Recent comments

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Surely they can find a little room for a bike lane! The buses are packed a it is.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I was there this weekend when the latest hiker fell. It was extremely crowded, almost to the point of a Disneyland ride. I've hiked Angels Landing at least 5 times, but this time, I chose not to finish. My intuition told me that it just wasn't safe. Some in the crowd were wearing flip-flops. I also saw a man with a newborn baby strapped to his back. It wasn't 10 minutes after I decided to head down that the woman fell. I heard she was trying to get out of the way of a passing hiker. The park should really limit the number of people allowed up there, especially on holiday weekends like this one.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    As Matt points out statistics are often misused. I would go further and say that even those that he mentions as more accurate (deaths per 10,000 users - or whatever) aren't very applicable. Just as with vehicle accidents, falls from AL are far from random. Footwear, weather conditions, human congestion on the trail, hiking experience, and general level of responsible behavior are all variables that affect your odds of dying one way or the other - greatly, I would suppose. Sure, Conrad Anker could fall off the AL trail on a sunny day with no other people around, but it's extremely unlikely. Joe Schmo from Orlando in his sandals after a rainstorm - well, he may want to have his affairs in order.

    Speaking for myself, I suffer from acrophobia, and will not be seen on Angel's Landing anytime soon. I live vicariously through the pictures the rest of you bring back.

  • Lodging Sale: Rooms In Yellowstone National Park For Just $49 A Night   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    I like hearing about these lodging deals. I'm thinking I need to call in sick sometime very soon.

  • A Hike To LeConte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Is Just Part of the Adventure   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Danny,

    Thanks for you informative post on hiking to LeConte. I haven't been there since I was a kid. Charlie's Bunion, Trillium Gap, Alum Cave Bluffs, all these places bring up fond memories. I live in the West now but I often miss my old stomping grounds in the Southern Blue Ridge!

    I'd like to see some more posts from you with pics.

  • Lawsuit Over Deer Culling At Valley Forge Highlights Troubles Of Squeezed National Parks   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Well said!

    People have just been assuming that our conflict with the deer is the result of commercial development of more and more land, but really the deer population has burgeoned incredibly during the past fifty years. Our forests are paying the price, and there is no way that people will put up with having packs of wolves roaming around near neighborhoods. Deer population levels have to be artificially contained in and around places where people live and predators (like wolves, not mere coyotes) are not welcome.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I have no comment regarding the debate over whether or not to close "dangerous" trails, but I cannot let slide the misuse of statistics I often see in these kinds of discussions.

    A couple people have already pointed this out, but you cannot use the total number of deaths that occur from a given activity as evidence for how dangerous such activity is. You have to look at the percentage of deaths that occur out of the total number who participate.

    So it is true that more people might die from car accidents in Zion than hiking Angels Landing, but that does not mean it's more dangerous, it just means many more people do it. To use an extreme example: 412 people died in car accidents in Iowa in 2008 - this is more people than have ever died climbing Mount Everest. So is driving a car in Iowa more dangerous than climbing Mount Everest?

    Let us be honest with ourselves and stop trying to claim an obviously dangerous activity (hiking Angels Landing) is somehow not.

  • Winter Lodging Specials at Sequoia National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    They also have a winter family fun special, but they don't seem to know when it is. Go figure.

  • Lodging Sale: Rooms In Yellowstone National Park For Just $49 A Night   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Connie
    We leave Texas on Dec 17th and will spend Christmas in Yellowstone this year! Too bad we coudn't get a great deal like this at the Snow Lodge this year since we are there for peak season. Oh well! I guess I'll manage to have fun anyway! (sarcasm)
    Connie Hopkins

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I posted this elsewhere but will repost here which seems a better forum. Many of my observations have been mentioned by others.

    I have mixed thoughts on this issue.

    I was on the route that day and was descending just below the victim when she fell. I did not see the fall but in retrospect I know I heard the fall and associated rock fall. The person I was with who chose not to do the final push witnessed the fall but did not see the initial slip or precipitating event.

    I have a 30 year mountaineering background.

    This is not a wilderness route. There is too much traffic and man made modification to call it wilderness. The exposure is extreme. It can be hiked safely. The route has been groomed and protection in place which both improves safety but also encourages use and may give a perception of safety beyond the intended purpose.

    |do not know why this person fell. Prior to the fall I was and subsequently remain amazed at how many people were on the route. There was volume delay crowds waiting to pass on narrow one lane areas. There was an impressive level of cooperation and support. There was however the occasional impatient trekker.

