Lumpy Ridge, in the northeast section of vast Rocky Mountain National Park, is home to a wall of rocks that was just too inviting for a pair of climbers in the unpredictable weather this past March. Hayner Brooks, a 44-year-old Loveland electrician, and Ken Miller, a 35-year-old electrical engineer from Colorado Springs, started climbing the area of Lumpy Ridge known as Thunder Buttress in the afternoon. On what they had planned as their last climb of the day, Brooks grabbed a bad handhold and fell twenty feet, shattering his left thigh bone just below the hip. He then rolled fifty more feet until coming to rest on a small ledge. "I remember seeing rock, sky, rock, sky, and thinking 'Okay, when is this going to end?'" recalls Brooks, an experienced mountaineer who has worked as a climbing instructor.
Miller went for help and put the park's search-and-rescue crew into action. Calls went out to volunteers who were qualified for what looked to be a difficult night rescue with snow in the immediate forecast. A crew would have to climb above Brooks, anchor some ropes and then rappel down to his spot. Once there, they would have to strap him onto a litter, lower him down a sheer cliff face and then carry him down a steep slope for about two miles.
One ranger on duty that night was park veteran Jim Detterline, known to many people as "Mr. Longs Peak" for his intimate knowledge of one of the park's main attractions. On that night, Detterline decided to break some rules.
The ranger was already in trouble. He had been reassigned from one of the great jobs in the National Park Service--as the official Longs Peak ranger, which he had been for a decade--to a job in which he says his chief duty is to dig latrines in a remote part of the park. His bosses say he took a routine transfer too personally. Others say Park Service officials may be jealous of Detterline. In any case, the dispute has helped create such an air of mistrust that the Park Service convened a special panel last week to discuss morale, volunteers and other issues. The imbroglio mostly revolves around two men, Detterline and a seasonal ranger named Bernie Holien, and has been the center of attention--as well as of rumor and gossip--all winter for the small community of people whose job or passion for climbing keeps them attached to the park they call "Rocky."
No one seems more passionate than Detterline, a gung-ho ranger known for his extreme earnestness and an avid interest in the history of Longs Peak. The 14,255-foot-high mountain, named for Stephen Long, an Army surveyor who never did scale it, is a landmark not only for all of northeastern Colorado but also for Detterline, who has scaled it hundreds of times. "Longs Peak has always captured my fancy," he says. And he simply doesn't want to climb down.
Not that there aren't other beautiful spots in Rocky. Founded in 1915, the 412-square-mile park north of Boulder is the most popular single tourist attraction in the state, full of meadows and mountains and glaciers, traversed by the highest paved highway in the world, Trail Ridge Road, and 355 miles of hiking trails.
And the park's rangers are the top guns. They handle the rugged stuff, they enforce the law, they rescue the helpless and they dispense guidance to thousands of tourists. Because of where they work, they're listened to by the top climbers in the world. It's easy to see why rescued victims, co-workers, volunteers and mountain fanatics have developed a strong loyalty to Detterline, 40, and Holien, 44. Both have been trained in climbing and rescue at the best schools, in places as far away as Scotland. They have climbed to the summit of Longs Peak from dozens of routes, starting when they were teens. They've both made successful climbs of serious mountains like Denali (Mt. McKinley), although neither likes to talk about himself.
Talking about each other--that's different. Detterline describes Holien as a climber's climber and says he can walk straight up the side of a mountain without breaking a sweat or saying a word. At the end of the day, says Detterline, Holien will go home and repair equipment so that he'll be ready to climb again the next morning before sunrise. Holien sold his construction business in Denver four years ago in order to be near the park that he has loved since he was a teen.
In turn, Holien says Detterline is not only a great climber but skilled at turning visitors into friends and friends into park volunteers. Detterline, he says, is also excellent at assessing climbers quickly and giving them the crucial tip they may need to avoid getting in trouble later on. "He's probably saved dozens of people before they get 100 feet from their car," Holien says.
Both Holien and Detterline have the leathery skin that betrays their years in the sun and wind. It is only during a lengthy conversation that their similar easygoing demeanors fade away and stubborn streaks emerge. Even friends say that while Detterline is more outgoing and Holien more laid back, they both have the kind of stiff backbones that would put them on a collision course with the bureaucracy of the National Park Service.
