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#41798 - 02/14/15 11:42 PM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: wbtravis]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
WB: Where did the PCTA acknowledge that "the government was involved in this", exactly?
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#41806 - 02/15/15 08:45 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: saltydog]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
It's implied. They gave the PCTA agency powers. If the government did not agree with this bit of stupidity, it would have told them to rescind it.


Edited by wbtravis (02/15/15 08:46 AM)

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#41870 - 03/01/15 10:01 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: wbtravis]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: wbtravis
It's implied. They gave the PCTA agency powers. If the government did not agree with this bit of stupidity, it would have told them to rescind it.


It may be inferred, but it is expressly wrong:

"I spoke to two PCTA staff people and they indicated the Whitney changes were made on their own, to take pressure off the Whitney trail." Steve Cosner in the OP.

In any case no one who has a stake cares, and its no loss. I posted the question on the PCT FB page a while back, asking if anyone had used the WZ permit and if it will be missed. Onw woman had exited maybe Horseshoe (she wasn't sure) picked up a permit in Lone Pine and reentered Whitney Portal said she might do it again. Others said no way to a Whitney resup. Very few responses so not a statistically significant sample, but I take the non response as meaning so few people ever used the permit that it doesn't matter whether it was cancelled or not.
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#41872 - 03/02/15 08:12 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
There may be more to the story, if anyone cares. We all seem to agree that relatively few people resupplied through WP, so it wouldn't take much "pressure off the Whitney Trail." Also, the PCT crowd passes through the southern Sierra fairly early in the season when the trail is not as impacted. Furthermore, PCT hikers are highly unlikely to camp along the trail. So if that's the whole explanation for this policy change, to take pressure off the trail, this change will have very little effect.

The next simplest explanation I can think of (using the principle of Ockham's razor) is that a few people created an incident or incidents that brought attention and resulted in a policy change. Inyo has lost a significant amount of revenue and PCT hikers have lost an exit option that everyone else has who started their hike from outside Inyo jurisdiction (reentry back UP the trail is another matter). Something triggered this change. I'm suggesting there is a little more to this story if someone cared enough to keep digging into it. But that's the big question, who cares enough anyway?

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#41877 - 03/03/15 11:51 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
I don't see how Inyo has lost any significant revenue, or how anything at all has been lost. Few, if anyone, seem to have ever used it. As for Occam's Razor, it requires not only a simpler explanation, but a simpler explanation that accounts for all of the known facts. Such as: let's eliminate the Whitney option: no one loses, because no one is using it, and we gain PR points.
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#41880 - 03/04/15 05:43 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: saltydog
I don't see how Inyo has lost any significant revenue, or how anything at all has been lost. Few, if anyone, seem to have ever used it. As for Occam's Razor, it requires not only a simpler explanation, but a simpler explanation that accounts for all of the known facts. Such as: let's eliminate the Whitney option: no one loses, because no one is using it, and we gain PR points.

The amount of revenue lost is unknown, but a lot of people were paying $15 per hiker to Inyo for access to the Whitney Zone. I posted the maximum if all 1,400 PCT hikers paid ~ $20,000, but that's not correct because the fee was optional, not required. britonwhit(ney) posted an estimate of 350 hikers paid the fee ~ $5,000.

1. Some amount of annual revenue to Inyo has been lost, I don't care to do the research, but I suspect its a significant amount (probably 1,000's of dollars per year) and it added up over the years.

2. Access has been lost for PCT hikers to legally exit from Trail Crest. They are no longer allowed to even EXIT anymore. Everyone else starting their hike from outside Inyo IS allowed to EXIT.

So with these two negative impacts, I disagree that "no one loses."

Regarding Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation for a policy change involving public agencies is that something happened to create a reaction. Public agencies are by nature reactionary, not proactive. We all agree this new policy will not have a significant benefit for the Whitney Zone. Therefore, its highly UNlikely that the PCTA suddenly decided one day to make a policy change that does almost nothing beneficial, but it negatively impacts hikers and Inyo revenue. And there's no way they would do this without coordinating with Inyo NF who was receiving the permit fees and policing the trail.

