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TomD
01-18-2008, 12:40 PM
Does anyone know the origin of these rules at Baxter State Park? By that I mean did an accident or lawsuit lead to these rules or did some park official or legislator just think they were a good idea? I'm not suggesting they are good, bad or indifferent and I'm not looking for opinions about the rules. I am only interested in how and why these rules were put into place. I am particularly interested in the "no children under six above timberline" rule.

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CLIMBING OR MOUNTAIN HIKING: Climbing or mountain hiking may be restricted at the discretion of the Director. Park users must be reasonably prepared and equipped, and must take reasonable precautions against endangering themselves or others. Hikers must wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and must carry a working flashlight. No children under the age of six (6) years are allowed above timberline. Registration of technical rock/ice climbers is required. The Baxter State Park Authority may request reimbursement of search and rescue costs in cases of reckless hikers.
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onestep
01-18-2008, 12:52 PM
No children under the age of six (6) years are allowed above timberline.

I do not know the specifics behind this one, but I will offer the fact that my home State-O-Maine is one of the Bluest of the Blue states! Nanny just won't put up with parental (ir)responsibility. :rolleyes:

Tom Rankin
01-18-2008, 01:52 PM
Does anyone know the origin of these rules at Baxter State Park? By that I mean did an accident or lawsuit lead to these rules or did some park official or legislator just think they were a good idea? I'm not suggesting they are good, bad or indifferent and I'm not looking for opinions about the rules. I am only interested in how and why these rules were put into place. I am particularly interested in the "no children under six above timberline" rule.
I think it's:

1) Safety for the general public

2) Concern for their own interests, related to spending money and resources w/o good cause, and keeping their own people safe.

SkierSteve
01-18-2008, 02:00 PM
First, I would suggest you call the park, 207-723-5140 and ask. I've been a regular visitor to BSP for over thirty years and have always found the staff to be extremely accessible and helpful.
Now, just to guess, many of their rules have evolved over the years, and continue to evolve, based on real life situations. Also, at certain times of the year, the above tree line areas of the park are extreme by New England standards and may not be suitable for children under 6 (according to the BSP authority). Again, this is just a guess.
Also keep in mind that BSP is a State Park in name only. They are financially autonomous and receive no funding from the State of Maine (all of their operating revenue comes from user fees and income from their endowment). Large scale SAR operations could be a finacial hardship and I believe this factors heavily in any number of their rules and regs.
If you read the original Deed of Gift from Governor Baxter, its pretty clear that the interests of human visitors are not a high priority. BSP is first and foremost a sanctuary for all the critters, we humans are allowed to observe as long as we don't disturb. Hope this helps.

Mad Townie
01-18-2008, 03:08 PM
There aren't many places above treeline in the park, and they can be pretty precarious. Have you ever taken a 5-year old anywhere? I can just picture a "NO!" and a pulling away from Dad while on Doubletop, the Hunt Trail, the Abol Slide, the Saddle, the Dudley, Hamlin Ridge or the Knife Edge. :eek: Not pretty. I suppose South Turner wouldn't be so bad.

I know three kids who summited Baxter Peak at the age of 7. They were fine, but I don't think they would have been quite so fine at 5. I took my son to Chimney Pond at the age of 4, and it was clear to me that he was not capable of being safe above treeline at that age.

Maddy
01-18-2008, 06:41 PM
. BSP is first and foremost a sanctuary for all the critters, we humans are allowed to observe as long as we don't disturb. Hope this helps.

Way :cool:

TomD
01-18-2008, 08:22 PM
Personally, I think small children belong on leashes when in the wild, and I am only half kidding. One of those long retractable dog leashes and a harness is what I have in mind. Maybe someone will invent a GPS transceiver tracker unit for kids you can strap on them. A small kid disappeared without a trace in the local mountains at a crowded campsite a couple of years ago. I am pretty sure he never turned up; not a clue as to what happened to him. Different theories were animal attack or kidnapping, but no one really knows.

And no, I don't have kids, but have been hiking with my friends' 3 year old. A good kid, but he can wander off in a heartbeat and we wind up chasing after him.