And that's what happened in the rescue of Hayner Brooks. The first rule Detterline decided to break that March night was an unwritten rule that Holien should not be used. Holien says he was banned from rescue work because he was in the Detterline camp. The rescue would be difficult, and Detterline thought Holien would make a perfect addition to the team, regardless of his status with park officials.
The second rule Detterline broke was an injunction against driving along an empty road with his flashing lights and sirens on, something Holien says he was called on the carpet for later. Detterline thought the signals would give hope to Brooks, camped out alone on the dark hillside. "It was like he knew what was going on inside my head," Brooks says.
One of the first rescues Detterline made after being named Longs Peak ranger was of Chris Hill, who had just moved to the region. Hill, who now runs a bar in Estes Park, was on one of his first climbs of Longs Peak when he and his partners got lost. One of them had a portable ham radio and reached somebody in a nearby town. That person relayed information to Detterline over the phone. Hill and his partners described what rock formations they could see. With just that information, Detterline told them where they were on their map and set them on the proper path. They arrived home without incident. "It was pretty incredible, really," says Hill. He's having trouble imagining a summer without Detterline on Longs Peak. "The thing that's a shame," says Hill, "is that he's the best search-and-rescue person around."
Detterline, a Ph.D. zoologist, decided to become a ranger only after he was rescued in 1980 from a situation that he says "should have killed me." While hiking in the Tetons in Wyoming, Detterline and a friend were caught in a snowstorm. They spent six days on a sheer cliff face, hammered the entire time by wind and snow. "We were given up for dead--we should have been dead," says Detterline. "I was a cocky climber." But some rangers risked their lives and rescued Detterline and his partner. Those rangers won the Medal of Valor, the highest honor in the Department of the Interior.
Fifteen years later Detterline risked his own life in a whitewater rescue that won him the Medal of Valor. But the rescue on Lumpy Ridge was not that kind of high-profile job. Detterline says the most important person in the Brooks rescue may have been the snowplow driver who cleared the road so that crews could get as close as possible to Brooks.
Detterline and Holien say they were more than eager to perform the rescue, even though they say they have been insulted, blacklisted and branded as malcontents. "There was no question that we would do it," Holien says. "We were hoping that by doing the rescue it would help solve the whole mess."
It didn't, and "the whole mess" grew. Detterline fears that new rules in the park mean he won't be used at all for search and rescue. And his friend Holien was not invited back to work as a seasonal ranger; he'll be at another park this summer.
Brooks doesn't like to think about what would have happened if Holien and Detterline and the team hadn't worked so efficiently. It started to snow just as he reached the ambulance at about 3 a.m. "If it had been even a couple of hours later," he says, "the thing could have turned into kind of an epic."
The only epic may be the struggle between the Park Service and Detterline and Holien. Made up of a series of little incidents, it's a big deal to the people who live in, work at or just love the park. Both rangers have filed formal complaints about their treatment at the hands of Park Service officials. Supporters of Detterline can't understand why the Park Service won't simply leave Detterline where he wants to be--on Longs Peak.
"I can't make heads nor tails of it," says Glenn Porzak, former head of both the American Alpine Club and the Colorado Mountain Club, and a man who says he spends "a fair amount of time at the park." One thing that Porzak does understand is that Detterline and the crew of workers and volunteers who have gravitated to him know Longs Peak. He remembers a series of rangers before Detterline who weren't really familiar with Longs, the most-climbed mountain in the park and the one with the largest number of routes to its summit. (One of the routes is named for Detterline.) This year another 30,000 people are expected to hike somewhere on the peak. "That's been the difference with Jim and all of the people he's gathered around him there," Porzak says. "They really know what the conditions were when you called. That's crucial."
Jim Gillett, who has been a ranger at Rocky and other national parks, says Detterline reminded him of legendary rangers whose very names became linked with a particular mountain, river or other landmark. "He's a ranger from the old style," Gillett says. "He was totally dedicated to that field-level job."
Detterline's conflict with the Park Service, his supporters say, stretches back to 1985, when Jim Protto, chief of operations at the park, found out that Detterline had a significant hearing problem. "He is just not comfortable with that," says one former ranger who asks not to be named because he still works for the Park Service. Protto refuses any comment to Westword. But a Park Service official in Denver, Ron Everhart, says Detterline filed an equal-opportunity complaint because he thought he was discriminated against as a person with a hearing disability. He has had a 60-percent hearing loss since infancy, but it is almost completely corrected with hearing aids. Detterline recently signed a settlement of that complaint and agreed to the government's request that he not talk about it with the press. The terms of the settlement, he says, prevent him from talking about the mountain and the job he loved so much.
