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Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge

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avatar Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 29, 2011 09:32PM
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (CBS13) — Two men drowned Wednesday morning after they were swept off a bridge by high water levels, authorities said.

The two men were crossing the Wapama Falls Footbridge near the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir at about 8:30 a.m. when water was flowing over the bridge, and the current pulled both men off the bridge.


Rest of the story here: http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2011/06/29/two-swept-away-on-yosemite-footbridge/



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 07:49AM
Wow that's sad. Is this the bridge that was under repair? I guess there are no railings?
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 08:37AM
http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/yosemite-wapama-falls.html


interesting article

Perhaps this waterfall is most famous for flowing over the footbridges and granite steps near its base when the snowmelt is highest after a heavy snowpack year. That was the case when we first did this waterfall back in 2002, but we haven't experienced it since.

Even as recently as June 2011, despite the record snowpack, we still haven't re-experienced the flooded conditions of June 2002. I believe the cold temperatures (15 degrees cooler than normal) kept the water locked away as snow or ice in our latest visit here.

I think in order to get those high flow conditions, you need to have snow (either from high snow pack accumulations or from accumulation in a late-season storm) followed immediately by hot weather. The hot weather ensures the snow melts rapidly and increases the volume and
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 12:23PM
According to another article, the bridge was partially submerged. One man slipped/fell into the river, and his companion tried to rescue him.

http://www.news10.net/news/local/article/143909/2/2-Southern-California-men-killed-in-Yosemite-River
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 01:38PM
Quote
Ohnivy-Drak
According to another article, the bridge was partially submerged. One man slipped/fell into the river, and his companion tried to rescue him.

http://www.news10.net/news/local/article/143909/2/2-Southern-California-men-killed-in-Yosemite-River

So people that read this article don't get confused about where this happened:

It was directly on the north shore of the Hetch Hetchy Resevoir, not "near" it.
They were crossing the bridge over Falls Creek at Wapama Falls. They were not crossing the Tuolumne River.



Old Dude
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 01:00PM
That's scarey...I guess it's like the old say "if it feels wrong, don't do it".
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 04:24PM
I am so sorry to hear this. I did an overnighter to Rancheria Falls 2 weeks ago and I thought the falls were crazy big then. Crossing that bridge was a bit scary at the west end where there was water flowing over it and so much falling on it that you could not see through to the trail beyond. It must have gotten even worse than that. I actually thought then that we should have been warned when we picked up our permit. So very sad.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 08:34PM
It sort of worried me when I was crossing the footbridge over Yosemite Creek near the precipice of Yosemite Falls. I went in the winter when there were foot tracks down the middle, but I could imagine someone getting close to the edge and perhaps slipping. I haven't been there in spring or early summer, but I could imagine some mist rain making the surface slippery. There's about two+ feet of space between the bottom and the first beam, where I could imagine someone could conceivably slip through.



I wondering why there wasn't something like some netting or chicken wire just in case someone slipped. I've seen similar bridges or fences set up with chicken wire. The railing at Vernal Fall is set up with chicken wire, and much of the railing along the Mist Trail is protected with wire spaced narrow enough that people couldn't slip through. FYI - these are not my own photos:



Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 09:33PM
Here are pictures of the bridge at Wapama Falls in calmer times (May 2010)







And here is a picture from earlier this year (March 2011), when the bridge was out....





Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/30/2011 09:42PM by Akichow.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
June 30, 2011 09:57PM
Tragic.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 08:46AM
Time for a lawsuit. The trail should have been closed. Or at least a sign put up saying to wait until 10 am when there was less water flowing. They only had 2.5 miles left to the parking lot. The alternative route would have taken days and there would have been water crossings there as well. The NPS is trying to shift the blame to these men so they can get out of this.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 08:59AM
Say what?
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 03:56PM
What happened to taking responsibility for your own safety? You hike at your own risk. If there's water running over the bridge, don't cross it. Take two more days to hike the longer route rather than risk your life. Don't blame the NPS for your stupidity. Lawsuits only closes the trails, not make them safer.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 09:29AM
Quote
rightstar76
Time for a lawsuit. The trail should have been closed. Or at least a sign put up saying to wait until 10 am when there was less water flowing. They only had 2.5 miles left to the parking lot. The alternative route would have taken days and there would have been water crossings there as well. The NPS is trying to shift the blame to these men so they can get out of this.

I don't know how I feel about a lawsuit, but the idea that these people could have gone around the bridge by adding "a few miles" to their hike - as was suggested by Kari Cobb, the Park spokeswoman in the SF Chronicle - is ludicrous. As has been pointed out, the bridge is 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead and the alternative route is probably close to 20 miles with many stream crossings and probably snow as well! It's a terrible tragedy and the remarks of Ms. Cobb are incredibly insensitive. These were two young men in their 20s. We do understand that we take risks going into the wilderness and I don't necessarily blame the park, but neither do I think it fair to imply that these two young men were careless or made a bad decision.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 10:55AM
Quote
eat.sleep.hike
Quote
rightstar76
Time for a lawsuit. The trail should have been closed. Or at least a sign put up saying to wait until 10 am when there was less water flowing. They only had 2.5 miles left to the parking lot. The alternative route would have taken days and there would have been water crossings there as well. The NPS is trying to shift the blame to these men so they can get out of this.

I don't know how I feel about a lawsuit, but the idea that these people could have gone around the bridge by adding "a few miles" to their hike - as was suggested by Kari Cobb, the Park spokeswoman in the SF Chronicle - is ludicrous. As has been pointed out, the bridge is 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead and the alternative route is probably close to 20 miles with many stream crossings and probably snow as well! It's a terrible tragedy and the remarks of Ms. Cobb are incredibly insensitive. These were two young men in their 20s. We do understand that we take risks going into the wilderness and I don't necessarily blame the park, but neither do I think it fair to imply that these two young men were careless or made a bad decision.

I suppose that this is the article that you were talking about. Not all of us read the Chronicle, after all.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/01/BA1I1K4VG6.DTL

My first comment is that I have seen what the press does to statements that you make to them. What the lady actually said was probably more respectful and more accurate than what ended up in the paper. She almost certainly knew that it was a lot more than a few miles by alternate trails. The 'few' word may have been just the reporter's understanding. And at the heart of the interview, she was bound to remind us that we have to use judgement as to whether a stream crossing is safe. Any time that a bridge is under water, you need to make a judgement. Ditto, in winter, when the snow is higher than the railings, and sloped at the edges. As for implying that the two were careless, well that's your term. Don't imply something, and then accuse someone else of doing so.

