posted Jan 8, 2011, 8:36 PM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Jan 9, 2011, 7:58 AM ]
Unless you want to spend more than twelve hours in a tent in the snow, these are not of the best of times for backpacking. And while we're grateful for the massive snowpack in the Sierra and all that it promises for the coming year, it does limit the kinds of trips we can take right now.
But that hasn't kept us from planning some adventures, and taking care of a little business.  Yep--it's time to get a few permits and licenses.  Yesterday I biked over to the local California Department of Forestry Fire station and got our campfire permit for 2011.  That allows us to camp with a stove (or campfire, where they are legal) in any national forest in California.  In 2009 we took a lovely fall hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from Carson Pass north to Meiss Meadows, Showers Lake, and Dardanelles Lake.  And we did it without a wilderness permit, because that section of the trail isn't classified as wilderness--it's just national forest.  All you need is campfire permit.  Which we had.
And now we have one for 2011. 
(This just in--a helpful reader suggests:  There was a quiz on the Sequoia NF page that allowed one to print up a 2010 permit. I think they haven't updated for 2011 yet.
How cool is that? )
Not only that, but the fireman who helped me could not have been nicer.  It was more than just service with a smile---he also offered water for the bedraggled cyclist (I declined, since it was about 40 degrees outside, and cold water was NOT what I needed) but also encouraged me to be careful out there.  The weather was cold, a bit foggy, and he was concered about visiblitiy.  I was wearing a high visility vest, and the bike has lights, so everything turned out fine.  Except I still doesn't have much feeling in my frozen nose.
But that's not all.  Today we went over to our local sporting goods store and bought a fishing license, so that I can terrorize trout all over the SIerra.  The cost keeps going up (over $40) this year, and the process is more complicated.  (For the first time, I had to show my California Drivers License, which was scanned, and then assure the earnest young clerk that I had, indeed, resided in California for the last six months.)  But the new licernses are a different shape and color from last year, complete with a bar code.  And the clerk warned me that if they are left in a very warm place, it's possible that the thermal paper will turn black, obliterating all the information on the license. 
That must be a big improvement over last year's model.  sigh. 
But hey--we're ready for summer!