From other sources, apparently the Baxter rules were implemented in the 70's.

I only asked this because a Maine mom on another site I post on wanted to know, so I figured you locals would have the 411 on it. Thanks.

Kevin Rooney
01-18-2008, 08:47 PM
...By that I mean did an accident or lawsuit lead to these rules or did some park official or legislator just think they were a good idea? I'm not suggesting they are good, bad or indifferent and I'm not looking for

I think the short answer is "because they can". I've been told that Baxter SP is an independent authority and has great latitude in preserving the wilderness nature of the park. I was turned back at the gate one beautiful, sunny "blue-bird" day that Baxter Peak was closed "because the rocks were wet" (it had rained in the night but the storm had long passed). There's no point in arguing with them - their word is law. Most people who hike there enough have similar types of stories. I still love the place, but it's one of the most tightly regulated places I've seen.

Pig Pen
01-18-2008, 10:22 PM
The rule that is sighted does not even scratch the surface of the problem with Baxter State Park's winter rules. The winter rules at Baxter Park make it the most dangerous place to hike in the northeast. If it were not for their winter rules, winter hiking in Baxter would be fairly routine and very safe as with other northeast areas. Baxter State Park has a policy of not allowing hikers to consider weather as part of their trip planning. And weather is the most significant factor in winter hiking safety. But don't believe me, they clearly state this in their "Winter Use Information" manual.

Quote:
"Very fit skiers in ideal conditions may be able to ascend Katahdin via the Abol Trail in a single day but this is generally impractical because day users expecting to travel above treeline are required to register with the park two weeks prior to the date of their climb. "

This is an overt admission that their winter rules make planning hikes in Baxter a total crap shoot as far as the weather is concerned. They also have an absurd 4 person minimum for winter above treeline travel. I have debunked that theory in other threads and won't go into it here. Between the 4 person minimum and the 2 week lead time, trip planning becomes very cumbersome and complicated. Having jumped through all the hoops to get a group together and having one day to do the hike, people would tend to push harder in bad weather rather than try to replan and get another group together in two weeks.

Safe winter hiking above treeline is all about the weather. The safe way to winter hike in the Presidentials, Katahdin, and other exposed summits is to wait for days with excellent weather conditions and go for the summit on those days. This can't happen if you pick your day two weeks in advance. And the number of people in your group has almost nothing to do with safety.

Given the danger added by the regulations, the only real safe way to do Katahdin in winter is probably to camp in the park or stay at Chimney Pond for several days and wait for appropriate weather. But many people don't have the time for this and space at Chimney Pond is very limited.

Other than longer than average approaches, and some avalanche areas in the great basin, winter hiking in Baxter is fairly routine. Baxter and Hamlin via Abol Slide is a 22 mile 6000 foot elevation gain trip. Strenuous but doable by most regular winter hikers. I have done it and no one has accused me of being a budding ironman. There is no need for any special rules covering this trip. But for whatever reason the Baxter State Park Authority thinks otherwise.

dr_wu002
01-18-2008, 10:43 PM
The rule that is sighted does not even scratch the surface of the problem with Baxter State Park's winter rules. The winter rules at Baxter Park make it the most dangerous place to hike in the northeast. If it were not for their winter rules, winter hiking in Baxter would be fairly routine and very safe as with other northeast areas. Baxter State Park has a policy of not allowing hikers to consider weather as part of their trip planning. And weather is the most significant factor in winter hiking safety. But don't believe me, they clearly state this in their "Winter Use Information" manual.
I don't know much at all about BSP's winter rules nor have I thought much about it. Your post was the first that I heard of such things. I would be curious to see some statistics about deaths and injuries in BSP vs. the Presidentials in winter. And I'm not saying this because I have already formed some conclusions in my mind at all because I think some post analysis would be required and it isn't as simple as x were killed here and y were killed there.

One question I have... if you ski/hike in to Chimney Pond and let's say you have a one day window to climb Baxter Peak -- and it's bad weather, won't the rangers nix your trip up the peak?

Might be better for a separate thread. This seems to have deviated from the original posters question.