    There were folks with sandal like shoes, one with bare feet, a baby on chest pack, a toddler on back pack, young children on tethers, young children springing ahead of their adult companions. Many people who from there chatter clearly had never experienced anything similar. Some approached the edge to a level that made me uncomfortable in order to take pictures. They seemed oblivious to worries re loose sand, false edges , crumbling sand stone, inadvertent jostling or other unlikely but possible events.

    I am leaning towards the need to reduce traffic on the route and to improve the clarity of the warnings.

    It was indeed a black Friday. No easy answer here.

  • Man Dies in Fall From South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Suzanne Frost, closed down the parks...and what? I don't see too many ranchers being good stewards of the land. Such as: overgrazing, lack of rotational grazing practices, overzealous predator controls over wildlife, streams and rivers polluted by cow dung, stream side beds being trampled by roving livestock...etc...et cetera. Like to see the cattlemen pay a little more in taxes for there free government land that they use, especially after the environmental land mess they leave behind. No doubt there's excellent ranchers that do good for the land but there's very few that carry the Aldo Leopold land ethic and put it to good use.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I wouldn't dream of climbing Angel's Landing as I would be too scared, but I would also not dream of even thinking about closing the trail to the top. The people who want to go up there should not be denied the opportunity because I am a big fraidy cat. And the comparison of car-deaths to falling-from-height-deaths is kind of like comparing apples and oranges. Six people killed over several years is not a big percentage of the number of people who actually climbed the Landing.

    I seem to have read this woman was an experienced hiker but accidents happen. My condolences to her family.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Hasn't it already been established that the Emerald Pools trail(s) has more deaths than AL overall? Just wondering here because I thought I read that from another discussion. If so why aren't people fighting to shut it down? And a man fell and died on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon the day after this tragic death. Shall we close it as well?

    As Zion National Park's website states "Your safety is your responsibility."
    Backpacking - Be Prepared (http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/backpacking.htm)

  • Man Dies in Fall From South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    If we closed down the parks. Think of all the money we as taxpayers would save. If the Ranchers took over the parks, at least they would be good stewards of the lands. Sympathy for the family.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Paul, in response to a couple of your quotes above:

    "I have carried toddlers up this trail and I have taken fairly young children up all the way, 5-6 years old. If there is a drop-off, my children's hands are in mine and they are on the side away from the dropoff, if possible. When there are chains, both their hands are on the chains and I grip my child."

    What if YOU trip? Does your child go over the cliff with you? AL is dangerous enough for an able-bodied adult. If you are trying to hold onto a child and watch your footing, you are playing Russian Roulette with your life and your children.

    "How many people have died in automobile/bicycle accidents during the last 10 years in Zion National Park? That would be an interesting comparison."

    I suspect that if you compare the percentage of deaths on AL relative to number of folks attempting the hike in a given year, it would be far higher than the number of car deaths in ZNP relative to the number of cars that travel through the park every year.

    Don't want to be nasty here. Just very concerned for the children after what I saw last week. I really hope parents that read this will think twice about this before taking kids up there.

  • Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Cross at Mojave National Preserve   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Because, soldier, your experience is yours, your god is yours, and others have equally valid experiences and gods.

    I enlisted 20 years before you and am also a combat vet, and have a totally different spiritual life than yours. Equally valid or invalid as yours for you. I would really not want to impose my personal experience with my gods on you, nor you on me.

    No, we rarely walked away when a chaplain spoke with us. Mostly, though, we scratched where it itched, checked our gear, and kept quiet while those of you who cared to, prayed. It was mutual respect and not agreement.

  • Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Cross at Mojave National Preserve   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I am so filled with sorrow at what this nation is becoming. I joined the army in 1983 and my oath included "so help me God". I have 4 combat deployments and I will tell you before any big mission the Chaplain would come and pray, no one NO ONE walked away or refused. The cross is a sign a symbol of our belief and our dedication. I agree there are other religions that would like to place thier symbols next to a cross and i assure my brothers and i have no issue with it. What has happened to this nation when people refuse to stand for our National Anthem, or remove a hat and stand when our flag passes. Why is God who has been with us from day 1, now an outcast to this nation?

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    It was a tragedy that this woman died and I feel for her family. I have found Angel's landing to be safe if you are careful and it is not icy. It would be a shame if this trail was ever closed for any reason other than ice or the stability of the rock.

    Responding to the comment about 10 year old children on the trail. I have carried toddlers up this trail and I have taken fairly young children up all the way, 5-6 years old. If there is a drop-off, my children's hands are in mine and they are on the side away from the dropoff, if possible. When there are chains, both their hands are on the chains and I grip my child. Teenagers are actually more risky because they don't listen as well. The trail is safe if you are careful and responsible. If you are not careful and responsible, no place is safe, including the roads below. If parents let their younger children take the trail without close supervision, that is stupid, but it should not stop those of us who supervise our kids. Maybe the park service should create rules and give parents tickets for unsupervised children, like we do when kids don't have seat belts on.

