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Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 2:21 am
by chulavista
It is odd how the feds are ok with issuing online wilderness permits in some areas like grand canyon and great smoky mountains but not others. I get the extra care in grizzly country. Maybe someone thinks the California Grizzly is back?

I guess the other explanation is they have staff they don't know what to do with if they issue online only permits?

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 7:51 am
by knick11
One grey area that doesn't seem to have been addressed yet is "non-essential" travel. For example, Mammoth Lakes and Mono County, as well as the state of California in general, are still advertising stay away/stay home orders to keep tourists away from small mountain communities, and I completely understand why. However, it's difficult to be excited about Inyo NF issuing wilderness permits starting 6/1, when traveling leisurely or for things other than work are still "prohibited" in general. Most if not all wilderness permit holders (and their groups) are not from the local area, are on vacation, are not traveling for work, and/or are traveling at their leisure. And these groups will undoubtedly be using the local facilities in these communities pre and post trip as well, so I would think it would be an issue to clarify if for all parties involved.

If campgrounds were opening 6/1 as well, then it would be less blurry, as that implies that tourism and non-essential travel is permitted. But since campgrounds in Mono County may not be open until July, the month of June results as being a grey area. Inyo NF didn't mention anything in their announcement about screening the origin of wilderness permit holders, and I highly doubt they ever will. But if all the authorities could be on the same page that would be great. In any case, I have a trip planned out of High Trail in Agnew Meadows for the end of August, so unless there is a major relapse in the situation, I'm confident in my trip happening. But the non-essential travel thing has me puzzled in the meantime.

In regards to my trip, anyone have any ideas on the Reds Meadow shuttle? I'm assuming it will not be running this year due to covid-19. But since wilderness permits are being issued, I am assuming they will be allowing more overnight parking in Red Meadows Valley for backpackers. I'd rather not have to hike the road...

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 7:55 am
by balzaccom
I just spoke to a friend who is a ranger in one of the national forests in California. He told me that his office has no way of issuing permits on-line, so they are not issuing permits. They don't have, and won't ask, the staff and volunteers to meet with large numbers of the public to issue those permits. They are concerned about the health of their staff and volunteers. ca understand that.

But Desolation Wilderness issues permits through recreation.gov--and they are operating normally right now. So you can get a permit to backpack in Desolation, where you will probably run into other hikers. But not in other, less trafficked areas because those areas don't have enough traffic to justify an on-line reservation system.

I should point out that if you CALL the Desolation Wilderness office, you will be told that you should observe all government guidelines concerning only necessary travel. I was given a clear warning by the wilderness office that I should not make an unnecessary trip to go backpacking--and I should not expect the usual support from EMT or SAR staff if anything goes wrong.

Fair enough.

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 8:16 am
by BaneSierras
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:47 am
I read it that walk in reservations can be obtained "up to" 14 days in advanced. That is the maximum ahead of the trip, not the minimum. The only way to tell is to try to reserve a permit nearer the trip date and see if it works.

Update and clarification on the process for trails that were previously "walk up" :

I was able to reserve a walk up permit. The deal is, you call the permit office and if there is space available on the th you want, they release the number of permits you want for that day and that trailhead while they are on the phone with you. You refresh your page, select your permits, complete the process, pay, listen to speech and within 30 minutes your permit is in your email. You have to print it, sign it and bring it with you.

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 10:18 am
by hikerdude87
Something confusing I found with the different phases of opening is that on Mono County's path to reopening webpage, it states that Stage 3 is when they will open the county for lodging and non-essential travel is not prohibited

On California's webpage regarding the stage we are in, it says that stage 3 opens state up a little more and also says that you should only travel for local activities. Note that the page has not been updated since May 25 and the Governor announced moving into Phase 3 on June 26.

As far as Red's Meadows, I feel like they will do something similar with allowing a certain number of cars down the road. Possibly doing an online reservation system so the area does not fill up witch vehicles. But that is going to depend on a public meeting scheduled on June 12 and what they decide from that.

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 11:54 am
by notis
@BaneSierras when was your trip for? Like in the next 14 days?

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Thu May 28, 2020 8:15 pm
by BaneSierras
notis wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:54 am
@BaneSierras when was your trip for? Like in the next 14 days?
June 1

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Fri May 29, 2020 10:49 am
by SSSdave
knick11 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 7:51 am
One grey area that doesn't seem to have been addressed yet is "non-essential" travel. For example, Mammoth Lakes and Mono County, as well as the state of California in general, are still advertising stay away/stay home orders to keep tourists away from small mountain communities, and I completely understand why. However, it's difficult to be excited about Inyo NF issuing wilderness permits starting 6/1, when traveling leisurely or for things other than work are still "prohibited" in general...


Traveling between counties or further than XX distance from a residence has in almost all cases not been "prohibited" but rather not recommended and discouraged even here in Santa Clara County where the comprehensive order with modifications was later used elsewhere throughout the state.

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Fri May 29, 2020 3:02 pm
by Wandering Daisy
It is my understanding that if the "stay at home" order has been lifted in a county, then they cannot legally fine (they call it an administrative fine) you. Even if the order were in place, enforcement would be difficult. The only way I can see that your residence could be identified is from your license plate (law enforcement has that capability), drivers license (but you are not under obligation to show it to everyone) or when you have to punch in area code when getting gas with a credit car (just use cash).

The idea that we will use a lot of front-country facilities in towns is hogwash! I get gas in Mindon NV, then can easily access all eastern Sierra trailheads without ever going into a town at all.

The wrench in the works seems to be permits. Regardless of COVID, I am concerned with getting first-come permits with the new policies. If you can get one 14 days ahead of time and hear the "talk" then who is to check if you even do the trip, or if a few from your group do not show up? Seems like there will be a lot of unused yet unavailable permits.

Re: Some Eastern Sierra Closures through June

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 1:52 pm
by Ashery
Wandering Daisy wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 3:02 pm
The idea that we will use a lot of front-country facilities in towns is hogwash! I get gas in Mindon NV, then can easily access all eastern Sierra trailheads without ever going into a town at all.
Management agencies can only react to the conditions they actually experience.

You might not stop anywhere save for the one stop for gas. Coming from Lancaster, I can access areas near Lone Pine without even needing that. But policies don't get made based on the actions of those that are following the spirit of the law as closely as possible; they're made based on those who aren't.
The wrench in the works seems to be permits. Regardless of COVID, I am concerned with getting first-come permits with the new policies. If you can get one 14 days ahead of time and hear the "talk" then who is to check if you even do the trip, or if a few from your group do not show up? Seems like there will be a lot of unused yet unavailable permits.
Feel like a simple fix would be to allow folks to get (partial) refunds if they cancel unused permits before their trip.