Recent comments

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    We took several days of vacation in Yosemite in the early 1990s and I made the round trip from Camp Curry to the top of Half Dome one day. I was in 33 minute 10K shape at the time. I ran every part of the distance that it was possible to run. The first problem I encountered was a guided mule or horse tour on the way up to Nevada Falls. The guide said that I was not allowed to pass them on the trail, so I cut across a switchback to get around them. My next problem was that I couldn't find the water source that a Yosemite hiking guide said would be available on the way from Nevada to Half Dome. But that wasn't a problem at the time. If I were to do it again, I would carry and stash some water for the return trip. The running turned into hiking when I got to the rocky section on the way to the base of the cables. The sight of the other people already climbing was almost comical. There were maybe 8 people total. They would move a few steps up, then stop. Move and stop. Someone at the base said that I should get some gloves from the pile that were there. I did and the ascent was easy for me, but I was careful to be very deliberate on the cables because you don't want to fall. It would be safer to have a harness and a couple of tethers with carabiners to clip on and off the cables, but that's looking back. At the top, I walked around for a few minutes, then noticed some people sitting near the edge of the front wall. I got on my hands and knees and approached them. Some of these people had their legs dangling over the edge of the 2000 ft drop - I couldn't believe it. I inched to the edge and looked over and that was good enough for me. Then it was time to go back. The return trip was not too difficult, but I was getting thirsty and a very kind woman offered me a sip from her water bottle as I neared Nevada Falls. I did have very sore achilles tendons for several days afterwards, and regret that I didn't take a camera with me.

  • National Park Quiz 2: Straddlers   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I only got 8 out 11 on this one - but in fairness, there [was a problem with] #3. There are a number of National Parks that are located in three or more States, not least of which are the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail - which provide the answer to question #10. Other Parks in three States include Harpers Ferry NHP (West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia), the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania (as well as DC) ), and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. If one wants to count Columbia as being essentially a State, then the George Washington Memorial Parkway would also qualify for being in Virginia, Maryland, and DC.

    In the spirit of the quiz, though, allow me to add a bonus "straddler" question for any of the other commenters who enjoy these quizzes as much as I do... Two National Parks are located two different States - even though those States do not share border. Name the Parks!

  • How To Buy National Park-Related Gifts Without Leaving Home   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I found a company that makes and sells pewter ornaments for some of the National Parks. The company's website is
    As of right now they make the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Railway, and Crater Lake National Park. They are of great sculpted detail I own one and it's beautiful!! They also make ornaments of the red rocks of Sedona, Az. and all made in the USA!

  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Settlement Won't Ban ORV Use, But Will Restrict Travel   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Kurt, Your article is very misleading in suggesting that the impact is minimal and ORV's will co-exist. You should write an article that captures the essence of why ORV access was originally granted and was maintained for several generations. For those that are not in tune with what has happened here, the perspective is one of the ORV's wanting to gain access as opposed to them rightfully maintaining it.

    The judge here overstepped his bounds and that will eventually be proven. His ruling will eventually be overturned and we will get our access back.

    You can also follow up with an article about how the foxes have eaten everything in site ever since the public was run out of the seashore that THEY own.

  • Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    The Kansas Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is beautiful at sunrise.

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Yes, very sad. I'm still hearing reports of winter kill in the Lamar Valley. NPS announced today that the bison haze in West Yellowstone will be starting tomorrow (interestingly coinciding with a Buffalo Field Campaign rally at the state capitol in Helena). According to a resident near the buffalo at Horse Butte, there are about 250 there that will be forced back into Yellowstone.

    In Bozeman, our new group just put out a press release announcing ourselves. See - Buffalo Allies of Bozeman. We must do more at the grassroots level to make the changes we want to see.

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Bison Slaughter In Yellowstone National Park Draws Protest Against Park Service   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Sad! my husband and I have been coming to Y.N.P for yrs, we come each spring and Fall. We look so forward to seeing baby bison, we just left the park may 13, 2008, I can honestly say I counted 10 or less baby bison, I know their was alot of snowfall this winter, which could of resulted in so many deaths, but I don't think so, think it was due to the ignortant thinking of the people who manage our national parks, half of them sit in offices and know nothing of them. If we continue to wipe them out than what will be left for our kids and grandkids to see, this is our national heritage....
    that's what I think..