One person, while a big fan of Detterline's, says the ranger may have sown the seeds of his own destruction by being so visibly successful. Duane "Shorty" Langford has been a climber most of his 64 years. He worked on Wall Street and also ran mountaineering expeditions on five continents; his first ascent of Longs was in 1950. Langford says he was predisposed not to like Detterline simply because Detterline was a ranger. "Boy Scouts with guns" is Langford's assessment of most of the rangers he has met in his decades of climbing. But ten years ago, while climbing Longs for pleasure, he kept running into Detterline. Even when Detterline had a day off, Langford would find him climbing the peak from one route or another. "He is a mountaineer," Langford says--it's a term that Langford takes seriously. "And Longs Peak is a mountaineer's mountain."
Langford didn't lose his contempt for rangers, but he admired Detterline enough to join the park as a volunteer. Detterline wanted volunteers not just to cover menial tasks, but to advise the ever-growing number of people who attempted to reach the summit. Langford filled that bill, as did Walter Tishma, 73, who first learned to climb in the mountains of Yugoslavia when he was a partisan under Tito. Detterline talked him into being a volunteer as well and encouraged him to make his 100th successful ascent of Longs Peak in the summer of 1996. "Maybe without his encouragement, I wouldn't have made 100 climbs," Tishma says.
Having had his fill of politics in a Russian prison, Tishma has no desire to enter the current dispute at the park. The same goes for Langford, who says that there are good men on all sides but that he saw the potential for problems years ago, when Detterline was becoming "Mr. Longs Peak," and he told Detterline so. One probable source of conflict between Detterline and his bosses was the amount of public exposure the ranger got. Detterline was the one being asked to speak to climbing groups and others in Colorado and around the country. He was the one whose picture and quotes could be found in all the guidebooks to the park.
"In doing what I see as the right things, he created problems for himself," Langford says.
A former ranger who asks not to be named--as do many of the people interviewed for this story--says the combination of Detterline's doctoral degree (a rarity among rangers) and popularity with the public created envy within the Park Service. And Detterline doesn't just fade into the woodwork: He projects the zeal of the righteous. The former ranger suggests one other possible motivation for Protto's behavior toward Detterline: "Jim [Detterline] never asked for a promotion. He just wanted to stay where he was at Longs. Protto didn't know how to deal with that, because it meant he didn't have any power over him to control his future."
Sometimes it seemed that the better Detterline did, the worse things got. After he was quoted in an article about Longs Peak, Protto told him to use a different park vehicle, a converted snowplow without lights and sirens, so that to make a traffic stop in the park, he would have to flash his brights and honk his horn. Detterline says he decided to use his own money to buy a flashing light out of a catalogue for his own safety. With Protto not talking, his supervisors are left to answer for him, but they say they do not know anything about this clash.
When Detterline made a trip to Venezuela as a representative of the Park Service and broke his leg on a climb there, Protto didn't allow him to return to his paid position until his leg was out of a cast, even though Detterline had more than enough desk work to keep him busy. Detterline ended up being so strapped for cash that his father's church gave him some money. Protto's immediate boss, chief ranger Joe Evans, says he doesn't remember anything about this incident, either.
In one of the following summers, Detterline invited one of Venezuela's more accomplished climbers to spend the summer at Longs Peak and bent some of the park rules to help him get a small stipend. Protto found out about it and said in front of several people that he didn't want American money going to a foreigner. Evans says he's heard reports about the remark, which he says was "out of character" for Protto, if indeed he said it.
Detterline is a fanatic about the history of Longs Peak, and when he organized an event in August 1993 to mark the 125th anniversary of the first recorded ascent of the mountain, Detterline says, Evans called him on the carpet in front of a group of supervisors for not being well-organized enough. Detterline says the event was a great success, with thousands of participants and more favorable press. Evans says Detterline took constructive criticism too personally.
And when Detterline was named to receive only the second Medal of Valor given to an individual in the history of Rocky Mountain National Park, for rescuing a Nebraska couple swept away in the Roaring Fork river, sources say Protto did everything he could to scuttle the award, prevent Detterline from receiving it in person and then keep the local media from covering it. Evans says that this is not true and that Detterline deserved the award. One source says it was Detterline who has used the award to promote his own cause, something that breaks the unwritten code among search and rescue workers not to brag about their rescues.
