Paul Schlesinger | Reporter
Signed into law in 1964, the Wilderness Act created a nationwide wilderness preservation system and recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
A majority of the Sierra Nevada Mountains carry this designation and National Wilderness Month was proclaimed by President Barack Obama to invite us to explore these lands and strengthen our connection with our natural treasures.
“Today, protected wild spaces continue to serve as a backdrop for curious and adventurous Americans to seek the thrill and joy of connecting with the sacred spirit of our country’s wilderness, offering a wide variety of activities including hiking, camping, and climbing,” Obama said in a statement issued by The White House. “This month, as we cherish our vast and vibrant natural heritage, we resolve to preserve its splendors for all who will follow in our footsteps.”
Some of the wilderness areas designated by Congress include large swaths of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, which are only a few hours drive from Clovis.
In Yosemite and other national parks, the wilderness area begins as soon as you leave the developed areas of the park and enter into its backcountry. If you take a route out of the Yosemite Valley like the Mist or John Muir trails for a day hike, you can explore the area to your heart’s content.
But the National Park Service says that overnight stays in the wilderness require a permit. The Wilderness Act requires that the permits be issued to a limited number of people for each trailhead in order to provide outstanding opportunities for solitude.
To get a permit for national parks, you first have to decide which trail you’d like to start from and check whether there’s a permit available for the date you want to select.
You can apply for wilderness permit reservation up to 24 weeks in advance when the reservation office is open from mid-November through October.
More information for Yosemite can be found at https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wpres.htm. Information for Seqouia and Kings Canyon can be found at https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/wilderness_permits.htm.
Another wilderness area near Clovis is the Kaiser Wilderness just above Huntington Lake.
The wilderness area is accessible from trailheads in the area surround the lake and can be reached through Highway 168.
A popular hiking and backpacking trail is the Kaiser Loop trail, which begins at the Deer Creek Trailhead and spans 15.6 miles.
Wilderness Permits for the Sierra National Forest can be reserved at the forest office in Clovis on 1600 Tollhouse Rd., between Sunnyside and Fowler avenues.
There is a $5 non-refundable reservation fee for each person for all trailheads. Reservations can be made six months before each trip.
When camping in the wilderness, there are a few things to follow. Trash must be carried out of the campsite and can’t be burned or buried.
Also, all pets, bicycles, strollers, motorized equipment and mechanized transport are prohibited in the wilderness.
More information on the Sierra Nevada wilderness areas can be found at sierrawild.gov or http://sierrawild.gov/wilderness/.