So the simplest explanation to me is that the existing system was being abused somehow, and that drew attention, which caused a reaction (the policy change). That a small percentage of people would ruin things for everyone else, well that too is the simplest explanation for our entire system of laws and rules.


Edited by SierraNevada (03/04/15 05:46 AM)

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#41881 - 03/04/15 06:59 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: SierraNevada]
britonwhit(ney) Offline


Registered: 03/06/14
Posts: 76
Loc: UK
It strikes me that the process of potentially substantive change to wilderness access is starting. I wonder where it ends.

Given all the other access changes, its clear that JMT hikers in particular (see the yahoo JMT forum) have put considerable effort into finding legal ways to hike the JMT. The PCT permit simply required an intent to hike 500 miles. It would therefore have enabled a way around the new Yosemite/Donohue restrictions for JMT hikers.

Given that at least one other wilderness area (Hoover) is reportedly no longer issuing what would otherwise be an entirely legal permit for JMT hikers (i.e. to enter Hoover then into Yosemite, then onto the JMT/Whitney) its not surprising that there appears to be a coordinated crackdown on any permit that might provide a loophole. The Donohue pass limits could have much wider implications for wilderness travel.

I reckon that very broadly half the thru-hikers our year had a whitney permit. My wife & I certainly did, even tho' we had no intention to exit that way, but for $15 (in the context of a $5-10k hike) it was a cheap insurance policy in case we needed to. Hence my 350 hikers estimate.

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#41888 - 03/04/15 06:32 PM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: britonwhit(ney)]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: britonwhit(ney)
It strikes me that the process of potentially substantive change to wilderness access is starting. I wonder where it ends.

Eventually, something like this, at every trailhead...


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#41893 - 03/04/15 09:52 PM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1566
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
SN: You surprise me.

First, I have done the research, and it shows that the revenue from PCT hikers using the Whitney Zone $15 permit for resup is bupkis. That is of course, an approximation. Your assertion, that "a lot of people" were paying the $15 fee, is admittedly without research. Its speculation. As is Britonwhtny's data.

Second, the fact that no one seems to care that PCT hikers are being prohibited from exiting at Whitney seems to indicate that they are not being allowed to do something that no one was doing anyway. You do not want to get into my dissertation on meaningless abstraction here. As in "Why aren't the rich resentful of the fact that they are not allowed to sleep under bridges?"

So you have successfully established that Inyo is losing no revenue for which there is any evidence, and that zero hikers are being deprived of a route that no one was using.

Now, as an engineer, you should appreciate that Occam's Razor explicitly applies to the known facts, by definition. In its usual form it is stated as follows: of the available explanations of the known facts, the simplest is the most likely correct.

In other words, you don't get to make shit up. Such as "the existing system was being abused somehow". The key word here being "somehow". That's speculation, not known fact.
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#41895 - 03/05/15 06:32 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: saltydog
SN: You surprise me.

First, I have done the research, and it shows that the revenue from PCT hikers using the Whitney Zone $15 permit for resup is bupkis. That is of course, an approximation. Your assertion, that "a lot of people" were paying the $15 fee, is admittedly without research. Its speculation. As is Britonwhtny's data.


What does your "research" show, "Bupkis" is not a number. It only takes 67 PCT hikers paying the $15 to reach $1,000 for Inyo each year, year after year. There were 1,400 PCT permits last year.

Let's go with your speculation then. So the PCTA suddenly decides one morning, on their own, to stop collecting $15 from PCT hikers for potential access to the Whitney Zone. Denying them access to exit over Trail Crest singles out PCT hikers as the only people who can't exit after starting their hike outside Inyo. That's a net loss in freedom for PCT hikers. And you're saying their motivation for this policy change is to improve their Public Relations since nobody is actually going into the Whitney Zone anyway. And you're also saying Inyo was not involved in a policy change that is inconsistent with their general policy of allowing hikers to exit if they start outside Inyo.

I don't see how this gives the PCTA a PR boost or why they would need a PR boost in the first place. Lastly, its questionable whether or not the PCTA has the authority to even make this change without approval from Inyo NF. The PCTA typically works WITH the permitting agencies, not in isolation.

