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1 hour ago, JimK said:

By your argument, perhaps it would make sense to pave the hiking trail so others unable to hike could enjoy the area.  If not a highway, then for sure an improvement trail, preferably paved and available to those with wheel chairs.

That is called a straw man argument, I haven't made that argument and will not. There are generally a few paved trails in parks. I doubt your average wheelchair user will be able to tackle 4 mile trails with 500 ft down and up.

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My understanding is that the CCC was the key to most is the USAs park facilities from back in the 1930's.  Maybe it's time to reintroduce a similar scheme.

For my simple brain it's a win win situation. Employment and improved facilities.

But it would become a political football that would go nowhere.

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Do we really need a lot of improved facilities?  Our parks are heavily used and crowded already.  Let us leave at least some natural, wild and undeveloped areas or at least try to minimize the impact of the crowds.

Edited by JimK
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And the National Parks cover some of the most scenic and interesting areas of the United States.  They also include over 5000 miles of paved roads and 10000 plus miles of improved trails including many that are paved or consist of boardways.  How much more development in the National Parks do we really need before they cease to be special places?

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I don't think a trail blaze mark every 100 yards or so or one or two more signs will corrupt the system. You are the only one who is talking about pavement or railing, a straw man argument on your part. I certainly don't want more of either, if you are so stupid that you fall off a cliff, then that's Evolution in Action.

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The issue here is not the parks as such. It's people. When you are dealing with the general public anything is possible. We have hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail and come across folks who treat it as a day walk. Totally un prepared and further up the trail than they realise. No matter what changes are made and who is making the changes there will always be folks who are caught out.

We hiked the Confluence trail in UT to where the Green River meets the Colorado River. There are only stone markers and lots of dead end small canyons. There's ladders and scrambling. Yet we have seen families with small kids tackle the trail with just a water bottle. It's an eleven mile hike. Add the heat and it's a disaster waiting to happen.

Make all the changes you like. Human nature being what it is there will still be inefficiencies.

 

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3 hours ago, agesilaus said:

.... if you are so stupid that you fall off a cliff, then that's Evolution in Action.

Could we also say that taking a hike and getting lost could also earn a Darwin Award?

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The public land are "dangerous" places particularly for urban folks.  They just do not realize that THEY are responsible for THEIR OWN SAFETY.

Having worked for the BLM, FS, and NPS.  Let me tell you, getting lost on a NPS trail is difficult for most folks.

In 2003, we lost four firefighters in a burn over, and OSHA cited the Forest Service "because a FOREST FIRE is an UNSAFE work environment".   That is fine, so should the Forest Service stop putting out forest fires because it is a unsafe work environment??  Good thing OSHA doesn't oversee the US Military!!!

Likewise, the past 50 years or so the story has been that nature is somehow gentle, kind and wise.  It isn't.  It is brutal and uncaring particularly for those caught unawares of which there are more and more wandering the public lands.

The land management agencies take care of hazards on a NEED basis.  There are very limited financial resources particularly for the BLM and FS.  The pavement rule is a good rule of thumb.  IF there is pavement, the agencies are pretty careful about safety issues.  The farther you go from the pavement setting, to gravel, to dirt, to nothing the less the agencies do about safety.  THEY ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING.

In my last job with the Forest Service,  we had 10,000 miles of various trails from hiking, horse, motorcycle, bicycle, snowmobile, snowshoe, x-country ski, and several interpretive trails.  There were probably a thousand of miles of trail that probably saw a Forest Service employee once every ten years!!! 

Should the Forest Service close those trails to public use??? 

I am a firm believer that the public lands belong to the public and should be open for public use.  On my National Forest we had five snowmobile fatalities every year like clockwork.  The causes were snowmobiling in a avalanche chute (called high pointing, do a search on high pointing snowmobile), speeding and being drunk while operating a snow machine, speeding, hypothermia while knowing where you are, and hypothermia when lost.

So what should the Federal agencies do about the above problems??  It seems like that is a personal responsibility.

Blaming the NPS for getting lost on a trail, will result in the trail being closed to public use.   A costly analysis, to see how to fix the issue, and a expenditure of lots of tax dollars to "improve" the trail or more likely closure of the trail to public use.

For years there has been "talk" of limiting public use of wild lands to those that show a compentency in outdoor travel.

Is this where we want this to go???

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Vladimir said:

..... It seems like that is a personal responsibility.

