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New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Saltydog » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:42 am

A large part of the problem with the proposed rules is that they are not very carefully thought out to accomplish the goal of relieving pressure on the JMT. The Glacier Point restriction would eliminate hikers, like me, who want to avoid an entire stretch from HI at least to the Evelyn Lake junction. My total mileage on the JMT would be about 7 mi out of about 40, and I would not camp along the JMT in Yosemite at all. Most JMT through hikers I know who have already done HI to Donohue feel the same: never again. So the GP ban would eliminate one group least likely to contribute to the impacts that are prompting the rule. The exit Th quota is even worse in this regard. In cutting down on through-hikers departing from Yos, they are reducing the group most motivated to spend the least amount of time in the Park, and who are most experienced and motivated to avoid the high impact areas, and encouraging such things as more overnight trips just to LYV to do Half Dome, and similar short stretches in and out of Tuolumne. Further I do not believe that YOS has any business at all regulating its own access based on exit trailheads outside the Park. Sure rules directed to the impacts themselves, such as restricted camping areas, fine. But these indirect regulations are way overbroad and affect benign and benefical activity as much or more than the impacts they purport to address.



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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby cloudlesssky » Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:21 am

It's really hard for me to believe that JMT through hikers contribute significantly to the problem being addressed. I've done the JMT in peak season and also frequently traveled subsections while on shorter outings. Anecdotally, the vast majority of the people I've encountered on the trail are NOT doing a through hike. And the places I've seen with the most impact (anywhere inside yosemite, thousand Island lake, woods creek crossing, charlotte lake, whitney zone) are (not surprisingly) located close to access trailheads or on other popular loop routes.

It seems that the "problem" needs to be clearly stated and then the proposed solution needs to be validated as addressing the problem. As someone noted, this would make a great research activity for some grad students. Heck I wonder how many people take a permit and actually complete the entire through hike. I've met quite a few who exited early and some who were back on the trail trying to finish the section they previously missed. I wonder how this factors into the thinking.

I wonder how this is going to affect my planned Tahoe to Mammoth trip this summer. Maybe not at all since I'll be exiting at Reds?
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby CharlieW » Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:24 am

I can't decide if I'm in favor or opposed to this. Looks like it may be a done deal anyway, although those opposed should at minimum participate in the poll linked by Saltydog above: http://bit.ly/JMTCmtPeriod. Some random thoughts:

1. What percentage of "Yosemite JMT corridor" campers are actually thru hikers? Does anyone really know or have a guess? It's a bit weird to target thru-hikers specifically if they are a minority of campers in the "JMT corridor" area.

2. But are they minority? Are there so many thru-hikers (or wannabe thru-hikers) that they are swamping the permit system and preventing overnight backpackers? If so, it's a multiuse issue rather than impact issue ... which is contrary to Ed Dunlavey correspondence above, but I still wonder if it is a factor in the rule. It shouldn't be impossible for Dad and Son (or let's say Mom and Daughter, wish it were true) to overnight backpack to LYV simply because 1000000 people saw Wild and then Mile… Mile & A Half (not to mention YouTube videos of JMT being used as a jogging trail) and want to do JMT thru hike. [My apologies to self-help and fastpacker aficionados ;-) ]

3. Following up on point #2, I wonder if they are worried (or have some idea from early permitting) that there will simply be too many JMT hopefuls this year due to movies and such. Folks that are serious will keep trying from year to year and be happy enough to do JMT to Red's or non-JMT trip if they lose the permit lottery this year. Those that simply give up and don't go backpacking were probably better weeded out at this step rather than clogging LYV and HSC.

4. The rule isn't targeted at Saltydog or unusual itineraries. It is targeted at the mass of hikers. I'm not trying to take away from the fact that it will have undesirable collateral effect.

5. It seems to me that the rule does provide a reasonable (if approximate) working definition of southbound JMT thru hiker (that is, anyone starting in Yosemite and hiking past Red's). And it targets and limits that class of hiker. Experienced backpackers that are not doing "JMT thru hike" avoid JMT (or at least I think so). I happen to want to do iconic JMT this year, but if I am unsuccessful in permit lottery then I will still backpack somewhere but not on JMT. My train of logic here is that: a) the rule will reduce traffic on JMT and b) if I should be so lucky as to win the permit lottery this year, I will have a more enjoyable experience.