If the press report is accurate, the bridge was negotiable in the morning and the water rose a lot by afternoon. That's normal during Spring runoff. There is no reason to believe that there was a ranger nearby to close the trail when the change occurred, and even less likely that there was one the upstream side to post it closed there. This is not an amusement park, with an employee standing by.

This bridge has railings. Does anyone know if the victims slipped and went under them, or was the water so high that they were blown over them. How did the rest of the party get across? Were they wearing sneakers or hiking boots?

Anyway, there is not enough information here to start talking about lawsuits. Unless, of course, you happen to be an under-employed lawyer....
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:20AM
There are signs on Half Dome warning people about lightning. There should have been signs up warning people about flooding on the bridge. I've done my share of risky things in the backcountry like cross raging creeks on logs. When I did that it was a no brainer that if I fell in I'd be gone. A warning sign wasn't necessary. This situation was different. It probably looked safe enough to walk across the bridge. I too might have walked across it thinking it was safe. It was not obvious that it would be lethal. The NPS should have done more to warn people of the danger. That is why I think a lawsuit is warranted.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:29AM
Rubbish.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:04PM
Couldn't have said it better myself.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:36AM
They can't possibly monitor the conditions at every bridge crossing every stream. There are already plenty of warning about high water and stream crossings. Sometimes you just have to take responsibility for your own actions. Crossing streams in the wilderness in Yosemite is one of those times, bridge or no bridge. Now, if the bridge collapsed because of lack of maintenance then MAYBE. Even then, its in the wilderness and there is not guarantee that it is maintained. Sometimes you just have to decide for yourself.

This kinda said it all:

Quote

The bridge had a lot of water on it," Cobb said. "Here at the park, the way it works, you are responsible for taking your own risk and making your own decisions on safety.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2011 11:38AM by Hitech.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:37AM
Quote
rightstar76
There are signs on Half Dome warning people about lightning. There should have been signs up warning people about flooding on the bridge. I've done my share of risky things in the backcountry like cross raging creeks on logs. When I did that it was a no brainer that if I fell in I'd be gone. A warning sign wasn't necessary. This situation was different. It probably looked safe enough to walk across the bridge. I too might have walked across it thinking it was safe. It was not obvious that it would be lethal. The NPS should have done more to warn people of the danger. That is why I think a lawsuit is warranted.

I disagree. The web site I posted has a video of the water going over the bridge and this is not a high water time. It loked scary and I am sure that it looekd brutal when they did it.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:31PM
I watched the videos and the bridge isn't covered in them. If it was only a few inches when the two men tried crossing it probably didn't look that dangerous.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:48PM
Quote
rightstar76
I watched the videos and the bridge isn't covered in them. If it was only a few inches when the two men tried crossing it probably didn't look that dangerous.

Those videos and stills were taken during "normal" high water at the bridges. The big January 1997 rain caused enough water to flow in Falls Creek that a house sized rock washed down the talus slope and take out the western bridge section. That rock is visible is the videos and stills that show the wooden section. Late last year that same section was washed away by high water. It has since been replaced. Really high water only comes once in a while and only stays high for some hours.

Taken November 2010





Old Dude
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:02PM
http://laist.com/2011/07/01/2_la_hikers_killed_in_yosemite.php

Both gentlemen were ER staff out on a 4-day hike and in their 50s according to this report.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2011 12:03PM by GVlog.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:37PM
Quote
rightstar76
There should have been signs up warning people about flooding on the bridge.

That's bull. The concept of not venturing onto a flooded bridge is something a wilderness hiker should already have. The park cannot (and should not) hold every wilderness hiker's hand.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 03:58PM
You think a sign would have stopped them? Please.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:57AM
Quote
wherever

This bridge has railings. Does anyone know if the victims slipped and went under them, or was the water so high that they were blown over them. How did the rest of the party get across? Were they wearing sneakers or hiking boots

My assumption (based on no direct evidence - just speculation) is that the initial person probably got swept away not on the bridge itself but on the rocky trail path right before or after the bridges where there is no railing.

Again, just speculation on my part.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:17PM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
wherever

This bridge has railings. Does anyone know if the victims slipped and went under them, or was the water so high that they were blown over them. How did the rest of the party get across? Were they wearing sneakers or hiking boots

My assumption (based on no direct evidence - just speculation) is that the initial person probably got swept away not on the bridge itself but on the rocky trail path right before or after the bridges where there is no railing.

Again, just speculation on my part.
There are two or three sections of unrailed anchorages between the bridge spans in the central part of the bridge system. The water could have easily been flowing over those.

The railing support on the metal spans would more than likely stop one from being washed over but could trap a person against them. The wooden section at the west end of the bridges has horizontal rails between the stanchions which wouldn't trap one on the span.



Old Dude
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 04:15PM
The sections between the bridge spans, for the most part, have rock walls or other obstructions to the waterfall side. There is little flow over the trail in the non-bridged sections.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:35PM
Quote
eat.sleep.hike

These were two young men in their 20s. We do understand that we take risks going into the wilderness and I don't necessarily blame the park, but neither do I think it fair to imply that these two young men were careless or made a bad decision.


The men were in their 50's and familiar with Yosemite. One of the men actually had proposed to his wife by the reservoir years earlier. A very tragic accident indeed. But my assumption is that these two experience hikers were very familier with the trail and its inherent risks.

Here's a short NBC-LA article about the accident and the two men (including photos of them). They were a doctor and a physician's assistant from Southern California (though one was raised on a ranch near Merced).

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/LA-Two-LA-Hikers-Dead-after-Yosemite-Accident-124838189.html
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 03:49PM
Quote
plawrence
The men were in their 50's and familiar with Yosemite.

Yes, I saw that today. Thanks for the correction. One of the accounts I read before their identities were released had the ages wrong.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2011 03:56PM by eat.sleep.hike.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 10:28AM
A lawsuit is uncalled for. When you venture into the wilderness you are taking responsibility for yourself. You need to determine for yourself if something, even a man made structure, is safe to use. No different than the half dome cables. If it is raining and you decide to use them it is not the parks fault if you get hurt, just because they didn't close them.


