Camp 4 Expansion...input sought on Sept 28th in Camp 4

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Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Oct 3, 2017 - 09:06pm PT
All of the governmentese aside, the expansion planning was done by the usual office-dwellers who have never camped. Expansion of 25 campsites, each of which to accommodate 6 persons increases the burden on the already substandard sanitation facilities. I seem to recall that the new ladies bathroom will have 3 toilets, and the men's will have 2 plus a urinal. That, plus the showers. Since I've been coming to Yose for the period since 1965, the toilets are never 100 % functional. In other planning, the word REDUNDANCY comes up frequently. This plan is totally inadequate. I suspect the meeting, such as it was, was simply some bureaucratic eyewash to fill in a blank on some forms somewhere.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Oct 5, 2017 - 09:53pm PT
It was an interesting meeting last Thursday. With a bit of effort, climbers if not the climbing community were reasonably represented.

Thanks to Ed for ferreting out all that information.

About 25 attended. Just before the meeting started, a giant dust cloud approached from the west. Foreshadowing? No, just the big rockfall.

Incoming!
Incoming!
Credit: Mighty Hiker

Attendees included the park planner (Brad, a landscape architect), the interim (?) deputy superintendent, Ed Hartouni, Rodger Raubach, Ken Boche, Lisa, Pinky & Lori (camp rangers), Leo Burk, Jeff Elfont, Eric Bissell (climbing ranger), Linda (Ed's friend), Ron Kauk, four or five from the local First People, Jerry Greenleaf, Roger Brown, and others. We tried to ensure that there was a reasonable representation of climbers, especially those with some history and knowledge of Yosemite and Camp 4. Essentially, to show that we were quite interested and wanted to be more involved.

The presence of the deputy superintendent - someone fairly important, anyway - suggests that this wasn't just a "tick the public consultation box" planning meeting.

Brad showed us his plan of the proposed expansion, and it was discussed in some detail. Both the First Peoples and climbers seem not to have earlier known of the plan, at least not its specifics.

As both he and Ed pointed out, the plan in general has been long in the making, going back to the master plan of about 1980, the various lawsuits, and the eventual Merced River plan. Not to mention the lawsuit that led to protection of Camp 4 as a historic site. The plan isn't inconsistent with what has been discussed for years.

Later we did introductions.

It wasn't clear what role the Yosemite Climbing Association, the Access Fund, the American Alpine Club, and perhaps other groups have had and are having in this process. There seemed a consensus that there is a need in the process for a coordinated approach by climber organizations, and communications between NPS, climbers, and climber organizations, as to what is going to happen.

The project seems to have four phases, which will unfold over the next few years.
1. Road, parking lot, water and sewers. This is supposed to be finished by mid-November, and is based on a federal highways grant, apparently with add-ons.
2. Comfort station for new area. This will include two F and two M showers, something like five or six 'stalls' for each sex, and two 'cleaning' rooms.
3. Building the new part of Camp 4 - 25 sites.
4. Renovating the historic Camp 4, including replacing the ghastly toilets with another comfort station. (I wouldn't be surprised if this led to a reduction from 36 sites, but hopefully the work can be done in the off season.)

Some thoughts regarding this:

 Climbers often act as though Camp 4 is "their" campground. It doesn't appear that this has ever entirely been the case, whether it was 'tourists' in the lowlands in the 1960s, hippies in the 1970s, or the Latino families from greater Los Angeles who largely now inhabit it in the summer months. We'll always share the campground, and need to keep this in mind. Getting those city families out camping is as much part of the future of parks as are climbers.

 Rodger rightly pointed out that two of the proposed comfort stations won't be enough for (36 + 25) x 6 = 366 nominal inhabitants, bearing in mind that renovation of the existing campground may somewhat reduce its size. (The new comfort station in historic Camp 4 will be downhill, apparently due to rockfall hazard - although Columbia Boulder seems to form a reasonable barrier.) What might work would be one comfort station as described (or a bit larger) in each of halves of the campground, with a toilet block in the middle near the parking, for walkers, Falls trail hikers, and climbers. With a separate 'stall' for the rangers, who also are grossed out by the existing toilets.

