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Thread: Packing Heat in the Park

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Knoxville, Tn
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    706

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    Quote Originally Posted by Knothead View Post
    NDuncan, your post reminds me of the family portrayed on a Hunter Education video. Mom, Dad, Junior, dog went hiking for a distant mountain peak. Totally unprepared! Hikers told them to watch the weather as some dark coulds were moving in. To end the story- below freezing temps, deep snow. Only the dog survived.

    As the afternoon went on, I started telling people that were just starting up the trail what they were in for, and some decided that they were going to do the hike another day. I wouldn't start a 4 mile round trip hike at 3:30 in the afternoon when the sun sets at 5:30 and I know there is going to be about .8 miles of ice to hike on and I have no jacket, no long pants, nothing but a bottle of water, etc.... but that's just me. Some people were going to do it anyway and some turned back. I don't know if they made it all the way up, but I bet some ended up hiking in the dark or at least semi-dark.

    Instead of a backcountry fee for camping, there should just be a large fee for needing to be bailed out in the backcountry. And an 'idiot tax' on top of that.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Posts
    740

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    There is a group of folks who have started a site and a blog about the backcountry camping fee and are actively working to try and stop it over here:
    http://gotsmokies.ning.com/profiles/...nsored-edition

    There has been a lot of stories about it here in the Knoxville area. One fellow has filed a freedom of information act to try and get the park to produce the results of the 1500+ public comments they got. I don't think the park wants to do that it is a good bet the vast majority were major negative on the whole thing. There is also a site here which has links to people folks can contact if they oppose the fee:
    http://southernforestwatch.org/

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    992

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    Adam and a number of others have done stellar work in fighting this onerous fee proposal and in making an effort to enhance public awareness. As a number of you obviously realize, it is misguided at best as well as being based on a false premise (that the backcountry is overcrowded). In truth, backcountry camping declined quite dramatically after peaking many ago and has remained pretty much level now for over a decade. Outside the AT shelters, and to a lesser extent camps where horses are permitted (and that's a whole 'nother can of worms), backcountry campsites are anything but overcrowded.
    Jim Casada

  4. #24
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    Jan 2009
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Posts
    740

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    Nathan I really enjoyed the story about all the resources used to "rescue" the lady with the broken ankle. Seems like a lot of overkill. I have a friend who I hike with from time to time that was lost in the park several years back for 4 days. He ended up finding his own way out and back to his car but by then it was a big news story and the park had towed off his car so he had to hitch a ride to the nearest ranger station. Once there the media and all the park reps were waiting for him. He asked the nps personnel if he could change clothes before talking to the media and they told him they would rather he didn't clean up before talking to the media. Obviously a dirty ragged looking rescue victim makes for better news coverage.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Bean Blossom, Indiana
    Posts
    362

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    Not sure, but if memory serves me correctly, when the back country fees were originally proposed, it had something to do with the terrible condition that some folks were leaving their campsites, as in refuse on the ground, small trees chopped down, and that sort of thing. Don't remember where I read that. It might have been on the GSMNP website.

    Don't really think a fee would stop people from doing those stupid things, but it might help offset the costs of having someone else come in and clean it up, if that indeed was the intent.
    Whitefeather

    -don't tell me why we can't, tell me how we can.- whitefeather
    _________________________________________________
    Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!
    (Wilu Sgis, Wami Tsenitli Winidis, Ani Tiwuti Wiledi Weitas Do Ali!)

  6. #26
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    Jun 2009
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
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    Whitefeather--While that was an sort of subsidiary part of the justification, the Park's primary contention was an outright falsehood; namely, that the backcountry was overcrowded. Their own campsite reservation data readily disproved that claim, and they further compromised their position, at least in my view, by basing this on apparently undocumented "complaints" as opposed to hard evidence observed by rangers. The simple truth is that rangers of today seldom venture into the backcountry, a sharp contrast with those of yesteryear.
    As for messy campsites, it has been my experience, stretching over a lot of years in the Park, that when you see a really messy campsite it almost invariably is linked with the horse crowd. I'm not condemning all of those who use horses in the backcountry, but I do firmly believe that two things are obvious: (1) Horse camps are messier, smellier, and generally less appealing that others and (2) Horses do a great deal of environmental damage to trails, plants, and in general.
    However, the horse "lobby" is apparently a powerful one, because I've written to four or five superintendents over the years on this issue and invariably get a response couched in "they use the Park too" terms without any response whatsoever to environmental concerns.
    Jim Casada

