Dec 13, 2009 at 12:08 pm #1252556
I was out backpacking this weekend with Michael Skwarczek (also on this site) in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. We're enjoying the rain, sitting and eating dinner in camp, trying to keep a very tiny fire going. Surprisingly, we see a headlamp coming out of the dark rain at ~10PM…
"$hit, is that a ranger?" we're both thinking.
Yes, our fire was technically illegal. I think us being in that part of the forest was illegal too (closure from the recent Station Fire…which has been out for months). But I do it all with a perfectly clean conscience: because I'm not doing anything wrong, no matter what any forest bureaucrat tells me.
Turns out it was two other backpackers itching to get out in the rain as well.
First thing they said:
""We were thinking $hit, are those rangers?" when we you saw you."
On a recent trail run in the mountains: turned back by an armed ranger for my own "safety". The area had recently burned and they have it closed, apparently, for my own good. Too much slide danger. Too many downed trees. Trail was destroyed he said. Thing is, I ran there two days before "illegally". It's the forest, same as ever, with some burnt trees and bare hillsides. WTF!?
Finishing a dayhike with my wife, I'm literally carrying two half full 30 gallon trash bags full of junk from the trail. I get back to my car to find a forest service employee checking to see if I have my "Adventure Pass" on the car (a parking permit for using the forest)…I clean the trails, I paint over graffiti, I've volunteered on trail crews. And the folks getting paid to be "stewards" are there to give parking tickets.
Why should one's first reaction be "$hit, a ranger."?
Can I opt out of being protected from myself in the woods? Sign papers that I won't sue if I fall if the trail is in bad condition?
This system is really a complete joke.
Forest Closed – what a concept.Dec 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm #1553302
You have a conscience or you would not have that "feeling". Same as when you run that redlight and thought you saw a police car in the corner of your eye. Those guys simply have a job to do to enforce the laws/regulations for the safety of the general public. As my attorney hiking friend says, it won't be you suing, but your family if you were killed and a ranger/land management had not done their job.
I've done it before too ; ).Dec 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm #1553305
Welcome to the 21st century. If you think how the rangers work is poor, you should see what bureaucrats and legislatures have done with out prison day… err schools.
Really though, while many of the efforts of the government did start out as good ideas and their intent is proper, the legislation made are often by people that have no idea of whats going on and in practice things are dealt with in a way in which to cover a persons own ass than to try and solve a problem. If this results in creating a no risk society with no blame, well than they won.
Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.
Ronald ReaganDec 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm #1553308
Sigh – I can't resist.
We don't need permits in Australia, and we don't need permits in Europe either.
CheersDec 13, 2009 at 1:20 pm #1553311
and your politicians make less money too.Dec 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm #1553321
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
Send us your politicians, Roger. We'll send you ours AND pay the freight both ways.
PLEEEEEEEASE!Dec 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm #1553325
While I'm NO fan of bureacratic baloney,
Sometimes the land is closed to protect it from us.
Give the land some space after a fire. Let it recover for a season. One or two transgressers may do little harm, but imagine if all of LA were up there right after a fire.
The rules are not aimed at "the one" they are aimed at the many. You may think you are only one, but you are also part of the many.Dec 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm #1553367
@dharmabumpkinLocale: San Gabriel Mtns
It isnt a perfect system, but what would you put in its place?
Instead of a government run park would you rather privatize the national parks and forests? Then they could charge more and develop more. If thats not profitable… just extract the resources and mow the forest down!Dec 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm #1553372
"and your politicians make less money too."
From a different source, too.Dec 13, 2009 at 4:08 pm #1553374
"Sometimes the land is closed to protect it from us.
Give the land some space after a fire. Let it recover for a season. One or two transgressers may do little harm, but imagine if all of LA were up there right after a fire."
I've got to second Art's position here, Craig, albeit reluctantly given my deep seated mistrust of what our government has become. It is a case of trying to limit the erosion damage until new growth has begun to stabilize the soil again.Dec 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm #1553384
I'm with you… sort of.