Edit: after reading the acticle I've removed my comments about the ranger.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2011 02:55PM by Hitech.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 10:41AM
The park should have done more to alert people to the danger. This was not an accident that happened deep in the backcountry on a log over an unnamed stream. It was on a major trail and close to the parking lot. I wouldn't be surprised if lawsuits are filed. I feel sorry for these two men and their families and friends.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 12:41PM
Quote
rightstar76
The park should have done more to alert people to the danger

No, they shouldn't. If your attitude prevails, it will mean nobody will be allowed off paved trails. The backcountry is dangerous. If that's too much for you, please stay home.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 02:28PM
Right on, baby!
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 04:02PM
Quote
rightstar76
The park should have done more to alert people to the danger.

More than categorically state, in multiple places and verbally whenever you might ask an official, that you are in wilderness and it not just can be, but is, a dangerous place? I've never taken any warnings about mountainous areas lightly. The survivor wrote that they made the decision quickly, they shouldn't have. My heart goes out to them, that must be an awful thing to witness.

But if you're encouraging lawsuits, you don't care about the experience. If it catches on every time someone makes a bad judgement, the parks will fence them 6' high, shut off some of the most beautiful places, go bankrupt or all of the above in that order.

Git yer lawyers out of my nature(unless they're saving frogs).
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 04:28PM
Quote
rightstar76
The park should have done more to alert people to the danger. This was not an accident that happened deep in the backcountry on a log over an unnamed stream. It was on a major trail and close to the parking lot. I wouldn't be surprised if lawsuits are filed. I feel sorry for these two men and their families and friends.

I may be mistaken, but aren't there very large warning signs already at the beginning of this trail (just after exiting the tunnel)? I believe they specifically warn about about the falls, the bridges and high water. Does anyone have a pic of them? Do you expect the Park to lead everybody by the hand or perhaps install large blinking lights that say "warning - possible danger ahead" and then list every way possible for someone to get hurt in the backcountry?.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:33AM
Quote
wherever
What the lady actually said was probably more respectful and more accurate than what ended up in the paper. She almost certainly knew that it was a lot more than a few miles by alternate trails. The 'few' word may have been just the reporter's understanding....
Don't imply something, and then accuse someone else of doing so.

Unless you were present when this woman was speaking, don't present your own opinions as more correct than someone else's when you have no more facts than they do.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 01:32PM
Quote
eat.sleep.hike
Unless you were present when this woman was speaking, don't present your own opinions as more correct than someone else's when you have no more facts than they do.

Then I will make my message simpler for you: Don't say that the ranger was "incredibly insensitive", when you don't know what she actually said. Don't assume that a reporter's summary impressions, after editing at the paper, are accurate.

They often are not.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 01:46PM
There are two kinds of people in this situation: Those that take responsibility for their own actions and those that sue in hopes of transferring responsibility elsewhere.

Like flying a plane, hiking in the wilderness itself is not inherently dangerous, but it can be terribly unforgiving of one's negligence or poor decision making.How the Chick-on travels
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 01:57PM
I crossed this bridge about a week before this incident. My friends and I were backpacking at Rancheria Falls. We're experienced backpackers, and this wasn't the first time we'd been there. On the way in, the bridge was fine, but on our way out, the westernmost end of the west bridge was under a huge amount of white water, which I'm assuming is what swept the two folks away. Let me make this clear: It LOOKED dangerous. You don't need a sign to know it's probably a really bad idea to cross that bridge. White water was sweeping over the bridge probably two or three feet off the ground.
We decided to cross anyway. We weighed the risks and thought it'd be better to cross there than to hike twenty miles around the bridge. As I was walking, the water swept me off my feet and pushed me halfway through the lower rail of the bridge. My lower body was dangling outside of the bridge, and the water was so powerful that I could not get up in my own strength. My friend had to come back and pull me out. The bridge almost swept me away.
Now, I have much sympathy for these people's families. This was a tragic accident, and it's terrible anytime anyone loses their life in the wilderness. With that said, when I crossed, I knew the danger that I was putting myself in. You'd have to be quite ignorant to have seen what we saw on the bridge and not thought it was dangerous. I believe that these two people knew the danger they were getting into, but decided to go across anyway, believing that the risk would pay off. There's no way that these people, who from what I've read seem to be experienced hikers, could not have understood the danger of this bridge crossing. There's just no way. It's obvious when you see whitewater flowing a few feet over the bridge.
It's not the park service's duty to close every dangerous section of trail, or else every trail would be closed, because wilderness has an inherent element of danger. A hiker, whether experienced or not, assumes risks when he or she enters the wilderness, and there are signs that point this fact out when one enters a trail. I believe these people knew the risks they were taking, but thought that it would be worth it, just as I did when I crossed the bridge. When you're in the wilderness and something goes wrong, the only person you have to blame is yourself. That's what makes it wilderness, and that's part of what makes it so compelling to people. The job of the park service is to protect the wilderness for people who want to venture into it, not to hold folks' hands as they walk through it. Perhaps Ms. Cobb could have been more sensitive. I don't know. I wasn't there. But nothing she said was untrue, whether people like it or not.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 04:51PM
Just my 5 cents, but I'm sure they saw the danger (i.e "the mist trail'). People are going to do what they are going to do, reguardless of signs. Granted, I haven't been acorss this bridge myself. That being said, the park is a natural wonder...Suing the park would be like suing a lifeguard for a shark attack.
When people start suing, more regulating takes force, which isn't exaggerating to say, it could eventually lead to prohibiting hiking period...makes me think of Dianne Feinstein's ; "look, but don't touch" mantra.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 04:51PM
While I feel sorrow for the families of the men that died due to their own actions, the culpability lies with them alone. The wilderness is inherently dangerous and its the individual hiker's own responsibility to be safe. Every time I go backpacking, I know I am responsible for my own actions. These men tragically died trying to do something they shouldn't.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 06:31PM
Quote
oakroscoe

These men tragically died trying to do something they shouldn't.

I'm going to have to disagree with that statement. There was nothing wrong in trying to cross that bridge on that day. Others that day did cross it, including three members of the group that the two men were with.

Yes, it was a dangerous crossing. Given the water conditions, one probably could say it was a very dangerous crossing at that time. But it wasn't an insurmountable one given the fact that others made it across in one piece.

Sometimes in the wilderness one faces a dangerous situation or challenge that they need to overcome (or at least want to overcome). At times someone will intentionally puts themselves in great risk (like a rock climber free soloing).

What hopefully we could learn from this specific tragedy is if one wants go cross that set of bridges under those conditions, what approach and techniques would have the highest likely outcome of success? What could someone in their shoes do to help minimize the inherent dangers of such crossing?

