Saline Preservation Association

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 #1 
So you are saying that they need better ground control ... ( slaps knee, chortles ).

I understand people being frustrated by this seeming dereliction of duty on the part of the park service but from the philosophical and evolutionary points of view, isn't it chaos and uncertainty, challenge and adversity, flat tires, warm beer and bogus road reports that make us heartier tourists, a breed above the rest? I hereby invoke the name of William Lewis Manly. Verily.
Major Tom

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 #2 

more like they close roads at the drop of a hat, without any feet on the ground to collect real data

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 #3 
Evidently no one here believes them about much anyhow. Consider the water potability issue. Liability breeds caution. Slimy California litigation attorneys breed paranoia. I think.

Or maybe you are correct and they are just being incompetent.

The test of this is whether or not they also open roads at the drop of a hat.

Caution works one way. Incompetence works both ways. what is the data?





Major Tom

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 #4 
Back to my original point, if they err on the side of caution too often, no one is going to believe the reports.
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 #5 
If you are driving a vehicle suited to the rigors of park roads, have sufficient supplies, posses basic navigation and survival skills as well as a bit of common sense, are not alone, have told others where you plan to go, found the the weather forecast to be favorable, have made an offering to the god or goddess of your choosing, and generally know what the heck you are getting yourself into, then you might be in a position to second guess park signage and/or road reports.

Obviously this excludes 99% of park visitors and the park service is correct to err on the side of caution. Dead tourists are a real bummer.
mmeijer

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 #6 
What about the fact that when you actually talk to a park ranger at one of the ranger stations they don't actually know the real road condition and they have mostly never been on them.  We asked about the Hunter Mountain road at Scotty's Castle never having been on it before and the first ladies comment was, "Oh that's a bad back country road and both south and north pass are closed."  At this time I had been in south pass 4 days before and out north pass that morning so they were passable.  I'm also not a touron but I wanted to know if were were going to make it on the half a tank of gas plus the 5 gallon can still left of the back.  The other lady just looked at the lovely "Death Valley Morning Report"  a lovely document that's about 4 pages long and says basically nothing.  It said the road was open.  Finally a third lady ranger walked in and her first question was, "What are you driving?"  Finally someone who knew the right question to ask.  I explained what we were driving and where we had been.  She said she had done the road once last year and that it does get graded but it had not been graded for this year.  She also looked at the morning report and said all she knew was that it was open.  She couldn't given me any more information but at least she didn't just say, "Oh that's a bad road."  Very frustrating. You would think that if they were marking the roads as either open or closed then they would have some solid data on what the road was actually like??

Also, is it just me or would you expect that a park ranger for a specific national park to have actually explored that park and know a little about its different areas?  Only one of three rangers really knew the road, or the are for that matter, but even then they didn't have any recent information.  

P.S. Hunter Mountain Road "open" meant up to 1 1/2 feet of snow and chains required on all 4 tires.  We were the first people through since the last big snow.... white knuckle most of the way, barely enough fuel but we made it!
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 #7 
I did a trip to Saline Valley last spring.  Not living in Inyo Co. I had to use various remote sensing techniques to figure out road conditions.   This included spending the night in Bishop on the way and asking at the Bishop FS Info center the next AM.  The guy at the counter told me North Pass was closed (4 words).  I told him that the last storm had passed, it was clear as a bell outside, and what was the source of his info, as I have been around the block a few times, was not a touron [combination of tourist and moron], know which side was up, and if he really didn't know just say so.  Rather embarrased, he changed his answer to "The Inter-Agency Visitor Center reported North Pass closed 3 days ago, I do not know the current conditions and no one [from here] has been up to check".  I told him that was a much better answer and thank you. 

Sometimes they don't know and just repeat the answer given them (how often do they hear this question from a real touron?).  They are not paid enough to really check, nor authorized to do so, and some of them don't have their touron meter calibrated.  The guy in Bishop really didn't want to be a turd, but he was the little finger on the hand directed by the brain to pop zits.  The DV Morning Report is probably calibrated for tourons.

My last bit of remote sensing was flagging down a car comming out and asking about the road.  North Pass had maybe 6" snow in the most protected parts with trail already broken through.  We spent 4 days watching the snow line move up the Inyos as it melted.  That is probably my most favorite view in the world, watching the sunrise on the Inyos with a cup of coffee, in my camp chair, from the Lower Warm Springs camp.

We came out Steel Pass, way cool although a very slow road, first time I've been over it, my remote sensing antenna had an accurate report, no surprizes, with jacks and chains and tirepatch and tirepump(s) and extra fuel and enough food and water to spend a couple days on the road, although potatoes and onions and garlic (fried) might have gotten old the fifth or sixth time.

RiverRat
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 #8 
Right On Major Tom! Most of us are so lethargic that we don't do a damn thing about it. The Parks Dept. should show up and do the job, or stay home and let the rocks fall where they may. Maybe they are practicing some sort of extra sensory perception. They can tell the road conditions from behind the desk. The sad thing is, this is just the tip of the iceberg and you know who is getting crushed beneath the thing. 
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Major Tom

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 #9 

The National Park Service’s mandate is the historic preservation of public lands. Part of this mandate regards accessibility of the public lands to everyone. (One might reasonably debate if these mandates are at times contradictory to one another.) Does historic preservation mean closing down existing historical roads, or does this negate the accessibility mandate? This is a horse that has long been beaten, and is not dead yet.

 

My point of contention is with Death Valley’s posted road reports online. I had planned on coming into Saline Valley via the Lippincott Road on February 11, thereby bypassing the “closed” south pass road. On February 10 DVNP listed the Racetrack Road closed due to flood damage. (In fact, on this date, all back country roads were listed as closed.) Attempting to contact the park for clarification got nothing other than recorded messages. Trusting their report to be accurate and factual, I proceeded  to join the “Donner Party” that was punching through the south pass. I spent quite a few extra hours rolling around in the snow with everyone else helping to get the party moved along through a few tons of snow and boulders.

 

As it turned out, based on several reports from people who had come in along that route, there was nothing wrong with the Racetrack Road other than a few puddles along the way. I think it is irresponsible of DVNP to post roads closed at the drop of a hat, thereby limiting access of public lands by the public. It is exclusionary, and reduces the agency’s credibility to zero as they continue to misrepresent actual conditions along their back roads. When there is actually a problem, who would believe the Agency that cries wolf?

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