-Dr. Wu

TomD
01-19-2008, 01:50 AM
Go right ahead with the winter discussion. My original post was based on someone's experience in August, I think. I was just seeing what you folks might know about this for them. I'm on the other side of the country myself. The origin of the park is interesting. Sounds like a legacy with its own rules and regulations, but administered by the state.

You probably don't see that much. Out here (LA), the widow and family of Will Rogers, the famous cowboy actor, gave his estate to the state and its now a state park open for hikers and picnickers. Great views of the ocean and city, if anyone gets out this way. It's off Sunset Blvd.

Pig Pen
01-19-2008, 02:47 PM
I don't know much at all about BSP's winter rules nor have I thought much about it. Your post was the first that I heard of such things. I would be curious to see some statistics about deaths and injuries in BSP vs. the Presidentials in winter. And I'm not saying this because I have already formed some conclusions in my mind at all because I think some post analysis would be required and it isn't as simple as x were killed here and y were killed there.

One question I have... if you ski/hike in to Chimney Pond and let's say you have a one day window to climb Baxter Peak -- and it's bad weather, won't the rangers nix your trip up the peak?

Might be better for a separate thread. This seems to have deviated from the original posters question.

-Dr. Wu

First of all, let me state that I never pass up an opportunity to gripe about Baxter's winter rules. So taking the thread somewhat off topic is all on me.

There are no statistics on death or injuries in Baxter State Park vs other areas, because the accident rate vs the number of winter hikes is so minuscule so as to not be measurable anywhere in the northeast. Winter hiking is very safe. People that winter hike seem to know what they are doing without any supervision.

I have never done the Chimney Pond route in winter but is my understanding that the rangers will shut you down if the weather is not appropriate. I agree with this procedure. Just about everything bad that happens in winter is because of people hiking in weather that is not appropriate for the trip.

I also have not heard of any serious accidents on the Abol Slide route. The reason is that the Abol route is used fairly sparingly compared to other similar hikes elsewhere in northeast. Also, people that do that trip tend to be hardcore experienced winter hikers.

In the absence of statistics, I am using some inductive reasoning to claim that Baxter's winter rules increase the risk of winter hiking. It goes something like this. Most problems in winter hiking are weather related. Baxter's 2 week rule forces you to ignore the weather when planning your trip (unlike anywhere else in the northeast). Conclusion: Baxter's rules make Baxter State Park the most dangerous place to winter hike in the northeast.

Yes, you can fill out your permit form, get your 4 person group together, drive for hours up to Baxter, and then drive for hours home without hiking if the weather is bad. But what's the point? Why do we need this 2 week in advance permit rule?

dr_wu002
01-19-2008, 03:13 PM
Yes, you can fill out your permit form, get your 4 person group together, drive for hours up to Baxter, and then drive for hours home without hiking if the weather is bad. But what's the point? Why do we need this 2 week in advance permit rule?
How would you propose to change it. You seem to agree with the rangers saying "NO" to an ascent in bad weather, so you don't (correct me if I'm wrong) advocate a completely libertarian approach to winter rules. But what rules could be changed and could the changes still fit within the general kindof framework or spirit of the law within the park? Or would you, more or less, advocate completely abandoning the rules completely for BSP.

My "guess" is that a majority (>50%) of the deaths/serious injuries that occur in the presidentials are due to foolishness or unpreparedness. I also assume that injuries and death occur in both BSP and the Presis with people who are prepared and not acting foolish -- accidents do sometimes happen in the mountains even for the best of us. My overall guess is the BSP rules and regulations prevent some foolishness from happening within the park and discourage all but those prepared and persistent from entering the park in winter. I'm not sure, either way, if this is the best way to do it or would another way be better -- I don't hike in BSP in Winter enough (at all) to have an opinion. I've never had to do any long term planning of a hike, even in winter, to get a feeling how annoying or difficult it is. I usually just get up and go. I don't get up and go to BSP though because it's like 9 freakin' hours away.