6. The poll requesting a 3-week comment period is, in effect, asking for the rule not to be implemented in 2014, since the 24-week advance permits are just getting going right now. (Just saying... From a "fairness" point of view it really shouldn't be implemented in 2014.)
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Saltydog » Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:18 am

Remember: Answering the poll is NOT a substitute for getting comments in today or early tomorrow. There is only a small likelihood that any comment period will be opened up, meaning that the decision will be made entirely on the record of what is received now.

SUbmit comments to:

Don L Neubacher
Office of the Superintendent
Yosemite National Park
209-372-0496
YOSE_Superintendent@nps.gov

Kevin Killian
Chief Ranger
Yosemite National Park
209.372.0211(O)
209.631.7748 (C)

"Kevin Killian" <kevin_killian@nps.gov>
"Mike Gauthier" <mike_gauthier@nps.gov>

Ed Dunlavey
Wilderness Manager
Yosemite National Park
W-209-372-0501
C-209-201-7846
<Ed_Dunlavey@nps.gov>
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby markskor » Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:03 am

Sent today -
Sir,
As someone who has done the MUIR numerous times, I agree something must be done to curtail the explosion of hikers doing the trail SOBO, starting from YNP...quite the zoo!.
However, some outside discussion (being transparent) is warranted before making up any new set of rules.
Suggest a public comment period - 1 month? - so we can see what is actually planned and give many the chance to respond before anything is done...PLEASE?
Thanks...
Mark Papanek
aka markskor, admin HighSierraTopix.com
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Saltydog » Sun Jan 11, 2015 11:43 am

Marskor, cloudlesssky, others, great comments. Please get them in to the addresses Ihave posted today. Just cut n paste to email and send.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby marti124 » Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:19 pm

What I just emailed Yosemite National Park:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, Jan 11, 2015 at 7:47 PM
Subject: 92% of nearly 300 surveyed JMT hikers request a public comment period from Yosemite prior to any rule changes

1/11/2015 7:41 PM

Ed Dunlavey
Wilderness Manager
Yosemite National Park

Donald Neubacher
Office of the Superintendent
Yosemite National Park

Dear Mr. Dunlavey and Mr. Neubacher,

A group of the Facebook JMT members communicated after the personal feedback they directly got from you two last week and the concern was that an intermediate solution is going to be proposed to the Superintendent on 1/11/2015 or thereabouts. Another member at the Facebook JMT group suggested that JMT hikers recommend to Yosemite National Park, first, a public comment period. He mentioned that he had “seen this done at other national parks for issues of much less consequence. Shenandoah National Park just ended a long comment period regarding a proposed entrance fee increase. I would think that something as important as a major change in wilderness use should justify a similar comment period.”

Thus, a survey was conducted via social media over the weekend to find out how JMT hikers felt about a public comment period preceding a significant change in the Yosemite permits used by JMT hikers. Please note, a consensus on an outcome was not sought, rather just one on the process for Yosemite changing the rules that will affect JMT thru-hikers. As of writing this email, nearly 300 members of the hiking community have responded, with around 92 percent supporting the opportunity to publicly comment on any changes before they go into effect.

If you want to see the results of the poll (a Survey Monkey poll), this link will lead you to them. This page has continuously updated votes.

http://bit.ly/JMTCmtPeriodResults

The survey is still open to be taken and is available here:

http://bit.ly/JMTCmtPeriod

The first link above will probably include a few votes that come in late Sunday or early Monday. Every effort was made to make sure there were no double votes and that the poll encouraged those who were opposed to a comment period would vote. The main protection against double voting was that the survey was set to accept only one vote per IP address (essentially, one vote per computer). While it is possible that one person could go to different computers and vote several times, it is unlikely that any person could significantly altered the responses by doing so.