Should one try crossing those bridges holding on to the northern (cliff facing) railing of the bridge with both hands and slowing side-stepping across to avoid being swept over by a blast of water? Any other suggestions to help minimize the risks of crossing those bridges in those high water conditions?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2011 06:45PM by plawrence.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:28PM
Side-stepping while firmly gripping the railing is probably a good approach once you're on the bridge but in very high-water situations, you've also got to contend with water on the approaches and water over the section in the middle (where it crosses the bridge pier) where there is no railing (in fact, Mike's already pointed out that it's conceivable that it was on the approach that the hiker got swept over).

If you have some rope (or even some kind of reasonably strong tie-down cords from a tent), I suppose you could rope yourself to the rail as you move across. To be safe, you'd have to do some kind of double-lashing so that as you released to re-loop the rope over the next section of railing, you'd still be safely roped to the railing. That would be a lot slower, of course, and the question is does the "safety" of being tied to the railing get negated by being on the bridge for that much longer?

I've only ever crossed this bridge in low water conditions and so haven't experienced any problems with crossing the bridge but I really do wonder what the best way to handle a situation like this is.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:00PM
I would suggest holding on to the south end of the bridge and side stepping. It is much easier to hold on to the railing if you are getting pushed into it rather than pushed away from it.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:25PM
I'm disappointed with the lack of compassion shown by some of the other posters here. Mr. Fox and Mr. Meyer both had kids and now they will grow up without a father. Their wives are now widows and their friends, colleagues, and patients are grieving as well. Is self-sufficiency such a holy cow that not even the deaths of two people returning from a backpacking trip warrant any empathy? For some here, yes, and that is unfortunate. A temporary sign warning of the danger might have made a difference. There are signs on Half Dome warning people about lightning. A few signs by the falls might have convinced these two men not to cross and saved their lives.

Yosemite victims' desperate last moments
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/01/BAC61K5EGL.DTL
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:52PM
Quote
rightstar76
I'm disappointed with the lack of compassion shown by some of the other posters here.

I'm more disappointed in the lawsuit bullshit you've been posting. I find it repulsive.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 08:12PM
Eeek, we clearly disagree on what NPS policy should be. That makes sense since this forum contains a variety of opinions and not everyone is going to agree. My opinion is that this trail while not the Half Dome Trail is heavily used enough that there should be signs warning hikers. If this had happened near Flora Lake, for example, I would not expect NPS to put up signs. After all, if you're going cross country you should know what you're doing. However, this was a major trail with a newly rebuilt bridge near a trailhead. I think NPS should have put up signs and that a lawsuit may guarantee that NPS will do that in the future. That's why I mentioned it.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 09:52PM
Quote
rightstar76
I think NPS should have put up signs and that a lawsuit may guarantee that NPS will do that in the future.

So you want a ranger to risk their life to cross this bridge after the water has risen dangerously to put up a sign for them? This isn't an escalator in the mall, leave your lawsuit-minded crap at home, please.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 08:12AM
Treeswing, the bridge had already flooded according to various reports. The NPS should have put up signs before this tragedy happened when the bridge was dry. Unfortunately, because NPS didn't, there very well may be a lawsuit.

avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:41AM
Don't know why you have a foolish impression that a posted sign warning about the dangers of crossing the set of bridges over Falls Creek would have deterred that party of five from crossing it. If you have read the reports, that backpacking group was fully aware of the danger of the crossing but decided to cross it instead waiting for the water to subside or taking a 20-mile detour around the falls and creek.

This experienced group of hikers understood the dangers of the crossing and decided to attempt it. If the lead person hadn't slipped, no one would have died. It's tragic that two died while attempting to cross the bridges, but those things will happen, sadly. The Park Service has no liability in this matter and it appears that the wife of one of the deceased (who was a member of that hiking group) understands that too. So I'm not sure why you are so fixated on a lawsuit being filed.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 12:54PM
Quote
rightstar76
The NPS should have put up signs before this tragedy happened when the bridge was dry. Unfortunately, because NPS didn't, there very well may be a lawsuit.

Suggestion: go to Disneyland
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 01:26PM
Personally, my motto has always been "It's not an adventure if you can sue." Terrible things happen in the wilderness on occasion, and are usually made worse by human error or misjudgment.

I'm not trying to add to the argument that seems to be raging on this thread. But I have some thoughts and some questions.

We can't know what was in the minds of these two men before they set foot on that bridge. Maybe they were tired. Maybe they thought it would be OK if they held on to the railing. Maybe they misjudged how much water there was, how slick the bridge would be, how heavy their packs were, etc. I have no idea.

Is this the first time something like this has happened? Have there been stories of backpackers who approached the bridge under similar circumstances and decided to go around or wait? Or did other backpackers make it across prior to this?

There are signs around at other areas of Yosemite at similarly accessible spots that warn against going in the water or getting too close to the edge. We're not talking about a spot in the back country. We're talking about a spot where people hike out to in flip flops and "city sandals" and bikinis with towels. We're talking about a spot where I saw a father and mother take their 2 year old child off the bridge onto the rocks next to the raging water one year ago this weekend, to get a picture of her. The only thing that stopped them was the screams of the child, who was having none of it. We're talking about a spot where I was extremely careful of my footing just to stop and take a photo because the mist alone was making it slick.

How many people had to fall from the top of Nevada Fall before they put the railing and signs up?

I'd like to think I wouldn't cross that bridge if I saw it raging like that. My near pathological fear of falling would pretty much ensure that. But other people have different factors that go into their decision making. Some people on this forum won't cross a stream that's deeper than their boots, while others carefully cross streams that are thigh-deep.

I don't think a lawsuit will be successful in this case. But if the park service wanted to put up a sign, I wouldn't be unhappy about it.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 01:48PM
Quote
itchbay

Is this the first time something like this has happened? Have there been stories of backpackers who approached the bridge under similar circumstances and decided to go around or wait? Or did other backpackers make it across prior to this?

This was a group of five backpackers, including the wife of one of the deceased. As she described it, the lead man slipped and fell. Her husband grabbed that man that had fallen with both hands to try to save him (her husband had been holding onto the railing) and then he too was swept away. The other three members of the group (including the wife) did manage to make it across. (Don't know if other groups before this group had made it across the bridges that day.)


Quote
itchbay

I don't think a lawsuit will be successful in this case. But if the park service wanted to put up a sign, I wouldn't be unhappy about it.

