View Poll Results: give feedback to park?
just a TR, no critiques 1 25.00%
only positive comments please 0 0%
give 'em hell! 0 0%
constructive criticism 3 75.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 4. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-22-2011   #1
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
Virgin Narrows - follow up?

Flew down to get on the narrows last weekend. Yes, it was low. Yes, it was world class. Yes, the backcountry desk doesn't seem to know how to manage the resource.

What's the best way to follow up on our trip? I saw some reference to sending positive comments to the zion park staff. Good idea?

Would probably make these points:

flow: No real comment, execpt we oppose the 600 ceiling. We don't expect rescue, would rather be on our own at prime flow than miss it with the option to be rescued. Better ability to vet boating parties would reduce the need for a hard cap on flow. which side you come in on should affect flow caps anyway" the issue is not the narrows but the canyon leading to the narrows.

camp availability - we were told ahead of time by phone and email camps were open in the narrows. desk would not give a permit for a camp because of the floods and the camps not having been assessed. this is the wrong call, and the staff should all be on the same page with critical details like this. This also meant we did not receive wag bags with our permit, which compromised our leave no trace abilities.

skills needed: this is a big one. The desk should make some effort to assess the resume of the boating party. We were asked only if we had done it before. A handful of benchmark runs could make a little checklist indicating some rudimentary competence. Also, no questions asked about expedition or self support experience, only "IV-V experience required."

good questions to ask a party: Have you run steep woody creeks before? Have you undertaken self support expeditions before? Do you have swiftwater rescue training? Do you have a pin kit? Throw bags? Spare paddles? Boat repair materials? Are you prepared and able to spend the night?

ik ban idea is silly. Many qualified boaters use iks as their boat of choice for this kind of trip. As they are less likely to break and easier to repair, and can safely haul more self support gear, you could make an argument they are the best tool for the trip, not the worst. dont judge the boat, judge the boater.

Good feedback: obtaining the permit the day before is critical and a big improvement. vehicle management was pretty good (seemingly what they do best down there...)

Bad feedback: backcountry staff not on the same page about camping, wouldn't issue the proper permit, had little knowledge of even rudimentary details of the trip. The desk should be a source of information, not less knowledgeable than anyone with google and 15 minutes to research the run. boating community glad to dialog to improve park's ability to inform future parties. Maybe building a decent web page on he park's site with good info that can serve as a reference both to boaters and rangers would help.

Anyway, we really loved the trip and no problems whatsoever, though we had to poach a camp. We did pack out all our waste but it was made more difficult by the desk. We would like to help improve the dialog with the park, so thought I would ask here before I draft a letter.

tl;dr, yeah yeah yeah. I know...

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Old 06-22-2011   #2
earthNRG's Avatar
Snowmass, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 429
Constructive criticism is always good, so long as it truly is constructive. As for the WAG bag issue, unless you were told beforehand that the park would supply them, that really should be in your court. Even the park did say they'd provide them, you probably should bring your own anyway.

"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)
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Old 06-22-2011   #3
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,929
The Zion NPS backcountry desk is historical inconsistent with beta and information. Several of their folks are amazing, several are actually damaging to their mission.

I would never recommend a skills check by the NPS. Zion is never likely to implement such a requirement because of the Kolob lawsuit decades ago. Such requirements become a dangerous liability for them. However, this job can be taken over by the public and folks should have a full understanding of their skills.

The camps should have been open to kayakers but once again their staff is inconsistently trained. However, be aware, Zion NPS is struggling this year to keep up with very rare events. This is especially true for the flood damage this past winter. The closing of the Narrows camps is extremely rare and has understandably caused a lot of confusion.

Zion NPS normally hands out free wag bags, shocked they didn't. However, they sell them at every outfitter in Springdale.

The surge in boating interest is really new to them. Hopefully they will learn from their errors soon.

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Old 06-22-2011   #4
slickhorn's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 365
we had wag bags and did manage leave no trace, but we were counting on some bags from the desk. it worked out ok, but lap 2 ... not so fun.

I think our biggest frustration is that, hey, we have our shit together. We didn't just drop in out of the blue, we flew down with a solid plan. Before we committed to airfare we did our due diligence and talked with the backcountry desk so we had our duckies in a row. What we were told is not what was on tap when we showed up for the permit. I don't think that's on us.

The guy looked ready to turn us down, and all he asked was have you run it before (1 of us had). I'm fine with them saying no, if needs be, but that's not the bar. I didnt get the feeling they had a good way to tell who should or should not go. Other parks inspect gear. Yosemite backcountry desk, super helpful and knowledgeable.

I'm not mad, I'd just like to help make it better for both sides for next time.
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