It seems a lot more plausible that Inyo Rangers have been encountering more PCT hikers on the Whitney trail and that brought the issue to a head. This policy change is a logical result. All PCT hikers are now effectively banned from going up or down the trail.

EDITED typos and to add the last paragraph.


Edited by SierraNevada (03/05/15 06:49 AM)

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#41896 - 03/05/15 09:17 AM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
Hey guys, I don't think anyone else here cares. Let's not turn this into a fight.

You both are correct in several points, and I have some information that I posted early on that I should repeat.

Here is what I know:
The PCTA dropped the Whitney Access fee unilaterally. When I talked with the two people, they did not mention any particular incident or issue that brought them to change the situation. The only things are that:
1. Practically nobody was using the Main Whitney Trail to exit or resupply, so the fee was being charged needlessly.
2. There was a large amount of misunderstanding by hikers thinking they needed to pay the fee to summit Mt Whitney.

The PCTA people I spoke with just felt that it was simply "a good thing" to take some pressure off the Main Mt Whitney trail. They thought they were doing the wilderness a favor.

I also think they were making their own lives easier by not collecting the money and not sending a check to Inyo. Handling money is a big deal for agencies.

On the Inyo side, that office was taken completely by surprise by the change. The money coming in was significant enough that doing without it caused concern.

One of the two people I spoke with implied she was a USFS employee. But we all know different government offices do things without consulting others. I think that is the case here. I think it was a management decision made in a void.

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#41898 - 03/05/15 12:10 PM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: Steve C]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Thanks, Steve, for posting "the rest of the story." The short version you posted earlier just didn't add up completely. I took your early report with a grain of salt, not knowing the source at PCTA.

This is not like the PCTA to act solo without consulting the responsible jurisdiction (Inyo NF). They messed up the entire process. When a public entity is going to make a decision that restricts access to our wilderness, however minor, they should be able to point to a specific problem and explain why their "solution" is necessary. That's basic public administration 101. In this case, there's no problem they can even point to, except PCTA having to collect money on behalf of Inyo. This is bad policy to restrict access in this manner, however minor, and the approach is all wrong. That's just my $0.02 and who really cares anyway.

Contrast that approach to Yosemite NP where they followed a reasonable process with the new Donohue exit permit. Many don't like the solution, but at least they were transparent with the public and the surrounding agencies. And the entire solution will be reevaluated in the comprehensive Wilderness Management Plan. That's how its supposed to work. I think we can agree on that, Salty?

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#41900 - 03/05/15 12:54 PM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
Regarding Yosemite... Actually, Yosemite people acted without much input from Inyo, too. At least that was the information I was given. Once the process blew wide open with lots of hikers and people giving input, they may have worked with Inyo.

But I think YNP tried to solve the problem from their end, which will result in more JMT hikers hiking northbound, or hiking from Reds/Agnew meadows INto Yosemite, then taking the YARTS shuttle back to Mammoth, and hiking south. Inyo even had a term for this: Just more "hikers on the bus".

Regardless of who is making new rules for whatever reason, my own personal opinion is that hikers are foolish to wish for a "wilderness experience" where solitude is a big part of their definition. There are SO MANY ways to find that wilderness solitude, but they should NOT try or expect to find it on the most heavily traveled trail in the Sierra.

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#41904 - 03/05/15 05:02 PM Re: PCTA changes Mt Whitney access rules [Re: Steve C]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Poor Inyo, they got the short end of both these sticks, losing revenue at one end and gaining overflow hikers at the other end. Ed Dunleavy at YNP mentioned to me they met with Inyo and Toiyabe NF but it was near the end of the process with the decision already made. He said there would be more opportunity for regional planning during the Wilderness Management Plan update. At least YNP tried to work with the adjacent agencies, even if it was very little and very late.

I'm still shocked the PCTA made a move like this without picking up the phone and discussing it with Inyo. That just didn't sound believable to me. But on the up side, I'm glad Inyo didn't initiate this action as a result of problems with PCT hikers on the Whitney trail, as I speculated. I'm glad to be wrong about that.

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