I wouldn't mind it either if on this particular set of bridges the Park Service decided to install a sign warning about the extreme danger of crossing these bridges during high water. Not that it would have made a difference to a group of experience backpackers who I think fully understood the danger, but only because this set of bridges are also pretty accessible to (and visited by) the more casual tourist who might not be.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 10:57AM
Quote
rightstar76
Eeek, we clearly disagree on what NPS policy should be. That makes sense since this forum contains a variety of opinions and not everyone is going to agree. My opinion is that this trail while not the Half Dome Trail is heavily used enough that there should be signs warning hikers. If this had happened near Flora Lake, for example, I would not expect NPS to put up signs. After all, if you're going cross country you should know what you're doing. However, this was a major trail with a newly rebuilt bridge near a trailhead. I think NPS should have put up signs and that a lawsuit may guarantee that NPS will do that in the future. That's why I mentioned it.


I also find your lawsuit comments to be absurd. Stay home on your easy chair watching reruns of Bear Grylls, that's as close to the wilderness people like you should get.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:22AM
Ad hominem attacks are absurd too.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:24AM
You can join him on the easy chair :-)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2011 11:25AM by LVRAY.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:40AM
Really? Is this really the way you want this thread to go?

It's a shame that people can't disagree* without including personal attacks.


*I don't actually have an opinion on the sign/lawsuit issue because I just started reading the second half of this thread (1st half being the news reports and initial comments, 2nd half being the discussion about what could have/should have been done, if anything).
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 01:15PM
Quote
rightstar76
Eeek, we clearly disagree on what NPS policy should be. That makes sense since this forum contains a variety of opinions and not everyone is going to agree. My opinion is that this trail while not the Half Dome Trail is heavily used enough that there should be signs warning hikers. If this had happened near Flora Lake, for example, I would not expect NPS to put up signs. After all, if you're going cross country you should know what you're doing. However, this was a major trail with a newly rebuilt bridge near a trailhead. I think NPS should have put up signs and that a lawsuit may guarantee that NPS will do that in the future. That's why I mentioned it.

rightstar76,
On another thread a hiker posted several photos including one of a rattlesnake he almost stepped on above Nevada Fall, the same popular trail. Do you believe that if he had stepped on it and gotten bitten that a lawsuit against the NPS would have been justified because they failed to post rattlesnack warning signs all along miles of trail? If they post signs for one danger then why not post signs for every conceivable danger in the wild? Many stupid people try to climb Half Dome. Should the NPS post a sign at the end of the Valley warning the ignorant not to head to Half Dome at noon with flip-flops?

The NPS can not and should not be held responsible for their visitor's poor judgement or run-in with common accidents. Yes, it is indeed tragic that two experienced hikers met their deaths at Wapama. Our hearts go out to their families for their loss. I like to look at it with the consolation that they died doing something they truly enjoyed. Don't take that away from them by dirtying it with lawsuits.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2011 01:16PM by tomdisco.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:53PM
Quote
rightstar76

I'm disappointed with the lack of compassion shown by some of the other posters here. Mr. Fox and Mr. Meyer both had kids and now they will grow up without a father. Their wives are now widows and their friends, colleagues, and patients are grieving as well. Is self-sufficiency such a holy cow that not even the deaths of two people returning from a backpacking trip warrant any empathy? For some here, yes, and that is unfortunate. A temporary sign warning of the danger might have made a difference. There are signs on Half Dome warning people about lightning. A few signs by the falls might have convinced these two men not to cross and saved their lives.

I really don't think anyone who has commented on this thread in regards to this tragedy has shown a lack of compassion towards the victims or their families. And I think everyone who has hiked in the backcountry has shown a great deal of empathy for what happend to these two men.

It's just many people have disagreed, some strongly, that the Park Service is in any way responsible for the death of these two men. And I truly doubt that these men, who by all accounts were experience backpackers, would have needed a warning sign to become aware of the inherent danger of crossing those bridges in those conditions. I think all the members of that group understood the dangerous nature of the crossing, but decided to attempt the crossing anyway. These men weren't some newbie day-hikers in flip flops who foolishly didn't understand the danger facing them.

Signs as the one on the Half Dome trail are needed on trails where there are a lot of inexperience hikers, like the Half Dome trail. I doubt that a sign, as you have proposed, would have made a difference to an experience hiker who already should have known (and probably did know) the risks at hand.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/01/2011 08:45PM by plawrence.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 07:52PM
The National Park's website clearly states:


Open trails aren't necessarily free of hazards--by entering the wilderness, you assume responsibility for your safety and must use good judgment. Trails ... ... ... may be snowy and very difficult to find from November through May/June (and may have other hazards).


(and I believe that advisement is on their website year round ... as it should be)

One's failing to use "good judgement" should not be rectified by hornswaggling or boondoggling a legal remedy.

Please, no lawsuit.


on the location topic, I did Wapama Falls exactly 2 years ago at full tilt for that year anyhow ...... it was do-able ... was no cakewalk, for sure ... but do-able ... lots of water pounding and thrashing, but it could be done.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 10:42PM
Signs on Half Dome about lightning are different, I think, than signs at Wapama Falls. Lightning is not something someone sees until it has struck, and if you don't spend time in the mountains, you don't necessarily know how serious a danger lightning really is. This waterfall, when standing in front of the bridge at this time of the year, is clearly hazardous. It doesn't take an experienced hiker to see that it can sweep you away. I don't think anyone has shown a lack of compassion, and in fact most people have expressed sympathy and condolences in this thread. But sympathy for the hikers does not necessarily equate to blame on the national park service. It isn't their job to point out every hazard of the wilderness.
On another note, I was talking to a person who had left Rancheria Falls camp the day after me, and he said that they had closed the bridge. This would have been 6/23. Has anyone heard about that? Is there a reason they reopened it?
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:52AM
Quote
tyler4588
Signs on Half Dome about lightning are different, I think, than signs at Wapama Falls. Lightning is not something someone sees until it has struck, and if you don't spend time in the mountains, you don't necessarily know how serious a danger lightning really is. This waterfall, when standing in front of the bridge at this time of the year, is clearly hazardous. It doesn't take an experienced hiker to see that it can sweep you away. I don't think anyone has shown a lack of compassion, and in fact most people have expressed sympathy and condolences in this thread. But sympathy for the hikers does not necessarily equate to blame on the national park service. It isn't their job to point out every hazard of the wilderness.
On another note, I was talking to a person who had left Rancheria Falls camp the day after me, and he said that they had closed the bridge. This would have been 6/23. Has anyone heard about that? Is there a reason they reopened it?

