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[pct-l] Angeles Forest Closure

The first year the Angeles closed down (2002), which at that time was due to fires, we had two south bounders arrive -- Dustin and Jonathan from NC.  They had managed to sneak through the Los Padres, but didn't want to risk the fines for getting caught going further south.  

We all went down to the District office in Arcadia to plead their case -- they'd already hiked 2,100+ miles to get to Agua Dulce, and only had 464 miles to go to complete their hike.  The answer:  emphatically NO!  The rangers said that they had to close down businesses in the forest, and many people were suffering greatly from the loss of revenue and residences, so they could NOT make an exception for the hikers.  So, Dustin and Jonathan had to leave the Trail and not complete their hike that year.  Jonathan, who now lives in Costa Rica, came through this year with the nobo crowd, completing the PCT.

Last year, one sobo managed to sneak through without getting caught.  For anyone entertaining the thought of doing this this year, the fines have been DOUBLED to $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail.  The fine is steeper for groups.

This year they must really mean business.  Most hikers who have come through in the past few years have met Todd, the CTUC volunteer that mans North Fork Ranger Station on the northern end of the San Gabriel Mountains, 9 miles before you drop down into Soledad Canyon on your way to Agua Dulce and beyond.  Todd has been manning this station for five years, and has done patrols for the Forest Service, wearing their uniform, riding their ATV vehicle.

For the past two years' closures, Todd remained at North Fork and patrolled, keeping out the public during the closures. This year thee Forest Service made Todd move out, effective mid-night on 9/27.  When he plead his case -- that he has actively patrolled on behalf of and at the request of the Forest Service for the past five years -- they told him if there was going to be any enforcement in the forest during this closure, it had to be ARMED ENFORCEMENT.  So, Todd, like the rest of us, got kicked out of the forest and his home for the past five years, along with his dog Dakota.  He cannot return home until the forest reopens.  

Anyone thinking about sneaking through the Angeles Nat'l Forest should think twice about the fines and the possibility of encountering armed law enforcement.  

BTW, Todd asked me to let folks know that he had to shut the water off at North Fork Station in his absence, to prevent the pipes from bursting in event of a freeze.  

-=Donna Saufley=-