Wag bags

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking, and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!

Moderators: maverick, copeg, markskor, giantbrookie


Wag bags

Postby markskor on Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:10 pm

I was up at Whitney this summer and there is a movement (pardon the pun) to issue wag bags, close the toilets at trail camp, and have all hikers pack out all solids. Somehow, with the strict permit system in place, the fees collected, the isolated trail - non wilderness, and the close proximity to Lone Pine, is this the best solution? I myself would gladly pay a few extra dollars for the right not to.
Any thoughts?
Mountainman who swims with trout



User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1617
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes

Postby cmachler on Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:11 am

Lots of discussion about this on the Whitney Portal Store board and Mt-whitney.info throughout the last year or so. If I remember correctly, the Forest Service published a document containing around four plans for the toilet situation and asked for public opinions. The plans ranged from rebuilding the toilets to a mandatory pack-it-out policy.

I can't remember if an official, and final, decision was reached. However, I believe they were trying out one of the plans in which the toilets were closed, but screens were built so one could use his or her wag bag in private. There were also barrels in which to dispose of the wag bags so you didn't really have to pack them out.

Someone with more knowledge, or a better a memory, can correct me.
User avatar
cmachler
Topix Novice
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:38 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Wag bags

Postby dave54 on Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:11 am

markskor wrote:I was up at Whitney this summer and there is a movement (pardon the pun) to issue wag bags, close the toilets at trail camp, and have all hikers pack out all solids. Somehow, with the strict permit system in place, the fees collected, the isolated trail - non wilderness, and the close proximity to Lone Pine, is this the best solution? I myself would gladly pay a few extra dollars for the right not to.
Any thoughts?


Enforcement would be difficult, if not impossible. Some would cooperate. Most would not. Many would simply step off trail and make a 'deposit' behind a rock hidden from view. With the toilets the impacts are concentrated in a few locations where they can be periodically dealt with. Scattered randomness cannot be dealt with.
=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~
Log off and get outdoors!
~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=
dave54
Founding Member
 
Posts: 624
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:24 pm
Location: where the Sierras, Cascades, and Great Basin meet.

Packing your crap.. literally!

Postby Bearlover on Sun Oct 30, 2005 10:30 pm

Oh my God.. just two years back a lady ranger (hella cute little blondie actually) lectured me about the need to pack.. my crap out. She actually instructed me to pack all solid waste out.. though no one ever asked to see it on the way out. I was floored. Even assuming a horses dung is ten times less potent than ours they do tend to crap ten times as much as us.. and that lies unburied upon the trail does it not? At least what we "deposit" is buried where natural bacterial action can break it down with minimal chance of entering nearby aquifers.
It was hard to keep a straight face as this (cute) ranger was describing all sorts of possible ways to pack my (shi#) stuff out.. like what are you supposed to do when you reach the trail head after a ten day hike? Can you imagine the "comfort" station's toilet accepting a ten day load?? me neighther. I nodded and listened of course.. I just wanted my permit and all the while I am thinking.. gee what a cute ranger.. and why is she talking shi# to me!!
If that day comes..when we must pack our crap in .. and OUT!! I suggest we hand it over to those cute rangers and say "see I am being a good steward of the high country.. here is the proof baby!"
My god there are much more important and pressing issues than this don't y'all think? How about that overgrown trail off Rancheria mountain? What happened to rangers that range? Do we really need a poop patrol?
There is a Bear.. Where? Over there!
User avatar
Bearlover
Founding Member
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:28 am
Location: Santa Cruz Mtns

Postby markskor on Mon Oct 31, 2005 8:37 am

Yes, I could maybe understand it on a mountain like Shasta or other heavy-use, far-removed, "wilderness" trails, but here, where there are heavy permit regulations and close proximity to roads, it seems the wrong approach.
Much like in Little Yosemite Valley, where a two-story crapper is regularly serviced by the forestry service, they could easily erect another similar structures and charge everyone who gets a permit, a minimal fee for their upkeep. This trail is in no way a true wilderness situation, and mandating that inexperienced campers, out to trophey-bag Whitney, must pack it out is a joke at best.
It is never going to happen and rather than insisting on the bags, (and watching this approach fail) it would make more sense to provide adequate facilities all the way up to trail camp. Charge whatever covers the expense and spread it out to all those who use it, but keep the facilities open.
Mountainman who swims with trout
User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
 
Posts: 1617
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:41 pm
Location: Mammoth Lakes

Postby hikerduane on Sun Nov 06, 2005 4:45 pm

I had no problem using everything at my disposal when I did Mt. Whitney a couple years ago. I asked for a wag bag when I picked up my permit. Since all my food that I ate the day before didn't sit well with me, I had to use the facilities as well as my bag a couple times. Not the most pleasant situation using the bag and then trying to find some rocks big enough to go behind and clamor off trail. Oh, portal to portal, same day, 50th birthday. :)
hikerduane
Founding Member
 
Posts: 1178
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 8:58 am
Location: Meadow Valley, CA, Carson City, NV

Postby Sierragator on Tue Nov 08, 2005 10:00 pm

so do the newbie rangers get to draw the assignment of "wag bag police"?
:eek:
User avatar
Sierragator
Founding Member
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:48 am
Location: Lake Isabella, CA

Wag Bags

Postby gdurkee on Tue Nov 29, 2005 7:33 pm

A couple of thoughts:

First, the only official discussions on use of Wag Bags have been for extremely high use areas -- Mt. Whitney is the primary area right now. Places like Little Yosemite Valley wouldn't be impossible for their use either. Also, it seems unlikely they'd be recommended or required on trips or returns of more than 3 days. Thus they might be required or highly recommended from Guitar Lake out to Whitney Portal (two days for most), but not down to Crabtree or Rock Creek.

