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If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

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If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:47 pm

Have you ever gone backpacking without the required permit? Would you? We got to thinking about this after a recent trip to the Ansel Adams Wilderness. We had arranged for our permit to be left for after-hours pickup at the Mono Lake station. But when we got there, the permit box was empty. We looked and looked. Poor Mother Hubbard!

It wasn't a big deal. We were camping at Silver Lake, about fifteen minutes away, and so we simply got up the next morning and drove back to the ranger station and picked up our permit from a live and slightly apologetic ranger. The phones had been down the night before, and they never got the word from the main office. End result? We hit the trail about an hour later than planned. As we said, no big deal.

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But what if the situation had been different? We once called the El Dorado National Forest to make sure that we could pick up a permit at the trailhead for a trip we were going to make out of Carson Pass. We were assured that it was not a problem--the Carson Pass station was open 9-5 or so. We left home early the next morning, and drove to Carson Pass...only to find that the USFS station up there was not open during the week (This was in the fall. Summer hours may well be different.) The station was boarded up, there was no phone (or cell phone coverage) and not even another car in the parking lot.

Our only option was to drive another hour or more back down to Placerville, pick up a permit, and then drive back up to Carson Pass and start hiking. We'd already been in the car for more than three hours, and it was now 11:30 in the morning. If we drove to Placerville, we would not get on the trail until 2 p.m. or so. We read the warning signs carefully, all of which stressed that we could not make a campfire (or cook on a stove) without a permit. But we did have our CDF campfire permit. We get one of those every year.

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So we decided to hit the trail. We spent three lovely days in the not yet established Meiss Meadow Wilderness Area, and hiked back out on Saturday afternoon. We'd seen very few people, and by the time we got to the car, we'd forgotten that we didn't have a permit.

No, we didn't get stopped at the trailhead and arrested. In fact, we weren't noticed at all.

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Clearly, this is not something we would consider in Yosemite National Park or other high traffic and highly regulated areas. And some of the other areas allow you to simply self-registed for a permit at the trailhead. We did that at Leavitt Meadows. But now you know our secret confession. We once backpacked without a permit.

We expect to appear on the next season of America's Most Wanted. Photos are of the fugitives during their escapade.
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:14 pm

You rebel.

I think a lot of folks who go out in the wilderness areas local to me don't bother. I do know someone who has been walked two days out of the Yosemite backcountry... and, I know that rangers in Sierra National Forest will check permits as well, since there was one hiking Dinkey Wilderness from lake to lake doing so.

I've not hiked without a permit unless it's legal to do that, and I think I'll stick to that.
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby oldranger » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:31 pm

Marksor and I almost did the same thing this spring. We were told we could pick up our permits at Oakhurst visitor Center as we usually do when heading into Yosemite from s. of the Park. When we arrived we found that the Forest Service Person was on days off and the National Park Service person could not issue the permit (seems to me they Manage to cooperate over at the Mono Lake Visitor Center). After confirming that we would have to drive an extra 20 minutes to North Fork Mark and I considered just saying f--- it and going without as we had serious doubs that Yosemite would have the personnel out to check permits in May. But being (mostly) law abiding type of guys we did the extra drive. Of course we did not see a sign of NPS personnel on this trip. (nor did I see any but trail crew and interpretive rangers during our 19 day trip in July/August. As usual the Merced Lake Ranger Station was locked up.

I should note that if the trip to North Fork had been any longer we probably would have gone without. Mark's charm would get us out of any trouble!

Mike
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby justm » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:16 pm

Good topic. I always get a permit as needed, but there are those times as mentioned above, where it just dosen't work out. I tend to go backpacking with a couple of people, originally from Ireland and I look Irish. I always tell them if we get asked by a ranger and we don't have one, put on your thickest Irish accent and say " Oh...A permit...we were supposed to get a permit..back in Ireland you just head out ...ect. Fortunately we haven't had to do that!
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:33 pm

