Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

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michaelzim
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by michaelzim » Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:17 am

By the numbers!

It just dawned on me how frightening a change this new “walk in” system really is if it goes through as planned. If I have this right c/o what I have posted before this is the situation:

- The prior quota system per trailhead was 60% allocated to advance booking permits and 40% to walk in permits. I was told that ratio is staying the same with the new system.

- Before, those 40% walk in permits became available 24 hours in advance of the permit day. So with us last minute folks, there was a pretty fair chance of getting a permit especially if single or a couple.

- With the new system, those 40% will be available 14 days before the permit date. So all that time to be taken and thus removed from the supposed “walk in” starting quota. Fourteen days!!! How many may be left by the time the old “24 hour” window arrives??? As we know from this forum, all the permits for a trailhead can go within minutes, let alone the remaining 13+ days.

- So, in reality, the most likely “real” walk in permits available for spontaneous trips (24 hours before permit date expiration) will be cancellations, and No Shows after the 10:00 am deadline on the permit/trip date.

- Thus, for those of us used to a decent chance of getting a permit at the last minute due to the 40% pool of permits released 24 hours beforehand, that percentage now goes down to very possibly and very likely…ZERO!

- In reality, the only way a trailhead would have its 40% of “W” walk in permits available 24 hours before the permit date, would be if no one booked a single permit in the prior 13 days! How likely is that?!

For popular trailheads that 40% quota for true walk in permits will be a myth. They should be renamed “Cancellation Permits” which gives a more accurate representation of the odds and risks of planning trips based on spontaneity – or what I call common sense near to the time wilderness planning!

Yep, we need to make much noise about this pending change. I do not like these new odds at all.

Michaelzim








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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by Bishop_Bob » Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:18 pm

TurboHike wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:59 am
For someone like me who is not an IT guy, what's the point of using a bot for a backpacking permit? It's really not like a concert or a sporting event where a scalper can re-sell the tickets in the secondary market for a profit. I've never seen a backpacking permit advertised for sale, anywhere. So, what say you? Are they used only so people don't have to sit at their computers at 7 am daily until they get a permit?
Judging from the "thru-hiker" frenzy on youtube and reddit, I imagine there'd be quite a demand for a black market that resells permits. But I also imagine such a market would be exposed by the same social media that feeds this frenzy.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by wildhiker » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:47 pm

Bishop_Bob wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:18 pm
TurboHike wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:59 am
For someone like me who is not an IT guy, what's the point of using a bot for a backpacking permit? It's really not like a concert or a sporting event where a scalper can re-sell the tickets in the secondary market for a profit. I've never seen a backpacking permit advertised for sale, anywhere. So, what say you? Are they used only so people don't have to sit at their computers at 7 am daily until they get a permit?
Judging from the "thru-hiker" frenzy on youtube and reddit, I imagine there'd be quite a demand for a black market that resells permits. But I also imagine such a market would be exposed by the same social media that feeds this frenzy.
You don't need a black market to resell permits. You just need a guy who can write the bot and then sell access to the bot!
-Phil

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by TurboHike » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:45 am

Bishop_Bob wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:18 pm
TurboHike wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:59 am
For someone like me who is not an IT guy, what's the point of using a bot for a backpacking permit? It's really not like a concert or a sporting event where a scalper can re-sell the tickets in the secondary market for a profit. I've never seen a backpacking permit advertised for sale, anywhere. So, what say you? Are they used only so people don't have to sit at their computers at 7 am daily until they get a permit?
Judging from the "thru-hiker" frenzy on youtube and reddit, I imagine there'd be quite a demand for a black market that resells permits. But I also imagine such a market would be exposed by the same social media that feeds this frenzy.
That's a good point. I've wondered for some time now if thru hikers and other long distance section hikers were double dipping (reserving multiple permits) so that they can have more zero days in town without getting hassled by rangers when they attempt to re-enter the backcountry. I know this was a issue in the eastern Sierra a few years ago. Maybe they're using bots as a tactic, idk.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by michaelzim » Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:13 am

This morning before 7:00 am I decided to do a trial run of rec.gov so I could get a better idea of what was going on and how to use it. I have never tried to book a permit with it before as have used west side (Prather or North Fork) walk-in entries for the past 35 years. Todays rollover at 7:00 am was due to show me availability for August 15th. 2021. This is what I found out:

- Clearly one needs to have a rec.gov account set up beforehand and some familiarity with what happens when one clicks "refresh" to update the page - as it kicks you out of your Group Size? and Commercial Trip (or not)? entries. You have to repeat input those before it displays the new numbers. So yes, precious seconds that are lost while doing that!
- Within seconds there were no more permits for three key places I was pretending to hope for. Cottonwood Lakes, Kearsarge and Piute Pass. Yes all popular trailheads, but ones I would want to use if switched to east side entries due to Creek Fire damage on the west side. Other entries varied and there were even a few anomalies, like what happened at Convict Creek (graphic 3. below) where none (just "W" permits) suddenly changed to 6 available permits sometime around 7:15 am or thereabouts. I'm not sure of the exact time, but I did not see this happen with my "hot three" trailheads.