 Token operated showers seem an excellent idea to me.

 Given rockfall hazard assessment, I doubt that the camp will be expanded north or west.

 The usage of Camp 4 might form an interesting master's thesis in sociology. However, overall females and males each comprise about 50% of the population. Even if there are somewhat more males than females in Camp 4 during climbing season (April 1 - June 15, September 1 - October 31), modern design for toilet facilities suggests that there be significantly more for females than males. And then there is the LBGTQ etc etc population to consider, not to mention access for small persons, persons with disabilities, etc.

 The current anarchic parking lot sometimes holds up to 160-180 vehicles, according to a reliable source. The new one will take up much the same footprint, with half paved and half gravel. It is planned to have 120 spaces. Overflow parking across the road - expanding from 36 to 61 sites seems certain to require more room for vehicles.

 It appears that there will be overflow parking across the road from historic Camp 4, but it will also be for bus parking. Not sure what that implies.

 (My pet idea.) A hedge between the campground and the road, to reduce noise and provide a bit of privacy. Perhaps something about 2 m high, of native plants with lots of pointy bits. This could also be used to manage road crossing by pedestrians, currently the most exciting part of every climber's day.

 I like Kevin and John's idea of using rocks to delineate campsites.

 No thoughts regarding reservations and such, apart from observing that space should always be found somewhere for campers who arrive on foot or bicycle. As Ron K pointed out, John Muir is an icon, but did a fair amount of things in Yosemite that would now get him arrested.

 Whatever they build must be robust, and assume that it will be abused.

 The next time significant changes to Camp 4 are considered may be far away.

 The devil will very much be in the details, as the project proceeds.

 Hopefully they can find room for some historical nostalgia - maybe a Bachar ladder, and of course an exhibit of the different ways of hanging food away from the bears.

 Camp 4 has always been in flux, in terms of location, facilities and use.

 As John Eleazarian has pointed out, a larger issue is that there are now about 50% as many campsites in the valley as there were 40 years ago, notwithstanding increased traffic. The closure of the Upper and Lower River campgrounds after the 1996 - 97 floods eliminated a lot. Unless us humans manage to commit suicide through our own stupidity, human activity and thus need for camping in the valley seems likely to continue if not increase.

Whether it is possible to retain the spirit and culture of Camp 4, in the face of the various pressures, is a question that's hard to answer. Luckily, as Jim Donini and others point out, there's lots of room still in the world for spontaneity, you just have to work a bit more for it.

All in all an interesting afternoon - Facelift is always good for that sort of thing. Perhaps the Yosemite Climbing Association, the Access Fund, the American Alpine Club and the other usual suspects can now coordinate their efforts regarding this, both as to position, and the need for communications. Given the importance of Yosemite and Camp 4, even international organizations might lend a hand, and add perspective.
W.L.

climber
Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
Oct 6, 2017 - 08:31am PT
Anders, thanks for the great synopsis of the meeting. The park needs to find a way to be able to better accommodate its constituency. I would love to go to Josh and Yos more often, but the hassle of finding camping is prohibitive. I can only imagine how that would be to a family from the greater LA area without the extensive knowledge of those parks that most of us have.
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Oct 6, 2017 - 08:38am PT
...expand Camp 4 to the east ending around the Uberfall in the Gunks.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Oct 6, 2017 - 08:47am PT
Yes Thank You for the over-view, it seems there is - good intent -


Lets take the No-Access funds advice . . .yeah, they are hiring
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Oct 6, 2017 - 10:19am PT
Current state of C-4 is such that any self-respecting health department inspector would find it unfit for human habitation. The restroom facilities are marginal at best. Need a few more bear-proof dumpsters. How many have had upper and lower GI sickness while staying there?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Oct 6, 2017 - 10:22am PT
Rodger nails it - although I've always found in these camp situations that regular hand washing is a great help in avoiding illness. I always volunteer to wash the dishes.

