/ NEWS: US Government Closes National Parks

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UKC News - on 02 Oct 2013
El Capitan, So many adventures so little time...., 3 kb

The US government is set to close many National Parks including Yosemite Valley, Joshua Tree, Zion, Mt Rainier, and Grand Teton to name just a few.



In Yosemite Valley, there is a lot of uncertainty within both the climbing and Park Service communities as to what will happen, with many climbers going up on to El Capitan and other walls to avoid being kicked out of the Park...




Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=68383
Ramon Marin - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News:

That's The land of the free for you...
JimboWizbo - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News:

I'm a rambler, I'm a rambler.
Offwidth - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin:

You think the situation would be different in the UK in areas where government workers controlled access if the money ran out??
toad - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Ramon Marin)
>
> You think the situation would be different in the UK in areas where government workers controlled access if the money ran out??

Yes, it would, we don't have that history of control over publicly managed sites - sure the heritage buildings would (mostly) be shut, but in the main park gates wouldn't close and no one would be enforcing closures. If it was a long term issue, we might see sell offs mooted (cf Stanage or the public bits of the FC), but we don't have that history of tightly managed access to our National Parks - maybe we should, but thats a different issue.

Traditionally our problem has been with restricted access to privately owned or managed land, and legislation has focussed on that

psychomansam - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Just to be clear, the money hasn't 'run out' in the largest economy on the planet. The Republicans are just holding the entire budget, and country, to ransom over Obamacare.

That sh*t can't really happen here due to a different political structure.

And our national parks are much more open access, not run like theme parks as in the US, so no, it wouldn't happen here even if the money did 'run out'*.

*Again, I should point out that even the financial 'crisis' has never meant a shortage of money. It's just seen the money move from the poor, working and middle classes to the elites, from the goverments to the mega-corps. If the money did somehow 'run out' in government, any sensible government would just go and get more (a return favour for bailing the banks out, say). As it is, our current government is intentionally financially crippling government services so as to then be able to accuse them of poor management and privatise them. Pure evil lying b*stards, and of course they're getting away with it - it helps to have Viscount Rothermere and Murdoch on your side!
ti_pin_man - on 02 Oct 2013
it always stunned me I couldnt take a mountain bike into some of the american wilderness areas but I could take a gun in.
In reply to psychomansam:

Agreed, can't happen in the UK. Very different structures.

Slate has an interesting graphic on who's being furloughed in govt. depts but for some weird reason UKC won't let me post the link?! I'm worried who is talking to the astronauts currently in space with NASA out.

Maybe the link from this link works: https://twitter.com/TobyinHelsinki/status/385147980912668672
David Ponting on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin: It's always struck me as a pretty bitter irony that in the "Land of the Free" there is far less of what is arguably one of the most free concepts (Right to Roam) than we have here. (And indeed, for countries that certain elements in the US would despise as even more socialised, Sweden, and all of Scandinavia, have had the 'allemansrätten' long before the Kinder Trespass). Then again, we're talking about a country that has banned crossing the road except where they let you, even if clear!

It comes down, I suppose, to a fundamental difference in the nature of national parks - theirs are tightly-maintained tourist attractions (with few, fixed entry points (and those manned by government employees), marked trails, limited permits &c), whereas ours are loosely-organised areas of the country that happen to have an extra layer of protection and tourism authorities, but, crucially, in which people still live and work - it would be literally impossible to close off any of our national parks. Part of the problem might be scale - the US parks are so vast that you presumably can't just park in the next valley and walk over, as we *certainly* would if any of our parks were closed.

Perhaps someone who's been to the US national parks could chime in, but the impression that I get is that they have a tradition of walking on very defined trails, and camping at centrally-controlled campsites, as opposed to the UK system of public footpaths, tacitly-ignored wild camping and the idea of planning your own route. Also, they've had no Kinder Trespass - and the associated enshrinement of the right to roam in law and custom. If this goes on for a while, should we start sending material about the Kinder Trespass over there? Imagine what message hundreds of climbers hopping the fence into Yosemite and starting up El Cap would send...
Offwidth - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to toad:

So you agree... as our parks are not gated under control of government workers and thats the real difference why it wouldnt happen here with parks. What else could they do in the US? If we had parks like thet they would close just the same.
Offwidth - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to David Ponting:

In the desert areas of US parks it is very important not to wander at will as the soil surface is a very delicate ecology that can take decades to recover if disturbed: you should stay on paths or washes. Again we dont have this issue in the UK.
toad - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth: I'm not really sure I follow your logic. The point is, we have a very different attitude (because we are a very different country - both geographically and politically) to protected land. I suppose the argument is that if we had parks like the US, they wouldn't be parks like the US. At a very small scale (I don't for a moment think the analogy really stands up) lets look at Stanage - there aren't really the resources to manage it by a public body, but nobody (at least nobody who doesn't shoot grouse) would suggest we close North Lees until a solution presents.

