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Conflicting info from rangers

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby SweetSierra » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:28 am

Markskor,

Like you said, to get good information go to the backcountry rangers. I often ask for the backcountry ranger, and they have always (in my experience) been generous with their time and information. They know exactly what you're asking about and are usally two or three steps ahead of you in offering advice or info. I've had great extended conversations with them about backcountry areas far off the beaten path. I also like the Tuolumne Meadows area rangers and concur about their patience and expertise. I had to change my plans on the fly once. I arrived at the permit kiosk in the morning only to find all the permits taken for my trailhead. The ranger then gave me a couple of good recommendations for other trailheads that still had slots available. I was going solo so it took a little time to decide on the best route. There were people lining up but but they were kind and patient.



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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:29 am

Just a few observations.

Fishing regulations on Forest Service land are the responsibility of the Game and Fish Dept. Unless the ranger personally fishes, they really have no interest in learning these, and it really is not their job to do so.

I have raised kids, have grandkids. I am not sure why this is so, but it seems like at some point (anyone under age 30) young people are reluctant to say "I do not know". It is not that they are mean, they just think that saying something that the person asking wants to hear (and make them feel good) is more important than accuracy or truth. I also think that in the internet age, lots of people rely on hearsay. I do not think they actually have been trained to be skeptical of all the false information out there.

I always ask if something is "legal". Bear cannisters for example. Thay all say a bear cannister must be taken. Then I ask, is this a legal requirement or recommendation.

When office rangers relate backcountry information I always ask - did they see those conditions personally, or who exactly told them, and exactly when was this information told to them. Many office rangers are relying on week old information.

Inter-office communication seems to be really lacking in all the government agencies. The right hand often does not know what the left hand is doing. Inyo Forest is, in my opinion, the exception. They seem to be ahead of the curve on their websites and communicting between offices.

I think it is our responsibility as backpackers to know the regulations and research conditions (do our homework) before we get our permit. The rangers then can fill us in on current conditions or specific changes (such as a fire restriction was put in place this morning).

Half the information I get from office rangers I take with a grain of salt. But overall, I have had some great experiences with absolutely helpful rangers. If the person at the desk looks like an 18-year old, they probably are summer help and tend to lack a lot of training or correct information. I just would like the summer help to be encouraged to say "I do not know" more often rather than just making up something to please us or because they are afraid they would get a bad job review of they say they do not know.

We all seem to want something for nothing nowadays. How can we expect to have expert Rangers when we are not willing to pay taxes to support the agencies they work for?
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby oldranger » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:24 am

I don't normally disagree with WD in public but my experience, both as a visitor and a ranger is different. The older people behind the desk are more often the ones that have led people astray re regulations. If they have been around awhile they sometimes don't familiarize themselves with changes or somehow the changes don't register. On the other hand the younger ones seem to think that what is a reasonable days hike for them is equally reasonable for everyone else. Once had a desk person tell someone that the 50+/- Loop from Sunset Meadow TH to Roaring River over Elizabeth Pass to Lodgepole and back to Sunset Meadow TH was a reasonable 3 day trip! For the ranger, possibly, but not for many people.

WD brings up a great point about trail conditions reports. They are almost by definition "out of date." Knowledge and experience helps to interpret trail condition reports. And sometimes reports are based on a short term event, for example dangerous fords reported immediately after or during a thunderstorm or peak spring runnoff after a week of superhot weather. More than once I have had office people tell me that a trip was not feasible but not only was it feasible for me but dozens of other people. These observations are not intended as license to ignore trail conditions reports and advice, especially if you are relatively inexperienced, but to know that all the information available can be incomplete and inaccurate.

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:45 am

OR - feel free to disagree with me publically! You are very polite in the way that you express disagreement. I think everyone has different experinces. I tend to ask fewer questions regarding regulations versus backcountry conditions. My observation of younger people include more than rangers - clerks in stores, servers at resturants. My own kids! But that is sterotyping, and not always true. I do not think getting multiple answers to the same questions is unique to rangers. I have also read some of those regulations - my goodness, some are really confusing and vague - my eyes glaze over before I get to the second paragraph. I do not see how anyone could answer without discrepencies.

I will admit to a sneaky practice. I ask questions that I already know the answers. If the employee answers these wrongly, then I do not ask the question I that I really need the answer! I do this regularly at REI and other outdoor stores. There is a wide range of expertise among the staff.

You also have to know how to ask the right question to get the right answer. Many people are not specific enough with their questions and thus are misunderstood. Also, polite repectful backpackers got better answers.