To the degree he can talk about it, Detterline insists he isn't angry about what he sees as a demotion and about Holien's situation. But he doesn't like being pushed around. Detterline's own personality may have a lot to do with the dispute. Friends like Dave Noble laugh about his boundless passion for the job, but they note that Detterline's style can rub people the wrong way. Noble, a registered nurse who was a volunteer at the park before he, too, was ousted, remembers talking to a physician who got a ticket from Detterline. Says Noble: "He didn't mind the ticket so much as the lecture that went with it."
Detterline says the thing that really breaks his heart is the dissolution of his friendship with Rick Guerrieri, a man who had once been his direct supervisor. Detterline recalls teaching Guerrieri how to climb in the hills of their native Pennsylvania. He encouraged Guerrieri to join Detterline's fraternity in college in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and helped him get his first job with the Park Service in Tennessee, where Guerrieri and his wife lived with Detterline. Now they don't even talk, and Detterline says a peace-offering birthday present over the winter to Guerrieri was returned unopened.
The incident that drove a wedge between Detterline and Guerrieri was the plane crash of Peter Smith.
Smith, of Littleton, was an experienced pilot, but the jagged mountains in the park have claimed more experienced pilots in more powerful planes. Smith's twin-engine Piper Seneca smashed into 13,514-foot Ypsilon Mountain--about fifteen miles north of Longs Peak--late at night on January 31, 1996, killing him instantly. The crash triggered an avalanche, which buried the plane. Although search crews from the air, including Holien, looked right at the crash site, they couldn't see under the snow, and the crash went undetected for weeks.
And for weeks Smith's sister, Marge Osborne of Boulder, was living a nightmare. "I was a realist," she says. "I knew his chances were not good, but I also know that Peter was a fighter, and he could have survived a crash and been holed up somewhere, injured."
It was on a vigil for her brother that she says she met, and came to loathe, Jim Protto and his boss, Joe Evans. "I couldn't believe how little concern they had, given what our situation was," she says. Osborne says all of her requests for information or to have a crew go and search in a likely crash area were met with silence or with complaints about a thin budget. Osborne says she was in the room when another one of her brothers talked about contacting an investigative reporter. It was only then, she says, that Evans and then Protto sprang into action.
But some say Protto sprang too far. Detterline and his immediate supervisor that day, Rick Guerrieri, were on a crew that tried to climb near what they thought was the crash site on Ypsilon. It was the dead of winter, though, and the 12,000-foot-high site could not be reached safely on foot. Guerrieri got on the radio and told Protto his team would have to turn back.
Several people say Protto then ordered them to continue on. This was controversial, because one of the more common-sense rules in the park is that the leader in the field has the final say in matters of safety. At a meeting to discuss the incident later, Detterline backed up Guerrieri's decision and his right to make the call. Protto did not relent, but he called the men cowards, say sources who were in the room. Later in the meeting, Guerrieri--an enthusiastic body builder--threw a full plastic coffee mug against a wall so hard that it shattered.
Then Protto took Guerrieri outside and talked to him. Something happened. "From that moment on, [Guerrieri] was a changed man," says one person who was at the meeting. "After that, he was all over Jim [Detterline] and did whatever Protto wanted."
Chief Ranger Evans says Protto didn't order anyone to do anything unsafe. And he adds that he, too, heard that Protto and Guerrieri had a private talk; Evans says he doesn't know what they talked about. Neither Guerrieri nor Protto would consent to interviews for this story.
When the wreckage finally could be reached, it was Detterline who hiked in. He saw that there couldn't have been a survivor nor could there be a complete body recovery, and he radioed back the news, which Osborne and some of her other brothers overheard. Evans still showed no sympathy whatsoever, Osborne recalls. One of her brothers, she recalls, even apologized to Evans, saying that he realized that in the search for answers, they may have "been a pain in the neck."
"He just looked at my brother," she says, "and said, 'Yeah, you were.'"
Evans says anything he may have said to the family members was a reaction to the "extraordinary pressure" the family put on the park. He says the family called the National Guard and the governor's office to try to get results and that those calls only complicated his search efforts.
After that, Osborne met Detterline. She says that not only did he treat the family with sympathy, but he also took several steps that helped answer the family's questions. On his own time and with his own money, Detterline made a slide show that illustrated exactly where the plane was and why it was so difficult to reach. "He was just so warm and kind," Osborne says. "It was the first time we had felt that from anyone in authority at the park." When she later learned that Detterline was in hot water, she became a leader of a coalition of people calling for reforms at the park.
