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Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails

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avatar Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 05:07AM
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/07/21/BAR61KDIGH.DTL

Yosemite rangers rarely punish those off trails

Friday, July 22, 2011

On any given day, Yosemite National Park rangers arrest drunken drivers, hand out citations for illegal campfires or fine teenagers for spray-painting rocks.

Straying from a trail or climbing over a barrier at a waterfall - a transgression that led to the deaths of three visitors to the park's Vernal Fall this week - almost always goes unpunished, however.....



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 06:51AM
The title of the article and some of the words make it sound like
off-trail travel is prohibited. Ridiculous.

Walking 2 ft. off the trail when it is wet. Don't do dat.
Cutting switchbacks. Don't do dat.

Leaving the trail behind completely. Go crazy.
tongue sticking out smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 07:20AM
I think this article is what frustrates some of us over this issue. I don't want more government intervention and yes that may mean more freedom which may mean more death. But I don't want more signs and definitely don't want restrictions on what I can do in the Park. Obviously this is limited to restrictions that don't cause harm to others or the trails. That fits Chicks reference to switchbacks and wet trails.

Frank you previously referenced Airline announcements implying that Yosemite should do more things like that. But airline announcements are routinely ignored and are only done because of government bureaucracy-do they really serve any purpose other than making government regulators happy?
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 08:49AM
Quote

Frank you previously referenced Airline announcements implying that Yosemite should do more things like that. But airline announcements are routinely ignored and are only done because of government bureaucracy-do they really serve any purpose other than making government regulators happy?

Communication is tricky. Too much repetition is ignored but the key to education is repetition. No easy answer. I think I mentioned air travel because it seems to be glaringly excessive compared to the actual risk that is controllable by the passengers’ actions. There a lots of ways that visitors could be better informed or more compliant in the parks. Just brain storming, but things that come to mind are:
random cell phone messages to those phones detected in the park, better low power radio transmitter information , better signage, a “Senior Ranger” or "Family of Rangers" program (like Junior Ranger program), more Ranger led hikes and talks (I have noticed a cut back in the Yellowstone programs), “hiking in Yosemite" license, public service messages by celebrities, more bear boxes/latrines, infrared alarms at particularly dangerous areas, visitor activated alarms for observed risky behavior. I am not advocating these necessarily, but California is the center of innovation, surely there are people cleverer than I with some good suggestions.

PS: Signs that tell a story are often more significant-- for example, there was a warning sign in the Valley near the Village that described a visitor who received a fatal injury from an antlered deer. I am sure that sign is more effective than 10 signs saying "don't feed the deer".



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/22/2011 08:53AM by Frank Furter.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 10:23AM
As I stated in another thread, a simple solution would be to post a ranger in the areas that have been historically death zone hotspots, the top of Vernal Falls being probably the prime one. A ranger doesn't have to be posted there 24/7, but just during the days and hours of peak visitation (late spring through Labor Day, from mid-morning to early evening). It doesn't really need to be even a law enforcement ranger. Just one of the park's interpretive rangers could be stationed there, answering questions from the tourist and keeping eye's on things so people aren't tempted to do foolish and dangerous things around the brink of the fall.

That alone would have probably saved the three lives last week.

The news article makes a rather pointless remark that its hard to patrol the entire park. Duh! But the Park Service doesn't need to do that. They know which areas of the park are most prone to fatal or serious accidents caused by reckless behavior. It's only those areas that could use beefed up attention by the park's rangers.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 10:54AM
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 09:39AM
I agree that all those things you listed could be done. And they probably would even improve safety. But there are tradeoffs.

Someone has to pay for the things you listed. I don't want a Nanny State that attempts to take away all danger. I also don't want to pay for it as a taxpayer.

Also even if some of the items were free I don't want them. I don't want more signs at Vernal Fall. Where does it end? Signs at Waterwheel Falls? Signs warning of danger on the way to the Diving Board?

I don't want to have to get a license to hike in Yosemite. Alarms in dangerous areas?

This all seems to be turning into a political discussion. I personally don't think some of the items you listed is the proper role of government. It is a liberty/government control issue.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 10:37AM
Quote
chicagocwright
I don't want to have to get a license to hike in Yosemite. Alarms in dangerous areas?