I would not make a good ranger. After about two hours of the same question I would probably start to get really snotty.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby oldranger » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:12 am

WD wrote:

I will admit to a sneaky practice. I ask questions that I already know the answers. If the employee answers these wrongly, then I do not ask the question I that I really need the answer! I do this regularly at REI and other outdoor stores. There is a wide range of expertise among the staff.


Me too! Guess that comes from getting old and cagey! Of course your last sentence applies to more than REI!

She also wrote:
You are very polite in the way that you express disagreement.
I know more than a few people are rolling their eyes at that comment! (not the least is my wife!)

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby LMBSGV » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:41 am

I will admit to a sneaky practice. I ask questions that I already know the answers. If the employee answers these wrongly, then I do not ask the question I that I really need the answer! I do this regularly at REI and other outdoor stores. There is a wide range of expertise among the staff.


Me too! Guess that comes from getting old and cagey! Of course your last sentence applies to more than REI!


Me three! So is this something done by only us BOF, or most everyone here, regardless of age?
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby yosehiker » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:49 am

AlmostThere

Throw "yosemite group limits" into google and hit the first result:

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/b ... groups.htm

There's your answer, took all of 10 seconds.

Plus I don't know how "basic" the day hiking limit is. I bet if you asked multiple rangers what the overnight group size limit is you would get the right answer the vast majority of the time. With day hiking limits, I think your response rate would be much lower. It doesn't seem to be an issue most of the time so I bet fewer people know about it. I bet a lot of people on this forum knew the first, but not the second. (I didn't)

And just like any customer service staff in the world, most of the rangers are fine and have good info, while there are a few duds and some excellent ones too. Seems to be a little incident way overblown.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:47 pm

I am looking for seki, not yosemite!!!!

the trip planner on the seki website says one thing, people i talk to say that is just related to backpacking.

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Last edited by AlmostThere on Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:49 pm

You'll excuse me for saying so but it isn't just one incident . It's been very consistent over time that nobody who answers the phone understands half the rules . I am trying to get myself and my group in compliance not only with leave no trace but with the park regulations and this is becoming ridiculously difficult .

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby oldranger » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:39 pm

Almosthere

If I understand you your specific question is, is there a group size limit for day hikes into the wilderness? If so I can understand your confusion with SEKI regs as I cannot find anything that specifically addresses that question. However it is clearly stated that group size limits in the wilderness are 15 (with some stricter restrictions for off trail hiking in some areas). On the other hand it also states that dayhiking does not require a permit which may imply that the group size restrictions don't apply or ???? A strict interpretation would say a 15 or less restriction. Yosemite clearly states a day hike limit of (omg!) 35 but not SEKI.

As to front country distinction, that is valid and that would encompass any part of the park not designated wilderness. You can find a poorly detailed map if you google "Sequoia Kings Canyon Designated wilderness." But the long and short of it is that most of Grant Grove, Cedar Grove and the Lodgepole/Giant Forest areas are not in the wilderness and consequently the trails that weave thru those areas (until you get to a wilderness boundary sign) are not restricted to wilderness regulations.

Anyhow due to the ambiguity noted in the first paragraph and the fact that new regs or rules may be implemented (but not yet, for example I have heard a rumor that bear containers may be required park wide) in the upcoming season (which may conflict with posted regs and rules and result in different knowledge base of people you talk to) I can certainly understand your frustration and confusion. I hope this helps a litte.

George please step in here if I have muddled things up!

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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby yosehiker » Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:32 pm

Look at the SEKI Compendium at

http://www.nps.gov/seki/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm

That's the law of the park. They don't have it saved as a searchable pdf unfortunately. Doesn't appear to be a day use limit in general though there is a limit of 15 when in wilderness.

There is one line that may or may not be applicable to you: "[Permit needed for] Public assemblies, meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, parades and other public expressions or views in groups exceeding 25 people."

You may find other answers you were looking for in there as well.
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Re: Conflicting info from rangers

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:54 pm

I am tending to recommend to people who are organizing hikes with my group that they follow the wilderness group size as posted . Because there are a lot of people in my group who do very long day hikes such as the one to moose Lake (that is 20 miles round-trip of a lot of cross country) I find the smaller group sizes to be wiser in general . However it has come up with one organizer who has organized hikes in this area for many years outside my group that she believes the group sizes for day trips are larger . I would like to get everybody on the same page with this issue .

thanks for your input, oldranger.

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