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Your View: How the state could keep Glen Onoko Falls trail open

In an age when our children are shunted from home to school to after-school activities and back home, I fondly recall a childhood in which my friends and I could set out on a Saturday or Sunday — or any day during summer vacation — for the green hills surrounding our hometown of Jim Thorpe. Some hikes extended into overnight camping, for instance on the platforms of the fire tower northeast of town. Swimming in the Lehigh River might be featured in a daylong adventure. Or we might work our way up the mountain to the top of the Glen Onoko Falls. And, so, I join ranks with the thousands of trekkers protesting the May 1 closure of the Glen Onoko trail.I get the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s point: Not our job, man. I get the volunteer firefighters’ point that mountain rescue is not their appropriate role, either. But, after centuries of climbing the steep trail, crossing the stream on fallen trees, and being rewarded with a great view and perhaps the best drinking water in the world … doesn’t closure seem just a bit extreme?James Castagnera (Contributed Photo/)The notion of having the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources take over seems to be a good start. Next steps might include charging hikers a reasonable fee to make the climb. If passes were sold at the Jim Thorpe railroad station and if the hikers had to register and display suitable footwear and other gear, and if they had to check back when they returned, the trail just might become self-sustaining. Certainly seems worth a try to me.Plenty of precedents exist for this solution. At the high end (no pun intended), Nepal charges $11,000 for an individual permit to climb Mount Everest. Note that the Nepal’s government is dominated by communists. If they decided on a free-market solution, shouldn’t we Pennsylvanians embrace a similar capitalist scheme to keep the best hike available in a region known as “Switzerland of America”?Additionally, nobody should go overboard about the obvious risks of a tough and tricky climb. Too much caution is a slippery slope. Here’s an example of what I mean: Last month it was reported in the English press that thousands of jars of a Whole Earth Product called 3 Nut Butter, which makes it plain on the front of the label that it contains walnuts, pecans and peanuts, was subjected to a recall. That’s because they breach rules that state there has to be a nut allergy warning in English on the jar.Once upon a time in my long law career, a colleague defended a Philadelphia hospital against a plaintiff who had been brained when he walked under a parking-garage gate that came down on his noggin. When the plaintiff’s lawyer refused to settle the case, my colleague tried the case to a jury. Referring to his opponent’s theory that the gate should have had a sign — “Danger: Don’t walk under this gate, when it’s up. It may come down on your head” — in his closing argument, Peter asked the jurors, “Does this mean you all should put a sign on your front doors that reads ‘Beware. This door may open and smack you in the face?’”Because common sense apparently remains alive and well in at least some corners of the U.S., the jurors ruled for the hospital.Of course, sometimes a warning is worthwhile. Permit purchasers should receive information on current conditions at Glen Onoko, such as unusually muddy terrain or pending storms. Realistically briefed, off they should go.The alternative is perhaps to next ban rafting on the Lehigh River if someone drowns. Then, let’s ban biking on the Lehigh Gorge trails if somebody falls or crashes. And best to ban fishing when the river is running high and fast, right?What’s left after that? I guess it’s a train ride from Jim Thorpe to Whitehaven. Oh, but no open windows, please.Jim Castagnera, a native of Jim Thorpe, practiced law for 35 years before starting Holland Media Services, a freelance writing and consulting company.
Source: Morningcall

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