So what's the answer?
While I was stationed at the Twin Lakes Trailhead, I had quite a few people stop by and ask questions. My favorite was this one: What are you doing here? (I got to tell them that I was there to respond to people just like them...and answer their questions. So they were helping me do my job!)
>> A half-dozen kids came to the bridge on the second day in swim suits and life vests. the littlest of all, a girl who must have been about six or seven, asked if they could jump in the lake off the bridge. I told them that I couldn't answer that question--she had to ask her mom.
"My mom said it was okay," the little munchkin answered.
I told her that I was not about to argue with her mom....and then the kids spent about half an hour trying to convince each other to jump into the icy water. Dad (third generation cabin owner at Wrights Lake) finally came down and jumped in with a huge splash. And then the kids followed suit for another hour, with screams and giggles.
>> And then there was the dad with two kids, who arrived with full packs and really only one question: Where should we go backpacking?
I told them they had to follow the itinerary on their permit.
That's when they told me they didn't have a permit.
And after we explored the possibilities (or impossibilities) of trying to get one online via their phone, or driving an hour into Tahoe or Fresh Pond and back again, I had to tell them that without a permit, they could only backpack outside of Desolation Wilderness---but that the rest of the forest was open to dispersed camping, With a little patience and a map, we found a spot where they could camp for the night, and it all worked out.
>> One guy showed up early in the moring to hike over Rockbound Pass and on to Schmidel Lake. He was stunned when I told him that there was a lot of snow on the pass, and most of the area beyond the pass was under snow. He didn't have midro-spikes, crampons, or an ice axe. After some discussion, I emphasized that he should not push himself to do anything dangerous. And if he couldn't get over the pass safely, he would need to backtrack and find another solution. He left hiking soberly up the trail. I never heard anything about a rescue, so I assume he stayed safe.