We crossed the Wapama Falls Bridge early on the 25th (about 8 or 8:30 am). It was open. There was a fair amount of water coming over the bridge closest to Hetch Hetchy - about 7 to 10 inches deep. The amount of water going over the bridge was far more than that shown in the video linked in this thread from June 15. There were larger "waves" coming over infrequently. Only that bridge had any significant moving water. The others were ankle deep at most - flooded, not really moving. We have photos if anyone wants to see them.

When we got to the tunnel, we ran into the ranger going out to check the bridge. He asked if we had crossed and what the water level was like. He did say they had closed the bridge on Thursday 6/23.

We also crossed the bridge at Vernon Lake, which was completely flooded out on the west side and required a 60 to 80 foot wade through very cold water that had pools chest deep (I'm 5'11"winking smiley. You were quite numb by the time you reached the other side. While we were at Vernon, several tried to cross but gave up after a few feet. I would suggest that this was a more dangerous crossing than the Wapama bridge. Even if the two returned in this direction, that would of had to deal with this obstacle.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2011 11:56AM by LVRAY.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 04:20PM
Pics of Falls Creek below Vernon taken on 6-25



avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 01, 2011 11:19PM
Here is a video from WhitneyZone.com by Rogue Photonic. It was taken on June 15th, and it shows well how the water was washing across the wooden bridge.

The second video was taken from YouTube and offers a first hand experience going over the bridge











More information on the Wapama Falls and the general area can be found here:
http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/yosemite-wapama-falls.html



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2011 07:35PM by Bee.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:55AM
Thanks for posting that Bee, considering I haven't been on it.

I don't need a sign to tell my that's dangerous. The mist trail scares me wet or dry and this wouldn't be any different.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 12:51AM
In regard to the Park Service's limited responsibility: Last Monday I crossed the bridge below vernal and began the climb up to the falls. This was my first trip up. Soon the dirt trail turned into a rock ledge on the side of the cliff face. A short way up this portion the ledge is no wider than 3', has no railing and everything is wet from the mist; we were already soaked. Now I realize that this trail must seem to the experienced climber like some sort of freeway, but to this novice I was staggered by the lack of railing. The trail is rock; worn, wet and slippery and since I'm inexperienced, I coudn't figure out what would keep me from flying off the ledge and straight down into the Merced if say someone slipped and bumped into me (the trail was packed with people going up and down). I didn't feel comfortable continuing so I turned around to go back down and realized I couldn't hug the cliff on the descent because those coming up had that position. So I had to go around them meaning I had about eighteen inches of wet rock ledge between them and the drop off to walk on. It became real apparent that death was a simple single mistep away. It's not like you can grab someone and there is no cable fixed to the wall.
The park service advertises the mist trail as one of the most popular trails in the park. On the Yosemitehikes.com site it states that more people die in Yosemite on the mist trail than anywhere else in the park; reason given is that they underestimate the power of the river and don't exercise enough caution.
Now I understand that you hike at your own risk. And that you have to assess each situation and know your limitations. I did and didn't continue. But should the NPS have an obligation when one of their most popular trails goes from benign to risky (I can't remember any signage at that point).
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 05:04AM
Quote
mstag
In regard to the Park Service's limited responsibility: Last Monday I crossed the bridge below vernal and began the climb up to the falls. This was my first trip up. Soon the dirt trail turned into a rock ledge on the side of the cliff face. A short way up this portion the ledge is no wider than 3', has no railing and everything is wet from the mist; we were already soaked. Now I realize that this trail must seem to the experienced climber like some sort of freeway, but to this novice I was staggered by the lack of railing. The trail is rock; worn, wet and slippery and since I'm inexperienced, I coudn't figure out what would keep me from flying off the ledge and straight down into the Merced if say someone slipped and bumped into me (the trail was packed with people going up and down). I didn't feel comfortable continuing so I turned around to go back down and realized I couldn't hug the cliff on the descent because those coming up had that position. So I had to go around them meaning I had about eighteen inches of wet rock ledge between them and the drop off to walk on. It became real apparent that death was a simple single mistep away. It's not like you can grab someone and there is no cable fixed to the wall.
The park service advertises the mist trail as one of the most popular trails in the park. On the Yosemitehikes.com site it states that more people die in Yosemite on the mist trail than anywhere else in the park; reason given is that they underestimate the power of the river and don't exercise enough caution.
Now I understand that you hike at your own risk. And that you have to assess each situation and know your limitations. I did and didn't continue. But should the NPS have an obligation when one of their most popular trails goes from benign to risky (I can't remember any signage at that point).


Similar to the case of vehicles, standard trail etiquette requires that the person travelling downhill yield the right-of-way to the person travelling uphill.
The downhill traveller should stand motionless on the upslope side of the trail and assist the uphill traveller, as necessary or expedient, when he passes (i.e., grab ahold of him to prevent him from falling downslope should he slip).
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 12:35PM
Quote
szalkowski
Quote
mstag
In regard to the Park Service's limited responsibility: Last Monday I crossed the bridge below vernal and began the climb up to the falls. This was my first trip up. Soon the dirt trail turned into a rock ledge on the side of the cliff face. A short way up this portion the ledge is no wider than 3', has no railing and everything is wet from the mist; we were already soaked. Now I realize that this trail must seem to the experienced climber like some sort of freeway, but to this novice I was staggered by the lack of railing. The trail is rock; worn, wet and slippery and since I'm inexperienced, I coudn't figure out what would keep me from flying off the ledge and straight down into the Merced if say someone slipped and bumped into me (the trail was packed with people going up and down). I didn't feel comfortable continuing so I turned around to go back down and realized I couldn't hug the cliff on the descent because those coming up had that position. So I had to go around them meaning I had about eighteen inches of wet rock ledge between them and the drop off to walk on. It became real apparent that death was a simple single mistep away. It's not like you can grab someone and there is no cable fixed to the wall.
The park service advertises the mist trail as one of the most popular trails in the park. On the Yosemitehikes.com site it states that more people die in Yosemite on the mist trail than anywhere else in the park; reason given is that they underestimate the power of the river and don't exercise enough caution.
Now I understand that you hike at your own risk. And that you have to assess each situation and know your limitations. I did and didn't continue. But should the NPS have an obligation when one of their most popular trails goes from benign to risky (I can't remember any signage at that point).


