Monday, June 20, 2016

We fought the law, and the law won

I'm an outdoors rule follower. As someone who has sat on the other side of the desk making the rules, I know most of them are for a good reason. (Some are just dumb. A 200 foot setback at camping at lakes, when people are just going to drag their stuff down there and do everything but sleep there? Dumb. But I follow it anyway). I dutifully stick to the switchbacks, even if you only go about five feet up in elevation each long-ass turn (erosion). I didn't bust the fire closure on the PCT this spring even though other people did. I don't build fires when they aren't allowed, ride a bike where it isn't permitted, or avoid LNT.



So when my intrepid friends suggested a hike up the evacuation route of the tramway, I hesitated a little. "I don't think they allow you to do that," J said thoughtfully as he prepared to (legally) take the gondola to the top. But after the first small piece of tram property, it was all Forest Service, I argued. There's no closure order. It has to be legal!

So we headed off without anyone stopping us. We skirted around tram property and gained the trail. The trail was extremely steep, but we were doing it, climbing several thousand feet in an hour. It was a great occasion to be on a trail I had never been on before. Until we passed under the gondola's path.

A man opened the door of the gondola (!) and screamed at us. "YOU CAN'T BE HERE! I'M THE TRAM MANAGER! I'M CALLING THE POLICE! GET OFF THE TRAIL NOW!"

He only had a few seconds to make his point as the cable car drifted out of sight. We looked at each other. Was this an empty threat? If we kept going, would they be waiting for us at the top? I knew we were in the right, because we were on Forest Service land. But it wasn't worth it. We reluctantly descended. There were no police in sight (I think they have better things to do).

Later, at a party, my other friends were not divided. "We would have kept going," they announced. Of course, it is easy to say when you don't have a gondola car full of crazy. It's hard to stick to your guns when someone is so angry. Even if you are right.

Disappointed, we gathered at the parking lot and pointed out the lack of signs indicating the grave wrongness of our actions. But in the end none of us wanted to end up in the Police Blotter. I trudged over to pay for a gondola ticket. I had to salvage a failed hike, and it was worth the exorbitant price to see some skiers dedicated to finding the remaining snow.

Determined skiers.
I recalled all the times I had hiked into someone's camp and avoided giving them a ticket for egregious wrongs like building a fire in a fire restricted area. I never made the rule breakers feel scared or stupid. There's a way to make your point, and a way to do it wrong. With them, I carried ziplock bags of water from the lake and we put the fire out together.


What's my point? Be nice. Even if you think you're right. I see so many people these days lashing out immediately without taking time to think. It can be such a mean world; let's not perpetuate that in our own little circles. (And: if you hike up the evac trail, sprint between the tram lines. You are on public land. Don't let anyone tell you differently.)



14 comments:

  1. You might have seen this, but it's new, so just in case...

    When: June 20, 2016
    Blog: Carrot Quinn
    Post: Denied entry into Canada/total change of plans

    "I have a bunch of misdemeanor convictions from my youth riding freight trains and taunting riot police at political protests."

    At: https://carrotquinn.com/2016/06/20/denied-entry-into-canadatotal-change-of-plans/

    Relevant, eh? (No, I'm not Canadian, but I've met a couple.) (Yes, they're very nice.) (Nicer than I am.) (Do I need to apologize again?) (So, shucks.)

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    1. I love Carrot''s blog. Will have to check that post. Fortunately I have no reason to be denied entry to Canada.

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  2. I was under the impression that ski areas had easements from the U.S. Forest Service. Still public land, but restricted, which is why uphill skiing is so controversial. You would know better than me.

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    1. The ps on this is that I checked and was told that they can't keep people off the public land, and they have been told that. So somebody was apparently having a bad day.

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  3. You lawbreaker you!! :) :) Too bad that A**hole had to be such a jerk! But I think you did the right thing going back down. Even if you're in the right, why risk a confrontation?

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    1. Yep...some of my friends are more confrontational than I am. I thought about the stakes and they weren't high enough for me to pursue it. Some people need to prove they are right every time.

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  4. I'm with you, as much as I like adventure, I don't like confrontation nor the possibility of jail. I've hiked with a few people who have so much built up anger they scream at someone who has an off-leash dog (don't you know how to read? dogs must be ON LEASH!) or in places where dogs aren't allowed (DOGS AREN'T ALLOWED!). It's embarrassing and less than effective. I might gently say FYI, trail etiquette is . . . or next time . . . why ruin their day and mine?

    As to private/public, I wish signage was reliable. Sometimes it's up when it shouldn't be and down when it should be. I'd be disappointed like you, but applaud your decision.

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    1. I have been in this position too. And I totally agree with the built up anger people carry. It seems to be getting worse.

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  5. Bummer. Angry A-holes like this can put such a damper on a fine day, even when you know you are right, just their negative energy will affect your mood. So sorry this happened. Perhaps he's been dealing with loss of revenue and sees it as people circumventing his business.? Who knows. I tend to try and avoid confrontation when possible as well. Generally just not worth it. (of course R makes up for it for both of us....).

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    1. These folks seem to always be on the edge, I remember being screamed at over the paragliding launch. There must be more going on behind the scenes.

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  6. Well, in life, you win some and lose some. Just be positive, you will feel better.

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    1. Yep, I'm over it now. It's a good lesson to be kind.

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  7. I just found your blog when I was searching for the details about the Royal Purple mine on the way to Aneroid lake! We had hoped to check it out on the way back from the lake but were too tired after trudging the last 1.5 miles of the trail in the snow.

    Although there might be rules against climbing under the tram, although for all I know it could actually be allowed. From reading numerous reports and speaking with people who have explored the area you are definitely allowed to leave from the top of the tram and head over to East, Hidden and Aneroid Peaks, there is even a trail visible. Presumably, you could hike up to Aneroid peak from Aneroid lake and then over to the top of the tram and there would be nothing they could do. They might even take you down if you ask nicely! You might also be able to walk up to top via the road up the east side of Mt. Howard.

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    1. Yes, you can walk up the back road. I have done it many times. Ive also hiked over to East Peak but never down to Aneroid. I have hiked near the Royal Purple Mine but never to it. I found an old cabin up in there with artifacts in it.Pretty cool

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