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Behunin and Heaps reopen

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Flatiron, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Flatiron

    Flatiron

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    Well after Hurricane Rosa wiped out our Zion trip last year we are going to try again end of Sept. Questions is: any rumors, lies, guesses, or maybe real info on when Kayenta and Upper Emerald Pools Trails will reopen? Meaning when will Behunin and Heaps be reopened? I would hope and assume by end of Sept or sooner, but have no idea how bad the trails were damaged or how much work is needed to make safe. Curious minds want to know.
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  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Talk to your Congressman. It takes resources to repair these, and the National Parks are squeezed for resources.

    Tom
  3. Flatiron

    Flatiron

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    I agree and have. But doesn't answer my question. Just looking for status on trail and can't seem to get any. Is it even being worked on? If so how far along are they? 1/3 done, 1/2 done? Any eta on when trails will open? Usually when parks - fed, state or local - have closures they also inform public on length of closure and when public can expect opening. Being it's the publics $ and all that.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    It takes resources to do that, too. They are busy managing what is in front of them.

    My guess is that Behunin might get open this fall, Heaps probably not. Take a look at doing the Phantom Valley section of Heaps, then exiting out Isaac Canyon.

    Tom
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The collapses on the more-built trails are harder to repair. So Kayenta and the stairway going up to Middle (ie, just past the first waterfall) are going to be problematic. I have seen no photos of problems with Upper, but maybe it is just closed because you cannot get to it. If there are problems on Upper, it seems those would be easy to fix, as the trail has less built-form. (But Upper would be a low priority).

    I'm guessing Observation Point Trail is the highest priority, though there they seem to be concerned about loose rock above that could come down.

    Those be my best guesses. Worth every penny ya paid for it!!!

    Tom
  6. jsb4g

    jsb4g

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    Hi Tom and Flatiron, for what its worth (not a lot), I second what Tom says. I talked to a guy that hiked up the Observation Point trail illegally recently (no, it was not me!!!). He said the rock fall is not actually that bad. In fact, he just walked around the rubble on the existing path. On top of that, I read something consistent with what Tom said: a spokesperson for the NPS saying that it was the loose rock fall that they were concerned about. But at least they are supposedly working on the plan to reopen it, which likely requires engineering/environmental assessments, lengthy written recommendations, and multiple levels of review and approval that take time. As a former attorney with the US Department of Justice, I know that completion of the approval process in the federal government often takes much longer than completion of the work itself, even if there are adequate resources to complete the work.

    As for the Emerald pools/heaps route, I saw the stairway just past the first waterfall this winter when I took some guests to the waterfall in the snow. It was a mess, but it would be easy to maneuver around by someone that is careful and knows what they were doing. I realize that "careful and knows what they are doing" does not describe the masses; hence, the closure. Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging or advocating that anyone ignore the prohibitions in these areas.

    JB
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  7. YoungBuck

    YoungBuck

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    From what I overheard at the Wilderness Desk a few weeks back was that there is a "school bus sized rock teetering over the trail" and they are afraid of it falling on people.
  8. jsb4g

    jsb4g

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    Which trail? Defininitely not the middle Emerald Pools section, which I have seen. Also, I did Keyhole recently, I was told by the wilderness desk the eprior thatto entry that the entire thing was a difficult swim through significant floating debris and logs, none of which turned out to be true. I think the wilderness desk is prone to exaggeration as a deterrent.
  9. YoungBuck

    YoungBuck

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    The Observation Point trail. They definitely go overboard, I constantly feel like I'm trying to swim up river trying to get permits from them.
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  10. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    Maybe next time you don't sashay in wearing daisy dukes with sliders 3 sizes too small and ask for a checkerboard permit?

    Fun game at the wilderness desk how unprepared can you look and still pull a permit for the big boy canyons?
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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    As long as you are over 18, the Wilderness Desk is a "Shall Issue" desk. They HAVE to give you the permit. They do not have to be fast, they do not have to be friendly and helpful. They are not allowed to Qualify you, test you, require specific equipment or knowledge. Your safety is your responsibility.
  12. YoungBuck

    YoungBuck

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    I'm well aware of the "Shall Issue" aspect, I just think the Ranger was worried that the young twenty-something in jorts and sliders asking for Checkerboard permits a few days after the Narrows had just reopened was going to get in over his head.
  13. GravityWins

    GravityWins

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    I'm well aware, as is YoungBuck. Poor YoungBuck had to know the requirements, he has had to know them. He gets quizzed on his age almost everytime at the desk, has gotten the stink-eye and queries about his equipment. And as for permit inspection, well YounBuck got checked more times in one month than I have in years. He's on a first name basis with at least one of the Rangers who keeps checking him for permit violations.

