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Current Desolation W permit policies

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Current Desolation W permit policies

Postby SSSdave » Fri May 29, 2009 10:30 pm

I'll be phoning up the Lake Tahoe Visitor Center for more clarifications but here I'm hoping someone can fill me in with the basics for currently reserving a Desolation W permit and picking it up. I've clearly looked at their website info and it vaguely relates they are still one of those NFs that demand wilderness users do everything at their office hours. Of course that makes weekend backpacking far less efficient because at best one cannot get on the trail after visiting their office when it opens at a lazy 8am until about 9am. By time one gets to a destination, half the day is gone. Actually two years ago I recall getting to the above when it opened and then being irritated having to wait about an hour before the permit person actually arrived and was ready to issue permits. On my own given the night box system as at Inyo NF, I'm apt to start hiking with headlamp at dimmest dawn.

The following is on the El Dorado National Forest website:

"Must register in person and pay fees at one of the following offices. Please make every effort to to obtain your permit in person during business hours. Reserved permits are now mailed. Changes must be made in person and require the original permit to be turned in."

Also their website doesn't seem to say whether one can mail or phone in resevations or not. Since they don't have that info it is likely they do not and leave that out simply to deflect criticism. I'll find out when I phone. They do have all the zone quotas on line as pdf's that is very useful thankyou.

I'm going to be rambling up into the Velma basin again maybe for a 3-day trip mainly to shoot gnarly Sierra junipers. Although much of the trail and lakeside areas are quite beaten up by considerable use, I was surprised at some of the relatively pristene areas away from those zones. The area I would be camped at a couple nights is likely in one of the two Velma zones that have fat quotas, but I would need to see their zone map. If the permit must be picked up in person etc, I would be keen to find someone preferably another photographer with a more flexible situation that might be able to pick up a permit the afternoon before say Thursday or Friday afternoon. Then I might drive up the 4 hours after work, meet up, and get in an hour or three night hike up the Bayview Trail. I see this as late June to early July.



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Re: Current Desolation W permit policies

Postby hikerduane » Sat May 30, 2009 6:22 am

I've been able to call the South Lake main office and have them leave a permit outside, with them giving me the lock combination to get my permit out the last few years. I think I had to give my credit card info to charge me. In past years, I have called the Visitor Center and they in turn "sent" the info to Kaspian so I could get my permit there, since it was on my route at the time coming from the north and saved half an hour or more driving to the Visitor Center or the "Y" to get a permit. Some Forests are more accomodating then others. Maybe those Forests want the visitors whereas Eldorado and Tahoe get so many people, that they can be tougher. The Tahoe area does seem more accomodating in the off season then during the summer. I have never been able to have the Visitor Center leave a permit out. Kinda of a pain for last minute trips to get a permit on your time table. Sounds like you have time Dave. Good luck.
Piece of cake.
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Re: Current Desolation W permit policies

Postby tim » Sat May 30, 2009 7:00 am

Actually you can reserve the permit by phone and they will send it to you in the mail ($10 per adult for 2+ nights, kids under 12 are free but they still count against the quota). This is the permit itself not a reservation confirmation like you get in Yosemite etc (i.e. you never need to go to the ranger station if you make an advance reservation and there is time to send it out by mail - not sure what the cutoff is, maybe 2 weeks before?). I've already done this for my planned trip in late August and I received the permit in the mail about a week after making the booking. They have a split between advance and walk-in reservations as usual, though because the permits themselves not just confirmations for advance reservations get sent out, there is no way to reclaim unused permits from 'no-shows' (thus its a fair bit less busy once you get there than the number of permit slots would imply).

I believe the walk-ins are given out for same day entry, not the day before, so you need to get there in the morning: I went last year on the Friday of Labor Day weekend (coming from the Bay Area) and arrived at the Pollock Pines ranger station on Hwy 50 as it opened at 8am (a pretty convenient option if you're going to the southern end, though not if you want to start walking at dawn). There were half a dozen people in front of us, but we all got walk-in permits no problem (all the advance reservations for the popular zones had gone weeks before). You still pay the same amount for walk-ins - the charge is for the permit itself, not for making the reservation (again different to many other areas).
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Re: Current Desolation W permit policies

Postby SSSdave » Sun May 31, 2009 4:50 pm

Thanks guys for the useful input. I'll follow up with a post here after I actually contact them.
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Re: Current Desolation W permit policies

Postby SSSdave » Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:49 pm

A bit of a follow up on this thread I posted 4 weeks ago. The El Dorado NF ranger station at Pollock Pines is handling all the Desolation reservations. The section that does permits doesn't seem to answer their phone at this busy time of year so one must leave a call back message that they will eventually act on. After some phone tag, about five days later I received a call from a nice gal that within a few minutes had me taken care of. They mailed off a permit that I received in my SF Bay area mailbox within three days. They will mail a reserved permit off as long as there is a reasonable expectation of it getting to the submitee before their trip.

The great thing about the El Dorado NF permit system is they don't mail a reservation for a permit that otherwise is picked up at a ranger station so they can give their speech or left in a night box., but rather the actual permit along with the usual info packet ala dig your hole 6.0 inches deep etc. I'd like to see other NFs change to that process also as it would make short notice weekend trips much easier to deal with. Currently the national parks are worst by forcing us to pick up permits in person, listen to their speech, and then have to drive to the trailhead. Since they often don't open up till 8am, one isn't likely to be on a trail before 9 or 10am. For a limited 2-day weekend trip that is a huge hit logistically.

So I have a permit for two of we LF photographers for July 3 out of the Bayview Trailhead into the Velma Lakes zone as noted above. My friend will be swinging in from an extended road trip on the east side and given the 5 or 6 hour drive, I ought to arrive up there about 10 or 11pm at night on July2. Instead of sleeping at the trailhead illegally, we'll night hike the trail lazily with our headlamps for an hour or so to Granite Lake or atop Maggies Peak and after midnight or July 3 bagging down legally. Thinking the top of that peak might offer some tele at dawn looking off across Tahoe.

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Last edited by ERIC on Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: changed [img] tags to [rimg] so photo wasn't cut off.
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