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Bean Blossom, Indiana
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    362

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    As far as the original post, Packing Heat In The Park, I will add these comments. First of all, I do take my .45 or 9mm with me when I go to the park. I usually camp at one of the front country sites. If I hike into the back country to do some fishing I take one or the other with me, not so much for protection against wildlife, but for protection against wild people. I've met a few, but managed to avoid them. Best policy, I think. I also carry bear spray, which I think would be more effective than a firearm under sudden surprise by a bear. Carrying a firearm, if you've been trained, and smart about it demands a high degree of situational awareness. Unfortunately, that runs very contrary to my reason for being there to begin with. I want to absorb myself with the sights and sounds of the forest, the stream, the smell of the trees, and all those good things. I am there to get lost in nature and focus on trying to remember what to do to get Mr. or Mrs. Trout to strike my fly. I don't want a dreaded scenario processing in the back of my mind about what I would do if I meet a bear or a methmaker back in the woods. So that thought process automatically diminishes my concentration and enjoyment of fishing. I don't always take my firearm with me. Maybe I should, but the added weight of a fully loaded .45 1911A1 on my hip is a huge physical reminder that doesn't let me slip fully into that place in my mind, I go when I trout fish.
    Whitefeather

    -don't tell me why we can't, tell me how we can.- whitefeather
    _________________________________________________
    Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!
    (Wilu Sgis, Wami Tsenitli Winidis, Ani Tiwuti Wiledi Weitas Do Ali!)

  8. #28
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    Dec 2010
    Location
    Bean Blossom, Indiana
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    362

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    Jim,

    I've seen first hand the damage that has been done by the horseman and their steeds. Some parts of the trails I observed, especially the ones that cross creeks, stand out. There was as much damage to the creek beds, creek banks, plants, and trees, as if a dozen wild boar had just visited, rooting up the place. Not to mention people resting their horses in the larger streams during the warm months, presumably allowing them to drink, and urinate, and poop in the streams. I have found though, on many occasions, these were rather inexperienced people who had rented their horses at the liveries in the park. And I have seen my share of horseman's camps and I understand exactly what you are talking about. These rude practices could be minimized by people, but most just don't seem to care.

    I really am wary of any management that includes deceit in their reasoning process, no matter what the subject. The whole idea of back country fees did not appeal to me in the least, not so much because of the money, but because of the hassle and future possibility of escalation into something more undesirable in the future.
    Whitefeather

    -don't tell me why we can't, tell me how we can.- whitefeather
    _________________________________________________
    Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!
    (Wilu Sgis, Wami Tsenitli Winidis, Ani Tiwuti Wiledi Weitas Do Ali!)

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    irvine ky
    Posts
    444

    Default to mr. casada

    I have been checked once in 30,or so,years.I was not aware the ranger numbers were so low..I am a pro firearm person..I suppose it comes down to that great scene in the movie "Unforgiven"(Clint's awesome western)...
    Clint blows away "Skinney" (a guilty lowlife)
    The Sheriff can't believe it,He says "That man was unarmed!!"
    Clint.."Well that man should have armed himself".......(Now that's entertainment)

  10. #30
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    Jun 2009
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    992

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    Lauxier--I don't have numbers on rangers today as opposed to say two or three decades ago, but I think much of the seldom check issue focuses on decisions out of Sugarlands. The rangers patrol the frontcountry, period, and you see Crown Vics rather than what was once commonplace, a ranger on foot in remote areas.
    I have mentioned this to both Steve Moore and Matt Kulp and they both would love to see more anglers checked. I just don't think it is a priority, and I really don't think backcountry campsites are either.
    Maybe I'm seeing hobgoblins where they don't exist, but like Whitefeather I'm "wary of management that includes deceit in their reasoning process" and I fear this backcountry camping fees proposal is but one step towards bureaucratic extraction of a lot of money. I hope I'm wrong.
    Jim Casada

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