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[pct-l] The shape of things to come?

  This may not seem PCT related, but it may soon be.  This morning's paper had
a short article about the rejection of fees for backpacking in Yosemite and
the Desolation Wilderness.  I just returned a couple of days ago from a 5 day
backpacking trip with my elder son through Grand Canyon, where I lived 20 years
ago.  They have just started such a fee program and the total cost for the 2 of
us for our 5 day trip was $52: a $20 Trip Leader fee plus $4 per night per
hiker.  We also had to pay $20 just to get into the Park.  Now, I have always
claimed that fees were a good idea (hunters have been paying forever and they
love to point out that non-consumers such as hikers have gotten away with
paying nothing for too long) but it was hard to take when you have to put your
money where your mouth is.  Will it soon cost a few hundred dollars more to do
the PCT?  On the bright side, 90% of the money goes back to the Backcountry
Office, where they now have full-time clerks and a computer system to handle
Backcountry reservations and permits (I was a volunteer in the same office 20
years ago and we volunteers ran the office, supervised by a paid NPS staff
person).  And the Backcountry Rangers now have more time to actually patrol the
trails.  We ran into a couple of them as we were finishing our climb out on the
last day so I pulled them aside to discuss this whole issue (they enjoyed it
because I could tell them all the changes of the past 2 decades, both in
management and in trail conditions).  They mentioned that last year they had
over 400 rescues for 1 year (over 1 a day average), half of which included use
of a helicopter!  Perhaps we will soon be required to post bond for rescues;
they are considering having the "victim" pay all costs of the rescue, which
runs into the thousands of dollars.  Of course, there are a lot of unprepared
hikers at Grand Canyon, but Yosemite also suffers from the same problem.  I
don't mean to start a debate or sound like I am making dire predictions, but it
looks like we can expect more fees in the near future.  Any one care to


P.S.  The Backcountry permit was real useful.  The first night, our stove jet
was clogged (some idiot forgot to check out his gear at home) and what saved
the day was the wire from the permit (to hang on your pack) which we filed down
with the little Swiss Army knife file until it fit in the aperature...voila! 
Plenty of flame!!  ;-)

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