Blaming the NPS for getting lost on a trail, will result in the trail being closed to public use.   A costly analysis, to see how to fix the issue, and a expenditure of lots of tax dollars to "improve" the trail or more likely closure of the trail to public use.....

I agree 100%.  In our society everyone wants to complain and/or sue if they hurt themselves.  If you hike out into remote areas, it is time to take responsibility.  Make sure you have water, have maps or other ways or orienting your self, and avoid hazards.  If getting lost is a concern there are hikers GPS systems that can at least work the hiker back out of the area.  If you are not physically fit enough take an easier hike or stay on the miles and miles of paved and highly improved trails suitable for the general public.

Certainly do not expect a lot of sympathy if you get onto a forum and complain about trail conditions and blame the NPS for not making nature to your liking.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, JimK said:

Certainly do not expect a lot of sympathy if you get onto a forum and complain about trail conditions and blame the NPS for not making nature to your liking.

Who are you people addressing this to? I freely admit my errors, and the only change I called for in the trail was the addition of one single sign at a four way intersection. I never called for handrails, pavement, or the installation of a ranger post to guide wayward hikers. One sign, 'Swamp Canyon Loop' and an arrow. Geez.

We had already completed 2 1/2 miles of the 4 mile hike and that one little sign would have pointed us on towards completion of the last 1 1/2 miles. Especially since they knew there is a problem.

++++++

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1 hour ago, agesilaus said:

Who are you people addressing this to? I freely admit my errors, and the only change I called for in the trail was the addition of one single sign at a four way intersection. I never called for handrails, pavement, or the installation of a ranger post to guide wayward hikers. One sign, 'Swamp Canyon Loop' and an arrow. Geez.

We had already completed 2 1/2 miles of the 4 mile hike and that one little sign would have pointed us on towards completion of the last 1 1/2 miles. Especially since they knew there is a problem.

++++++

I read somewhere that “the ancient” people marked trails ....

 

seems reasonable we would copy them today...

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11 hours ago, noteven said:

I read somewhere that “the ancient” people marked trails ....

 

seems reasonable we would copy them today...

Maybe the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel should be required 'knowledge' before being allowed out of the house .

In the story, the children break off pieces of bread to leave a trail they can follow to get back home. That way they can follow their trail back through the dark forest and not get lost.

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1 hour ago, Pat & Pete said:

Maybe the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel should be required 'knowledge' before being allowed out of the house .

In the story, the children break off pieces of bread to leave a trail they can follow to get back home. That way they can follow their trail back through the dark forest and not get lost.

It would be my luck that a hungry bear or wolf would follow me and eat the bread crumbs, as an appetizer.

I don't think the story went so well for Hansel and Gretel.  Maybe another example?

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3 hours ago, durangodon said:

It would be my luck that a hungry bear or wolf would follow me and eat the bread crumbs, as an appetizer.

I don't think the story went so well for Hansel and Gretel.  Maybe another example?

Ha . I suppose you could always bend trees . The native Americans use to use that method .

trail-tree.jpg?w=620

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The suggestion was made to take a photo of the trail map at the start of the trail.  In the case of the trail I was on, there was no trail map at the entrance to the trail or anywhere.  That was part of my complaint to the head ranger.  I don't expect a paved trail, but I do expect simple things like accurate descriptions of trails and a map at the entrance, possibly with information about elevation changes. 

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As I read this three-page thread, it seems to me that it isn't an either-or situation. Do people do stupid things? YES. Do trail markers disappear? YES. Should rangers/park employees regularly hike trails as part of their job? YES.

A few years ago we were campground hosting at a State park. During the month we were there we had two rescues. In the first one an individual got upset with other family members, drove to the park, and started hiking a trail - after dark with only limited cell phone battery. The family members contacted the park, and we were able to locate the missing person. In the second one a small group of a couple of adults, a couple of teens, and a toddler decided to hike a short trail. Only one of the teens had a cell phone. When they didn't return on schedule other family members asked for help. A ranger took off on the trail they were supposed to be on, going the other way. They had managed to get onto another trail that passed near, but did not cross, the trail they were on, so the ranger missed them completely. I picked the ranger up about 30 minutes after he started on the trail and drove him to the other trail where he headed toward the hikers. He was able to meet them before they got farther away and bring them back to the parking lot.

The ranger was familiar with all of the trails in the park, having hiked/ridden them repeatedly. He said that was part of his job. He also noted that more marking was needed on one of the trails and before we left that marking was done.

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4 hours ago, kb0zke said:

Should rangers/park employees regularly hike trails as part of their job? YES.