Invitations to take the survey were made by John Ladd, Roleigh Martin and Peter Hirst on six social forum JMT groups. The survey answers indicate which groups are involved and below are links to the threads where the invitations were announced. Registration might be required to access some of these links. They are provided in case you desire all relevant information about this questionnaire.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2240988 ... 739968981/

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/joh ... pics/48315

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbthread ... acc#UNREAD

http://www.whitneyportalstore.com/forum ... #Post99106

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12174#sthash.3l5PxRi7.dpbs

http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,78265

In hindsight, I wish I had removed the wording (I accept the blame for it) about whether or not the group should take a position or not about the public comment period. I wish I had limited it just how that one respondent individually feels. Criticism was made, which I 100% agree with, that these JMT social groups should avoid forming consensus positions. The groups are for individuals who know or want to know more about the JMT, not to agree politically about things. (By visiting the links above, you can see how many felt.) The JMT community though is regularly surveyed for their individual opinion and experiences. John Ladd leads that effort although I have done a few myself. One other hindsight reservation: an earlier draft of the question was about any proposed changes to the rules affecting JMT Hikers. The Survey Monkey question, strictly worded and read, leads one to think the group only cares about any proposed quotas being put on those JMT Hikers who thru-hike south of Yosemite. I can assure you the bulk of those surveyed, if not all of them, feel equally the same for any proposed rule changes that affect JMT hikers. (I was absent most of Saturday leading a Sierra Club snowshoe hike and missed this wording change.)

Last, a couple of the JMT Social Groups listed in the directory I provided recently, I did not have time to reach out to them with the survey invite. However, I am sure we reached out to substantially over 95% of those online concerned about the JMT in our invitations who are members of the groups documented in that earlier directory I sent you this last week.

Respectfully,

Roleigh Martin
Lead Moderator, John Muir Trail Yahoo Group
Reno NV 89523
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:45 pm

Steve C- the issue is how many backpackers on a trail are too many. It is not an issue of "solitude or nobody else" in order to experience wilderness. Wilderness does not demand solitude, but is running into 50 people in one day too much? or 100? or 200? where do you draw the line? The administrators of the land have the duty to protect the resource. And I also agree that unless data proves that JMT hikers ARE the problem, they should not take the brunt of the fault. And yes, I avoid the JMT like the plague. I think anyone who has hiked on the JMT in the last few years KNOWs that something is amiss Popular or not, it IS a part of the Wilderness system.

Just a thought -- When north-bound thru-hike permits are hard to get in the Whitney zone, this may force over-use of the south-bound trailheads. If the ability to get north and south permits were more similar, the pressure on the trail would be more balanced. I would say that the Whitney zone regulations are a part of the problem too. A lot of guessing here since nobody seems to have real data.

And YES! Lets have a public comment period.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Steve_C » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:30 am

I sent Yosemite an email with my opinion. I doubt it will have any effect, though.

W.Daisy: I don't know how many is too many. I've sure been able to find completely deserted trails and even more solitary off-trail routes. I love them, and generally avoid the heavily used places, too.

As much as experienced hikers cringe at the crowds, please understand that there are more and more people in the world (which is a shame), so I think wilderness managers should try to find more ways to accommodate more hikers, rather than use ever-tighter limits.

As for northbound JMT hikers: Many more could start from Mt Whitney, but it is sure a lot harder, since hikers need to either haul their full pack over the 13.5k Trail Crest, or hike about two days in from Horseshoe Meadows to start. The Whitney Permit system allows 60 overnighters a day to start up the Main Trail. The Cottonwood Pass trail allows about the same number. But the fact is that, due to the increased difficulty of starting from there, people choose not to. And of course the other big reason is that most Whitney hikers are once-and-done Whitney peak baggers.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby marti124 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:58 am

I think if John Muir was alive today, he'd be laughing and crying about there only being one long trail in the Sierra named after him as if he only favored one long trail to hike in the high sierra. There should be multiple 210+ mile long trails in the High Sierra to hike, on established trails. The National Parks and National Forests should be leading the way in suggesting hikers to try out a variety of long distance Sierra trails.