I've hiked where a day-use permit was required, such as Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. It wasn't all that difficult. At the ver least one has to fill out a permit that states that some things are inherently dangerous.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 10:20AM
As we've learned, sometimes nature does the punishing.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 01:16PM
That sfgate article "Yosemite rangers rarely punish those off trails" and its second paragraph,

"Straying from a trail or climbing over a barrier at a waterfall - a transgression that led to the deaths of three visitors to the park's Vernal Fall this week - almost always goes unpunished, however."

shows the two Chronicle Staff Writers, Kelly Zito and Peter Fimrite, to be rather ignorant of policy in our outdoor parks. Apparently they are urban people that have not gotten out of San Francisco or other urban areas much during their lives as they seem to think there is some general policy against going off trails. Of course at some famous outdoor parks where there are large numbers of visitors, there is indeed policy that prohibits visitors from walking off trails in order to protect such areas from being over trampled. Often such trails may have a strung cable fence beside walkways and signs may prominently state "Please do not walk off trails". Examples are most trails at Point Lobos State Reserve or at Point Reyes National Seashore, the Chimney Rock Trail. However in the majority of other circumstances including most of our national parks there is no such policy against walking off trails. It is true in minor number of cases at our parks there are recommendations on some trails that people stay on trails though not doing so isn''t an infraction. In such cases the policy is again to limit trampling or as a warning for the protection of hikers as is the case at the top of Vernal Falls. Generally policies targeting individuals in which their actions do not affect others, are not set at the lowest common denomenator of the least capable and weakest but rather allow freedom of choice with decision bearing upon individuals.

One place where that recommendation type of policy has been in full public view for many decades is at Glacier Point where large numbers of people visit every day. For decades there has been a metal bar guard rail at the point. Uncertain if there are any signs there because such is self evident as only a blind person would not be aware of the danger. For those unfamiliar with the point, the cliff is a rare pure vertical plumb line drop for over 1,000 feet and then continues clifflike at a bit less than vertical for hundreds of feet more. There is a rock that juts out over the cliff onto which one will occasionally see daredevil climbers go over the bars and walk out onto the overhang for the sake of posing for their friends or public. Such has never been considered illegal and ought not be. For a climber that is at ease moving about at deadly heights, much like skyscraper construction workers that walk about on open beams hundreds of feet up above cities, doing such is no big deal, and ought to be allowed.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/22/2011 01:24PM by DavidSenesac.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 01:23PM
Quote
DavidSenesac
For those unfamiliar with the point, the cliff is a rare pure vertical plumb line drop for over 1,000 feet and then continues clifflike at a bit less than vertical for hundreds of feet more. There is a rock that juts out over the cliff onto which one will occasionally see daredevil climbers go over the bars and walk out onto the overhang for the sake of posing for their friends or public. Such has never been considered illegal and ought not be. For a climber that is at ease moving about at deadly heights, much like skyscraper construction workers that walk about on open beams hundreds of feet up above cities, doing such is no big deal, and ought to be allowed.

avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 01:47PM
I always preferred the photo of the dancing ladies (Kitty Tatch and Katherine Hazelston, circa 1900):

Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 08:06PM
Quote
plawrence
I always preferred the photo of the dancing ladies (Kitty Tatch and Katherine Hazelston, circa 1900):


I remember another cool photo with at least 6 people on the Hanging Rock, with one man sitting right at the edge, legs dangling. Taken circa 1875. Saw it one of the John Muir books, I believe.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 02:56PM
There are indeed signs that say the area is closed.
At least they are little more obvious now than a couple years ago...
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,20384

There are railings further down... so that you could easily take the picture of the ladies in olden times.
Unfortunately the park "improves" things to help protect the population at large...



Chick-on is looking at you!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/22/2011 02:56PM by chick-on.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 06:40PM
Last time I checked, there was no closure or off-limits sign from the Four Mile Trail approach to Glacier Point's Overhanging Rock. wink
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 06:53PM
I think you just like busting my balls...

There's signs pretty much all the way around it from what I recall.
I doubt you can make it there without seeing a sign...

