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Day hiking with overnight gear

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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby limpingcrab » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:34 pm

Ok, cool, that makes sense and seems like a reasonable thing to do. I've never been in a situation like that so I didn't consider the possibility of hiking from one camping area to another. Thanks for clarifying.



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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:04 pm

I never said that if that is what you are actually doing, that you are cheating the quota system. It is just that others who do cheat the quota system, say the same thing when stopped. And since the latter probably is more common by far than your situation, rangers conclude that most people who are stopped with overnight gear and no permit, ARE cheating. That probably is their experience.

Yes, it is a bummer that you would be caught up in that too. And I empathize that you want to do the right thing. So I would think the question is how to permit what you are doing, given that they are unlikely to rewrite the enitre regulations for your convience. I would think there should be room for special day-permits, outside the quota system, where you provide some kind of proof that you did not camp overnight. Then again, if that turns into masses of "day-hikers" and crowds at trailheads, although I doubt it would, then perhaps a separate quota should also apply. By the way, overnight camping at some trailheads is not legal.

The old standard thought is that most day-hikers stay within so many miles of a trailhead. Backpackers are assumed to need a permit (and quotas) because they go deeper into the wilderness. The crush of day-hikers within 4 miles of the trailhead is the reason that camping is usually not allowed within that same distance from the trialhead. Even with a permit, you can get cited by breaking this rule. And what about all the backpackers who may only go in to that limit and camp and then come out? They actually impact less wilderness miles than the trail runner who does 24 miles from one trailhead to the another. So I agree that some updating of the current regulations are needed. I think what you are also asking is what exactly is the reason for the overnight quota and permit vs. no permit for day-hiking.

So far I have not had a bad ending with regard to my rule-stretching. My husband and I had a big snafu after getting a permit and by the time we finally made it to North Lake it was dark. We camped at a walk-in site and left very eary the next day and ran into a ranger before we reached the start of legal camping, so we were obviously going in the wrong day. We told our story, citing that we felt it was a lot safer to leave the next morning than walk in the dark, and that going all the way back to Bishop to get a new permit seemed unneeded. He was OK with that. But I can see that at a trailhead like the start of the JMT, they may not be as understanding. When I was a weekend-warrior, I often wanted to get on the trail before they opened the wilderness office at Big Oak Flat. A few times I just tacked a note to the window saying where I was going (almost alwyas some obscure not-popular place) so that they could count me on the quota system. I am in their system so they knew who I was and could have cited me, but never did. Another time, I had a permit, but only took trail food and ate it all on the day in. The next day I walked out without food. I did not take a bear can. And because I pushed it on the first day, I ened up plopping down in my bivy sack in the dark, unknowningly right next to a sign that said "no camping, day use area". LOL, luckily no ranger then. Lately every time I have stopped to get a permit at the Mono Lake Visitor Center, the ranger just looks me up on their computer system and says - here is your permit,have a good trip. No lecture at all. In fact I think he recognizes who I am.

I am only relating all this because the "bad-ass" ranger scenario has never happened to me. And I have never felt the quota system was that restricting.
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby rightstar76 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:15 am

Hobbes wrote
down here in the OC district, including Bolsa, HB & San Onofre, the rangers don't even make a pretense anymore of being anything other than LEOs.


Frontcountry rangers are different than backcountry rangers in that they are primarily LEO's. About things changing so much that state park rangers look like soldiers, here's my take. Even 30 years ago back in the good old days I remember state park rangers being LEO's with firearms and that was when there were lots less people in California. And back then, just like today, the beaches and parking areas were overflowing. Every turnout on the Pacific Coast Highway was flooded with cars. The state park rangers main duty back then just like today was to uphold the law. I recall seeing lots of citations given out and the occasional arrest. So I don't see the changes as large as you see them.

Hobbes wrote
So, once one comes to grip with the reality of what is occurring, you have a couple of options: (a) decide to get the hell out of Dodge; (b) figure out some kind means of dealing in the margins; (c) try and resist change; or (d) say fvck it and have fun.


I know people who are leaving California. I feel sorry for them but they also feel sorry for me staying. I have visited other parts of the country that people are happily moving to and I would never want to live there. I like it here even with all the problems we have. I agree we have to figure out major solutions about carrying capacity. However, I'm optimistic that we will find the solutions to those problems. There will be growing pains, but we will find the answers. As far as frontcountry and backcountry rangers go, I believe that not much will change. Frontcountry rangers will be focused on law enforcement, backcountry rangers on helping wilderness users have a safe and enjoyable experience while making sure everyone understands and follows the rules.
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby wildhiker » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:39 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:
Was it Ray Jardine who wrote the book (The Man who Walked through Time) about hiking the length of Grand Canyon? Um? What kind of a permit did he have, LOL. PS, I have done the Grand Canyon.