-Dr. Wu

Papa Bear
01-19-2008, 03:38 PM
In the absence of statistics, I am using some inductive reasoning to claim that Baxter's winter rules increase the risk of winter hiking. It goes something like this. Most problems in winter hiking are weather related. Baxter's 2 week rule forces you to ignore the weather when planning your trip (unlike anywhere else in the northeast). Conclusion: Baxter's rules make Baxter State Park the most dangerous place to winter hike in the northeast.In the absence of statistics, one could argue equally convincingly that the BSP rules make it the safest winter hiking destination in the northeast. Why: the 2 week reservation/4 man party rule eliminates the yahoos and Sunday strollers (who get lost in cotton T-shirts and tennis shoes on Washington), and the ranger decreed no-go-in-bad-weather rule eliminates the hard core hiker's tendency to say "we drove all the way up here, screw the weather, I'm going up!"

You would have a better argument to say it's the most inconvenient winter hiking destination. If truth be told, in the absence of statistics, you could argue just about anything. Your argument isn't very convincing to me. It just says (with all due respect) you really don't like the rules.

As far as changes/improvements in the rules - sure, institute a last minute 1 or 2 day reservation system in cases where capacity or cancellations allow it. Sort of like the just-show-up-at-the-gate summer procedure. But to be honest they are not rolling in money. Their mandate means they can't rely on the state to balance their budget, and even hiring one more person (and those ladies I talk to on the phone are super nice and helpful - unlike many state employees) to handle last minute phone reservations might not fit their budget.

Pig Pen
01-19-2008, 03:57 PM
...Why: the 2 week reservation/4 man party rule eliminates the yahoos and Sunday strollers (who get lost in cotton T-shirts and tennis shoes on Washington), and the ranger decreed no-go-in-bad-weather rule eliminates the hard core hiker's tendency to say "we drove all the way up here, screw the weather, I'm going up!"


You are about one quarter correct here. The permit form that asks for previous experience eliminates the yahoos and Sunday strollers.

The 4 person minimum increases the likelyhood that a yahoo or Sunday stroller might be on the trip. A socially challenged trip leader might try to scrounge any warm body he can find to meet the 4 person minimum. So you could end up with 3 experienced hikers and a yahoo rather than 3 experienced hikers and no yahoo.

The two week advance time ... Well actually I don't know what the two week advance time does.


You would have a better argument to say it's the most inconvenient winter hiking destination. If truth be told, in the absence of statistics, you could argue just about anything. Your argument isn't very convincing to me. It just says (with all due respect) you really don't like the rules.

You are correct that it is the most inconvenient place to hike in the northeast and I admit that it bothers me. If the inconvenience contributed to safety or conservation I would reluctantly go along with it. But 4 person minimum and the two week advance time contribute nothing to safety, that is why I object.



As far as changes/improvements in the rules - sure, institute a last minute 1 or 2 day reservation system in cases where capacity or cancellations allow it. Sort of like the just-show-up-at-the-gate summer procedure. But to be honest they are not rolling in money. Their mandate means they can't rely on the state to balance their budget, and even hiring one more person (and those ladies I talk to on the phone are super nice and helpful - unlike many state employees) to handle last minute phone reservations might not fit their budget.

Dr. Wu has appointed me Grand Puba of Baxter State Park. I will promulgate the new rules in my next post.

Pig Pen
01-19-2008, 04:36 PM
How would you propose to change it.
-Dr. Wu

Thank you for appointing me Grand Puba of Baxter State Park. I have been visiting the park two or three times a year for several years now. I am attracted by the unparalleled beauty and wildness of the place... And ... well .. um ...there are a bunch of 3ks on my list in there. Anyway, I'm happy to have this place in my hot little hands and here are my new rules.

Summer: Nothing changes. I recognize that one of the mandates is to limit access. While I don't agree with this in general I understand that it is a Mandate of the Park's progenitor and I agree to keep it in place. BSP has a fine staff on rangers that manage the park quite well.

Winter: First, my goal is not to make winter hiking in Baxter an absolutely safe activity. My goal is to make it a very safe activity by allowing experienced hikers to travel safely in the best weather. If the board of directors wants to make Baxter State Park absolutely safe please include an order for about 200 miles of twenty foot high barbed wire fence so nobody can hurt themselves in there.