I'm sure the ranger would buy that one though.... not...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 07:30PM
Quote
chick-on
I think you just like busting my balls...

There's signs pretty much all the way around it from what I recall.
I doubt you can make it there without seeing a sign...

I'm sure the ranger would buy that one though.... not...



Do chickens have balls?
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 07:34PM
Quote
ezlivin
Do chickens have balls?

Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 12:55AM
Quote
eeek
Quote
ezlivin
Do chickens have balls?



Deep fried chick-on t's! Yes it's a fact...a rooster has two very large testicles within the abdominal cavity on each side of the backbone. If that's the case it means chick-on cannot technically have his balls busted as he stated above. Would it have been more technically correct of him to have said " I think you just like frying my balls" ? Who knows! Stay tuned for more of the saga of chick-on fried t's!
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 08:31PM


One minute after I took the above picture, a kid about 16 or 17, walked out onto the rock and posed while his family took pictures of him. Dozens of people were standing around in the walled-in area of the point and nobody said a word. I think like me, many of them were stunned by it and couldn't speak or didn't know what to say. You don't see how long the drop is unless you go up to the wall; from further back it looks like just another outcropping. It was a cool and windy day, and I thought for sure the next gust of wind would sweep him to his death. I had to turn away and leave the point because I didn't want to see it happen. Fortunately nothing happened. But there are clear warning signs all around it:

avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 09:44PM
Quote
Bob Weaver

Thanks for posting this picture; I think it is the same view that a friend of mine uses as wallpaper -- complete with another friend sitting on that same rock. I never knew what the official name of the area was.



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 29, 2011 05:39PM
Photos from a book titled "Yosemite, The Embattled Wilderness" by Albert Runte, copyright 1990. All due credit to the author and photographers. This is for fun, not profit.

Picasa

*Now* it works, had to change some privacy settings. Sorry - as I've said b4, not web savvy. smiling smiley



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 07/29/2011 06:03PM by Ohnivy-Drak.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 11:33PM
It's the same rock shown in the black-and-white photos above. It's even visible from some locations on the valley floor if you look carefully or use binoculars. It's at Glacier Point, sort of to the west of the paved, wall-in parts of the point. It's easy to find pictures (old and new) of people standing or sitting on that rock, even though falling from it would mean certain death. It must be a long-standing tradition among the foolish.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 04:59AM
I'm boat a fool and a pro-fesh-en-al.

They need that sign at the entrance to the park....

Seriously... follow the link below... with me out der.
And then poke around... finding the pdf with the postcards...
and find out what the old sign used to say at that location
before they put up guard rails... and b4 they closed the area.

Have fun
Be Safe (I ALWAYS AM!) wink



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 12:52PM
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 08:31PM
I believe the rock in my photo is the smaller, upper one in your photo. Obviously both are extremely dangerous to go out onto.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 09:56PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
I believe the rock in my photo is the smaller, upper one in your photo. Obviously both are extremely dangerous to go out onto.

Have you seen the hanging slab on Half Dome?
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 10:02PM
Quote
Bob Weaver
I believe the rock in my photo is the smaller, upper one in your photo. Obviously both are extremely dangerous to go out onto.

Not really, if you're aren't scared of heights. I doubt that any big wall rock climber for instance would have any trouble standing on those two overhanging rocks and not feel anything but perfectly safe in good weather.

But it's simply not a place for the casual tourist to frolic around.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 24, 2011 05:07AM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
Bob Weaver
I believe the rock in my photo is the smaller, upper one in your photo. Obviously both are extremely dangerous to go out onto.

Not really, if you're aren't scared of heights. I doubt that any big wall rock climber for instance would have any trouble standing on those two overhanging rocks and not feel anything but perfectly safe in good weather.

But it's simply not a place for the casual tourist to frolic around.

The danger may be managed better by an experienced climber, but the inherent danger remains the same. I suspect that a climber would respect the limits imposed by the situation. All other factors the same, someone with acrophobia would be less likely to suffer injury than someone who acted without the restraint of anxiety.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 24, 2011 08:48AM
Quote
Frank Furter
Quote
plawrence
Quote
Bob Weaver
I believe the rock in my photo is the smaller, upper one in your photo. Obviously both are extremely dangerous to go out onto.

