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400 Lazy Hikers 2011-05-19

Remote Rangers Cabin

A story from the National Parks Incident Reports took place at Pinnacles National Monument, south of San Francisco...

"On Wednesday, May 11th, three people broke into an unoccupied park residence on the west side of the park. They'd left the Bear Gulch area "to see the caves" early in the afternoon, but, instead of heading towards the caves, they mistakenly hiked into the high peaks area of the park, then knowingly followed signs away from their vehicle because the trail led downhill and they would otherwise have had to walk some uphill sections to get back to their vehicle. The trio arrived on the west side to find no visitors or staff in the area. They proceeded to break into the residence to send a text message to family members in an attempt to get a ride home. Ranger Giasone Gigliotti arrived home to find the three leaving his residence through the back door, just as ranger Roberto Cruz was traveling through the area on patrol. All three were detained and cited for trespass and one who was on parole was cited for possession of a controlled substance. Further charges may be pending." (NPS)

When I first read this report I was dumb founded by the hikers. They were too lazy to walk uphill and therefore broke into a Ranger's residence to text for help. After a thinking session here are a few thoughts...

The hikers were obviously inexperienced. Their day hike probably did them good and they need more of the same - well, without the breaking and entering!

Being inexperienced they were also probably ill prepared. Their ten essentials might not have been the same as yours or mine.

We do not know about the hikers physical conditioning.

Yes, it was not the smartest thing to walk in the opposite direction of your vehicle just because it was uphill. They had probably never heard of the Hikers Code, they probably were not regular readers of the Metro to Mountain Journal, and they probably knew nothing of backcountry ethics.

Breaking into any locked building is not a good thing. In fact entering into any private residence is never good - whether the entry is locked or unlocked. Breaking and entering is plainly and deservedly against the law.

The three bears did not like Goldilocks breaking in either!

The Rangers did not mention anything being stolen, the hikers were only trying to send a text.

I was also unsure how breaking into the residence would help the hikers send a text? Perhaps their phone needed a recharge?

If, the hikers came to the locked residence and instead of trying to send a text they decided to try to return on the trail to their vehicle - what would have happened to them? Could they have made it back safely? Would the Rangers have had to search for them? Did the breaking and entering prevent a rescue?

Perhaps the Rangers should have emergency information on a sign at the residence. It did not sound as if the hikers were in an emergency situation; but it probably was an emergency to them. If they carried a SPOT, they would have been pushing the button!

A bit of advice to the hikers, it is always okay to turn around. If the trail leaves the trailhead and starts downhill and seems steeper than you think that you can climb, then it is time to turn around.

Not everyone is a great hiker; but almost everyone could benefit from the hiking and outdoor experience, including our lazy hikers. As simple of an activity as hiking is (after all, it is just walking) the skills involved take a life time to learn. Good hikers understand that on a climb, even a long and steep climb, you only worry about moving one step, and then the next. You rest when you grow tired. You drink when you are thirsty. You change the subject in your mind and get your thoughts off the labor of the climb and then, you look up and you have made the top. Inexperienced hikers just want to walk downhill.

Hopefully, the hikers will one day try hiking again; but next time with someone experienced and who is able to show them how to climb a hill and to enjoy the outdoors.

Happy uphill trails


A few links:

Pinnacles National Monument

Hiking Skills

Ten Essentials

Leave No Trace

Hikers Code (current series on Mondays)


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