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Calculate the risk factors involved in the outdoor exploits and gage the insurance fees for such activities...foolish or not. Bill accordingly to the outdoor mishap and factor in the cost of the SAR. No checks please! COD ONLY! Another words, some sort of insurance premium to cover any prudent outdoor adventure...the higher the risk, the higher the fee! Sounds fair to me.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Insurance really doesn't have to be "cost effective" if the goal is to offset costs. In this way I don't think it would be that expensive to set up or maintain. Once you log in, as I've seen it's already required within other posts in this thread, you deposit your cost of insurance (this could simply be a barcoded label created on a deposit envelope to be placed in a slotted box when you log in) and then proceed onto your trek. If the whole $4+ million is not recovered, at least much of it would be. The adventurers would also have the comfort knowing they're covered and therefore, shouldnt' be afraid to call when help is needed in the beginning of the crisis.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Please, get a feeling for scales. We are talking about $4,735,424.12 a year. Does anyone here believe, that the NPS is capable of building a bureaucracy to bill visitors with reimbursement or any kind of insurance, that would be cost effective? Frankly, 4.7 Mio is a small price for the knowledge that every visitor will get help, when he or she needs it. No questions asked, no billing, no formal hassle. Let's just guess how much time and money was wasted to determine how much was spend on SAR in the first place - down to the twelve cents.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I agree with the comments that say that all National Park visitors should not be charged an extra fee so that a few can engage in certain inherently dangerous activity and then be rescued free of charge. The most sensible solution would be to charge all those who climb Mt. Rainier or who climb El Cap or Half Dome an extra fee that would be used to pay for all Search and Rescues.

    The problem with trying to collect the cost after the fact is that many of those who engage in the dangerous activities requiring SAR are young people who while they may have spent thousands on equipment have all of $19.15 in their checking accounts. Trying to collect thousands from them would be an exercise in futility. Then there are the foreign visitors whose assets are overseas which greatly complicates any legal action to collect.

    An upfront fee seems reasonable. It becomes part of the cost of the activity. Which trails, climbing etc. would be subject to the fee should be in the discretion of each individual park based on that park's experience with SAR.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I totally agree that the person(s) involved should pay the costs. It is way past time when people need to take responsibility for their actions !!!
    If people want to be a part a natural experience, they should take responsibility for themselves and know what they are doing. They should be prepared physically,mentally and geared for the experience.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    A fee charged to all who enter the parks for the convenience of a small percentage who require the service is simply not acceptable. Why should the general public assist in paying your personal auto insurance deductible if you get into a wreck? Granted we all pay the price in higher premiums, but that's a debate for another time.

    Personal assistance insurance is an interesting notion. But again, I don't feel personally responsible for paying inflated premiums based on a careless, irresponsible few who are the basis for the rates set initially for all of us. A gradual sliding scale based on competence level, experience, preparedness, etc. would be a thought. But for the time being, I don't see why we're even discussing the issue. You gamble and lose, you pay for your mistakes. Parents should be more prone to concentrating on the welfare of their charges. As might group leaders from all backgrounds. Individuals should be made to realize that technology is NOT the answer to all of life's issues. Irresponsibility should be treated with the same callousness of consequences as the ignorance from which it stems. These Guardian Angels who are the SAR personnel are NOT sent by God to save your sorry behind. They're just performing a neccessary task, neccessitated by the individual's lack of preparation and care.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I just read that the state of Nevada is asking Steve Fossett's widow to reimburse them the nearly one million dollar cost of searching for his lost plane. Hopefully, out of the multi-million dollar estate she will do so voluntarily. Search and rescue, even for wealthy private pilots, is not usually charged. But...

    I seem to recall that there is a warning sign or information near the Bright Angel trail that if you get down into the canyon and have difficulty walking back up, the helicopter rescue will cost X amount of dollars. Does anyone else remember this?

    That seems to be one solution. Inform people that SARs in certain known dangerous places will be billed to you. That would give pause to those who travel into those areas unprepared. Backcountry permits could include a fee to cover SARs. And certainly those who engage in very perilous activities like climbing El Capitan, or ice climbing on mountains should be told that SARs will be charged. People who fall on regular hiking trails that aren't inherently dangerous should be given SAR rescues free of charge.

  • Grand Teton Bears, Update   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Bears ROCK!!!!!!!

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Some sort of insurance program would seem to alleviate the concerns for all involved. It seems like an easy and all encompasing solution to the problems. What am I missing here?

