The organizers of the Grand Canyon Adventure explained that it was an opportunity to trek along the South Rim, “one of the biggest hikes on the planet.”
By September, at least 100 people from 12 different states had signed up for Facebook for a day’s hike. Organizer Joseph Don Mount said on Facebook that more people are hoping to take part in the hike.
“If you want to keep inviting your friends, I’m determined to do this job for many who want to go,” according to federal court documents.
A tipster sent a Facebook post to an employee of the Grand Canyon National Park, where hiking was limited to 11 people or less per group in response to a pandemic.
When park officials contacted Mr Mount, he denied he was planning a major trip.
Still, according to court documents, he continued to promote hiking and plan cabin stays and shuttle rides for dozens of people. By October 24, the day of the hike, more than 150 people had paid $ 95 to register for the trip, the document shows.
According to the document, at least 150 people appeared on the No Sky Bab Trail that morning, overwhelming the incredible rangers and other visitors struggling to avoid hikers who didn’t wear masks or social distance. ..
On Tuesday, Mount was charged in the U.S. District Court for Arizona with five separate charges, including false reports, interference with civil servants or agents acting in public service, and solicitation of business in federal parks without permission. I did. Violates group size restrictions for park visits and restrictions related to Covid-19.
Mr. Mount did not immediately return a message asking for comment. Whether he had a lawyer was unknown from federal court records.
In an interview with The Daily Beast Mr. Mount said he arranged the trip because “with Covid and everything, people were just feeling itchy to leave.”
“I didn’t do it for the benefit,” he said.
Timothy Hop, a US park ranger, said in an affidavit that Mr. Mount had raised $ 15,185 from participants in the hiking event.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Mount will use the money to pay about $ 2,900 for two buses, three cars, hotel accommodation, driver tips, meals, fuel, carpool drivers, and other expenses. It was planned.
“We have deliberately benefited from leading this commercially organized event,” Hop said. “J. Mount received a net profit of $ 65.11 and admitted that it was enough to buy a new pair of hiking poles.”
Hope said he contacted Mount in October after receiving the tip, and said he had taken “a small group of close rugby buddies and family friends” at the time.
Hope told Mount repeatedly that Lim’s group tour limit is 11 people and the group cannot be split to circumvent the size limit due to a pandemic.
Mr. Hope said Mount’s planned hike exceeded the limits set even during normal hours when up to 30 people were allowed in the group.
After the conversation, Mr. Mount told hikers that he was retreating as a travel leader, but said that the transportation plan remained the same and that the cabin and hotel were still booked.
“Remember, there’s nothing to prevent you from hiking the Grand Canyon on this day,” he wrote, according to court documents. “But now I have a target on my back, which is the best way I still know to hike,” and “not tied to any of you.”
He told hikers to join his group and advised him to travel in groups of 11 or less.
“Ranger Hop-this is my plausible denial,” Mount wrote on Facebook. “I stopped leading the group in the Grand Canyon on October 24th.”
At 5 am that day, a caravan arrived at the trailhead. Trail rangers saw at least 150 people walking in the area between 7:30 am and 8:00 am.
According to the affidavit, Ranger Cody Allinson saw in seven months of work that “so many people move in the same direction in such condensed time and space.” Said there was no.
Many hikers were avoiding when the park rangers approached them.
According to court documents, one ranger said, “It was clear that they were instructed not to equate with fellow participants.”
Hikers who weren’t in the group later complained to the park’s service about the large number of people they met on the trail.
According to court documents, one of the visitors complained, “There was no social distance and no one was wearing a mask.” “The size of the group was out of control.”
The day after the hike, some participants praised Mr. Mount on Facebook and suggested sending “a bonus for all the extra effort he made to plan weekend memories.”
It was not clear from the affidavit whether Mr. Mount received the bonus.
Joseph D. Mount was charged with planning a hike to the Grand Canyon for more than 150 people.
Source link Joseph D. Mount was charged with planning a hike to the Grand Canyon for more than 150 people.