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New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:02 pm

The other problem with the Theodore Solomons trail is the portions of it that have gone unmaintained for so long that they are dangerous to many of the kinds of people who hike the JMT. The traffic actually helps keep the JMT well worn - to the point that you would have to be really dense or extremely inattentive to confuse it with any of the zillion use trails. The experienced folks on the JMT "save" people. I've redirected people who don't bother with maps plenty of times on plenty of trails, including the JMT.

I almost see the "freeways" in Yosemite as a necessary evil - full of tourists and first time hikers who wouldn't know what to do when confronted with a trail that peters out to nothing or becomes a maze of use trails. Or, flip the coin, and such trails are enabling people to gain confidence and try other trails in less traveled areas without enough research, only to become frustrated - or worse, lost.

As someone who frequently takes newbies, I often take advantage of those national park trail highways and try to explain the learning curve that should be embarked upon if they intend to continue to explore farther out and farther in.

As for the regulation change - they definitely should allow public review. There should be a balance between public use and protection and we have a right to be included in the conversation. Not sure where I fall in the debate yet but it's not fair not to give me a chance - would have been nice to know they were thinking about this one.



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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby KathyW » Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:08 pm

The JMT is a scenic hike, but the trail is an overly engineered monster that has been built to handle high traffic. Yes, it is sort of like a necessary evil. I'd like to see the traffic stay on the JMT and out of other areas in the Sierra.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:00 pm

As for JMT permitting processes none of these JMT issues have direct interest to this person as long as thru hikers don't impact quotas at trailheads we other backpackers use.

Ed Dunlavey >>> "...Last summer, for example, there were 31 reported bear incidents in the Yosemite Wilderness; 30 of which occurred along the JMT..."

That won't surprise experienced backpackers.

The most important visitor use issue in our wilderness areas is lack of backcountry enforcement for policies already in place. There are ever increasingly numbers of visitors that do whatever they want because outside of a few heavily used trails mainly near trailheads and heavy use destinations, they have little enforcement to worry about. The solution in both the national parks and national forest wilderness areas would be to significantly increase numbers of backcountry rangers. That would also have an immediate impact on these JMT issues and compliance.

Ever since Reagan's administration gutted those positions decades ago, the park and forest services have had to cope with their responsibilities with woefully inadequate skeleton financial resource. That the result has not been much worse is only a reflection that the majority of users, both backpackers and day hikers tend to be considerate users. However in this era where lying, cheating, scamming, and ignoring public policies are increasingly the status quo norm throughout our society, one ought expect without more enforcing feet on our trails that there will be increasing negative impacts occurring in these special natural places.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Saltydog » Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:25 am

An update from the Yosemite Wilderness Office. I had another very constructive conversation with Ed Dunlavey, Wilderness Manager, yesterday. Learned the following. They are continuing to look at ways to accomplish the dual goals that were reflected in the reported proposed rule changes: balance traffic flows within the Park so as to protect rescources along the JMT and balance access to the wilderness between hikers staying primarily in Yosemite and long distance and through-hikers leaving Yos. As I understand Ed's assurances, they are decidedly NOT contemplating simply removing or shutting down JMT access from any trailhead, including Glacier Point. That would abdicate what Ed confirmed is an imprtant principle of the trailhead permit system: they do not tell people where they can and can't hike, beyond the trailhead and first night requirements. T he specific example Ed cited was the Glacier Point/ Illilouette permit. A hiker with that permit must spend the first night in the Illilouette drainage, but then may go down to the JMT at LYV and continue up the Sunrise drainage to Tuolumne. That will not change. The mechanism they are looking at now is to simply reallocate the total GP quota to more Illilouette permits and fewer LYV permits. He did emphasize that the Sunrise Creek drainage (LYV to Cathedral Pass) is the area of primary concern. It had reached its visitor capacity almost 5 years ago when the last calculation was made. Next in importance is Lyell Canyon, which was nearing capacity in the last study and is believed to be at or over capacity now. For the second rule, designed to balance intra-Park trips with JMT distance and through-hikes, they are still looking at an exit TH quota. They have found, however, that establishing Red's as the cutoff point for the quota is not going to work, and the quota is likely to apply to any trip south of a point much nearer Yos. In my written comment that I sent this morning, I raised the question of whether the principle of not establishing quotas based on exit TH - the policy clearly stated in YO Wilderness permit materials - was not just as important as not restricting travel routes beyond the entry trailhead. I restated that issue to Ed today, but still have not received an clear answer,On the question of public comment, no change. The adjustments they have in mind do not amount to Federal Register rulemaking, and are within discretionary authority already provided by law and rule. If we can keep these lines of communication open and constructive, however, I have every reason to believe that our voices will be heard and surprises will be minimal. That's news from Lake Helengawn, where all the women are acclimated, all the men are resupplied, and all the hikes are above 9,000 feet, on average.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Saltydog » Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:34 pm

Late night update from the Yos Wilderness office. The Wilderness Manager asked me to clear up a couple of points from my post yesterday so here they are. Yesterday I reflected what I see as Yos managements firm commitment to the principle that once you have complied with the trailhead conditions of your permit, i.e stayed in LYV, or not, stayed in Illilouette drainage, etc, you may hike to anywhere in the wilderness.