I wonder if they envision some higher tech bear lockers, if there is such a thing? The current lockers are the second version that has been used in Camp 4, the first ones having a simple clip open/shut system. Whatever, perhaps quieter lockers could be invented. The "anvil chorus" gets a bit tiresome.

Nothing was said at the meeting about reservations and related campground management matters. Whether they'll shift from the current situation - awkward, but moderately fair - being an interesting question.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 6, 2017 - 10:38am PT
in all the planning as evidenced in the MRP documentation (though the MRP has not yet been legally challenged, I suspect it is only a matter of time) we find:

that 35 additional sites for the "walk in" campground

there are only 25 in this current expansion, we could ask why not 35 as stated in all the documentation

the intention seems to be to keep it a walk in, but there is a lot of chatter regarding reservations, we could ask where is this chatter coming from?



it has long been known that washing your hands is effective in preventing GI distress, especially prior to cooking. Much GI distress in camping situations attributed to other causes is actually just the result of "poopie hands."


AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Oct 6, 2017 - 10:55am PT
I am sure your current president has some good ideas.
Trump Tower Camp4
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 6, 2017 - 11:01am PT
prelude to the meeting...
Credit: Ed Hartouni
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 6, 2017 - 11:07am PT
there was a golf course at the Ahwahnee Hotel, removed in 1981... now that the hotel has been renamed perhaps they could try again... the POTUS likes his golf.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 6, 2017 - 11:21am PT
Roughing It, Book II.

Sample chapters:

Climbers eat most anything, just like coyotes.

Climbers are somewhat lax about personal hygiene.

The NPS is not your dad.





Mighty Hiker

climber
Outside the Asylum
Oct 6, 2017 - 01:40pm PT
On a lighter note:

Sociology of Camp 4: http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/269262/Agent-Idiosyncratic-Orangutan-Reports

Economics of Camp 4: http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/265588/Economy-of-Camp-4

Neither is peer-reviewed, but surely both are in the running for an Ig Nobel prize.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 6, 2017 - 01:54pm PT
Anders, you're a heavyweight satirist, and you deserve kudos, if not prizes, for your prose.

Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Oct 6, 2017 - 01:59pm PT
It is suspected that the giardia scare that boosted filter sales was actually poops hands
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Oct 6, 2017 - 04:12pm PT
The last thing you want in YOS is Trump. Too much of a negative energy force field. Might trigger more rock fall
gruzzy

Social climber
socal
Oct 7, 2017 - 10:40am PT
Showers are an impressive leap for the park Service. Stinky climbers standing in line are not good for business. Did the concession have a say in this?
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Oct 7, 2017 - 10:45am PT
Can someone mention if the expansion and new parking have been evaluated with a final NEPA decision document? On the prior page they tangle things up by saying "A tiered NEPA / NHPA compliance effort (EA/Section 106 Determination) will evaluate a range of alternatives. . . ."
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Oct 7, 2017 - 11:07am PT
the NEPA, EIS, etc process seems a very tangled mess. I've found that YNP goes to great lengths to avoid these sorts of requirements because of the unwanted scrutiny and legal mischief they invite...

if you read carefully you see that the expansion is on top of an area where housing existed in the past, thus "already disturbed," and the explicit statements that that previous disturbance makes it unlikely that anything needs to be studied or protected.

I linked the "Appendices" to the MRP above, where these evaluations are made.

The bottom line of the evaluation: there is that nothing needs be done in terms of EIS, which I presume is a necessary finding in the NEPA process.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Oct 7, 2017 - 11:41am PT
If they're working with interested publics, like us, then I don't really care if NEPA is done. (as long as the outcome of the project is good). But, if NPS is moving forward with a plan that is undesirable, that's another story. Sloppy.
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