Maybe a better comparison is the network of National Nature Reserves. I've seen facebook protests by conservationists because Natural England are proposing to REMOVE access controls on those sites that still have restricted access. Or the Forestry Commission history of access - the FC sites with restricted access were the ones with 3rd party leases from private individuals not the nationally owned ones, and that was the issue at the heart of the protests, that that access might be reduced- again different attitudes in the UK by both government and punters

So yes, if we had american style parks and if we had a US attitude to access to such sites, then we'd behave in a similar manner.

But we don't and we don't.
Mikkel - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Rainier more or less got closed down by snow storm the other day anyway.
toad - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to David Ponting)
>
> In the desert areas of US parks it is very important not to wander at will as the soil surface is a very delicate ecology that can take decades to recover if disturbed: you should stay on paths or washes. Again we dont have this issue in the UK.

Well, apart from much of the upland mires, including Kinder, Bleaklow etc. In the UK, we prioritise access over protection. Remember rights of way law takes precedence over conservation protection law

I'll leave this here as well. My favourite quote from Tove Janson:

"Only farmers and summer guest walk on the moss. What they don't know - and it cannot be repeated too often- is that the moss is terribly frail. Step on it once and it rises up the next time it rains. The second time it doesn't rise back up. And the third time you step on it, it dies."
jonny taylor on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to David Ponting:
> It's always struck me as a pretty bitter irony that in the "Land of the Free" there is far less of what is arguably one of the most free concepts (Right to Roam) than we have here.

I tended to agree with you, but my american gf points out that there are vast tracts of beautiful land in which you can basically do whatever you want, and it's only the famous high-use areas (including significant parts, although not all, of national parks) that suffer from restrictions. There is a great deal of wilderness out there where you can do what you will, it's just that it requires a bit more imagination and effort to get to. In terms of protecting high-use areas, I can see that it's the only option - you should see even a quiet US NP in summer...
Offwidth - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to toad:

really? moss as delicate as desert cryptobiotic soil crusts??

My point is that its a cheap shot to lampoon the US over park closures when if we had such parks in the UK they would be closed too. It's nothing about the parks really its about government workers not being funded. Remember the 3 day week?
toad - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to toad)
>
Remember the 3 day week?

Just ;)

Offwidth - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to jonny taylor:

Whereas Yosemite Valley has a small town in it and often hours of near traffic gridlock. No control and the place would be trashed.
timjones - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to toad)
>
> really? moss as delicate as desert cryptobiotic soil crusts??
>
> My point is that its a cheap shot to lampoon the US over park closures when if we had such parks in the UK they would be closed too. It's nothing about the parks really its about government workers not being funded. Remember the 3 day week?

It seems perfectly fair to lampoon a country that lays off so many workers because their government are incapable of agreeing a budget!
In reply to toad:

> I'll leave this here as well. My favourite quote from Tove Janson:
>
> "Only farmers and summer guest walk on the moss. What they don't know - and it cannot be repeated too often- is that the moss is terribly frail. Step on it once and it rises up the next time it rains. The second time it doesn't rise back up. And the third time you step on it, it dies."

The moss, well lichen actually, on the top of Finnish cliffs is beautiful but I'm not sure it's that delicate, although it's easy enough to wear a path through the stuff. Here's one way to clean it off cliff though! http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=45783
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Simon Caldwell - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to David Ponting:
> Perhaps someone who's been to the US national parks could chime in, but the impression that I get is that they have a tradition of walking on very defined trails, and camping at centrally-controlled campsites

Yes, that's their tradition. But walking off-trail is usually allowed (with some exceptions, eg Baxter State Park), it's just that most people choose not to - a bit like Norway, where the vast majority stay on paths doing hut-to-hut tours, head for most summits and you'll likely have it to yourself.

Wild camping outside recognised sites is more restricted, but normally allowed with a permit, again with exceptions (normally due to problems of human waste).

> theirs are tightly-maintained tourist attractions

not really, no. Parts are run as tourist attractions, eg Yosemite Valley, Grand Canyon South Rim. But the majority is preserved as wilderness, the restrictions being to keep people out (by limiting numbers) not to attract them in. This is not for GOML reasons, but to preserve the environment.
toad - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to TobyA: As the Canadians apparently say "You Hoser!", though I think Tove was talking about the springy sphagnum on the flat wet bits, which is rather more delicate
Neil Williams - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to timjones:

And the lack of agreement putting peoples' livelihoods at risk is nothing short of childish. Using the jobs of ordinary people as a political pawn.