"If one of my other brothers is climbing at Longs Peak and there's some kind of problem," she says, "I want Jim there, not off somewhere miles away digging toilets."
Digging toilets is where he'll be, though. Bernie Holien says Detterline is lucky to still be employed at the park, something Holien will not be.
Park officials say they offered Holien a good summer job doing research for a wildlife-management plan. Holien says all of his training and interest are focused on working as a ranger, not as a wildlife researcher, but he would have taken the job anyway if another offer hadn't come in for a seasonal ranger job away from Rocky. He took it, even though he's not fond of the idea of leaving his wife and home for the summer. The new job, which is out of state, includes backcountry construction projects, the kind of work that started Holien's troubles.
For years, one of the construction projects on Rocky's to-do list was a border-marking job. The job entailed riding horseback into the most remote areas of the park, where it abuts National Forest land. Starting in 1995, Holien and volunteer Dave Noble packed in seven-and-a-half-pound iron poles and then pounded them into the rocky ground, attaching signs so that hunters would know the boundary between the park and legal hunting areas.
Holien speaks about the job now as though it were one of the most satisfying things he ever did, although he jokes about how "only the government could come up with the idea to put a sign in the middle of nowhere." Jokes like that came back to haunt him, as did the swirl of controversy that began after the Ypsilon plane crash.
Many of the employees started getting separated into camps-- Detterline's or Protto's. Part of that was natural, and part of it, some say, was prompted by a seasonal supervisor named Vicki Steele. Holien says she told several people what her goal was: "She made it totally clear that she wanted to be the Longs Peak ranger." Steele has since been transferred to a different National Park job on an island in Lake Superior, and when reached by phone, she refused to make any comment to Westword.
Holien believes that it was because of Steele that Guerrieri became frustrated with him. Holien says he started hearing from friends of his that Guerrieri had been bad-mouthing him around the park. Holien respected Guerrieri and thought that if the two of them just sat down and talked, they would be able to straighten everything out.
Guerrieri won't talk about it, so the only version of their September 14 meeting comes from Holien, who says he took notes afterward. According to Holien, he told Guerrieri he wanted to talk to him about a poll that he heard Steele had taken--a poll that found that none of the other rangers wanted to work with Holien. Holien checked around, he says, and discovered that none of the other rangers had been polled and apparently hadn't complained about him. He said as much to Guerrieri.
According to Holien, Guerrieri told him: "I don't care about your work."
"What do you mean?" Holien asked.
"I don't care if you don't do any work, as long as you go along and keep your mouth shut," Guerrieri reportedly said, adding that he preferred another seasonal ranger over Holien.
After the two sparred about the work duties of volunteer Dave Noble, says Holien, Guerrieri accused Holien of snooping around in the office and then accused Holien's wife, a dispatcher at the park, of being somehow involved as well. Holien told Guerrieri to keep his wife out of the conversation, to which Guerrieri supposedly said, "Don't tell me what to do."
The conversation, according to Holien, became more and more tense until Holien asked why he would not be rehired the following summer. Holien says Guerrieri got up and grabbed him by the arm and physically threw him out of the office.
One of the first people Holien saw afterward was Detterline. When he started to tell Detterline what happened, he broke down and cried.
There was one other notable incident to cap off the summer of 1996, one that could have turned the situation from ugly to deadly.
David Ingersoll, a forty-year-old real estate broker from Denver, was climbing alone down a trail from a day hike on the 13,310-foot Mt. Alice, just southwest of Longs Peak, when he took a bad fall down a large patch of ice, breaking his pelvis in four places. Sitting in pain, he hoped that somebody would find him before he had to spend the night alone at 11,300 feet. Nobody did. "It was really cold and kept misting and raining," Ingersoll recalls. He survived the first night without a sleeping bag or any bad-weather gear. Meanwhile, his fiancee called in to say that Ingersoll hadn't returned from the mountain.
Guerrieri took over the search-and-rescue operation, but the beginnings of a blacklist were already in place, contends Dave Noble. He says he was blacklisted from the Ingersoll rescue because he had been closely aligned with Holien ever since the two completed the boundary project.
Noble's experience as a nurse would have come in handy. Unlike most park employees, Noble can administer many medications on the spot and can do things like attach IVs. Besides, Noble had hiked Mt. Alice only a week before, so he was familiar with the area. Noble says he heard about the search and called to let Guerrieri know that he was available. Noble never got a call back.