The "Adventure Pass" really irritates me. I don't mind paying to help support the National Forest recreational mission. My problem is the very premise of the fee only for Southern California. The original USFS web site explaining the pass had a statement something to the effect that the fee was needed because it wouldn't be fair for people from other parts of the country to subsidize the heavily used National Forests in Southern California. I did some research and found that approximately 10% of all federal income taxes are paid by Southern California residents. Our local NF's certainly don't get 10% of all forest recreation funding.
These days I just happily pay for the annual parks pass that covers all National Parks and fee areas.Dec 13, 2009 at 5:17 pm #1553397
> Send us your politicians, Roger. We'll send you ours AND pay the freight both ways.
NO deal. Why on earth would we want your politicians????
CheersDec 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm #1553399
> Give the land some space after a fire. Let it recover for a season.
Chuckle. Ever walked through a fire zone shortly afterwards? You get FILTHY!
I understand the concept, but it doesn't happen in reality. People usually go 100 m and turn back.
CheersDec 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm #1553400
> Instead of a government run park would you rather privatize the national parks and forests?
Sorry, but I cannot see the relevance of this question. ALL our National Parks (in Oz) and all the ones in Europe are run by the State and Federal governments, but they don't charge for access and they don't require permits.
It seems to get forgotten that 'the government' does not own the land: it is owned by the people. Or it should be.
CheersDec 13, 2009 at 5:52 pm #1553412
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
Opinion, but I see America as being closer to a company with a military, than a government with a population. If we didn't use what little government we have to protect some lands, our companies would own everything and you wouldn't need a permit to go on lands. The land would be private.Dec 13, 2009 at 6:29 pm #1553433
I would love for someone to explain to me how my hiking in these recently burned zones has stifled recovery.
Erosion? I was hiking and running on the same trails that have always been there, camping in designated spots that have remained untouched by fire. Come have a look sometime, I guarantee you'd be baffled too.
A ranger I spoke to cited, and I quote, "downed trees and increased risk of rockslide" as the reason for closure of one major area.
Oh no! Tree down, blocking the trail! Please protect me…for I could never just climb over.Dec 13, 2009 at 6:41 pm #1553440
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
What?!? What Europe are YOU hiking in, Roger? I just spent two years living on the outskirts of the Pfalzerwald, one of the bigger 'National Parks' in Germany, and it was essentially illegal to camp in it! You had to either:
1. Belong to a trekking club, and use their leased-in-perpetuity gazeebo.
2. Find one such gazeebo, correctly guess which local town had the trekking club it belonged to, call the burgermeister of that town to get the phone number of the club president, call him, PRAY he liked you and would grant you permission to camp at the gazeebo without charging you 100 Euro, etc.
3. Camp in a town fairgrounds. A viable if not very esthetic option, as all of these parks contain towns and farm fields, and are crisscrossed by autobahns.
4. Commando camp, and PRAY a forestmeister didn't find you, because he would cuss you out while speed-dialing the Polizei.
5. Rent a space at a commercial campground- which is actually more expensive than getting a room in a gasthaus for the night, and which is designed for campers with caravans, not tents.
It's like this is most "parks" in Germany. (Yes, scare quotes.) I generally got the impression that while many Germans like to walk, not so many like to HIKE, and a vanishingly small number like to CAMP (the way I use the word, at least).
After all, they cram 85 million people into a country the size of Oregon. If any significant percentage of them were hikers the Alps would be absolutely overrun every weekend. Which, in some ways, it is anyway.
Speaking of which- like all other nations bordering the Alps there are some decent areas in the mountains, though. Even then, in most places generally you HAVE to stay in a hut or other shelter- you can't pitch a tent unless the shelter is full. And even then you must pitch it near the shelter.
Not, mind you, that some jaegerschnitzel and a decent hefeweizen aren't appreciated after the hike to the hut…
What the German's call "National Parks", is more like what an American would call "National Forest." They are managed, and logged.
I'll take the permits, personally. US parks have permits because we are unwilling to pave and build huts everywhere. :o)
Unfortunately, we criminally underfund the NPS.
But, of course, we have our Wildernesses, which IMHO are superior to the Parks.
I will admit that the UK, however, has very enlightened right-of-way laws. Germany does, too, regarding walking over other people's property, but certainly NOT camping there. The Polizei show up QUICK, and accuse you of being gypsies and squatters. Most of Europe actually seems to be tolerant, for instance, of people walking on dirt access roads through a farmer's property- as long as you don't trample a field that's in crop.