Neil
Simon Caldwell - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

Presumably the politicians will continue to be paid
Offwidth - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Toreador: Thats one of the most shameful aspects. It was pointed out though that most are reasonabley wealthy and some stinking rich so it wouldnt stop them being so stubborn.
IainRUK - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Toreador: Yeah that is what is so disgusting. Supposedly they were drinking quite heavily on one of the nights this was being debated to. A reported tweeted the stench of alcoholic on them.

Supposedly they are starting to go back to a skeleton system to restart food aid, but I've heard 15th October is when it has to restart,.. not good.
brices - on 02 Oct 2013
Any news on if this affects Indian creek?
Jonathan Lagoe - UKC - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to brices:

It wont affect Indian Creek at all - except may be more busy. No need to worry unless you have your heart set on Yosemite, Zion or RMNP routes.

As an earlier poster said, there are hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness not within the NP system (which is a tiny subset) and hundreds of world class climbing areas not affected by this:

e.g.
Whole of Sierra East side
Wind River Ranges
Indian Creek
Needles
Smith Rocks
South Platte
Ten Sleep
Red Rocks NV
etc etc.

It's great opportunity to explore some of the lesser known places too.





Simon Caldwell - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Jonathan Lagoe - UKC:
Red Rocks NV is affected in that the loop road is closed, so areas accessed from that involve at best a much longer walk in. Which presumably means the rest of the area will be that much busier.
edinburgh_man on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Toreador:

It seems that Red Rocks is closed from this link:

http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/news/government-shutdown/

Any info on what is open greatly appreciated.

Cheers
Misha - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News:
What I don't get is if the government employees have been put on unpaid leave or whatever, who is enforcing the closures? The police? Or is this actually a case of 'you must leave' - 'what if I don't?' - 'well, you must leave, that's all I'm saying'.
SARS on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
> [...]
>
> Yes, it would, we don't have that history of control over publicly managed sites

Short memories:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/719166/Ramble-on-as-more-footpaths-reopen.html
Duncan Campbell - on 02 Oct 2013
In reply to Misha: I think what is happening is they are keeping either all of, or a skeleton staffing of National Park Rangers (Semi-police figures from my few points of contact).

At the moment, I have heard a few different things from the Rangers;

One said that any stuff left in Camp 4 would be impounded and not released until the Government is back on track, another has said to Tom Evans that it won't be impounded.

It has also been stated that climbers will not be prosecuted if coming down from the wall, though this stance could change.

We were about to head up onto the wall tonight but have decided not to as we risk being arrested, which makes getting back into the US pretty hard. For all the American Citizens in the Park this is less of a problem, unfortunately not so for us.

I feel very, very torn as to what to do. In leaving the Valley I may not get another shot at The Nose for a good while especially with the people I hope to climb it with. Also, being under 25 means it is expensive or impossible to hire a car, and many other climbing destinations suffer the same fate as Yosemite.

However, if I climb El Cap and get arrested I won't ever be able to come back to the US, and it may make travelling to certain places pretty tricky. In addition to this, the guys I am with have an expedition to Alaska in the planning, something that could be messed up by this.

I hope the US Government sort this out ASAP!!

Dunc
pjkp - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News: hi, we are a couple of Brits out here at the moment. If it's any help, it's not just the National Parks, it is the National Forests, National Conservation areas, if fact anything with a National Funding. If you want to go in a State Park or anything similar it is no problem. In the National Parks, forests etc. all the facilities ie toilets, visitor centres, campsites, are all shut and gated off. If you want to cross them it's up to you but you may get a $150 fine from the man with the gun!!!
pjkp - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to 7bforever: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/oct/01/and-around-las-vegas/

This link may give you more info. If you have a look at my last post there is a bit more info that might be helpful.
Jonathan Lagoe - UKC - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to pjkp:

In reply to all:

Some links that might help:

http://www.doi.gov/shutdown/fy2014/upload/BLM-Contingency-Plan.pdf
http://www.mountainproject.com/v/government-shutdown---impacted-areas/108361258__2
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2236609/Where-to-climb-if-government-shut-down-happens
If BLM land is accessible (should be) places like Indian Creek should still be fine.

People were climbing in the Creek and Red Rocks today - in areas off the loop road - hundreds of routes
redjerry - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to 7bforever:
Yes, the Red Rocks loop is closed during the shutdown. However, much of the area is still accessible, including; Mud Springs Canyon, Black Velvet Canyon, First Creek Canyon, Mt Wilson and Oak Creek Canyons and the Calico Hills sport Climbing via a longer walk from Calico Basin.