I've always backpacked with a permit when required to. I have had a number of times I had to improvise when I couldn't get under the quota. For some years (until about 1992) I would do first come first serve wilderness permit pickups. I always had a long progression of audibles to call in case I didn't get under the quota. I recall having to audible at least 6 times. I recall on three of the occasions I dayhiked the day got aced out then backpacked in the next day. On my favorite "audible" I was quota'd out of going up Pine Creek, ran back to the car, drove to Mammoth, got permit for Convict Canyon (no quota in those days) and ended up going over the crest from Cloverleaf Lake to the Ram Lakes basin (not on day one, however). My unfavorite? Memorial Day weekend 1986. Quota'd out of Hetch Hetchy (intended to head for Edyth via Laurel L) I had to get the permit to go in via Cherry L. Horrendous brush, multiple sketchy stream crossing, and cutoff from reasonable fishing by uncrossable torrent (Kendrick Creek) and flooded shallows.

There is another audible that worked out exceptionally well but there is an asterisk: this wasn't a quota problem. I was going to do a trip that included Tehipite and Tunemah in the same trip ("Tunepite") and had reserved a wilderness permit. When I went to pick up the ranger I was told that a fire was burning in Tehipite so I should stay out of there (this was a fire they let burn the entire summer). I audibled and changed the entry point just a hair (recall original entry was Rancheria to make more convenient the exit from Tehipite) to Hoffman Mtn. then went on a 5 day trip that is one of my top 4 all time ("Tunechuck").
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby dave54 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:15 pm

I try to avoid places that require permits. The conditions that force a permit quota system (high visitor use) make it unappealing to me. If I choose to poach I believe I have a low risk of being checked since I mostly hike off-trail and avoid the crowds (seeing another hiker in the distance is a crowd). If by chance I am caught I expect I'll have to pay a fine.

There are still plenty of great places with solitude, scenery, adventure, etc that have no quotas or permits.

OTOH -- I have some friends that go to Burning Man every year and boast they have never bought or used a ticket. I am not sure how they do it.
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby justm » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:52 pm

dave54, can you give just a little hint of where these places are ! :nod:
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby balzaccom » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:56 pm

I have now learned that we only needed a permit if we were going south into Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, Going north, we only needed a campfire permit, which we already had.

Darn it, I'm still perfect! :D
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby windknot » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:30 am

Haha, this turned out to be a lame confession!

I've never hiked without a permit in areas where they are required, but I did have to completely change my itinerary on a 5-day solo trip a few years ago when the quota for Piute Pass was full. I did some quick thinking, re-mapped out my trip, and got a permit for Pine Creek Pass instead. The trip went off without a hitch, and even turned out better than I had planned the original itinerary.

If I couldn't get a permit, I'd probably sacrifice a day or half a day and just get the permit later, or switch to a different trailhead.
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby IncredibleHuck » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:14 am

Interesting. I've got a last minute trip that a buddy of mine and I planned for backpacking into the cottonwood lakes area. All the permits online are gone, however when I called ahead of time, they told me if I show up the day before I may be able to get a permit for the next day. Luckily I have that day off and Lone Pine is only a 3 HR drive from here. Might just do some quick fishing up that way on Thursday, before coming back.
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby freestone » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:28 pm

if I show up the day before I may be able to get a permit for the next day



I thought it was... "if you show up after 11AM on the target date", you can score an unused permit. Also, I think there is also unreservable permits available as well. I hope so, my plans are to go over Taboose on labor day weekend Saturday and all the reserved passes are gone for that date.

I am going solo, so no bucking the system for me. I do not have a SPOT so I need all the correct accountablity possible in case they have to scrap me off the rocks.
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Re: If you didn't get a permit...would you still go?

Postby IncredibleHuck » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:44 pm

freestone wrote:
if I show up the day before I may be able to get a permit for the next day



I thought it was... "if you show up after 11AM on the target date", you can score an unused permit. Also, I think there is also unreservable permits available as well. I hope so, my plans are to go over Taboose on labor day weekend Saturday and all the reserved passes are gone for that date.

I am going solo, so no bucking the system for me. I do not have a SPOT so I need all the correct accountablity possible in case they have to scrap me off the rocks.


I was told to show up at 11 AM the day before by the Inyo Forest Service.
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