Similar to the case of vehicles, standard trail etiquette requires that the person travelling downhill yield the right-of-way to the person travelling uphill.
The downhill traveller should stand motionless on the upslope side of the trail and assist the uphill traveller, as necessary or expedient, when he passes (i.e., grab ahold of him to prevent him from falling downslope should he slip).

Len,
Until you mentioned this some months ago in a prior thread even I was not aware of this "uphill/downhill standard trail etiquette". No one has ever mentioned this to me nor have I ever seen it mentioned in hiking books I've read. Therefore, I too have been ignorant of this practice. Lots of hikers may not be aware of this aspect of trail etiquette if they have never been exposed to it in conversation or writing. My own experience on steep trails is that most folks just stay on the right regardless which direction they are heading. I think your uphill/downhill rule is good; I just wonder how many folks have a clue.Embaressed
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 11:00PM
RE: Trail etiquette, I just took my very "green" mother, sister and her husband and their daughter, to Yosemite. In preparing them for hiking the trail, I told them about trail etiquette and to always (1) yield to uphill hikers and (2) backpackers and/or stock always have the right of way unless your position puts you in such an aspect as to where you must proceed first. All of this made sense to them and they observed those practices very well. I have hiked in this manner for years, and I honestly am not sure where/how I picked this up.

Also, we did the Mist trail. I hadn't done it in a while, usually doing very long hikes (70 or so miles) deep in the back country. It was a bit surprising there wasn't more "something" to help secure people that feel like they need that support (like a wall cable). Similar to half-dome or something like the chain at Angels Landing in Zion. Honestly, it was probably more than they were prepared to undertake, but they decided to proceed. I am not in favor of signs at every possible danger site in the backcountry, but.....in areas where so many novices go, wearing clothes and shoes they have no business hiking in, I do think that the NPS should do a little more for safety since they do promote those trails heavily as attractions. It wouldn't be that big a deal for them to put up a standard pole fence on the downhill side. Especially considering how crowded that trail gets.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 03, 2011 01:06PM
Quote
ab2ski
RE: Trail etiquette, I just took my very "green" mother, sister and her husband and their daughter, to Yosemite. In preparing them for hiking the trail, I told them about trail etiquette and to always (1) yield to uphill hikers and (2) backpackers and/or stock always have the right of way unless your position puts you in such an aspect as to where you must proceed first. All of this made sense to them and they observed those practices very well. I have hiked in this manner for years, and I honestly am not sure where/how I picked this up.



The details of my instruction in trail etiquette are likewise lost in the mists of history, although I am fairly certain that the basics were verbally transmitted to me (circa 1969) by a fellow member of the research group that I was in back during graduate school. It's rather distressing to hear that hiking books generally don't contain a discussion of the topic; perhaps older editions or discontinued titles do contain some guidelines. [In the sciences, I've found that more recent editions of many reference books have almost systematically eliminated much useful information, possibly because they consider it common knowledge (or readily available elsewhere) and want to devote space to newer, sexier topics.]

A couple additional comments about encountering stock animals:
When you stop to let them pass, (1) step a reasonable distance off of the trail (I like to give them 10 ft. clearance if possible) but remain where the animals can see you, (2) remain still and quiet (I don't take any photos if they are within 50 ft., both before and after they pass), and (3) follow any instructions given by the riders or wranglers (they know their animals much better than you). If there is a choice between up-slope or down-slope, go down-slope: you will less likely be perceived as a possible predator when downhill and, also, spooked animals supposedly prefer/tend to escape uphill.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/03/2011 01:25PM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 03, 2011 02:20PM
Quote
szalkowski
A couple additional comments about encountering stock animals:
When you stop to let them pass, (1) step a reasonable distance off of the trail (I like to give them 10 ft. clearance if possible) but remain where the animals can see you, (2) remain still and quiet (I don't take any photos if they are within 50 ft., both before and after they pass), and (3) follow any instructions given by the riders or wranglers (they know their animals much better than you). If there is a choice between up-slope or down-slope, go down-slope: you will less likely be perceived as a possible predator when downhill and, also, spooked animals supposedly prefer/tend to escape uphill.

Before I comment again, I do also want to extend my sympathies to those affected by this tragedy. I unintentionally sort of hijacked the thread and certainly do not want it to get lost that we are all ultimately commenting on this because it does affect us all in some way, because we all have been out there doing the same things and faced with similar situations (most likely). That fact alone makes this all pertinent and should make us all think just that much more the next time, and every time, we are out in the "wild."

Additionally, I do want to comment on the good points above by szalkowski....I have pretty much followed those same guidelines, but have take pics of some cool "cowboys" and their rides on occasion. I do like the point about moving downhill. I usually move to direction I am closest to (or have the most reasonable room), but never specifically chosen "downhill." Good point! This might make a very good general topic of discussion on its own!
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 03, 2011 07:31PM
Quote
szalkowski
A couple additional comments about encountering stock animals:
When you stop to let them pass, (1) step a reasonable distance off of the trail (I like to give them 10 ft. clearance if possible) but remain where the animals can see you, (2) remain still and quiet (I don't take any photos if they are within 50 ft., both before and after they pass), and (3) follow any instructions given by the riders or wranglers (they know their animals much better than you). If there is a choice between up-slope or down-slope, go down-slope: you will less likely be perceived as a possible predator when downhill and, also, spooked animals supposedly prefer/tend to escape uphill.

Depends on where I guess. Over at the Grand Canyon the basic rule is that hikers need to get on the uphill side and away from the edge when mules pass by. The wranglers will give directions.

http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hike-tips.htm

Quote

MULES HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY.


Several recent encounters between hikers and mules resulted in injuries to packers and the death of some mules. To ensure safety for yourself, other trail users, and mule riders, when encountering mules on the trails:
  • Step off the trail on the uphill side away from the edge.
  • Follow the direction of the wrangler. Remain completely quiet and stand perfectly still.
  • Do not return to the trail until the last mule is 50 feet (15 meters) past your position.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 03, 2011 03:59PM
Quote
ab2ski
yield to uphill hikers/quote]

I just yield to everyone. (Gives me a rest stop winking smiley )
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 08:31AM
First I will extend my sympathy to the families and friends of these men...


More than likely these men were hit by a surge of water from the falls. Anyone like me, who can be mesmorized by the uneven surging of the swollen waterfalls as they tumble over the granite walls, can watch in awe, seeing the ebb and flow of the uneven volumne of water.