Not really, if you're aren't scared of heights. I doubt that any big wall rock climber for instance would have any trouble standing on those two overhanging rocks and not feel anything but perfectly safe in good weather.

But it's simply not a place for the casual tourist to frolic around.

The danger may be managed better by an experienced climber, but the inherent danger remains the same. I suspect that a climber would respect the limits imposed by the situation. All other factors the same, someone with acrophobia would be less likely to suffer injury than someone who acted without the restraint of anxiety.

I suspect that virtually all that have been victim of high fast water were completely unaware of the dynamics and proceeded with blissful confidence. A romp in a brook, just like in the movies. Perhaps a flyer handed out at the entrance stations with a short tutorial on slippery rocks and the unimaginable power of the water that will dash you to death in a heartbeat.

The Wapama Falls incident is another matter. I've crossed that bridge system probably 100 times or more and have never considered it to be dangerous. I have had a paradigm shift.



Old Dude
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 02:29PM
Quote
DavidSenesac
That sfgate article "Yosemite rangers rarely punish those off trails" and its second paragraph,

"Straying from a trail or climbing over a barrier at a waterfall - a transgression that led to the deaths of three visitors to the park's Vernal Fall this week - almost always goes unpunished, however."

shows the two Chronicle Staff Writers, Kelly Zito and Peter Fimrite, to be rather ignorant of policy in our outdoor parks. Apparently they are urban people that have not gotten out of San Francisco or other urban areas much during their lives as they seem to think there is some general policy against going off trails. Of course at some famous outdoor parks where there are large numbers of visitors, there is indeed policy that prohibits visitors from walking off trails in order to protect such areas from being over trampled. Often such trails may have a strung cable fence beside walkways and signs may prominently state "Please do not walk off trails". Examples are most trails at Point Lobos State Reserve or at Point Reyes National Seashore, the Chimney Rock Trail. However in the majority of other circumstances including most of our national parks there is no such policy against walking off trails. It is true in minor number of cases at our parks there are recommendations on some trails that people stay on trails though not doing so isn''t an infraction. In such cases the policy is again to limit trampling or as a warning for the protection of hikers as is the case at the top of Vernal Falls. Generally policies targeting individuals in which their actions do not affect others, are not set at the lowest common denomenator of the least capable and weakest but rather allow freedom of choice with decision bearing upon individuals.

Going off-trail at Point Reyes isn't illegal unless there's specific signage or warnings not to do so. I've been on a ranger-guided hike on the Chimney Rock Trail, and the ranger actually took us off-trail to inspect wildflowers. What they do warn people about is avoiding the crumbly cliff edges. I seem to recall they've got signs as you get closer to the cliffs - to stay away from the edges.

Heck - off-trail travel is legal in much of the Bay Area's federal recreational lands, such as Point Reyes or the Marin Headlands. You just have to exercise proper judgement. The places where it isn't legal would be around Muir Woods NM, where the concentration of visitors would make it unwise. However - once you get off into the areas with dirt trails, it's actually legal to go off-trail.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 12:34AM
Honest question... is that hanging rock any more dangerous than the skinniest part of the summit ridge of Clouds Rest? It sure felt like it was only a few feet wide in a place or two. I can't imagine a tumbling slide down into Tenaya Canyon being any more pleasant than dropping straight down into Yosemite Valley.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/23/2011 12:35AM by mbear.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 05:49PM
It seems to me they could get some volunteers in there to watch over the dangerous spots. Volunteer spotters would not cost anything and I know for a fact that they have volunteers doing many various odd jobs in the park right now. Don't even have to train them. All they would have to do is keep a look out over the hot spots. Suit them up to look like rangers. Give them a squawkie talkie and their good to go. I think people would think twice before attempting any foolishness if they saw a spotter watching and ready to turn them in. A posted $5000 fine should also help steer their minds from foolishness.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 05:51PM
Quote
ezlivin
It seems to me they could get some volunteers in there to watch over the dangerous spots. Volunteer spotters would not cost anything and I know for a fact that they have volunteers doing many various odd jobs in the park right now. Don't even have to train them. All they would have to do is keep a look out over the hot spots. Suit them up to look like rangers. Give them a squawkie talkie and their good to go. I think people would think twice before attempting any foolishness if they saw a spotter watching and ready to turn them in. A posted $5000 fine should also help steer their minds from foolishness.

