Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

General Palm Springs area.

Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby Wildhorse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:31 pm

In the thread about finding a dead body on the Lykken trail, Perry observed:

"When it's really hot, I think search and rescue doesn't go looking until it cools off in the evening. I'm sure it's still difficult to hike in hot air without the sun. Not sure if they fly helicopters when it's super hot."

I found it Interesting to know about suspension of rescue or recovery work until it is cooler in the evening on Skyline or on desert trails in general when it is really hot. I wonder if hikers knew that they could not expect rescue, or timely rescue, if that would discourage people from attempting hikes in the heat that are undeniably dangerous.

In Claremont, the city often closes the wilderness park during heat waves for public and ranger safety concerns and to reduce wildfire risk. They also close it periodically for other safety reasons. Winter storms are an example. (Police block the road. The police have big guns and are wearing flak jackets.) In San Diego, only when fires are burning does the city close Cowles mountain or other parts of Mission Trails Regional Park. (A bored cop sits in a car waving people away.) In the Cuyamaca Mountains, I am not aware of any trail closures, other than during actual fires. The USFS sometimes closes the wilderness for fire danger. (I have never known them to use armed guards.) Claremont uses closures more than any jurisdiction that I know of. We have discussed here the pros and cons of closing the Skyline Trail on especially dangerous days. I wonder what leads some jurisdictions to use closures for various safety reasons while others do not.

The suspension of rescues or recoveries in hot weather is effectively a partial closure of the trail, even while it does not make it illegal to use the trail. I wonder why the jurisdictions that control Skyline do not completely close it when safety is a great concern, like it is in the summer?

And, I wonder what closure of Skyline would look like. A sign? Armed guards? It could get rather hot standing guard at the trailhead all summer.
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby cynthia23 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:36 pm

Hi Wildhorse. I think the answer is essentially bureaucratic--who would close it? Nobody 'owns' the trail--it's not an official trail at all just a route, and it crosses numerous pieces of public and private land--private owner, the tribe, the city of Palm Springs (I think), the state park, and the BLM. So there is no one who could make that decision--let alone enforce it.
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby Ed » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:12 am

The only cost-effective way to close a trail is to close the parking at the trailhead. I believe there is a summer closure for El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan), in the San Diego area. Or at least there was the last time I checked.
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby hiiker » Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:48 pm

Why not close it in the winter too? People are rescued off the trail(s) then just like during the summer. Heck while we are at it why not close all trails except for the real easy ones. We need to be protected from ourselves.
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby Ed » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:54 am

I'm not an advocate of closing trails, partly because it seems impractical to me. But rescues and deaths do seem to be strongly correlated with summer heat and winter snow, rather than being uniform across conditions.
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby guest » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:54 pm

Hiiker,
Most of us don't need the govmt nanny, but I've helped with issues, incidents of Skyline in summer, and it's dangerous.
You have the choice to hike it in winter, (knowing help is just a call away), but SAR's have to go out in all conditions, most voluntarily, risking their own safety & health, carry huge, heavy packs, many not as fit as some of us, but their still go!

This subject hits the board every summer, and rescues continue, as fools, (& experienced) hikers get in trouble.
Hiking down is a poor option, so if hikers are unable to go on, (& unwilling to spend the night, resting & hydrating, if they have any), to continue up or down in cooler temps.
This makes it somehow easier for people to get over their head & in need of rescue.

Unless your on, or have been on a SAR's team, it's easy to say let people do as they please, and I agree to an extent, as I don't want to govmt or others telling me when & where to hike. If there was a way to make some really hot, (or icy) trails No Rescue zones, as Hal & others here have suggested, than I'm for allowing Hike At Your Own Risk signs, including "No Lifegaurd on Duty" type signs. But, the attorneys would have a field day if folks didn't get rescued today.
But this trail can be a killer, (think big wave surfing), it can lure one in, winter or summer, and bite you out in the deep ocean of wilderness.
There's several SAR's members here on this board who can & have commented, allowing us a great appreciation for their service.

