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Getting ticketed for stealth camping
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Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Stealth camping... on 05/10/2012 22:26:59 MDT Print View

@ Craig
Best post.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Stealth camping... on 05/10/2012 22:30:24 MDT Print View

"@ Craig
Best post."

Yeah, sure. You always did like Craig best. Hrumph.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Stealth camping... on 05/10/2012 23:29:48 MDT Print View

LOL Craig-

Ya, if you get seen- your NOT stealth camping.

I like the known unknown- Yeah, I'm stealth camping... come find me.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Stealth camping... on 05/11/2012 12:09:45 MDT Print View

"But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know."

Probably the only intelligent words that ever came out of Donald Rumsfeld's mouth. Who'd have thought they'd come up in a UL backpacking conversation? I wonder if Rummy backpacks?

"Personally, I like to roll with the unknown unknowns, the true scofflaws, or should I say "lowlaws", because they fly beneath the radar of the law."

A huge +1 to your whole post. Part of flying under the radar is keeping your mouth shut, especially on the internet. It is wise to bear in mind that the minions of the law have some unknown unknowns(to us) in their toolkit, so why bring yourself to their attention. The rest is a matter of technique and experience. Plus a healthy dose of reverence for the 11th Commandment. An even better approach, IMO, is simply to not visit places where stealth camping is an issue. The ultimate stealth is to be where there isn't a ranger withing 5 miles of you, or anybody else for that matter.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Stealth camping... on 05/11/2012 19:18:30 MDT Print View

Forgive me, but ... us Australians don't know what you are talking about with 'getting booked for camping somewhere'.
The only time the authorities close a Park here is during extreme fire conditions. At times like those, you just stay home!


Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Stealth camping... on 05/11/2012 19:40:19 MDT Print View

I think the only subject on this site that gets more comments is packs.

Camping anywhere is fine in my book. Leavin' Trash anywhere is not fine no matter where in my book.

PS. Neither do we here in Washington state. It only happens when high density population areas try to make a wilderness out of something that isn't wilderness. Or overly pretentious jerks go around making rules because of their extremely long noses.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Stealth camping... on 05/11/2012 19:55:25 MDT Print View

An example is Yosemite National Park, 4 hours east of the San Francisco Bay Area and 6 hours north of Los Angeles.

Camping is allowed in campgrounds, if you can find a spot.
Camping is allowed in the backcountry, if you can get a permit.
If you are not camping in the campground or in the backcountry, you are illegal.

Some people, Unknown to me, might walk off into the woods to an out-of-the way spot, flop down a bivy and take a nap. The rangers all know where the most likely spots are, and if you are discovered, will issue a ticket.

It is a result of too many people in too small an area, many of whom don't have a clue about the outdoors, or how to take care of it.

Edited by greg23 on 05/11/2012 20:03:00 MDT.

Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Stealth camping... on 05/11/2012 20:05:19 MDT Print View

I am just waiting for Grandpa to come back and tell us under no uncertain terms what is right and what is wrong here.... ; )

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Stealth camping... on 05/11/2012 20:10:18 MDT Print View

A friend of mine used to be a Yosemite park ranger. One morning at Tuolumne Meadows, the mounted patrol was up early to survey the meadow. What they found was remarkable. During the night, a motorcyclist had driven off the road and across the (fragile) meadow into the middle, then threw his bedroll down and slept. This was so illegal that it wasn't funny, and the mounted patrol rangers needed to teach a lesson. They crept up on the motorcycle and removed one part of the ignition. Then they woke the motorcyclist, who promptly jumped up, realized that he was about to get a citation, and got on the motorcycle to try to escape. Obviously it wouldn't start. Then the rangers informed him that he needed to remove it from the meadow, even if that meant pushing it. He was informed of where he needed to walk to reclaim his ignition part, and where the federal court hearing would be for him to answer the citation. In today's dollars, the fine was probably about $700.


Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Getting ticketed for stealth camping on 05/11/2012 20:55:18 MDT Print View

I know some rule breakers that believe they were born with the right to travel on foot, and thus, will have to occasionally will have to sleep where they end up.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
everyman's right on 05/11/2012 23:05:15 MDT Print View

In Norway, and I think in Sweden, the entire notion that someone can own property in a way that bans you from it is considered outrageous and unacceptable. I have no problems following their laws, which are very reasonable: you can camp anywhere you want as long as it's not a cultivated field or something like 150 meters from a residence. Very simple law, known as: every man's right. If I go there, I am fairly free. Unlike in the USA, where I can't camp anywhere within probably 10 miles of where I live, which to me is totally absurd and ridiculous. And most of the spots I could camp at are really nasty and unpleasant, and generally cost money to add insult to injury. And also keep in mind, by definition, almost ALL land in the USA was stolen by us in the first place, after we wiped out the original inhabitants. Ask them how they feel about our 'laws'. I think up to about 1910 or so California was still paying about $5 per Indian scalp, all legal and above board. And of course, Indians and blacks were not considered human, and so generally could not presss charges against whites here. I'll pass on a system that built itself on those kinds of laws if you don't mind, the level of hypocracy there is just too high to stomach.

Now, should the USA start to follow sane rational practices like every man's right, I'd be personally happy to obey all their laws. Barring that, some laws are fine to bend.

If we had a system where every law was created by good people for good reasons, that would be one thing, but we don't, so to blindly state someone should follow all laws because they exist is sort of silly. For example, on a bike, I slow for stop signs, look both ways, if no cars have the right of way, I go without stopping. This is not unlike LNT stealth camping in my opinion. The intent of the law was followed, not the letter. Other laws are so absurd they aren't even worth discussing in a serious adult conversation, many of those contained in the sadly misnamed 'patriot act', others in arcane laws still on the books barring a variety of vices and sexual practices long considered normal by reasoning humans, but still technically illegal. So no, I hope americans never lose their ability to think for themselves and to break laws that are unjust, criminal (as in most laws passed by and for corporate lobbiests), or just plain idiotic (as in laws designed to protect moral codes that don't even exist often any longer, ie, victimless crimes). Keep in mind, some decades ago, your attitude was a strong argument for keeping the n##gers out of your restaurants and in the back of the bus.

And if a power company gets a corrupt official or politician to endorse damming up a protected area solely to serve that power company's interests, how is that a law that should be respected?

Sometimes blind unquestioning adherence to things really is not a very good path to follow.

Re overimpacted places like Yosemite that require permits etc, I respect that, and if they have rangers that actually range, and who hand out tickets, that's fine, a good tip to just go somewhere else less impacted in the first place and skip overvisited areas. It's not like nature isn't going to be where I end up after all, and it's her I want to visit, not some name. But that has nothing to do with the law, that's just practical, nature isn't hard to find when you look for her, last thing I need is some big ticket to deal with, or having to deal with a bunch of annoying rules and regulations, that's why I'm leaving to backpack in the first place, to get away from all that garbage.

This was in reply to Scott McDermott's suggestion that all laws should be obeyed because they exist. And yes, that's a stealth, but not really illegal, spot I'm camping in in my avatar pic. But I would camp there whether it were 'legal' or not. This notion of 'pristine wilderness' really needs to be repaired and corrected, there was never such a thing in the past, we lived in nature with it. Pristine concept only came about once we had destroyed so much that we started romanticizing what we are ruining in our daily lives. You know, like driving a (legal) CO2 spewing vehicle over (legal) ribbons of congealed oil and concrete (legally) blasted through the mountains without a thought, to get to our local favorite hiking spot, in a vehicle (legally) built with between one and two tons of industrially treated raw materials, many totally non renewable, (legally) fueled by liquids increasingly extracted from the earth in horrifyingly toxic ways, and legal, because the extractors manipulated the legal system in their favor, and you won't ask what the real cost of that was because you know, cheap gas is our right, right?, all the while prattling on about how horrible it is to go for a night's sleep using lnt techniques? Now cars, there's something we should outlaw sooner than later, if we're lucky anyway as a species, if not... won't be so good long term.

