Moderator: HAZ - Moderators
Completely false, rangers are unqualified to assess fitness/ability, and how would one do that via mail request is beyond me. You are correct that rangers may assess the information you provide in your permit request and RECOMMEND that you change to an easier itinerary, but they cannot deny you a permit on the grounds of perceived ability or fitness.Of course the Backcountry Rangers (BCR) judge hikers as to the fitness/ability level when they apply for a permit, be it walk-in or via mail request. Grand Canyon hikes are kept in a database so the staff can quickly call up your previous experience in the Canyon. They look at your hiking background, place of origin, and your proposed route on the permit application. If you've never hiked the desert SW and want to do a backcountry route you stand a good chance of being denied. The answer is not that you are not qualified but 'no space left for those dates/that route.' They have to do this because not everyone applying for a permit is an extreme hiker.
Good BCR's will ask a few subtle questions and direct a hiker to a trip that will be a challenge that can end in success for the hiker.
That is not the reason - the reason is to ensure walk in permits are available and not make it a reservation only system, it has nothing to do with this topic.There's a reason a few permits are held back for walk-ins at the designated campgrounds---to redirect the overly ambitious and still get them into the Canyon. The progression is from the maintained Corridor Trails to 'threshold' trails like Hermit to primitive trails (like Tanner) and then 'wild' backcountry routes.
Completely false, BCR staff can and do sign off on backcountry permits for individuals they personnally feel will end in trouble for the permit holder. They will not deny the permit on the grounds of a personal judgment against their ability, to do so violates fair use laws regarding control of public lands and goes well beyond what the staff are qualified to do.Do you honestly think that a BCR staff is going to sign off on a backcountry route for a hiker with no Canyon experience, no knowledge on how to navigate, no idea of how to locate water, etc? The BCR have to live with their decisions and how they hand out permits---they will say 'NO' by giving the bad news that 'no more space available on that route. . . let's check and see what we have at Indian Gardens." You can call that babysitting if you like (which is an appropiate term for those hikers with a baby's knowledge and experience).
The individual appears to have obtained a permit for his itinerary despite obviously having no clue for what he was in for hiking that in the summer. They likely made him sign the death notice slip along the paperwork path to get his permit, same as anyone else, that emphasizes the hiker is doing something dangerous and recommends they consider an easier itinerary. They do not ask most of these questions, though some of these items are listed on the permit request - with your permit comes a map and a trail description and warnings about Tanner being dry, and warnings about the heat, and recommendations for what to do about water. If the morons choose to ignore all this information, they can, you cannot prevent people from doing stupid things.For our video star who went down the Tanner---a BCR staff would quickly size him up and hit him with a few key questions meant to let him know he is not equipped for the Tanner---lack of knowledge, lack of sufficient water, too much pack weight, late June Inner Canyon temps, etc. A good BCR will inform the hiker at the same time they do not insult the hiker: "How much water do you have?" "Three gallons for the round-trip? "The Tanner is a dry trail . . . how much water do you use per hour when the temperature is 100F+?" "You don't know? We'll it can be up to 1 liter per hour on the trail . . . do you know how many miles it is to the River?" "Do you have a Topo map?" "Do you have a way to resupply at the River?" . . . these kind of questions are not outright denials from the BCR, that decision gets generated by the unprepared hiker. Hopefully.
The only conditions under which a ranger can deny a permit when the use limits have not been reached is if they felt it would create a life-threatening situation. If a ranger discovered someone was bringing a toddler down the Tanner trail with them in July, I imagine there could be an exception made under outrageously dangerous circumstances. One would hope these items are non-occurances.Do you really think that a BCR is going to issue a backcountry hiking permit to a husband-and-wife with no outdoor experience and three toddlers in tow? Under your 'let 'em die' theory, I suppose they should. On the other hand, a husband-and-wife with extensive outdoor experience with toddlers in tow do get a permit---extreme hiker and author Wayne Tomasi routinely took his small children and then grandchildren along on Inner Canyon hikes. Thankfully the BCR staff have the good sense to redirect that family with no experience while at the same time they hand out backcountry permits to experienced Canyon hikers.
Do you have a source that supports your assertion?Do you have a source that supports your claim that: ". . . they issue permits to anyone who legally asks. It is not their job to judge the worthiness of any individual that would apply for the permit." I'm curious to read the official NPS policy and if this is the current approach.
There are 2 requirements: space is available, and you pay your dues. There are no other requirements for obtaining a permit. There are many recommendations.Permit requests are responded to through U.S. Mail - never by fax or e-mail. Due to the volume of requests received, the park cannot confirm receipt of requests until they have been fully processed. Please allow at least three weeks for processing.
When space is available and all fee requirements are met, a permit will be issued and mailed to the trip leader. The permit is valid only for the trip leader named on the permit. Overnight hikers are not permitted to enter the canyon without a valid permit in the trip leader's possession.
The toddler case is a strawman example that falls under "a life-threatening situation" and could lead to a permit being denied, but not necessarily. What I would do is irrelevant, doing their jobs requires them to obey the restrictions and limits of their duties, otherwise they are abusing the power given to them. Rangers do not play doctor, they are unqualified to assess fitness and ability, they cannot do much more than check quantity of permits against dates and fees.If you were sitting behind the BCR desk and a totally naive husband-and-wife walked in with their three toddlers and requested a two-day permit for the Tanner in July . . . would you issue them the permit?
I have no clue which one of you is right about this permit thing, but I do find this statement interesting. How exactly would one be qualified to make this judgement call? I've hiked with a lot of folks who can tear up a trail who don't look at all in shape and I've hiked with people that look insanely fit who have trouble with very moderate trails. Last time I went home to visit, I took my personal trainer friend hiking and she was embarrassed at not being able to keep up.nonot wrote:They will not deny the permit on the grounds of a personal judgment against their ability, to do so violates fair use laws regarding control of public lands and goes well beyond what the staff are qualified to do.
My thoughts exactly. I am short and fat, but I can hike rough, long trails. I know fit friends that can't handle a 5 mile flat trail, because they aren't used to it and they don't have those muscles trained as they should be. Example:Tough_Boots wrote:How exactly would one be qualified to make this judgement call? I've hiked with a lot of folks who can tear up a trail who don't look at all in shape and I've hiked with people that look insanely fit who have trouble with very moderate trails.