The best documented 200+ mile alternate Sierra trail is the Theodore Solomons Trail but it is not documented on any Tom Harrison, nor any other map. You have to obtain an out of print book since 1992. See http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Theodore-Solomons-Dennis-Gagnon/dp/0934136343/

But there should be numerous more. And they are there to be documented. One can start trails in Yosemite and leave the park at it's southern borders headed to Clover Meadow and go over 1, 2 or 3 passes during that time, then head ENE over to Devil's Postpile. Three to four different uses of existing trails to do that trek. The passes available (depending on which of the routes that you choose, using existing trails) include Merced, Fernandez, Red Peak, Isberg, and Post Peak. It's too clumsy to think of doing all 5 in an alternate JMT hike.

One can enter the JMT at Rush Creek going over anywhere from 1-to-4 passes, starting at 4 different starting points (Mono Pass, Walker Lake, Parker Lake Road, Silver Lake). These last 2 options have you only go over Agnew Pass if you backtrack 7/10ths of a mile after doing Agnew Pass. The first two options have you go over Mono, Parker, Koip and Gem passes.

Farther south, there are other options, like continuing South at Middle Fork Junction to Bubbs Creek instead of going due East to Mather Pass, or going over Goodale Pass versus Silver Pass farther North.

In Colorado, there are three long distance trails, each sharing parts of trails used by the others. There is the CT (Colorado Trail) West Spur Trail, CT East Spur, and the Colorado section of the Continental Divide Trail.

After all, it's not like the JMT is fixed forever to be one trail. The JMT took a different route at various points of its development. I wish I could get my hands on historical JMT routes during the trail's historical development.

I have shown on a JPG how the Theodore Solomons Trail looks at the following link but I realize a big problem with the TST is it has too much Middle Sierra and not enough High Sierra in it.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7L_Tr ... sp=sharing

There is also the Big SEKI Loop (only 154 miles) but it could easily be appended to to make 210 miles. See BSL http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin ... d_id=73686

Once these trails are mapped, cool names should be given to them. Having the park or forest service do such is the best idea. I like the name "Stephen Mather" for one of the newer documented long trails.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Hobbes » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:12 am

marti124 wrote:There should be multiple 210+ mile long trails in the High Sierra to hike, on established trails. The National Parks and National Forests should be leading the way in suggesting hikers to try out a variety of long distance Sierra trails.


Or just direct them to HST. :)

Seriously, the part of this forum that provides the most value to me - and I'm guessing many others - is the wide range of experience from hikers who provide route advice & suggestions for all manner of trips. As you mention, there are multiple ways of stitching together long(er) trips linking different trailheads and routes, many/most promising to deliver more than enough solitude.

Steve C took an interesting x-c approach to Whitney last year. I've done Whitney coming from Langley and through Miter. If you wanted to keep going, you could exit via the mountaineer route, head back over Russell-Carillon, walk down Wallace, up WLB, over Rockwell, down Shepherd and back up Junction to Center basin.

There is practically no limit to the number of routes, trips and variations for getting around the Sierra if one is so inclined. That's why I sort of side with Steve in suggesting that rather than restrict access in an attempt to preserve the JMT, recognize that the JMT (and Yosemite in general) is gone as a source of true solitude and move on.

[I say this as someone who remembers the Valley as a kid from the early 70s. I haven't been back in 10 years, and even that trip was like a crowded weekend @ Pier 39. It is what it is - the past is gone, hoss. These days, we still travel to the park almost every year, but lurk around TM and various nooks & crannies on the NF border.]

If people continue to backpack, they will eventually find themselves here. If they start experimenting and trying out new areas, that's where the real fun begins to start.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:45 am

The issue is not just about the proposed changes, which have never been published, but the manner in which the public is engaged or not. Wilderness managers need to present what they perceive to be problems based on evidence, and propose solutions that the public can debate and comment on. There are many unintended consequences to these "solutions" and the outcomes are uncertain. Unfortunately, once new regulations are set in place, we're stuck with them whether they are effective or not.

Effective wilderness management requires good cooperation from the governed. Heavy-handed, and sometimes manipulative methods, undermine that relationship and are detrimental in the long run. Its not about pleasing everyone, its about getting a more balanced perspective for decision making, and fostering good public relations that encourage responsible behavior when nobody is looking.
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