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I would suspect that somewhere between not charging at all, and charging everyone the full cost for SAR, is a viable solution. Anyone who thinks either extreme is the only answer is a fool. Some states have imposed an additional fee on recreational lisences and are also selling hiker certificates to help offset the cost. This is most definitely charging for SAR but no one seems to mind and the monies collected have helped a lot. Instead of trying to impress everyone with how well you think you can argue either point here, lets start working on a logical solution that adresses both problems. It's probably easier that you think.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    The problem lies when an idiot Father (Or I guess a Mother could do it too) takes his kids out to the wilderness, totally unprepared, and gets horribly lost. If he KNOWS that he is going to have to blow his childrens college fund on a rescue, he may try to find his way out on his own and thus kill his entire family. People who have already done stupid things to land themselves in the position of needing a SAR in the first place are more likely to do even stupidier things to get themselves out of the mess rather then paying for it, at the cost of the minors who are traveling with them. If we make people start to pay, our numbers of missing and fatalities will undoubtedly rise.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Rescues should not come with a price. If they do, and people are aware of this; they will often try to rescue themselves and end up making the situation far, far worse (by getting more lost or injured) than it would have been. I'm not making this up, this has happened before.
    Furthermore, as stated in the article, the dividing line between negligence and simple lack of experience/bad luck is thin to non existant. Either all rescues are free or none are.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    There are documented cases of persons delaying the call for help because they feared being charged for the cost of the rescue mission. The value of a human life far outweighs the monetary cost of the rescue, and the rescuers put their lives at risk with full knowledge of the potential consequences.

    The "pay for rescue" debate will never go away. Issues or questions such as these below must be considered:

    1. Who makes the final determination concerning costs involved? And who is responsible for payment?

    2. Were the injuries sustained caused by a foolish act, negligence, or defying authority?

    3. Or did the injured party have the skills to save themselves, but because of objective dangers could not do so?

    Once these options have been evaluated, only then can a fair and equitable decision be reached.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I actually cover some of these big adventure "high risk" expeditions on my blog. I have also covered quite a few SAR events as well. I understand the need for SAR, I also understand that there will be those less experienced attempting to do what they never should. I think it is a very fine line to charge someone for rescue, when that same person is not charged by the Police or Fire departments for car accidents ect. These agencies that you speak of, including the National Park Services are already being paid to provide these services by tax payer dollars. We pay to support all of these causes, but then government steps in and allocates the money to where it seems fit...unfortunately it is not our National Parks. On a personal level, I feel that this is a political issue and not so much a public vs. federal agency issue. Until change is made in the government, or someone steps in that would like to promote the parks better, I don't think the funding will come. Unfortunately, the funding is the reason why the Parks are a bit iffy when it comes to this issue. If they were being supported correctly, the infrastructure would be there and we would not have to have this same discussion every spring. In 2006 three climbers were lost on Mt. Hood. That drew National attention, which of course, put this in the spotlight once more. To me, it isn't an argument of should the rescuee have to pay. but rather when our government will start funding the Parks systems correctly. Bill George Bush, not the local Joe.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    It is great to see people want to explore and if they get into trouble then maybe there should be a fee, but then why should we pay for someone who smokes that gets cancer or some overweight person who has heart trouble etc. Get the drift.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    What a great way to use my taxes, military etc.
    I deeply thank all the SAR volunteers and urge all to donate their time and or money in support for their selfless service.
    Americans have become so fixated on the $ it makes me hurl.
    The human thirst for exploration and adventure is righteous, and can not be characterized by terms like idiot, reckless, irresponsible, foolishness, asinine or a dollar amount.
    Anyway..... that is how I feel about this nonsense.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    I agree with Montana Jim. 5$ or whatever seems reasonable per entrance fee. Although in the case of foolishness or negligence, The park should definitely go after the beneficiaries of any S&R's to recoup the costs. As far as a safety net providing a false sense of bravado, I'm fairly certain that you can't accurately predict what will make an idiot (or anyone else suffering from momentary poor judgement) act in a reckless manner. Some people just do stupid things without even thinking twice about who will clean up the mess.

  • National Park Search and Rescue: Should the Rescued Help Pay the Bills?   6 years 11 weeks ago

    Why not require insurance? When I was in Colorado, the local rescue squad in Pagosa Springs sold hiking insurance recognized state wide for $5 for two years. It covered the costs of all ground based SAR and the first $3000 of a helicopter extraction. I gladly paid the fee (heck, I would have thrown $5 in the pot as a donation), thankfully never needed the policy and went home. It seemed like a good private sector solution.

    Since then, I've looked for and found various types of mountain climbing and travel insurance but only rarely come across hiking insurance that would cover SAR in national parks. Post big signs at the entrance stating that people who are not covered will be billed for SAR. Set up internet kiosks in welcome centers where 3-5 companies can offer policies. Take a 15% cut. Allocate 5% to SAR in park and 10% to trail maintainenance system wide.