The chemical in the Wag Bag makes them approved for disposal in regular landfill, so you can just toss them in any garbage can (I was seriously worried about this early on as well).

At the moment, the Inyo is providing 50 Gal drums to put them in at Trail Camp and they then empty those a few times a month. The more people who actually carry their own out, the cheaper it is (and the less impact by horses) for the Inyo. A similar plan for Guitar Lake is being considered.

The Inyo did build 2 crappers on the Whitney trail 20 years ago at a cost of over $30,000 (including later maintenance). Other types were built in Little Yosemite Valley, Nevada Falls and farther up the Merced trail. Although the idea for all of these is that they compost the effluent, NONE OF THEM WORK! For decades the USFS and NPS have been packing out raw sewage. In addition, the structures are an eyesore (and health hazard) and not in keeping with wilderness values.

The trend towards Wag Bags (in some high use areas) seems a good one. Just moderate compliance would reduce crap under rocks, toilet paper everywhere and etc. to perhaps a manageable level. The alternative is reducing the quota for an area. Also, studies show a high correlation between high density human use areas and e-coli in the water.

You're absolutely right about the volume of horses, however their manure is not anywhere near as pathogenic, though it's definitely a consideration -- still, we can control humans, we can't control critters. Work with what we can do... .

Finally, and maybe exceeding my mandate here, I take strong exception to the repeated reference to the ranger as "cute" etc. You've got a professional (we hope) doing her job. To diminish her and her message by the "cute little babe" attitude is insulting to her and (ahem) all rangers (of which I'm one...). They (women rangers) put up with that sort of crap 30 years ago. Let's give it a rest.

Your Humble Public Servant,

George
gdurkee
Founding Member
 
Posts: 618
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:20 pm

Re: Wag Bags

Postby quentinc on Tue Nov 29, 2005 8:21 pm

gdurkee wrote:You're absolutely right about the volume of horses, however their manure is not anywhere near as pathogenic, though it's definitely a consideration -- still, we can control humans, we can't control critters.


We can control horses by limiting stock travel. On the Whitney trail where there is no stock permitted, I can see the point, but elsewhere it strikes me as sheer hypocrisy. Also, the people who do a poor job of burying their waste are the least likely ones to comply with a pack it out rule, since they already aren't complying with the rules.
quentinc
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 890
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 9:28 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Postby gdurkee on Tue Nov 29, 2005 9:01 pm

Hmmm. A lively evening on the Boards here. Must be raining everywhere... .

You're right of course, but it's a level of detailed explanation I just avoided. At the moment, stock are allowed over much of the Sierra, though grazing is becoming increasingly restricted. Technically, we can control those use patterns, but my main point is we can control where people crap and what they do with it. We can't do that with horses and mules, though I also have to say we've never tried... . It's not very equitable (also, a teensy, teensy play on words -- equine -- heh, heh, heh) but it's definitely not sheer hypocrisy because of the relative health risks between humans and horses.

I was initially (two years ago) hugely skeptical and moderately against Wag Bags. However, in their first year on the Whitney Trail, they were getting about 25% compliance. This is truly huge and shows a level of concern that I find very encouraging -- people are willing to do something distasteful to improve their hiking environment. That level of voluntary compliance is enough to bring about a major improvement in the sanitation and esthetics of the Whitney trail area.

Also, in my experience, it's all about education. Sure, there's always going to be people who blow off regulations for whatever reasons (usually it's "why, you young punk ranger, I've been hiking for 30, 40, 50 years and I've never..............."). Still, most people come around. We saw that in picking up trash (vs. burying it); in not building huge firepits; in not building camp tables and posts and nails in trees; and, lately, in bear cannisters. The people who hike are actually pretty intelligent and decent people who want to do the right thing. The right thing changes with time and as we know more about the ecosystems. For years we've been looking for some solution to human waste and Wag Bags look to become a major part of that solution.

Thanks,

George
gdurkee
Founding Member
 
Posts: 618
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:20 pm

Re: Wag Bags

Postby Bearlover on Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:12 pm

oops
Last edited by Bearlover on Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
There is a Bear.. Where? Over there!
User avatar
Bearlover
Founding Member
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:28 am
Location: Santa Cruz Mtns

Re: Wag Bags

Postby Bearlover on Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:50 pm

Bearlover wrote:
gdurkee wrote:Finally, and maybe exceeding my mandate here, I take strong exception to the repeated reference to the ranger as "cute" etc. You've got a professional (we hope) doing her job. To diminish her and her message by the "cute little babe" attitude is insulting to her and (ahem) all rangers (of which I'm one...). They (women rangers) put up with that sort of crap 30 years ago. Let's give it a rest.

Your Humble Public Servant,

George

She was a very professional ranger and I never said I copped a "hey baby!" attitude with her. Read it again.. I said I was thinking "what a cute ranger"(OK I said hella cute) and there ain't no harm in that. Near as I can tell you have taken offence where none was intended or commited. I in no way meant to disparage her professionalism. I felt that had I not mentioned it was a (IMHO)cute lady ranger my story would not convey the aukwardness of the situation. Next time I will hit spell check and PC check before I post :paranoid:
And George.. stop e-mailing me to find out WHICH entry station it was.. I ain't telling... :evil:
There is a Bear.. Where? Over there!
User avatar
Bearlover
Founding Member
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:28 am
Location: Santa Cruz Mtns


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Greno, hikerdmb and 5 guests