Colin Fletcher wrote "The Man Who Walked Through Time" about his traverse of most of the Grand Canyon, a lot of it on the Tonto Platform. My copy says copyright 1967. A great read. The actual hike was in the early 60s. I doubt that he even needed a permit then.

-Phil
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby mrphil » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:33 pm

This subject and the possible dilemmas facing a wilderness ranger are stepping really hard into Constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment. What would constitute "probable cause" and require a search of one's pack? A ranger believing that your pack is too big in his/her opinion, or that some bulge looks like it might be a sleeping bag? Other than an individual interpretation of what it means to have possible "intent", even if based based on experience or likelihood (I totally get it), what crime has been/is being committed simply by exercising one's right to carry whatever they damn well please unless it's an otherwise specifically restricted item such as a firearm or might be a situation that obviously represents an "imminent danger" and requires immediate action to prevent?

I would think of this whole premise of equipment being the only qualifier as being similar to a case wherein, just because you have a car that can go 100 mph, does that mean you intend to break the law just by having it? If so, we're all guilty, at face value. Or maybe I was once day hiking and got caught out overnight and almost died, so therefore always carry the right gear, just to be on the safe side. Can "intent" really be reliably and irrefutably established by either..."beyond a reasonable doubt"? Maybe I just like the car, or just feel better about being prepared because I'm suffering from PTSD and a little off. Standing alone, neither shows undeniably clear intent. This isn't theory, it's law that must be codified and written so that it's understandable and clearly stated in order for a person to even know that it is a law , not arbitrarily enacted and enforced because it might be or should be, and with safeguards and protections for the accused suspect; "Innocent until proven guilty" being first and foremost among them.

And then we have this aspect: You catch me camping, cite me. I go back to my car, no harm, no foul. I refuse your search. If you want to, get a warrant. In light of that, how can the contents of the pack (even those that merely possessing constitute a violation in and of themselves) be reasonably established to begin with? We're guaranteed a "reasonable" expectation of privacy of our persons. This has been questioned and challenged with everything from cars to garbage cans....only to require a decision by the Supreme Court in order to clarify what rights and expectations are, in fact, reasonable. So where does a backpack fit in? Evidence that's collected by means of an unlawful search and seizure is inadmissible, and without it, it seems that the basis for the charges would become moot. Anyone with a bone to pick, righteous indignation, and a good lawyer, could take something that might otherwise be as minor as a small ticket and turn it into a very complex, incredibly expensive, possibly precedent setting, claim that their rights were violated. For the sake of ranger convenience and suspicion, as well as some vague and questionably legal verbiage in a Super's compendium, is this really where the NPS wants to go for the sake of what can't be more than a handful of citations per year? I mean really, they can't even get back the names of their iconic landmarks, so why would they want to make a stand on Constitutional interpretation?
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby fishwrong » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:08 pm

Holy Moly - Day hiking to constitutional crisis???

If it's duck season, and you're flying in a flock of ducks wearing a duck bill, with duck feathers and webbed feet, don't be surprised when your claim of being a chicken gets questioned. Life just doesn't have to be that hard....

I've found a couple of techniques that work for me when faced with such dilemmas:

1. Follow the rules - Nothing to worry about.
2. Don't follow the rules and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

One last thing. Most people (Rangers included) are simply trying to do their job as best they can. If you have to be "that chicken", please be considerate and understand what the other side has to deal with.
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby mrphil » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:56 pm

fishwrong wrote:One last thing. Most people (Rangers included) are simply trying to do their job as best they can. If you have to be "that chicken", please be considerate and understand what the other side has to deal with.


Yes, no doubt about it, but the flip-side of that is that the other other side also has rights that need to be understood and respected as well. Sadly, those rights aren't always honored or interpreted correctly. Also remember, consequences for not doing the right thing work both ways. If authority always remains unquestioned or unchallenged, abuses often have a tendency to occur. As a citizen, you not only have the right to stand up to such abuses, you have an obligation to do so.

