China Flat cabin, Desolation Wilderness, rundown:(

6:32 p.m. on July 25, 2013 (EDT)
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I just got back from a week in the Desolation Wilderness here in Kalifornia, still wonder where the people are in the back country.  It may be the most visited Wilderness in the USA, but folks are mostly dayhikers, having little effect on bpers that I can see, once beyond the four mile or so range.  Two nights, I was the only person at that lake/river, one other lake, just a couple besides me.  Saw very few people on trail after getting past Eagle Lake out of the Eagle Falls TH, where I had to park 1/4 mile away due to getting a midday start after working half a day.

Sorry, I only got pics of the back of the old ranchers cabin at China Flat.  The last time I was by the cabin was maybe 15 years ago.  I had met the old rancher a few days earlier by Van Vleck Ranch, where he was unlocking a gate and gave me the right directions to the start of a trail I had always missed, going around Two Peaks, which I've gone around three times now.  When I was by the cabin on that trip, I stopped by and had a cup of coffee with the man, whose grandson, and son were off to go fish the Rubicon River some more.  Too bad it has fallen into ruin.




2:38 p.m. on July 27, 2013 (EDT)
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that poor old guy doesn't actually live in that thing, does he? ;)

4:37 p.m. on July 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Trailjester, if that cabin is actually in the Desolation Wilderness (a designated wilderness area) nobody can live there.  Here's how the Wilderness Act defines it:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”  (

When I see old cabins like that out in wilderness areas, i find myself wondering what it must have been like to live there way back then when they were occupied.  It must have been quite an experience - hard to imagine in today's world.

1:13 a.m. on July 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill, I'm guessing you have never been to China Flat and you are doubting the authenticity of my photo.  It is real, and of the cabin there, what is left of it.  For your information also, some of the Wildernesses I have been to were used previously by man before becoming Wilderness.  Bucks Lake Wilderness for example close to where I live on the Plumas NF, has recent evidence of logging and roads, so there is no reason a cabin would not exist here.  Man was around long before the invention of wilderness areas.

Trailjester, the old rancher and the Forest Service used to use it when they were in the area or in the case of the rancher, take a gander back in there checking to be sure cattle had not made it in there or a fishing trip for his son and grandson.  Kinda grandfathered in his right to use it.  I believe a certain amount of cattle were allowed to graze the Rockbound Valley as the rancher had told me he did not want the trail I had used a few times around Two Peaks to be cleared as it would be a funnel for his cattle into the wilderness one way or another.  They only stayed a short time when in the area I believe. 

I have no accurate info regarding past grazing or if there still exists rights or # of cattle allowed if any. 


1:14 p.m. on July 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Many areas of federal land now classified as wilderness, have long histories of occupation by humans often in pursuit of grazing, mining and timber. The US Forest Service has systematically aquired many old private lands and burned the old buildings in wilderness areas. Some ground is leased with pre-existing structures that are allowed to remain.

Each wilderness is managed locally and most allow commercial grazing and hunting. Some allow exploration and mining but not the construction of roads, so it it all by helicopter.

Federal leases in the backcountry expire all the time. Many are on a 99 year term.  Most are not renewed. It is awkward for people that have built family ranches for 6 generations to see them revert back to public ownership and management.

Nevada has been one of the last states to see wilderness designations on backcountry lands.  Every year recently wilderness areas have ended the road access to traditonal hunting areas around the state. I have strong but mixed emotions about these decisions from Washington DC made by bureaucrats in leather chairs that will never see the Santa Rosa Range or the Jarbidge Mtns.

1:21 p.m. on July 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Hikerduane, I think I may not have been clear.  You're right, I haven't been to China Flat.  But I wasn't in any way questioning the authenticity of your photo.  And of course I realize that people lived previously in areas now classified as designated wilderness.

My point to Trailjester's comment was that "one cannot live in a cabin that is in a designated wilderness area".

Sorry for any confusion.

8:19 p.m. on July 28, 2013 (EDT)
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There are many abandoned cabins in US declared Wilderness Areas, along with other man made structures that are allowed to remain due to historical value. Another is the hut on the summit of Whitney. OTOH there used to be a number of pit toilets and other latrines that were removed from designated Wilderness Areas, along with other human artifacts. I am not sure removing them to let passing hikers pick any old place was a better choice

5:36 a.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks Bills'.


8:41 a.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I found this in the Lusk Creek Wilderness a few weeks ago. Hard to believe the wilderness I was hiking through was once farm land--especially given how hilly and rocky that region is.

A few miles from here, I also found a faded sign designating the foundation of an old school house.

2:11 a.m. on July 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S,

I agree. there were many cabins, now gone in the Olympics. Reasons include overuse, deterioration and the idea of returning the area to a "natural state". However, the cabins were often built in the most hospitable location. Yes many were deteriorated, but any port in a storm. And the area will never be natural. Man leaves his mark in ways that we cannot understand.

IMO, our national parks, magnificent as they are, are not natural. The FN are not allowed to hunt in them. And for those who say that man was not here once, we don't see the megafauna that came before. 

The cabin that Duane was able to visit, was not a home, more than likely a summer line shack while the cattle were grazing the green grass of the high country. No doubt full of small bothersome mammals unless it was fortunate to have a fisher leaving underneath! It is a record of the time.

May 26, 2018
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