First the 4 person minimum group size is repealed. Group size has little to do with safety. Large groups tend be slower and less flexible which is marginally more dangerous. There shall be no minimum group size and the maximum group size shall be ten.

Ropes will no longer be required. We are hiking not climbing. Ropes add weight and nobody ever uses them. Extra weight in your pack is marginally more dangerous.

Hikers desiring to hike in the park in winter shall apply for a permit. Some minimum amount of winter experience will be required. Once approved, the permit can be used at any time during the winter when the rangers determine that the weather is appropriate. The rangers will post this at the Abol Bridge entrance and at Chimney pond. On the day that you hike you will be required to leave a message on the BSP answering machine with the name and permit number for all the members of your group. All members will be required to leave a copy of their permit in the box at the trailhead. We realize that this could result in some increased activity on weekend days with good weather.

The procedure for Chimney Pond and Nesowadnehunk will be unchanged. These are more like expeditions than day hikes and space is limited. However if you want to try day hike the Brothers you can use the permit system described above. And maybe we could try to open more of the Nesowadnehunk Cabin than just that little room.

If there are any questions I will be sleeping at my desk.

dr_wu002
01-19-2008, 04:37 PM
Dr. Wu has appointed me Grand Puba of Baxter State Park. I will promulgate the new rules in my next post.
Next time you go to BSP, please don't use my real name when you tell them this. :p

-Dr. Wu

sardog1
01-19-2008, 05:09 PM
Also keep in mind that BSP is a State Park in name only. They are financially autonomous and receive no funding from the State of Maine (all of their operating revenue comes from user fees and income from their endowment). Large scale SAR operations could be a finacial hardship and I believe this factors heavily in any number of their rules and regs.

Baxter State Park would have no part in paying for any SAR operation there, other than the incidental involvement of park staff as requested by the agency in charge of the operation. That agency is the Warden Service of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which is legally responsible for managing SAR incidents in the state. I'm not saying that an operation could not be expensive, only that the expense will not fall heavily on the park's budget.

bikehikeskifish
01-19-2008, 05:57 PM
The internet would allow a lot of "free" registration processes to take place which don't require a human to answer the phone. Likewise, BSP could post on a web site a rating for the next few days, like where a higher number indicates a greater chance that hiking will be allowed, so you take your chances on the marginal days. I wouldn't ever go 5+ hours each way unless I knew for certain I would have a chance to accomplish my goals.

Tim

spencer
01-19-2008, 06:55 PM
The two week advance time ... Well actually I don't know what the two week advance time does.
You didn't have to tell us, it shows... One of reasons the rule is in place is b/c not everyone understands the value of good planning.

I don't really want to get involved in refuting gross speculation, but I'll make one point. The winter activities of concern are usually carried out on multi-day trips of 4-6 days. Such trips require thoughtful planning. Last minute decision making can often lead to further poor decisions. Adding people to a trip last minute increases the likelihood that a participant is not prepared. Planning trips last minute increases the likelihood that the group did not do its homework for a trip that requires a full commitment to self-sufficiency in a remote setting with little or no guidance.

As one of many examples I have:
In Feb. 2006 a group of four ice climbers had a last minute cancellation by one of their participants. Against park policy, they added a buddy the night before the trip. The buddy joined the group and assembled his sled and gear in the parking lot for the first time. The group started the 13 kilometer trip to Roaring Brook. What is that you say? It's 13 miles and not 13k? Who knew? Apparently not these folks b/c one of them told me it was way longer than the 13k they thought it was to RB. Anyway, they were woefully unprepared, the sled mentioned above crapped out several times along the route and two of them eventually limped in to RB late in the evening. They asked us for help b/c one of their buddies decided it was getting hard and that he should just lie down in the snow for a rest. Anyway, you see where this is heading. Of course, they are idiots for several reasons, but intense regulation is meant to be proactive to avoid such circumstances. Avoiding having people like that in the park in the first place has kept the winter emergencies astonishingly infrequent.