I don't worry about people who bend the laws, I worry about the people who follow them without a thought, no matter where that might lead us.

Edited by hhope on 05/12/2012 00:50:30 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: everyman's right on 05/12/2012 01:48:19 MDT Print View

Harald, if you owned some property in California, how would you feel if anyone could camp on your land anytime? That would suck. In Sweden the people are probably just different.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Re: everyman's right on 05/12/2012 06:39:50 MDT Print View

People are essentially the same (we all are), societies are different and swedish/norwegian is definitely different from north american. The everyman's right is a beautiful statement surely influenced by the physical environment (which in turn molds the social environment). A harsh climate and low population density are big factors which are not at play in most of California but probably are in other places in the USA.

If I had a big enough property, I'd have no problem with people hiking across it or spending the night as long as they respect my privacy and leave no trace.

I wholeheartedly agree with everything Harald said. It's very important to remember it's easy to abide by good, reasonable law and that many laws are neither. And it's key to keep a critical awareness and not just follow the law whatever it is.

Just a stone throw from Norway and Sweden there's Germany or England where camping is just banned from the whole country's territory. You can't just "go somewhere else" or you need to travel ridiculously far away. I can't believe our conservation problems come from camping neither can they be fixed by banning it. It's just a huge deal of hypocrisy at play.

peter tooke
(petersont) - M

Locale: NYC
re re re on 05/13/2012 13:51:17 MDT Print View

indelible image from a film seen long ago:
young brother & sister from the city, after having been abandoned deep in the Australian outback, are found / saved by a young aboriginal on his Walkabout... and after many days during which their world is rocked, they finally arrive back at a remote housing settlement whereupon a man rushes out the door and tells them to keep off his lawn.

Edited by petersont on 05/13/2012 13:52:50 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Good rules to follow on 05/14/2012 19:07:08 MDT Print View

I would argue that many of the rules people break are non sustainable.

In my opinion in order to break a rule it must be sustainable for everyone following your same level of care to break the rule. So going back to the yosimite example there rule of no front country camping outside of designated areas is a good rule. No matter how LNT a person camps there is an impact so even if everyone was perfectly LNT eventually boot beaten paths and flat tent areas would occur. Just to many people in the area. So i think most of the no camping in picnic areas or in the front country rules are good and should be followed.

In the back country it really depends on how close you are to a high use trail. The futher away you are from high use areas you are the less you have to follow the rules.

So generally ensure that if everyone had the same impact that you do the area that you kove wouldnt be negatively impacted.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Getting ticketed for stealth camping on 05/14/2012 19:24:25 MDT Print View

Late one September night, I had driven to a place outside Truckee, California. I was due to meet some people early the next morning, so I needed to sleep for about five hours in my car. I drove to a wide-open parking lot with no signs or lights, then crawled into the trunk of my car to stretch out with a sleeping bag. I set the alarm clock and I was out.

I was awakened 15 minutes later. Somebody was going around the car, trying to open each locked door, and banging on the windows. Well, that could be anybody, so I rolled over to try to ignore it. The window banging continued, and they moved to the trunk lid. The noise got so bad that I wasn't getting any sleep anyway, so I hit the remote trunk opening button. The lid flew up, and two faces looked down at me with astonishment. It was two Truckee policemen. They demanded to know what I was doing in there, and I explained that I was trying to sleep. They demanded to see some identification, so I produced a drivers license. They took notes and returned it. I asked them what the problem was, and they responded, " ? " Apparently some overly suspicious neighbor had seen a body [me] going into the car trunk.

They looked at each other and couldn't figure out any offense, so they turned and left with, "Have a nice night."


Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Getting ticketed for stealth camping on 05/14/2012 20:52:10 MDT Print View

Late one September night, I had driven to a place outside Truckee, California.