Another, unrelated, but relevant scenario:

Have you noticed how some stores (ie: Walmart) now expect customers to wait in a second line to show their receipts in order to verify that their purchases match? They can ask, but you aren't required under law to do so. Once paid for, the customer's obligation is complete, and, in fact, just because they haven't yet exited the store, they have full legal ownership of the goods they've purchased. They've entirely fulfilled their part of the covenant between buyer and seller. Sure, some people steal, although most don't, but the more people that accept this as an obligation that must be complied with (seemingly, or else), the more it becomes the accepted norm. And the more ingrained and normal it becomes, the greater the risk of perfectly innocent people becoming targets for abuse by people that might just see themselves as "doing their job as best they can", but that are actually overstepping their rightful capacity by stepping on our rights, be that maliciously or out of ignorance. This is why, as a society, we have laws and protections, be those Constitutional or otherwise. And yes, I've actually had employees that believed that they were just "doing their job" pursue me to my car when I've bypassed their line...right up until I clearly, politely, and calmly, yet firmly and in no uncertain terms, explained what their "consequences" would be if they persisted in treating me like the potential criminal that I'm not.

The fact is, in my own situation, while I might not usually do it on trails in or bordering on designated wilderness areas, but do occasionally hike on public lands, it's really not that uncommon for me to train and/or test out equipment while out for just a few hours and wearing a full pack. I have no intention of breaking the law, and I don't believe what I have in my pack alone should be the criteria that is used to subject me to harassment, undo suspicion, or possible prosecution for simply choosing to exercise my right to do so.

I don't ever look for trouble, but if it wants to find me, I don't cower in its face because it's what I'm supposed to do or because it makes life (mine or someone else's) easier. That's "sheeple" thinking, and the easy way isn't always the best or right way. In never questioning or challenging, we run the risk of accepting totalitarianism as our standard. I totally get where the NPS and wilderness rangers are coming from in this, and I've only ever met one that was a completely self-important jerk with a bad attitude and on a serious power trip (the rest have been incredible!), but I think that it's important that they also understand where I'm coming from. As a law abiding citizen, I've earned and deserve nothing less than to be given the benefit of the doubt and left to freely go about my business when I've done nothing more than have what someone else has decided are the wrong things in my backpack.
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby rightstar76 » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:11 am

Mrphil wrote:
In never questioning or challenging, we run the risk of accepting totalitarianism as our standard.


In another thread, I mentioned both Jarbidge and the PCT. In the latter, I pointed out how hikers might become disobedient if restrictions were handed down authoritatively, were too restrictrive, and didn't allow hikers as a community to participate with the rulemaking and enforcement. If the powers that be quelled peaceful community input by use of propaganda, charged excessively for permits, over cited, and brutalized hikers, I guess it would be totalitarian.

I haven't seen that in the backcountry. I don't think it will happen, not this year, not in 20 or even 50 years on out. The powers that be have been very reasonable about hiker freedom in the backcountry and have kept things moving relatively smoothly.

I agree with some of the other posters on this thread that this a big nothing burger.
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby mrphil » Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:22 am

rightstar76 wrote:I agree with some of the other posters on this thread that this a big nothing burger.


I really do, too. I've never had a problem and largely understand, and with few exceptions, never met anyone that hasn't brought something positive to the table. It's a few hypotheticals and a lot of soapboxing on my part for the sake of argument. Maybe, maybe not....someday. Things are changing, people are changing, and more and more of those people are headed into the wilderness. I just think we need to be aware of some of those changes and stay vigilant about what we have now, where we fit in, and where they're going, and then we afford ourselves the luxury of being able to say, "Wait a minute." if it's called for, instead of "What happened?" after the fact. Be it all as it may.
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Re: Day hiking with overnight gear

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:47 am

More people in the wilderness is mainly on well defined, popular and "big name" trails and driven by social media; after all they have to blog about something that already has name recognition. I am not sure this is going to continue. Having lived through the backpack surge of the 70's, and subsequent reduction, it could happen again.

As much as I do not like the impact this is having on certain trails, I am glad the young folks are getting into the outdoors instead of sitting in front of their computer games. I do see a lack of wilderness ethics among some of the current users. That has been an age-old problem. Wheras it used to be a John Muir-ish ethic, it seems now to be more of a social/party attitude, aided and abetted by technology.

I do see many more long distance day-hikers and trail runners nowadays. Day-hiking impacts are no longer limited to that section of trail close to trailheads. Again, I give credit to these young folks (and a few old ones too) for thier athleticism. This is, however, forcing resource managers to rethink day-use and possibly using permits, only to the extent that the resource (such as impact on wild animals) needs to be protected.

Although a "no-burger" this has been an interesting discussion.
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