In a remote location that requires 1.5 days to get to the nearest road, prevention is much more useful than good extrication protocol.

Now ask me about the "you must stay at RB the first night" rule and you might get a different response from me...

spencer

Pig Pen
01-19-2008, 07:26 PM
You didn't have to tell us, it shows... One of reasons the rule is in place is b/c not everyone understands the value of good planning.

I don't really want to get involved in refuting gross speculation, but I'll make one point. The winter activities of concern are usually carried out on multi-day trips of 4-6 days. Such trips require thoughtful planning. Last minute decision making can often lead to further poor decisions. Adding people to a trip last minute increases the likelihood that a participant is not prepared. Planning trips last minute increases the likelihood that the group did not do its homework for a trip that requires a full commitment to self-sufficiency in a remote setting with little or no guidance.

As one of many examples I have:
In Feb. 2006 a group of four ice climbers had a last minute cancellation by one of their participants. Against park policy, they added a buddy the night before the trip. The buddy joined the group and assembled his sled and gear in the parking lot for the first time. The group started the 13 kilometer trip to Roaring Brook. What is that you say? It's 13 miles and not 13k? Who knew? Apparently not these folks b/c one of them told me it was way longer than the 13k they thought it was to RB. Anyway, they were woefully unprepared, the sled mentioned above crapped out several times along the route and two of them eventually limped in to RB late in the evening. They asked us for help b/c one of their buddies decided it was getting hard and that he should just lie down in the snow for a rest. Anyway, you see where this is heading. Of course, they are idiots for several reasons, but intense regulation is meant to be proactive to avoid such circumstances. Avoiding having people like that in the park in the first place has kept the winter emergencies astonishingly infrequent.

In a remote location that requires 1.5 days to get to the nearest road, prevention is much more useful than good extrication protocol.

Now ask me about the "you must stay at RB the first night" rule and you might get a different response from me...

spencer

Thank you for supporting my argument against the four person minimum. Those ice climbers would would have been much better off with an experienced group of three. But I'm talking about hiking not climbing.

If you read all of my stuff you would know that I have no problem with the Chimney Pond expedition type rules, so you are debating me on a subject that we agree on, except the 4 person minimum which you refuted yourself (Thanks).

I don't understand the point of this statement "One of reasons the rule is in place is b/c not everyone understands the value of good planning." When did I say that good planning is of no value? I am a psycho hiker. My stuff is packed, next to the door, and ready to go 24/7. When I have a day off I look at the weather the night before, see if I can get some beta on snow conditions, and use that information make a decision on where to go. Sometimes I don't decide until the morning of the hike. This is not "last minute planning", this is called good decision making based on good information. If the forecast calls for clear weather with low winds, I can go above tree-line. I'm saying that if I saw that a big high pressure area was going to parked over Maine for a couple of days, I could pick up my stuff, drive to Millinocket and safely hike Katahdin the next day. That's way better than arbitrarily picking a day two weeks in advance and then finding three guys like the guy you mentioned above.

Pig Pen
01-19-2008, 07:32 PM
I can already see that my reign as Grand Puba of Baxter State Park is going to be a troubled one. The natives are getting restless. :rolleyes:

Tim Seaver
01-19-2008, 07:34 PM
In Feb. 2006 a group of four ice climbers had a last minute cancellation by one of their participants. Against park policy, they added a buddy the night before the trip.

Although if the regulations didn't require 4 people (or god forbid, that there were NO regulations), they wouldn't have had to make a last minute addition. It certainly can be argued both ways.

There are plenty of places on this earth where you can put yourself in much more danger than Baxter that are completely unregulated. Thank Zeus!

The good thing about Baxter's heavy-handed regulations is that is makes you appreciate all those other places that much more. :D

(As a side note, it would be nice if this could be discussed without veiled insults.)

Play Nice, Now!