The park employees who were searching for Ingersoll were not familiar with the area, Noble says, and they located him only at the end of the day--about ten minutes before a helicopter rescue would have been out of the question because of darkness. If they hadn't found him when they did, Noble says, they may well have given up for the night, meaning Ingersoll would have spent a second night with broken bones and hypothermia setting in. "I might not have made it," Ingersoll says.
Noble agrees and says he has a deeper fear about all the future climbers who will have to be rescued. "I really think they are willing to put politics in front of public safety," Noble says.
Park administrators insist that safety hasn't been compromised. "To say that one person being removed will create a higher risk for the public is unfounded," says Evans, adding that the charges that Detterline will not be used simply because he is in a different district are "ludicrous."
Evans says that there are plenty of rescues in Detterline's new area and that the former Longs Peak ranger will still be called in as needed on other operations. "It would be foolish of me not to use a resource as skilled as Jim," says Evans.
After the Mt. Alice rescue, Noble says, he realized he wasn't welcome at the park. Though his schedule is flexible enough to enable him to volunteer for a week or more at a time, he won't be back at Rocky this summer. He says he's looking at Habitat for Humanity as an outlet for his civic spirit.
Park superintendent Randy Jones says he has "legitimate concerns" about the use of volunteers on rescues, although he denies that there have been any personal vendettas against Noble. He says he wants to review the entire process of using volunteers for rescues to make sure it is as fair as possible. He also points out that the total number of volunteers in the park will remain steady this year.
Holien will be gone, but his case lives on--he made informal and formal complaints about the arm-grabbing incident. He says he was confident in the internal structure of the park for a long time, even after the park appointed a friend of Guerrieri's, Brian Reiley, to investigate the problems. "I thought it would be good. He'd come in and be able to straighten his friend out," Holien says. "It would be somebody Rick would really listen to."
He lost confidence when he was interrogated by Reiley. "He didn't ask me any questions about what happened in Rick's office. He started asking me if three years ago I said such and such to Vicki," Holien says. "At the end I asked if I could tell him about what happened in Rick's office, and he said I should just write it down and send it in. I couldn't believe it."
He believed it, however, when the report came out and administrators touted it as the final word on the incident. They still do. "I sent a trained investigator up there, and he found no assault," says Ron Everhart, the deputy regional director for the Park Service. "I have every confidence in his report."
The report is confidential, and Holien didn't even get to see it until he filed a request for it under the Freedom of Information Act. He withdrew his request when the Park Service provided the report to him with the proviso that he sign a non-disclosure agreement. (Westword also filed a request under the act, but the request for the fifty-page report was denied.)
While officials continue to stand behind the report, they say they recognize that there is a "serious problem" with morale and trust. A special panel convened by superintendent Jones met last week to look into the situation surrounding Detterline and Holien. Jones says the lack of trust runs so deep that he wanted to bring in outsiders and put any topic on the table. Holien, though, says he doesn't trust the panel.
Holien recommended having an outsider such as a retired judge or a college professor on the panel, but that request was denied. The superintendent tells Westword that he just didn't have time to find a non-Park Service employee.
"They get you no matter what," Holien says. Jones's response to that is a frustrated sigh.
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The superintendent vows to be more vigilant about transfer requests from his subordinates, the people who supervise the rangers. The next time he gets a transfer request from his chief of operations in the ranger division, he says, he will have a better understanding of how sensitive transfers are and will ask more questions before he signs off, especially if the Longs Peak ranger job is involved. "I didn't understand the degree [to which] that position was important in the mind of the public," says Jones.
Evans tried twice to ask Detterline to come and meet with an "independent mediator that everybody agrees on," he says. "Both times I have been ignored." Chief ranger Evans says he still hopes that will happen. Detterline says the one condition Evans put down--no lawyers--was unacceptable. Both Detterline and Holien have been paying a lawyer to get advice as they wend their way through the bureaucratic processes. They both say they don't intend to sue to make any money, but they are suspicious of a request to meet without lawyers present, because their lawyer has helped spot traps that they might have otherwise fallen into.
Even with all the hard feelings currently in the park, Jones says that he thinks the park will "come out stronger" for all the troubles. Detterline says that may be true, but the process doesn't need to be this painful for so many people. "We don't need to learn like this," he says.