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Food Caches in Sequoia Kings

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Food Caches in Sequoia Kings

Postby gdurkee » Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:38 pm

Well, campers, as some of you start planning your spring and summer trips, I'll pass on a new regulation you ought to be aware of. Basically, there will be no food caches allowed in bear boxes (aka, as I've just learned, "food storage boxes"; True, they don't store bears, but....).

Anyway, there's been a huge problem in the past of hikers storing caches in boxes, especially in the Charlotte/Kearsarge area but also Crabtree & Woods Creek. About 60% of those people are never seen again and guess who gets to haul out the 20# plus of food & plastic container? Yep. Your tax dollars at work. That runs to a couple of hundred pounds of abandoned food per season. So anyway, ANY food caches found (left over a day or two -- and if there's no note, it'll be yanked) will be removed immediately. If you're able to contact the kindly ranger directlly (a long shot) you might -- might -- be allowed to put it in a box if you agree to pay to have it hauled out if you don't show up. Note: a long shot to find the ranger and having it taken out by stock is going to be at least $150.

OK. Sorry about that, but it's gotten out of hand.

George
Charlotte Ranger, Kings Canyon NP



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Postby markskor » Sat Jan 28, 2006 10:03 pm

About time...While the convenience of having a stash at these areas can greatly aid long distance hiking resupply between VVR and the Portal, with the advent of the "No Hanging" rule, and the fact that the current bear boxes are constantly filled with nonexistant peoples food, (never picked up or just left as trash) there is nowhere for actual users to store food while staying there - especially on the first night overnight. I applaud this change, especially in a heavy bear activity area.
Maybe there could be a major bear box stash built, located atop Kearsarge Pass, $1.00 added fee to each wilderness permit...with a charge (say $20) to pay to put food in...with a set time limit. Then, if no note, or over the time limit...automatic $100 charge to the origional food stasher.
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Postby AldeFarte » Sun Jan 29, 2006 2:20 am

Interesting. You gotta do what you gotta do. jls :D
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Postby caddis » Sun Jan 29, 2006 9:35 am

Why not have an extra tag filled out when you get your permit that has name and address (verified by ranger) The Park can bill you if the food is never picked up. If food is left in the box without a tag then it's up for grabs for whoever wants it.
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So, what does this mean?

Postby Phil R » Thu Feb 02, 2006 9:38 am

So, if there is a note it will be left for a day or two?

But basically in Seki if you want a food drop you need to plan to meet someone.

Was looking at a possible trip plan the other day which was to enter on the HST at Crescent Meadows, but instead of going to Whitney when you reach the JMT, turn north and exit at Roads End. This avoids a major shuttle, but begs for one resupply, perhaps near Tyndal.
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Food Caches in Sequoia Kings

Postby gdurkee » Sat Feb 04, 2006 8:25 pm

Well, I don't want to speak for my colleagues. Technically, I think caches just won't be allowed. However, if I were to find a bag in a box with a note saying "back in 2 or 3 days" (and with a start date), I'd likely let it go. But not any longer. And, if there's no note and it's still there when I return in a couple of days, I take it (leaving a note to collect it -- and perhaps a ticket -- at the ranger station (but I'm also not waiting for anyone at the station, so they could be totally outta luck...).

I think most of my colleagues might do the same, but don't know for sure.

Phil R.: Hard area to get a cache into upper Kern. If you know someone to grunt over Shepherd and meet you at Tyndall, that's probably the only way. Or maybe meet you just on the North side of Forester and hike back to Cedar with you.

Caddis: that's really the main problem: "up for grabs if no one claims it." I think a small chunk of the people who abandon food think they're doing a good deed. But the reality is it just stays in the box and rots. Then a ranger or trail crew has to carry (!!) it out. We're talking a lot of weight here. Not fun.

g.
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Postby Phil R » Sat Feb 04, 2006 10:49 pm

Hard area to get a cache into upper Kern. If you know someone to grunt over Shepherd and meet you at Tyndall, that's probably the only way.


Yep. Too bad. [/quote]
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Re: Food Caches in Sequoia Kings

Postby caddis » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:22 am

gdurkee wrote:Caddis: that's really the main problem: "up for grabs if no one claims it." I think a small chunk of the people who abandon food think they're doing a good deed. But the reality is it just stays in the box and rots. Then a ranger or trail crew has to carry (!!) it out. We're talking a lot of weight here. Not fun.

g.


My concern isn't for those that are going to violate the rules regardless of the consequences (they will still continue to do so even if you say "no caches") I am trying to come to a reasonable way for those that NEED the bear-box caches to continue. Seems this regulation is like too many others...punishes those that are responsible. the middle ground seems to be those that intend to pick up the drops but never do...applying consequences to their decisions may decrease the number of "no shows"
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Could be a sub-optimal solution

Postby Phil R » Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:03 pm

I am curious. How much would it cost annually for someone to haul out the unclaimed food? I wouldn't mind paying a few dollars more for a national park or wilderness permit to leave the food storage boxes available for food drops...and I am not even a thru hiker.

Would the NPS be open to supporting an interdisciplinary team of college students who would like to take this problem on as a service learning project? It would only cost the NPS the time to meet with the students to answer questions and such.
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Postby freestone » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:01 pm

I would rather see my tax dollar spent on hauling out all those food storage devises. It was a great idea, an I have used them myself at Kearsarge and Kip Camp, but I cringe at how so many people can be so uncaring and bring such a great idea to it's knees. Keep it simple and pack out whaat you pack in. If The Authority says put it in a bear can, then do it. The "question Authority " does not apply here. Its all about protecting the bear, not us or our silly food!
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Food Caches in Sequoia Kings

Postby gdurkee » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:27 pm

Phil R: well, not an unreasonable idea, but I don't really see it working. Two reasons:

The first is the whole idea is not to clog up the boxes for any length of time. Keep the food moving through the boxes with only the campers who are there. Most folks (something around 90%+ -- which is pretty darned amazing) carry canisters. But for the first day or two, they can't get all their food in the canisters, thus the boxes. In August especially, those boxes fill up many nights. If caches are there taking up space for a week or a month, that means no one else can use them.

Then, second, the whole dynamic of "college students" being available for scut work has changed. There's just not that many around who can afford low wages (thus the number of college students applying even for ranger/fee collector jobs etc has dropped); and, there are only a trickle who are even interested. As an example, only one or two a season (at most) ask how they can get a job as a ranger. 20 years ago, I'd get dozens of questions like that a week.

Finally, it's not really the tax dollar thing, it's the actual weight. Some aging & gimped up ranger just has to hump the stuff out or back to the station on his back. Try coming up the Vidette switchbacks with a cache you found at Center Basin box -- another 20 lbs to your pack?!? Sure. Totally not fun.

It's lonely on the frontier... .

On the bright side, if you can find a ranger early season, it's likely s/he'd say it was OK to leave a cache at the station or something. But it's got to be a personal agreement and a solemn vow to pick the thing up; take out the garbage; take out the bucket.

Other good cache spots are General Delivery to a Post Office; the Muir Trail Ranch (something like $30 for a box now, I think). And Edison Lake (forgot their name... -- also a small charge).

Freestone: thanks. Yep, it's all about the bears

Take care,

g.
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Thanks for the responses!

Postby Phil R » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:52 am

Regarding college students, I was referring to coming up with a solution to the problem, not necessarily working in the forest. And the cost of hauling it out was referring to hiring someone to do that and relieve the rangers of that responsibility.

I am thinking about the bears. I am concerned that one of the ways thru hikers will cope is to cache food anyway, just not in food storage boxes. If not done right, that could affect bears down the line.

Thanks again for the responses!
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