…or “Once Again, State of California & LA County Turbo-Charge their Race to the Bottom!”

California – Los Angeles specifically – I love you. I am of you and your influence helped shape a large part of who I am today, but you’re really starting to test me with all this lowest common denominator nonsense.

Consider, according to the LAist (6/26/14):

Hikers and climbers have long been going to Eaton Canyon in Altadena [a small, fairly quaint neighborhood/city located immediately north of Pasadena], but a dangerous portion of the trail will soon be closed off to the public.

The U.S. Forest Service announced on Wednesday that they will be blocking off a small area known as “Upper Falls,” according to CBS Los Angeles. It’s a challenging part of the trail even for the most expert-level climbers, yet many try to go through it and are unable to finish it with disastrous results.

Five people have died on the trail (that’s nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains) since 2011, and there have been 60 helicopter rescues in 2012. Just last year, a 17-year-old girl fell to her death going to the second set of waterfalls at Eaton Canyon.

Further points include:

– It’s all YouTube’s fault! Apparently, social media has fueled a lot of the accidents – “kids” see videos of the upper falls and want to go up there. Interestingly, no “adults” have ever been beguiled by images of Upper Eaton.

(I, incidentally, will not be sharing any of these dangerous and alluring reels, as I don’t want any of you to die – there’s a cool clip at the LAist link though)

– The US Forest Service, local police and fire, and city officials all decided together to close off the falls – paternalism from city and state, as well as the feds!

– No date has been set for the closure; however once it’s enacted, folks who try to access Upper Eaton could be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced to six months in jail.


Six months in jail?!!

For hiking on public land.

This bothers me for so many reasons.

First and foremost, the thought patterns behind it… Though accidental deaths are terribly sad, accidental deaths happen. I have hiked Eaton Canyon countless times in my life, and trust me when I tell you: five people is a mere fraction of the total number of souls who make it in and out of that canyon on a daily (much less annual) basis. This closure is basically akin to making everyone ride the bus because there were five fatal car accidents on the 210 freeway.

Second, the inability to think strategically about anything that plagues California at every level… Sure: there’s no doubt Upper Eaton is (relatively) dangerous. But rather than take something that is truly a gift away from everyone, why not give the power and consequences of a decision to the individuals making said choice (and make a little money on the side)? In lieu of closure, have people purchase a $20 permit to hike Upper Eaton, and put up a sign that says “Permit required to hike beyond this point.” Include a little kiosk to buy (at an increased cost) last minute day passes. Then let would be hikers figure it out.

Or better: close the area. Because “kids” who are so hypnotized by YouTube videos aren’t intrigued by “STAY OUT, AREA CLOSED” signs, not at all.


(pictured: Waterfall at Eaton Canyon – photo by Jay Edwards via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

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