Happy hiking, ss
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby Ed » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:25 pm

Whatever happened to that wonderful sign, which listed all the alternatives for how you were going to die, if you continued up?
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby guest » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:33 pm

Not sure Ed, but that would be effective, maybe, (I know Grand Cyn is allowed to use an example of the young, fit lady who was one of many who died in the canyon.
I helped put the metal sign up at 1,700 ft., (some referred to it as the death sign), some 20 yrs. ago with help from the Mounted police & BLM, put it's been gone, (as is the old Bighorn sign).
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby wb » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:29 pm

Hiker is correct when he says that if the trail is closed during the summer months due to heat, it is not far behind that the dangers of winter hiking will also close the trail. Night hiking can also be dangerous. Hiking is you're older than 50 can be dangerous, or if you have a medical condition, or a disability. Heavy backpacks are dangerous. Drug and alcohol use, anxiety, stress, medical problems, and many, many other factors all increase the risks to health and safety.

SAR members are trained professionals, and are most often the strongest and best survivalists on the mountain. Every SAR event presents significant risks to health and safety. Yes, heat is an extreme risk, but no SAR member is forced to rescue some knucklehead when doing so unnecessarily places his/her own life at risk. SAR members do not go out in blizzard conditions, or when there is excessive lighting strikes, or when there is excessive heat. There is no legal, ethical or moral imperative forcing SAR members to risk their lives unnecessarily in a rescue scenario. The individuals placing themselves in high risk environments bare 100% of the responsibility for the consequences of doing so, and yes, sometimes the consequences include death. Eliminating risk cannot be done. It's an on/off switch, all or nothing. Let people hike this rugged trail in all environments and weather, or watch our right to access the trail get taken from us.

I love hiking in Utah. Take a trip up Angels Landing in Zion NP and enjoy the sheer, 1,000 + feet sheer drop. No fences, no restrictions, no nanny state. Get too close and you risk falling off. It seems to happen every year. Give me the risk, and the freedom, anytime. I'll manage the consequences just fine. If I die, so be it. I'll die doing what I love to do.
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Re: Summer Closure of Skyline Trail

Postby guest » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:17 am

True, SAR's folks are not forced to go out in extreme conditions, but they do, (& some risk their safety in doing so, but they go).
I know several who have "had" to venture out in blizzard conditions as well as 100F plus temps to rescue yahoos who Have the Right to hike anywhere they want to, no matter what the conditions. You may want to meet some of the good SAR's folks who work the Skyline trail & ask them about the conditions they rescue in.
How about 2am, blizzard, several sections of 100 ft. rope to rappel down one of the steep icy shoots, spending the night with injured folk in freezing wx at times, or 100+ degrees with heavy packs on a steep trail, because someone left with only 2 qts. of water.
Comparing attempting a very difficult climb in extreme & dangerous situation with drugs, heavy packs, stress, is a poor comparison in my opinion.

I know SAR's friends who have quit, partly because they got tired of rescuing idiots who attempted to hike one of the toughest trails in the country, in severe conditions, they had No skills or ability to complete in those conditions. Ask Ellen, who had to spend a night at 10,800 ft. in the peak shelter, because SAR's was busy plucking guys off Skyline who had no business being on the trail in winter, but it's their right to do so.

There was 9 hoist rescues on Skyline this winter in ONE incident, and many more this season. Who pays, you & me, (not the folks who made the decision to attempt this).
It's also one guys right to hike anywhere, who has been rescued 3 TIMES on Skyline, oh what fun, to leave your job & family to pull Yahoos like this off the mountain.

Yes, it's everyone's right to hike Skyline in the dead of summer or winter, but someone has to go subject themselves to dangerous conditions to rescues these fools, otherwise there would be a public outcry for allowing idiots to die.

If some hikers continue to throw common sense & caution to the wind, because it's their right to do so, and rescues continue, we could run out of rescuers, And, the trail may be closed, (seasonally), even sooner, than if people governed themselves and stayed off this trail during extreme conditions.
Many of the agencies have already discussed seasonal closures because of the drain of resources, (money & manpower).

Btw, I love the fact we can all hike to places like you mentioned in Zion, Grand Cyn, Yosemite that may be considered dangerous, but allowable.

happy hiking, ss
Last edited by guest on Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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