Funnily enough there were guards at both the entrance and exit of the loop at 6.30am this morning and a helicopter buzzing around ($500 an hour?) with a megaphone ordering out people who had got in to bike the loop.
Patrick Murphy - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to pjkp: While maybe technically "closed" most national forest and national recreation areas don't have entry gates or facilities to speak of anyways (or have sites really only used by car campers).

You have to remember that there are literally thousands upon thousands of square miles of national forest and the like in the US that are mostly wilderness with millions of access points. Most of these places have almost no government staff to speak of even when the government is being funded so I don't see how they could possibly prevent access or enforce the closure. In several hundred days spent in national forest all across the country I have seen a ranger exactly once. Yes major national parks and organized campgrounds are fairly tightly controlled but most of the system is not. (As an aside, according to wikipedia 1/10 of all the protected land in the world is in the US)
Offwidth - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Toreador:

The most important route for you in the park should be Solar Slab, best with the 5.6 wall below or maybe wimp out with the still fun Solar Gully. Its better to do this and other long climbs in the area with a slightly longer walk from outside the park loop road (about another 10 minutes) as it cuts the worry of being late and getting fined (they do issue permits but who plans an epic?). The real blow from park closure will be for sports climbers although even then you can long walk-in for the stuff in the first two pullouts.
IainRUK - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to tradwanker: went for a run in a state park in TX, an hours drive out of San Antonio, got to the gate and it was closed, a 1 bar gate, 1 foot high, stepped over, went for a nice 10 mile run.. got back and saw blue lights... I stepped back over the gate to receive a right bollocking 'you did it again, you just broke out of the park'.. I stepped over a ruddy gate.. I took my t-shirt off threw it on the floor (this was June in TX, so would have been 100F so I was dying by the end) and responded almost laughing about how stupid he was being.. he then got more aggressive decided it was time I saw his gun.. didn't really threaten to shoot me at all, more just that I could be shot as I am breaking and entering. Pretty scary. He went through that I was being arrested, got my passport etc, then he realised I was British and understood our 'right to go anywhere' philosophy so was actually OK. He also admitted he could not be arsed taking me to the station to charge me which would have probably been a night in the cells. As a frequent visitor to the US, I've held work visa's I would have been in deep shit.

Someone must have reported me. Especially down in TX, there are few public lands and you really are not welcome on peoples land.

If I was a Brit out there now I'd be very wary of just trespassing thinking it will be OK.
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Enty - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Toreador)
>
> The most important route for you in the park should be Solar Slab, best with the 5.6 wall below or maybe wimp out with the still fun Solar Gully. Its better to do this and other long climbs in the area with a slightly longer walk from outside the park loop road (about another 10 minutes) as it cuts the worry of being late and getting fined (they do issue permits but who plans an epic?). The real blow from park closure will be for sports climbers although even then you can long walk-in for the stuff in the first two pullouts.

From Werner Braun who works for Yosemite SAR in reply to someone who thought it might be ok to just walk into the park:

It's closed. Not OK

That means everything inside the park boundaries.

What part of closed do you guys not understand?

If someone gets hurt then you call sar for participating in a closure area?

You will will be completely hosed and the fines exorbitant.

No one one likes or wants this total fubar here but we have to live with it.

Resources are at rock bottom minimum to deal with anything.

That's why it's closed .......<i/>

E
wintertree - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News:

If Yosemite stays closed much longer, I can see the squirrels in the valley getting more hungry. By the time they let people back in it'll be a massacre as hoards of half crazed greys descend upon them.

It's awful to think of some of the great motels and hostels near the national parks suffering a similar fate :(. They should all file a giant class action lawsuit against the federal government...
Simon Caldwell - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> the most important route for you in the park should be Solar Slab

that's on the list :) An epic is already pencilled in.
it's things like pine creek canyon (cat in the hat etc) that may be more of an issue - from looking at the sketch map in the guidebook, it looks like an extra 4 miles or so at each end of the day.

Hopefully this is all academic for us, they've got over a month to sort things out...
Simon Caldwell - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Enty:
> From Werner Braun who works for Yosemite SAR in reply to someone who thought it might be ok to just walk into the park

That makes sense.

What makes rather less sense is what Jerry reported at Red Rock, with a helicopter being used to stop people cycling along a road.
IainRUK - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Toreador: I think that.. I just cannot see how they can play this out more than 10-14 days. It will just be costing billions.