OK, some graphics:

6:59 am this morning:
6.59 am - ref. August 15th..PNG
7:05 this morning:
7.05 am - ref. August 15th..PNG
7:15 am this morning:
7.20 am - NB Convict Creek.JPG

The images only show the top of the list as scrolling down would have lost the Rec.Gov and date headers, etc. In the last image at approx. 7:20 am you can see the increase in the Convict Creek trailhead availability.

In short, this exercise told me what I feared...that getting a permit even 6 months in advance for the three key trailheads I would actually want to use was likely going to be impossible. I'm just not that fast at filling in the refresh aspects to beat the ?????? whoever else is getting there in a few seconds after they post. This same exercise is likely to play out with even more vigour during the peak backpacking period of mid summer when the August 15th. quota comes due for the supposed "W" walk in permits at 7:00 am on August 1st. This is February, so how many people are thinking of backpacking right now v. beginning of August?!? Yes, it is likely to be TONS more then in mid summer!

So the chances of getting a true walk in permit 24 hours before like we have been used are...well as good as zero in my opinion.

Michaelzim
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:58 am

Getting a permit based on the quickness of your fingers and mind, is definitely discriminatory to the older population. It appears to be just like trying to sign up for a COVID vaccination appointment (the stupidity of requiring a skill in people over 70 who demographically do not have that skill)!

I wonder if a lottery, like the Whitney Zone permits, would work better. Everyone submits their applications with up to 3 date or trailhead choices. The end of the week a lottery decides who gets the permits. Unused permits are then put back in for the next week. This way everyone has a more equal chance.

Bottom line for me is that walk-in same-day permits are essential to assure that permits are actually used. And there has to be a way to quantify no-shows.

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by LMBSGV » Mon Feb 15, 2021 11:18 am

Thanks michaelzim for your post and the screen shots. Your experience was similar to mine except it was literally from 6:59:59 to 7:00:01 or :02, the time it took for the screen to redraw. As I described in my previous post, Bishop Pass, both Cottonwoods, and Piute Pass were all “W”. (Those are the trailheads I could see on my screen at the time.) Also, similarly, when I went on whimsically the next day and looked at 7:10, Bishop Pass, both Cottonwoods, High Trail, Kearsarge, Piute, and River were all booked. When I checked 20 minutes later the “2" you show for Bishop Pass was suddenly there, which is I what I booked.

Unfortunately, to investigate this properly takes time, money, and resources which I don’t think the proper authorities are willing to devote. As I said in my previous post, the concert industry has the same problem and even with a Congressional hearing it was not fixed. Of course, with the concert industry it doesn’t help that Ticketmaster itself is among the scalpers. I do think that the NPS and the Forest Service might want to check all the commercial outfitters to find out if they are involved in this.

And I agree that we need the old day before/day of walk-up permit at 40% of the quota and a real penalty for no-shows.
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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by Gazelle » Mon Feb 15, 2021 4:36 pm

The 15 to 20 minutes later is the time you have to actually book the permit if you dont do it within 15 minutes it goes back into the system.
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by robertseeburger » Mon Feb 15, 2021 5:03 pm

Wow this is kind of scary. I understand the JMT conduits like Bishop pass being sold out in just a few minutes, but Convict Creek? wow..
the post is quite interesting..

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Re: Wilderness Permits via recreation.gov 2021

Post by grampy » Mon Feb 15, 2021 11:16 pm

michaelzim wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:13 am
This morning before 7:00 am I decided to do a trial run of rec.gov ... familiarity with what happens when one clicks "refresh" to update the page - as it kicks you out of your Group Size? and Commercial Trip (or not)? entries. You have to repeat input those before it displays the new numbers. So yes, precious seconds that are lost doing that! ...
Here is how I avoid that problem:
Do the usual steps: Log in, then enter the permit type, desired date, party size, commercial trip = no. Then, go to the “filters” window. I do a search to get the one trailhead I want, OR I choose a couple of zones like “John Muir” and “Golden Trout” Wilderness in my filter setting.
Then (this is the important part) make sure you are still on the “filters” page right up until 7:00:01 THEN hit the “show results” button so it returns the availability page; if it isn’t refreshed yet, quickly go back to “filters”, then “show results” ... repeat this until the availability page is showing updated results. That way, it won’t “lose” your other settings while you are refreshing.
I hope that helps !

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