Mad Townie
01-19-2008, 10:35 PM
Ropes will no longer be required. We are hiking not climbing. Ropes add weight and nobody ever uses them. Extra weight in your pack is marginally more dangerous.
I'll address only this point. Usually I have a LOT more to say. ;)

Where do you draw the line between hiking and climbing? If we'd had to bail on our "hike" last weekend, we would have been faced with a very "interesting" descent via a boilerplate gully that was fairly steep. We didn't need ropes on the ascent, but at least a running belay would have been the smart way to descend. Because we didn't have to bail, and because our plan was to descend Hamlin Ridge, we didn't need the ropes. But we brought them. I was probably the weakest hiker/climber in the group, which may tell you something about the guys I was with (one of whom has over 150 winter ascents of Washington under his belt, another of whom has climbed several peaks over 17,000 feet including Denali). Those guys thought ropes were a very good idea.

I carry stuff in my pack that I use only rarely: map, compass, matches, etc. I would no sooner think of leaving the ropes at base for a winter climb (oops, sorry, I meant "hike") of Baxter Peak than I would think of leaving other emergency safety gear behind. I certainly hope I never need any of that gear.

Spencer, I agree with you that the RB night rule doesn't make much sense--for you. For many of us, that's true. But for some who get a slightly later start than planned, or who get held up along the way, or who don't move as fast as they thought, I like the rule that prevents them from adding another 3.3 miles to the first day trip. (See, I really couldn't limit myself to just one point! :o )

TomD
01-20-2008, 12:45 AM
I have done a couple of winter trips in Yosemite. Nothing too far or too strenuous; just a short stroll or ski down Glacier Point Road, then off trail for a short bit before setting up camp. Did it once with 3 of us, then two solo trips.

In winter, all you have to do is show up, get a free wilderness permit, make some small talk with the Ranger for a few minutes about gear, just so they have some clue that you are prepared and off you go. Given that it is a national park, the rules are pretty simple and no one seemed alarmed that I was alone. Now, if the weather was wretched, it may have played out differently, but I don't know that for sure. You do put a copy of the permit on your windshield and they check the cars every now and then to see if you are overdue. I presume they come looking for you if you are. No cel service in the area, btw.

An interesting contrast to BSP from what I gather from your posts.

TomD
01-20-2008, 12:54 AM
I have done a couple of winter trips in Yosemite. Nothing too far or too strenuous; just a short stroll or ski down Glacier Point Road, then off trail for a short bit before setting up camp. Did it once with 3 of us, then two solo trips.

In winter, all you have to do is show up, get a free wilderness permit, make some small talk with the Ranger for a few minutes about gear, just so they have some clue that you are prepared and off you go. Given that it is a national park, the rules are pretty simple and no one seemed alarmed that I was alone. Now, if the weather was wretched, it may have played out differently, but I don't know that for sure. You do put a copy of the permit on your windshield and they check the cars every now and then to see if you are overdue. I presume they come looking for you if you are. No cel service in the area, btw.

An interesting contrast to BSP from what I gather from your posts.

ps. regarding the kms vs. miles story--a mixup between imperial units and metric units of force is what killed one of the Mars missions-a software mixup caused the spaceship to fly lower than it should and burned up a few hundred million dollars. DOH! See story on Wikipedia for Mars Climate Orbiter.

SteveHiker
01-22-2008, 02:50 PM
this site lists BSP fatalities
http://www.katahdinoutdoors.com/bsp/fatalities.html


after reading that list, I'm surprised that you don't need a note from your cardiologist to gain admission to the park.

Pig Pen
01-22-2008, 03:50 PM
this site lists BSP fatalities
http://www.katahdinoutdoors.com/bsp/fatalities.html

BSP asks two-week notice for Winter trips so Rangers know who's in the park, itineraries, etc

Chimney Pond and Nesowadnehunk Rangers don't leave the park every week ... they pick up updated trip plans at the Millinocket office whenever they're heading back into the park

many Winter teams set up trips with one summit day, hoping to save vacation time ... it's worth setting up an extra day or 4 or 5 :)

you can always find fun stuff to do with extra days, or head home early if you get your hikes in

BSP Winter trips are usually the best trips every year ... nothing else in the northeast comes close

I wouldn't be whining if BSP wasn't such a great winter destination.