Last year, in early June, our family hiked to Wapama Falls during peak water conditions (which probably did not compare to this year.) A few of us crossed the bridges just for "fun." I got hit by a surge of water on the first bridge...it knocked me off balance a little and I lost my video camera. (Not to be compared to the loss of life, obviously.) Just to illustrate that the water was uneven and unexpected in it's flow, more like a strong gust of wind.


Edit: As I scrolled up to view pics, may I say that it is just plain luck that there are not more accidents or deaths near waterfalls. On my hike on the mist trails on June 24, people were standing in the water on the brink of Nevada Falls for their photos. Seriously?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2011 08:35AM by hikerchick395.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 03:32PM
rightstar76. I feel really bad for the families of the men that were swept away. It was a terrible thing to have witness and I feel sympathy towards their friends and families.

However, even if the bridge was posted would that stop someone who wants to cross? I can’t tell you how many people I have seen ignore posted signs. Every time we go to the bridge at lower Yosemite Falls people are climbing on the rocks even though it is posted not to. Last weekend we saw people standing beyond the railings at the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls. There were even two guys trying to wade just below the Nevada Falls bridge. I could go on and on about what I have seen people do in not only Yosemite but in other national parks even when things are posted.

Sign ignoring is not only in parks and wilderness. My son’s middle school has an obstacle course that is fenced in and is clearly marked that no one is supposed to use it unless a teacher is present. One day after school when no one was around a student climbed the fence and ended up breaking his arm on one of the obstacles. Even though it was his fault, his parent’s sued and now no one is allowed to use it.

Every danger in life cannot be marked. There are only so many park rangers, policeman, lifeguards, etc in the world and they can’t baby sit everyone. People have to use common sense and take responsibility for their actions.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 07:30PM
I think a sign would've helped in having some doubt creep in the mind of anyone wanting to cross the bridge with those conditions. If I put myself in the hikers shoes, considering the alternative routes out, I think I may have been inclined to make the same call. A sign though, would perhaps help me listen to my rational side. I saw this first hand last week at lower yosemite falls. I hadn't been to the bridge at LYF in years. I remember the last time I was there, there were hoards of people climbing the rocks on the east side of the falls. This year I didn't see anybody on those same rocks. There was a big sign saying those rocks were hazardous for anyone climbing them. I strongly believe the sign made it harder for many to make the decision to go further. A warning sign at Wapama Falls may have saved some lives.

Edit: I didn't read Parklover's post about LYF. My experience was different. Maybe a sign wouldn't have helped but it wouldn't have hurt either. Trajic story nonetheless!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2011 07:39PM by DantheMan.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 09:15PM
Quote
DantheMan
I think a sign would've helped in having some doubt creep in the mind of anyone wanting to cross the bridge with those conditions. If I put myself in the hikers shoes, considering the alternative routes out, I think I may have been inclined to make the same call. A sign though, would perhaps help me listen to my rational side. I saw this first hand last week at lower yosemite falls. I hadn't been to the bridge at LYF in years. I remember the last time I was there, there were hoards of people climbing the rocks on the east side of the falls. This year I didn't see anybody on those same rocks. There was a big sign saying those rocks were hazardous for anyone climbing them. I strongly believe the sign made it harder for many to make the decision to go further. A warning sign at Wapama Falls may have saved some lives.

Edit: I didn't read Parklover's post about LYF. My experience was different. Maybe a sign wouldn't have helped but it wouldn't have hurt either. Trajic story nonetheless!

There are warning signs - see my post above. In addition, my wife just reminded me there was a special fold out sign on the dam saying something to the effect 'Warning - high water conditions ahead" when we passed on by on 6/22.

Besides, the idea of warning signs is a joke. Nobody reads them or pays attention anyway, but everyone wants one.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 02, 2011 10:15PM
My husband, son and I figure that 80-90 % of the time we go to Lower Yosemite Falls bridge, we see people on the rocks. If you look at the most recent Nature Notes which is on the moonbows, you can see time lapse of the falls and there are flashlights shining from the rocks in some of them. The only season we have not see people on the rocks is in the winter.
avatar Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 03, 2011 01:06AM
Heh, I've seen people on those rocks in the middle of winter too.
Re: Two Swept Away on Yosemite Footbridge
July 04, 2011 05:47PM
A very sad tragedy.

Behavior of those crossing Falls Creek below Wapama in high water is much the same as those climbing Half Dome when thunderstorms are in the area. Many novices with a bit of stubborn nature and ignorant of mountain weather will continue to climb up the cables if they see others do so even while they see others at the bottom backing away. Likewise at Falls Creek, if others on the trail in front of them have obviously passed across, the tendency may be of those following to underestimate dangers and proceed without adequate considerations. Impatience can lead to tragedy. I would guess of all those who backpack into the Sierra, that only a minor percentage really have ever had experience wading streams more than shin deep. During El Nino years like this there are many that for the first time are facing such fords. Anyone who has done so will face several unfamilliar issues when crossing that might cause them to fall. I tend to be like a cat when it comes to balance and learned much as a twentysomething I in later years try to avoid. Over the years I have backpacked with several of people, mostly urban types with little outdoor experience, that were very unstable even in minor situations. One sees the same lack of coordination with some beginners on ski slopes. Sure, they can walk down a typical trail fine but add some difficulty like pulling oneself up and over a big log fallen across a trail and they often need assistance. Put such persons on a wet slippery bridge with the force of ice cold powerful water against one's legs and expect problems.

The Falls Creek Wapama Bridge crossing has a long history of being difficult to cross in high water. Its up to anyone who is backpacking that trail to do their homework on its dangers, The park service has closed that bridge numbers of times over the years and there are numbers of accounts on the web of crossing it when it has been difficult like this:

http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/yosemite-travel-blog-crossing-the-streams.html

Ought the NPS close Half Dome during days when rain wets the cables just because it will be dangerous to the less capable visitors? Likewise ought the NPS close the Rancheria Trail on days when water is flowing over the Wapama Falls bridge such that it is dangerous for those with lower skills? Ought the NPS put up a sign below the HD cables stating the rock and cables are slippery when wet and if one falls they are likely to die? Isn't such obvious? If one was a novice and was faced with down climbing wet rocks and cables or spending the night atop HD to wait till the next day's morning sun dried rock and cable, what might you do? Behavior of some is often to gamble in such conditions even though they are placing a bet on their life and treating such like a toss of the dice.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2011 05:56PM by DavidSenesac.
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