But never forget that to do this it means that we must somehow increase the budgets of our parks to where there is a large enough staff for that to happen, or shift rangers from the duties that they now perform to be out hiking the trails. I have known more than a few ranges who would gladly volunteer for trail duty if there were someone to take over the jobs that they now are required to do. We have spent time as resident volunteers in 5 different national parks, 9 different national wildlife refuges, state parks in 4 different states and county parks in 3 different states. In none of those was that done with any frequency by rangers. I do know of at least 2 national parks that the trails are hiked by volunteers at the start of the season every year. I am only aware of 1 section of a national park where rangers hike the main trails as a part of their duties. That was the Lake Ozette section only of Olympic NP, and nowhere close to all of the main park's trails are hiked by rangers on a regular basis. There are 99 hard trails in Olympic National Park ranging from 1.5 to 98.9 miles and from 3 to 6,968 feet above sea level. 

Even if a park ranger were to hike every step of every trail in every national park, that still would not guarantee that what happened to start this thread would never happen. Vandalism is a major problem in our parks and backcountry so a sign could be stolen for a souvenir or vandalized just hours after that ranger walked by and there would still be people dealing with no trail marker until the next ranger visit.

Edited by Kirk W
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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Kirk W said:

But never forget that to do this it means that we must somehow increase the budgets of our parks to where there is a large enough staff for that to happen, or shift rangers from the duties that they now perform to be out hiking the trails.

Right now as I have mentioned before, most of the Ranger staff is vanished, the only two places that you may see one or two is at the entry gate and the visitor center, if it is open. In weeks at South Rim, Zion and Bryce we never once saw any Rangers other than those two spots and at South Rim the visitors center was manned by ONE ranger at a table outside the closed Visitor Center. And we also visited other smaller parks like Saguaro and Guadeloupe with likewise no rangers in sight. 

I am certain that there must be dozens of Rangers assigned to those major parks, plus summer volunteers (who may well be laid off) but where they were hiding is an open question

They admitted that trail hasn't been visited by a ranger for 9 months.

Throwing money at bad management does not fix any problems. The rule in business and the military is to reinforce success and starve failure. And the NPS in many ways represents the latter.

Once again I'll say that my errors were the major issue compounded by the park's.

Hopefully the admin being forced to drop masks will return park life back to normal.

Edited by agesilaus
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In Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park as volunteers, one of our days per week we were asked to hike one of the trails along Bear Lake Rd.  We were asked to visually inspect the trail for any needed attention and to talk to the hikers to get their take on the trail.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Nat'l Lakeshore we were given a park vehicle to drive the backcountry dirt roads and to look out for anything that needed attention.

Rangers were regularly seen in many parks when we, as visitors, hiked the trails.  We've definitely seen them on the Bryce and Grand Canyon trails.

Parks utilize volunteers in many ways.

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1 hour ago, agesilaus said:

I am certain that there must be dozens of Rangers assigned to those major parks, plus summer volunteers (who may well be laid off) but where they were hiding is an open question

I don't agree, but I'll not respond, as my reply would upset you...........   😏

Edited by Kirk W
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9 hours ago, Kirk W said:

I don't agree, but I'll not respond, as my reply would upset you...........   😏

You can not upset age.silly.as.us !

He is in training for the summer Olympics Debating Team.

Thom said be nice!  (us.silly.too.thom)

🙃

Edited by Pappy Yokum
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I am very understanding of your frustration and don't disagree about what should happen but given manpower and budget constraints along with covid restrictions I find the real world on the ground situation is just not that way and is unlikely do-able.  I have volunteered on the a national forest every summer since 1997 and one at at a national park and one at a COE park. Most places would barely function if it were not for volunteers like friends groups.  Even there you can only recruit what is available at a given time and their skill levels can vary greatly.   I am way more useful now than when I started as I know the in and out of the district way better.  Friday we had a  lady upset because we did not mobilize everyone to find her lost dog. (and we are sympathetic-me for the dog-hope nothing eats it.) Our point of sale computer would not function properly and took an hour to sell one annual pass.  In the mean time if we go one way some group will want to sue us and if we go their way some other group will want to sue us. Some times I am surprised we are able to make anyone happy but amazingly we do a pretty good job of it.   I do believe in public safety first but there are limits on what you can do for that.  I applaud you for recognizing and admitting to your errors. You learn from yours and maybe a few others will learn the easy way based on your experience but I sure won't hold my breath expecting it to be many. Truly thanks for sharing.

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