Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Campsite thefts

I've been lucky, I have not lost any valuable gear while camping. I try not to leave valuables in unattended campsites but unless I want to spend all of my time guarding my gear, I do have to leave items either at trailheads or campsites. I've blogged about trailhead vehicle thefts before here but at a campsite, gear is often not even in a locked vehicle. Tents, tarps, and other gear may be out in the open in a campsite with no one around. Sometime other campers are in the area but having people around does not necessarily ensure nothing will be taken. I doubt that used camping gear is very enticing to most thieves but some gear is expensive and can be resold.

I don't know how often items are taken from campsites, I hear anecdotes, read news reports, and see Internet postings about thefts. Most reports of theft involve electronic gear, cash, or items like bicycles although some are of more mundane camping items such as chairs or stoves. I try to reduce my risk of theft by not leaving any desirable items at my campsite but sometimes that isn't very possible. I can avoid the worst areas, there are some local areas where several thefts have been reported for years. Campgrounds with Camp Hosts may or may not reduce thefts. Some of the Camp Hosts are so rarely present in the campground I doubt they deter anyone. Anyway, I really prefer to camp in small and primitive campsites.

I wonder if more thefts occur near urban areas, popular National or State Parks, or near freeways. My feeling is that the more remote an area, the less risk of theft. This would make sense in that someone planning to steal would not go to an area with few people to steal from. Of course there are also fewer potential witnesses. I don't usually worry much about losing gear because most of my gear is old and reasonably inexpensive. I would dislike having to replace gear very much and be highly inconvenienced if I lost items during a longer trip but I can't fret about it and still enjoy my trips.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wild Sky Wilderness

The Wild Sky Wilderness bill has passed Congress and needs Presidential approval before becoming a reality. I'm very pleased, this area is very near to me and I have hiked and camped there for years. The area is north of Highway 2 on the west side of the Cascade Mountains and consists of much of the Skykomish River drainage. There are many good environmental reasons to protect this area, more selfishly as a hiker, I appreciate the preservation of another section of wilderness near the Puget Sound Metropolitan area. Lots of people in the area use wilderness and backcountry areas to the point that some places have to be rationed. Wild Sky offers another protected area, not that people didn't use it before, but wilderness status may make the area more desirable. Wild Sky partially abuts the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness area to the east and north, making a larger contiguous block. Also, the area needs protection, it has been logged and development is occurring to edges of the boundaries.

Unfortunately, access into Wild Sky is limited because of the storms of 2006. The Index-Galena road was badly washed out (not for the first time) and rebuilding the road will require some some re-routing. I hope the change in status will hurry the road building and trail repair and possibly lead to some new access points. Obviously, too much access is adverse to the Wilderness status but careful use, rationed if necessary, will lead to even more support for natural areas and good hiking conditions.