Thanks to the moderator over at the Yahoo John Muir Trail Group I’ve been made aware of the following correspondence.
Dear Yosemite Hiking Community,
I wanted to take this opportunity to share information with you about the John Muir Trail (JMT) within Yosemite National Park. Over the last several years, Yosemite National Park has seen a significant increase in demand for permits to hike the JMT. During that time, there also has been an increase in the number of impacts related to JMT hikers along the trail corridor. Last summer, for example, there were 31 reported bear incidents in the Yosemite Wilderness; 30 of which occurred along the JMT. In addition, popular backcountry camps have seen a sharp increase in overnight users which is affecting the quality of the visitor experience. The increased demand for JMT permits has also lead to some hikers skirting the traditional permit system, which has made it more difficult for non-JMT hikers to obtain wilderness permits for other trails within Yosemite National Park.
The National Park Service is working with its neighboring agencies to develop an interim solution that will protect natural resources, provide for a quality visitor experience, and maintain hiking access throughout Yosemite—including the JMT. Implementation of an interim solution will be communicated to the public and the hiking community.
The National Park Service will continue to work with social media sites to ensure current, accurate, and up to date information is shared. We look forward to a solution that enables access and protects the park resources that attract JMT hikers.
Finally, I would like to apologize for any confusing or mis-information that has reached the Yosemite (John Muir) hiking community. I understand and appreciate your support for Yosemite’s Wilderness and invite you help us protect its truly unique qualities.
Wilderness Manager, Yosemite National Park
A few quick points:
1. This means that it’s business-as-usual until we see something new. Tomorrow people will be requesting permits for July 1st—well into hiking season. There is no need to do anything differently, yet.
2. While I am not sympathetic to the park service when they complain about people “skirting the traditional permit system” (after all, they set it up), I am sympathetic to the difficulties all this presents to non-JMT hikers. That is a real problem and I applaud the park service for looking for a solution.
3. If the tone of this message reflects the attitude the decision makers are going to assume when crafting a solution, I think we’re in pretty good hands. We’ll see what they come up with, but we’re sure hearing the right things thus far.
More to come as we know more.
Good hiking, Ray