    I give him grief because the daisy dukes and poor footwear was not a theoretical example.:tongue: I fully expect him to take up the challenge of freaking out the backcountry desk with wildly unprepared looks.

    YoungBuck is my pack mule whenever I can arrange it, :D and I love doing canyons with him. Won't stop the harassment.
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  14. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    At least he's wearing "some" clothes.
  15. Rudolf The Red

    Rudolf The Red

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    From what I know from working in the Parks, this issue sounds like it may involve demolition, which will require a project proposal, approval, and an approved demo person being in-park or having to be ordered from somewhere else. They will have to complete the project, clear the trail, and do a 'structural analysis' of the surrounding terrain to ensure that it is not going to slide again.

    This is going to take a bit. The Parks do things this way for a reason....and its mainly because of legal liability.

    I was not aware that the Zion Wilderness Desk had a "Will Issue" policy....everywhere else I have worked, I have been able to deny permits...it is not because of the visitor's safety (although I take that into account), it is because them being un-prepared usually leads to them damaging the Resource (I.e. installing a bolt, chipping or drilling into rock, starting fires, trampling Crypto, ect). Though it is a very, very rare occasion that this is done.
  16. jsb4g

    jsb4g

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    At the DOJ, any outside contracts involving significant money required approval at multiple levels in Washington DC. I am betting it is the same for the park service. At DOJ, sometimes the approval for an outside expenditure alone took 3-4 months, and this does not include time to review and approve any actions being taken. Approval of wire tap order request (which required a huge package of paperwork and documentation) that took time to prepare) in criminal cases could take months unless it was an extremely high profile target. Often, one or more of the approvers in Washington had less experience and expertise than the requesting attorney. I cannot imagine how long a low priority approval for a trail repair in a single park could take if it has to be approved in DC.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2019
  17. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Oh its going to slide again. Might be a while, but this is Zion, its even part of the bus narration the place is constantly eroding.
  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I disagree that "it's mainly because of legal liability".

    Parks are rarely sued successfully. The law is generally on their side. It takes gross negligence on the part of the Park to sue successfully.

    How does the Park avoid gross negligence? They do what we want them to do, which is do the right thing, and do it in an orderly process. And they take notes. The Park has a process to run, and the process is designed to produce good results. They have a duty to build safe trails, to the extent that can be done in a geologically active area. So they do. No one would accuse the Park of being hasty.

    A side benefit of doing the right thing is that they minimize their legal liability.

    I realize that one could take the attitude that it's mainly because of legal liability, and doing the right thing is just a side benefit. There are likely instances where that is the case, but I object to the thinking that that is MAINLY the case. I may be cynical, but I am not THAT cynical.

    And to argue the case on technical points alone, I invoke Hitchen's Razor:

    hitchensrazor2.
  19. jsb4g

    jsb4g

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    To further this point.... Although I previously ignored the comment about legal liability being the scapegoat for the delay, I agree with you that it is not a primary reason for the lengthy process discussed here. To buttress that point, I will get into the legal details a little since I think the information might help one or more persons be a bit more educated as a citizen and Park visitor. Again, coming from the standpoint of a former US DOJ attorney (DOJ defends all suits against the NPS), I agree it is very rare for a park to be sued because of how it chose to maintain a trail or road or what warnings it chose to use. Under the discretionary function exception to the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act), the National Park Service enjoys sovereign immunity from tort liability for most decisions relating to its discretionary functions. Trail maintenance is a discretionary function. The Supreme Court has said the discretionary function exception to the FTCA is intended to 'prevent judicial 'second-guessing' of legislative and administrative decisions grounded in social, economic, and political policy through the medium of an action in tort. (From the Varig Airlines decision). Basically, the NPS can do what it wants as long as it has a legitimate reason, such as leaving a trail unmaintained or unrepaired to preserve the park in its natural state. In this case, because the trail was previously a maintained trail, if the park were going to take the "no-repair" option, it would probably just place a sign at the beginning of the trail warning of potential rock fall danger and lack of trail maintenance.
  20. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    https://www.oyez.org/cases/1983/82-1349
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