HOWEVER, if you choose to go into the Sunrise drainage, you are contributing to the problem that Yos is wrestling with; impacts in the Sunrise and Lyell drainages. Which by the way is illustrated by some numbers Ed Dunlavey passed along to me today. How many JMT-access reservations would you estimate were issued by this date in 2012, 2013, 2014 and this year? Understanding JMT access permits as individuals with reservations to the usual trailheads and exit points at Red's or farther south? If you already know this, let the others have a chance.

Meantime, another clarification: it turns out that the current entry trailhead quotas are NOT on the table in the present effort. That means that not only will the total permits quotas at a given trailhead not be changed, but the allocation of split traiheads will not be changed. I E. Glacier point will remain at 30 per day, split 10 and 20 betweem LYV and Illilouette. What they are looking at adjusting is the passthrough quotas and exit quotas. I know: I do not understand either how adjusting passthrough and exit quotas is going to address total numbers travelling from LYV to Tuolumne: I am just reporting what I am told is going on.

OK, ready for the answers to ttoday's quiz? Check back here in an an hour or so.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Charlie » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:14 pm

I really don't want to know. Well, I do. But it's going to depress me.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby caddis » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:43 pm

there were 31 reported bear incidents in the Yosemite Wilderness; 30 of which occurred along the JMT


This seems like a meaningless and yet misleading stat. I'd venture to guess that all of these bears are conditioned/problem bears already. Most likely learning their trade in the campgrounds and then shipped off to the backcountry (I've read in the past that the Lyle Canyon area is known for this). So where would a problem bear go for an easy meal in the backcountry....The place with the most hikers! It aint rocket science but it sure is a cheap shot at backpackers as if they are the true source of the problem
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New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:45 pm

they stopped relocating Bears years ago when it was proven that the Bears would just go back to where they were. sending them as far away as Sonora pass was ineffective – bears would travel back no matter how long or far, just to get back to their happy hunting grounds.

The majority of the incidents in the park are generally in the front country – in past years as many as 500 incidents with a fraction in the backcountry. But the JM T is ripe for exploitation by the animals – loads of tourists doing a thru hike and ignoring advice not to hang food are a lot of the issue.


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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Saltydog » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:02 pm

some current numbers from the reservations office for 2015 reservations.

For JMT permits, we are 242% of last year, 608% of 2013 and 1216% of 2012. (523 people in 2015, 233 in 2014, 86 in 2013 and 43 in 2012

For all reservations, the office is about 165% of last year.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:50 pm

Saltydog wrote:some current numbers from the reservations office for 2015 reservations.

For JMT permits, we are 242% of last year, 608% of 2013 and 1216% of 2012. (523 people in 2015, 233 in 2014, 86 in 2013 and 43 in 2012

For all reservations, the office is about 165% of last year.


Wow.

I guess it's easy to see what the fuss is about... I knew they were slammed just from seeing the lines in person, but that's a lot of reservations.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby maverick » Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:54 pm

That is a lot of people for such a short section, with these numbers, and even if their were enough rangers
to enforce the current regulations, I can see the need for some limitations being imposed, intelligently,
one trail (wilderness section) can only handle so much human/animal impact.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:56 am

I was initially dismayed about the public input process, but now that I understand the urgency better, I've come to realize it might not be practical for the usual lengthy process of soliciting input like a typical environmental review. That's not a perfect process either, and it doesn't seem to be required for the administrative changes they are proposing. I've been emailing Ed Dunleavy and he called me yesterday to clear up a few things, but we didn't get to all the details. He's connecting personally and he seems to value public input. It's probably more effective to deal closely with a few who show interest and awareness of the problem than to try and handle a mass of comments. Its certainly more expeditious, but its then incumbent on those involved to communicate with others. So I'll keep posting what I learn, and please keep posting your ideas. I assume others in direct contact are doing the same thing. Funneling communication requires extra effort on both ends to make it an open process.

I'm still trying to get detailed information about trail usage and actual impacts. The gross numbers reported above need to be considered in context of where people are entering (HI vs TM vs ??), how many are thru-hikers, and what work-a-rounds do people come up with. They seem to be most concerned about overuse in the Sunrise Creek area and Lyell Canyon. The solutions seem to be focused on adjusting or creating pass-through quotas from Glacier Pt TH to address Sunrise; and a new exit quota to address Lyell Canyon. This has been described above, but I'm trying to get more information to better define the problem. Their administrative solutions are limited without going through a lengthy review process, so don't propose dramatic solutions at this point. They intend to address this in a more holistic way in a future Wilderness Plan Update. I stressed the importance of coordinating with other jurisdictions and they will do that better in the future. I got the sense they haven't done that yet.
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