I am quite ignorant of Oz. But 20 million people with a whole continent to themselves sounds like Eden. Why do you ever leave, Roger? :o)Dec 13, 2009 at 7:22 pm #1553458
"Ever walked through a fire zone shortly afterwards? You get FILTHY!
I understand the concept, but it doesn't happen in reality. People usually go 100 m and turn back."
Yeah, I've walked through a few of them(but don't anymore since I became aware of the potential consequences) and yeah, you get a bit groaty from the knees on down(unless you're a total klutz, or brain dead). That doesn't invalidate the concept, as you point out, nor does it invalidate the need, at least in America, to warn people off to prevent erosion damage. Maybe folks here just aren't very fastidious. Whatever. But they will do it here, Roger. Trust me on this one. And the danger is very real.Dec 13, 2009 at 11:51 pm #1553523
I will plead ignorance of Germany. I was talking about France, Switzerland, Spain and the UK.
The French have a ban on 'Camping' in many places, BUT – when they talk about 'camping' they mean 'car camping', for several days. Big tents, BBQs, campervans, etc. What we do is called 'bivouac', just for the night.
The Swiss have a ban on some camping below 2,500 m – if anyone enforces it. But just ask and get the farmer's permission. We bivouaced and no-one cared.
The Poms … we just camped. We asked once, and the farmer told us where a good corner was.
The Spaniards around the Pyrenees – I suspect they couldn't care less.
> But 20 million people with a whole continent to themselves sounds like Eden.
Hum … it's a very OLD continent, mostly flat and VERY dry. I suspect we are going to find out fairly soon that our available fresh water won't feed many more than that. Our major rivers are already running dry. Of course, there's a lot of desert over most of the country, and a lot of bushfires too.
Otherwise – yeah, we like it.
CheersDec 14, 2009 at 12:02 am #1553524
@benwoodLocale: flatlands of MO
"It seems to get forgotten that 'the government' does not own the land: it is owned by the people."
abso – friggen – lutely!
anyhow… i have walked through land that was recently burned, infact, walked by downed trees that were still on fire. no problem. the problem, as usual, depends on the individual being irresponsible.
i have been hiking in a fire ban in 3 days of straight hard rain. if individuals were responsible we wouldn't have to worry about such things. craig, i think i am with you on this topic. let me sign the same papers and be responsible in the forest for myself. BTW, i always pick up any trash i see on any trail no matter what.
good luckDec 14, 2009 at 6:38 am #1553545
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
The right of responsible access to land in Scotland is enschrined in law. You can legally hike, camp, cycle, and horse-ride over most land with one or two exceptions. You also have the right to sail and canoe on any stretch of water.
The exceptions are mainly based on common sense. Obviously you can't camp in someones front garden for example, or a military excersise area, or the Glenfarclas barrel room. :)Dec 14, 2009 at 11:04 am #1553608
this is also made evident in the loss of most homestead laws over the past 30 years. These days, it takes massive corparations and developement project to free land for private use.Dec 14, 2009 at 12:06 pm #1553629
In Denmark it is also camp where you are told and no where else, though I have never seen a park ranger (not even sure if they exist). In Sweden it is All mans rights which basically means you can camp anywhere, but also means that hunters, motor bike riders etc. can also use the same area.
Norway is similarDec 14, 2009 at 12:24 pm #1553633
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
Here is one solution to the hordes of unwashed, unwanted campers and/or intruders. Some of the CDT hikers have mentioned the attitudes of a few New Mexico ranchers regarding this.Dec 14, 2009 at 12:32 pm #1553635
@christownsendLocale: Cairngorms National Park
"In Sweden it is All mans rights which basically means you can camp anywhere, but also means that hunters, motor bike riders etc. can also use the same area."
It doesn't give the right of motorised transport in wild areas and hunting is limited to certain times and places. I've hiked and ski toured extensively in Norway and Sweden, including spending a summer walking soith to north right through those countries, and their mountains and wild places are beautiful and surprisingly empty, except in the most popular areas at the most popular times.
In Scotland we have the same rights of access and right to camp but again there is no right for motorised vehicles and hunting is strictly controlled.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.