I don't even buy that the rangers need to know who is in the park, but even if they do, I don't think that two weeks lead time is necessary to accomplish that. They seem to be able to get the weather report in there every day, I 'm sure other communication is possible as well.

The extraordinary safety record is a function of the experience that they require to obtain permits, which I have kept in place as Grand Puba. I doubt that it has much to do with the requirement to ignore weather in trip planning, or the requirement to include an inexperienced hiker to reach a group of four.

Stan
01-22-2008, 05:13 PM
Baxter State Park would have no part in paying for any SAR operation there, other than the incidental involvement of park staff as requested by the agency in charge of the operation. That agency is the Warden Service of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which is legally responsible for managing SAR incidents in the state. I'm not saying that an operation could not be expensive, only that the expense will not fall heavily on the park's budget.
This may be correct about the budget but I don't believe the involvement of park staff is merely "incidental'. My impression is that staff get very involved in searches and rescues, getting started well before the long ride for rangers and others to arrive and often being the first on scene. I believe in one search a member of the park staff lost his life.

McRat
01-22-2008, 06:07 PM
I have an instinctive aversion to excessive regulations. Yet, after visiting BSP last fall I would glady hike Katahdin in a tutu if the regulations so required.

The original thread title is excellent on many levels. Simply put - Baxter State Park rules.

Tim Seaver
01-22-2008, 06:12 PM
after reading that list, I'm surprised that you don't need a note from your cardiologist to gain admission to the park.

SHHHHH! Don't give them any ideas! ;)

RoySwkr
01-22-2008, 07:18 PM
after reading that list, I'm surprised that you don't need a note from your cardiologist to gain admission to the park.
In the '70s winter rules required every person to have a physical before coming, and you had to supply the names of your own rescue party as the park was deemed not to have this capability. You also had to bring 50 garden stakes with flags to mark your route for return, ice climbing gear unless you were skiing, etc. They were all so stupid I never went to Baxter in winter. It seems the rules are actually getting better.

The Watermans wrote a pair of articles "Anthem for Katahdin" and "Requiem for Katahdin" giving the good and bad features of the way the park was run.

Pig Pen
01-23-2008, 03:14 PM
... I doubt that it has much to do with the requirement to ignore weather in trip planning, or the requirement to include an inexperienced hiker to reach a group of four.

OK, that was a cheap shot, I officially resign as Grand Puba. Plus, apparently I don't even know how to spell Poohbah. (Thanks TS)

Tim Seaver
01-23-2008, 07:24 PM
From Wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Poobah)


From Grand Poobah is a term derived from the name of the haughty character Pooh-Bah in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. In this comic opera, Pooh-Bah holds numerous exalted offices, including Lord Chief Justice, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Buckhounds, Lord High Auditor, Groom of the Back Stairs, and Lord High Everything Else. The name has come to be used as a mocking title for someone self-important or high-ranking and who either exhibits an inflated self-regard, who acts in several capacities at once, or who has limited authority while taking impressive titles.

Well, Pig Pen, your reign was short, but I believe you ruled fairly.

You spoke of freedom and justice. In a land occupied by those who would cling to the false security of rules and bureaucracy, you had the courage to remind us of a time when men and women roamed free among the hills.

You'll be missed.

<sniff>

Steve-o
01-23-2008, 08:05 PM
BSP pretty much Rules!
Shhhhhhh.

sardog1
01-23-2008, 08:45 PM
This may be correct about the budget but I don't believe the involvement of park staff is merely "incidental'. My impression is that staff get very involved in searches and rescues, getting started well before the long ride for rangers and others to arrive and often being the first on scene. I believe in one search a member of the park staff lost his life.

I meant "appertaining to" a particular SAR mission and had no intent to trivialize the role of park staff in responding to one. Should have probably made that clearer, even though I didn't use "merely."

To my knowledge, the first bill from BSP for a SAR mission levied on the folks responsible was for $1500 in 2006. Not a very large sum in the context of a total park budget that exceeds $3 million, IMO. That was the point I was trying to make in response to the statement that the rules were promulgated to minimize BSP budget impact.