Sounds like the opening line of a scarey campfire story:-)

Here's another one (I'm assuming the statute of limitations has expired on this).

About 4 decades ago an acquaintance and I biked to Rochester, MN to participate in a century ride the next day. Having no place to spend the night we bedded down on the base of a pair of statues in a large park there. The police didn't find us but one very inebriated man did ... was trying to tell us that benches were more comfortable. Other than that we slept OK, only to wakeup on a granite slab looking up at statues of the Mayo brothers. (Their father was also an MD and was the coroner for their county. They got their start in the "business" by sometimes completing autopsies if dad was called away for emergencies).

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: everyman's right on 05/14/2012 21:19:40 MDT Print View

> there's Germany or England where camping is just banned from the whole country's territory.
Huh??????????????? FALSE.

In Europe there are bans in some places against camping below 2,500 m. But 'camping' usually means something more like 'car camping'. Stopping for one night on a long walk is called 'bivouac', and provided you are a bit discreet you can do this most anywhere out of sight and no-one gets upset - especially in the mountains. Yeah, we have camped right across Europe.

In the UK the same applies. We have camped the length and breadth there too. We did ask a farmer one night if we could camp on his property, and he recommended us to a corner of nice field and to an outside tap for water. Pretty typical.


Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Re: Re: Re: everyman's right on 05/16/2012 07:25:59 MDT Print View

Roger, I must admit I don't know the wording for the relevant law but regarding England I remember not long ago (a couple years, maybe) there was some popular request to change the law regarding camping and they were setting Scotland (where it's allowed) as an example. They referred to camping as spending the night out, i.e. overnighting or bivouac-ing. Maybe some of the English people here may clarify.

As far as Germany goes, I have heard this no-camping thing from several German hikers. Since this issue is of special interest to me, I have asked them explicitly and particularly regarding a simple overnight while on transit. Some told me they weren't sure, the rest told me it's explicitly banned. Maybe I shouldn't take it from granted from such sources or make that clear when commenting. Again, if anybody around here knows for sure, I'd welcome the info.

You just can't talk about "Europe" as different countries will have different issues and laws. In my own country (Spain), it depends on the region. The "below 2500 m" thing applies to some specific areas but it's not a general rule neither is the precise height figure.

Then, the whole definition of "camping" is an issue of its own. Rather, the lack of definition. Actually, that lack of a proper definition is what I use myself to my own (interested) interpretation of the law in my own locale... it explicitly banns camping but it does not define what "camping" is :)

Beware all this I mean applying to public land. Private land is a whole different issue. Of course you can ask a farmer and he/she can allow your camping but that's at his/her will, not yours, nor it is valid as an example of what we can or can't do in public land. And of course you can camp in England or Germany and you'll probably be fine but that doesn't mean it's legal. To me, it's not enough to be able to do it, I'd also like to think like I don't have to fear being ticketed or treated like I did something wrong. That was the idea behind the campaign in England I mentioned above.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Getting ticketed for stealth camping on 05/16/2012 09:55:28 MDT Print View

Interesting thread,
to me the real argument here is the difference between
laws and rules and justice and ethics.
sometimes the laws and rules reflect ideas about justice and ethics
sometimes the laws and rules go counter to ethics and justice ( any casual browsing of any history book or newspaper will make that clear. )

many times, especially when it comes to the less serious category of "rules" they are not put in place in the service of ethics but for obscure bureaucratic reasons known only to the small group of people who decide such things in early morning meetings in dreary office rooms.
Many times rules are lots of shades of gray and can be interpreted widely divergent ways
according to your bias. When it comes to stealth camping I find it impossible to believe that anyone in that meeting talked about how it would effect responsible and ethical hikers. I imagine instead they talked about how it would make there job easier or send a "message". I do find it sad that we seem to make laws based not on the assumption of a responsible citizenry but on the worst of humanity by the meddling of a small group of small minded captains of the world.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 05/16/2012 09:57:56 MDT.