I am off to the US in 6 weeks and I don't think this will be a factor at all then.
Fraser on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Jonathan Lagoe - UKC:

> Some links that might help:


This one too:

http://status.accessfund.org/
Roberttaylor - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News: 'Murcah
Ramon Marin - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Offwidth:

Sorry for the late reply, but of course it would. Who would stop me going down to Gogarth, Pembroke, Swanage, or Brean Down? Nobody. They might own some of the land, but they wouldn't "shut it down", they would just stop managing it.
SARS on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin:

Foot and mouth 2001. National parks and public rights of way closed all around the UK. So I'm afraid you're wrong.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 03 Oct 2013
In reply to SARS:

national parks weren't closed.

40,000 people live in the lake district NP, and 120,000 in the south downs NP. they weren't all prevented from returning to their house for the duration of the foot and mouth crisis

http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/learningabout/whatisanationalpark/factsandfigures

if the govt shut down here, some visitor centres would close and no-one would empty the pay and display machines in NP car parks, but aside from that i'm not sure anyone would notice the difference, with regard to NP land access at any rate....

cheers
gregor
IainRUK - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs: yeah, F&M was different.. we wouldn't close the hills in a government shut down.. that was biosecurity.
Jonathan Lagoe - UKC - on 04 Oct 2013
David Ponting on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to SARS: Biosecurity is very different to "oh no, we've run out of money and those [[nasty republicans won't get with the programme//nasty democrats won't stop their spending spree]] so we'll shut down until they give in" (note the careful avoidance of political bias by giving both sides)

In the case of F&M, it was the year I turned 14, and before I started mountaineering, so I can't really remember the impact. Whether the huge closures and mass burnings were a proportionate response is a different discussion.

Still, the National Parks themselves weren't closed - roads, businesses, hotels (though they must have suffered) were open, people weren't driven out of their homes, &c.
Neil Williams - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to David Ponting:

It was the year I graduated, and it meant I didn't get on the hills at all for about a year. Made me feel all the more isolated from fun stuff down South! Wasn't climbing back then though.

Neil
Adam Long - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin:
> (In reply to Offwidth)
>
> Sorry for the late reply, but of course it would. Who would stop me going down to Gogarth, Pembroke, Swanage, or Brean Down? Nobody. They might own some of the land, but they wouldn't "shut it down", they would just stop managing it.

Pembroke you say! You swan about the public land at Range West regardless do you?

I am very glad to not live in the ridiculous society that is the USA. Very nearly went out there this week too!
Ramon Marin - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to Adam Long:

So what I don't understand, if it's a goverment shutdown, then all these MOD types wouldn't be there right? Ahh , whatever, I'm glad I live in Europe and turned down the offer to work for Apple a few years back
ashtond6 - on 04 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News:

got kicked out of zion! in red rocks now loop is closed and it is being policed!
not bad if you have a hotel, very bad if your camping. Sport climbing is accessible via long approaches

Policing this policy has to be more expensive than employing national park workers and taking entry fees???
bede.west - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News: yeah would of thought some of what is going on would cost more than running normally ??
What I really don't understand about the shutdown itself is that surely causing it makes such a scene that the government/ government parties look incompetent and unreasonable also I fail to see why a system is in place that allows this at all!

also seems aren’t most of our public area closures/ restrictions down to public or wildlife safety or health; or environmental health? Not “running out of money” or holding things to ransom.

In red rocks area I see to remember there being some areas south of the loop in the guide book we had with us don’t know what the access would be like there. but when we climbed there we were nowhere near the loop.
IainRUK - on 05 Oct 2013
In reply to b.west(hampshire): But there's literally no money.. essentially accounts frozen. its all shut down.. so noone is paid.. they'll make it as disruptive as possible. That forces the republicans to back down.

Even food aid packages, real life and death situations are stopped. They are now restarting, cancer trials for example also stopped, but the NIH have stepped in with the FDA andmanaged to keep a few going, they are essential sources of hope for some people. In the grand scheme of things NP's are way down the list of what needs keeping open.

We don't have national parks like other countries too, we don't have the same restrictions. The situation there is just incomparable to how our NPA's work and are protected.
Fidmark - on 07 Oct 2013
It will be perfect! Imagine how good it would be if there are no people in those places... A bit of sneaking and its tranquilo time
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kerry cooper - on 08 Oct 2013
In reply to UKC News: I was in Yosemite when the news broke, but was leaving anyway. We had purchased permits to climb Whitney so headed round there. the permit office was closed but we drove up anyway. It was different up there to anywhere else we'd just been. The car parks and campsites were rammed with people who I guess were utilising the fact that nobody was issuing or checking permits. Bishop campsites were closed, and a trespass note was being attached to tents of all people on the camp grounds.

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