With each summer season comes a semi-permanent community of squatters residing in the Brown Creek Campground area sites mixed with recreation and day hike campers. The sites are not ‘free’ (in theory) though its uncertain how religious rangers are about collecting the fees, which can be substantial at $14/day + $5/car limited to 8 persons per site. Even the once liberating Golden Eagle pass for seniors is now burdened with a $7/day surcharge.
A quick drive-by tour revealed an apparently homeless woman with her family of children (judging by the trailer of bedding/supplies behind her vehicle and furtive glances when asked if she knew where a well & hand-pump existed nearby) as well as one family who had strung an extensive plastic privacy draped between trees to protect them from view.
The existence of drinking water from a functioning hand-pump well is a draw, of course. There are actually two, but only one is operable. The other is chained shut and without a handle. Just up the road a short distance is the Lebar and Horse Campgrounds with creek side sites and a rather elegant commodious outhouse near an unloading dock designed for arrivals with horse trailers. This area is ideal for horseback camping and trail riding. Whether it is ideal for the homeless is less certain. It is a long way from emergency services and no ranger presence was seen, only the drop box for campsite payments.
There were plenty of signs, both advisory and mandatory spelling out what laws regulated conduct, payment, and usage. They were designed to be authoritarian and intimidating to the public. Perhaps a couple of signs pronouncing the illegality of car prowls, theft and vandalism would eliminate that problem as well?
There were dozens of campsites, most available despite the pleasant August weather, perhaps because it was a Sunday afternoon. Assuming an underground economy making up for the distance from supplies and services, the area might prove adequate as a summer retreat for the homeless. It would appear that’s the case. It’s been said the measure of ones wealth is not what you have, but what you enjoy. If so, the homeless denizens of Brown Creek are truly blessed.