don't remember anything about that trail other than it was steep but was a trail. It generally follows the outlet stream.

Sounds like Mom will get to see Garnet by her route, and it is very much worth seeing.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 03, 2013 02:09PM
It seems your only compliant is that you weren't able to get a permit with Yosemite. (I don't you would have started this thread if you did). The way you ended up getting your permit would have been exactly the same in Yosemite, with the email confirmation and all, again, as long as there was space.

I would much rather have the Yosemite system then have to deal with recreation.gov. Yes, the faxing is annoying and frustrating at times but there are a number of online fax services where you can send a fax from your computer, so that makes it much easier. And like you said, the recreation.gov site isn't all that great either. The yosemite conservancy operates the reservation system in Yosemite and the employees are in the park and are fairly knowledgeable about the park which I can't say about the people on recreation.gov. Plus all the money goes back into the park rather than some company located who knows where.


Quote
Mom
Thanks to everyone for the information. After being denied by Yosemite for a fourth straight day, I went through the recreation.gov and saw that there was plenty of availability for my dates for the River Trail. I got a person on the phone to answer my questions on the first ring, the system's email confirmation came back immediately. It's much better than the Yosemite system, all online, no faxing and waiting until the next afternoon to see if you got your trip.

So I'll hike in the other direction. Taking the River Trail to the spur trail to Garnet Lake and then on the JMT northward to Tuolumne.

Don't know why I didn't do it that way in the first place.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 01, 2013 07:35AM
You can also attempt the trail through Shadow Lake which hooks up to the JMT right after Shadow - That way you will see all of the larger lakes - plus you could take a side trip to Edizu Lake also

What a pleasant surprise - When I cancelled the Inyo reservation, I got a refund - wasn't expecting that.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 01, 2013 07:37AM
Shadow would be a different permit from River.
Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 01, 2013 09:28AM
I canceled the River Trail reservation and booked the Shadow Creek trail. The spur trail off the River Trail to Garnet looked easy to miss. And I wanted to see Garnet and now I have the option of going to Ediza.

So I hope I am all set now. For a new user the recreation.gov system can be a bit confusing. I originally had us down for a 'cross-country" trip thinking that meant a different entrance and exit. But then I thought maybe that means 'off-trail'. So I put us down for an 'overnight' which I originally thought meant 1 night. Why would they use 'overnight' as a type of permit when day hikes require no permit? Is 'cross-country" as a term used if the hikers go missing, they know to look elsewhere than near a trail?.

No where did I find any definition of those terms. Hoping I did it correctly this time.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permit System
March 01, 2013 01:35PM
Cross-country means off-trail, to the extent it means anything. I mentioned this when picking up a reserved permit at Mammoth last year and the ranger agreed it was a mess and made no real difference, but they obviously didn't fix this. The only real difference as far as I can tell is that maximum party sizes are smaller when part of the trip is cross-country, when I made my reservation I then verified that the 'remaining' number had decreased the same for both "Cross Country" and "Overnight".
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