I guess the irony is that people are far more worried about the possibility of being fined, rather than the possibility of losing one's life.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 06:03PM
Quote
y_p_w
Quote
ezlivin
It seems to me they could get some volunteers in there to watch over the dangerous spots. Volunteer spotters would not cost anything and I know for a fact that they have volunteers doing many various odd jobs in the park right now. Don't even have to train them. All they would have to do is keep a look out over the hot spots. Suit them up to look like rangers. Give them a squawkie talkie and their good to go. I think people would think twice before attempting any foolishness if they saw a spotter watching and ready to turn them in. A posted $5000 fine should also help steer their minds from foolishness.

I guess the irony is that people are far more worried about the possibility of being fined, rather than the possibility of losing one's life.


What do you think about the volunteer spotter idea? They would basically be spying and ratting on you.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 06:29PM
Quote
ezlivin
What do you think about the volunteer spotter idea? They would basically be spying and ratting on you.

I think volunteers would be a good way to go in places like the top of Vernal. Just being there in uniform would stop people from going past the fences.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 07:09PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
ezlivin
What do you think about the volunteer spotter idea? They would basically be spying and ratting on you.

I think volunteers would be a good way to go in places like the top of Vernal. Just being there in uniform would stop people from going past the fences.


Someone should talk to the park service about adding spotters to their volunteer job list. It be worth a shot to save some poor family/s from future misery.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 09:21AM
Quote
ezlivin
Quote
eeek
Quote
ezlivin
What do you think about the volunteer spotter idea? They would basically be spying and ratting on you.

I think volunteers would be a good way to go in places like the top of Vernal. Just being there in uniform would stop people from going past the fences.


Someone should talk to the park service about adding spotters to their volunteer job list. It be worth a shot to save some poor family/s from future misery.

I agree with this suggestion and it does not cost anything but look-like-a-ranger uniforms.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 10:51AM
Quote
tomdisco
Quote
ezlivin
Quote
eeek
Quote
ezlivin
What do you think about the volunteer spotter idea? They would basically be spying and ratting on you.

I think volunteers would be a good way to go in places like the top of Vernal. Just being there in uniform would stop people from going past the fences.


Someone should talk to the park service about adding spotters to their volunteer job list. It be worth a shot to save some poor family/s from future misery.

I agree with this suggestion and it does not cost anything but look-like-a-ranger uniforms.

Maybe just place a maintenance worker? I would think there's got to be some policy against volunteers dressing in anything that might be confused with an official NPS uniform. The maintenance workers wear pretty much the same uniform minus the badge and official hat. I guess they could "inspect" the railings and facilities for hours.
avatar Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 23, 2011 11:50AM
Quote
y_p_w

Maybe just place a maintenance worker? I would think there's got to be some policy against volunteers dressing in anything that might be confused with an official NPS uniform. The maintenance workers wear pretty much the same uniform minus the badge and official hat. I guess they could "inspect" the railings and facilities for hours.

Many park maintenance workers have higher hourly wages (plus overtime) than regular park rangers. I doubt that it would be very practical to misuse their services for that function. OTOH, the Park Service has a well established volunteer program called Volunteers in the Park (VIP for short). Depending on the volunteer's job function, they would be issued the appropriate uniform -- some of them that do look close to an official ranger's uniform.
Re: Rangers Rarely Punish Those Off Trails
July 22, 2011 09:50PM
Most of us know that the meadow at the Pothole Dome parking area has been roped off for years, there are signs in English as well as pictographs for non English speakers. Yet people still wander out there. Yesterday one man had wandered out into the meadow and low and behold a woman yelled at him! I was so proud of that lady, doing exactly what me and my GF were mumbling, but she yelled it. He said, oh sorry and came back to the road where she nicely pointed out the trail skirting the meadow.
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