    How many people have died in automobile/bicycle accidents during the last 10 years in Zion National Park? That would be an interesting comparison. I feel much safer hiking Angel's Landing than I would riding a bike up the canyon road with no bike lane.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I also hiked to Angels Landing this summer after the first fall and since I was a ranger there, I knew how to prepare myself. I wore hiking shoes with really good tread and yet I still slipped coming down. I think coming down is the most dangerous part because the rocks are covered with a fine silt and when you put your weight on that, it's easy to slip. If I slipped wearing good boots I can't imagine how those people wearing sandals do it. I've been a ranger for 7 years and it's amazing the things I see: people jumping fences to get a closer view of the canyon in Mesa Verde, no water or food on long hikes, carrying an infant in their arms while trying to climb the ladders in Mesa Verde, etc...

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    SR, I'll not argue that driving a car to a national park can be dangerous, but to compare it to the Angels Landing hike might be a bit of a stretch. Last year's U.S. highway death rate (the lowest on record) was 1.28 deaths per 100 million miles driven.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I was on my way up to one of the west rim campsites on Friday night and decided to do a side trip to the top of AL. I too was amazed at how many people were up there who seemed like they may not be well equipped to do so (slick bottom shoes etc.).
    About two thirds of the way up I heard a strange noise and looked back to see the woman sliding. I didn't see her go over the edge, but the edge was just past my viewpoint. It was clear that she went over. I'll have that view in my head for the rest of my life. I think I actually talked to her too when I passed her earlier on the trail. I'm not 100% sure if it was the woman that I talked to or not, but I barely got a wink of sleep that night. My heart goes out to her, her family and friends, and all others who have been so unfortunate.
    It is terrible that things like this happen, but I do feel that the parks are doing a fantastic job at warning us and preparing us before we set out on these adventures. I was warned by two different bus drivers, and two rangers about the Angels Landing hike. Anyone who does that hike or any others in our parks must know that there is a certain amount of risk involved, but there is a certain amount of risk involved in driving your car there too. If 6 people died from Angels Landing this year, I wonder how many died in car accidents on their way to Zion. More than 6 I would assume. There is a certain amount of risk in everything that we do and I for one believe that we should appreciate every moment that we have with each other.

  • Natchez Trace Parkway is Rehabbing the Meriwether Lewis Site   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I haven't read your book yet, but To the Ends of the Earth is on my "some day" list. BTW, Mary/Liz, how did you come up with the "Frances Hunter" pseudonym?

  • Natchez Trace Parkway is Rehabbing the Meriwether Lewis Site   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I am so glad to hear that there is rehabilitation in the works for the Meriwether Lewis site. Captain Lewis was truly a great American and a wonderful human being. We traveled on the Natchez Trace Parkway several years ago in a combination vacation/research trip for the book To the Ends of the Earth, a novel about Lewis's violent death along the Trace. The beauty and history of the Natchez Trace are without parallel in the United States. I look forward to a return visit and to the improvements. This is great news.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I happened to come upon Angles Landing near the end of a hike from Lava Point Friday within an hour of when the woman had fallen.People waiting in line to go to AL were talking about it.There were at least 100 people on the rock trying to get to the top of AL.It was sheer insanity.People were trying to come down while people were trying to go up.They were all hanging onto the chains.As an east Coast climber it made my blood run cold.Complete idiocy.It is amazing no one else died.My hat goes off to the obviously pregnant woman that was a third of the way up the chained trail.IN sandals.There was a ranger watching helplessly.Everyone has an inalienable right to kill himself if he wants to but killing yourself would be merciful compared to surviving a fall like that and living as a paraplegic.

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angels Landing At Zion National Park   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Just went up Angel's Landing on Wednesday - it appears two days before this latest incident.

    The long and short - adults can choose whether to go or not go up -- but what really upset me was that there were kids, not more than 10 years old, going up with their parents. They may have the advantage of "no fear" - but they also have the disadvantage of not knowing when fear is a good thing.

    PARENTS - people have died on this mountain just in the past year - what in the world are you doing taking your kids up??? Most will disagree I'm sure - but I think this is as irresponsible as driving with a child in the car after having a few drinks - and you know the outrage the community makes when parents get a DUI with their kids in the car....

    Just my two cents from a someone that was beside himself seeing kids scampering around on this pretty scary and obviously dangerous place.