CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Conviction For Illegal Mountain Biking
On January 20th, three men David Yost,, Sean Monterastelli, and Jacob Thompson hiked out the Bright Angeel Trail, backpacking out their mountain bikes. The group of three cyclists told visitors that they were on a two-year-long mountain biking trip, riding their bikes from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the tip of South America, and that they had carried their bikes across the canyon. They also told them to look at their web page (http://www.ridingthespine.com). Several days later, ranger Paul Austin checked out the page and discovered photos and video of the group riding their bikes on the North Kaibab Trail. In addition, there were photos and video of them camped on an upper section of the trail. In their journal, they wrote about riding the trail and their concern about being caught by rangers: "(We) began riding down the trail'Goat' [one of the three] managed to bomb section after section of the trail, walking his bike only when coming into contact with other trail hikers, and when those infuriating water bars were too high to bunny hopwe were excited bby the prospects of a day filled with epic downhill, we hopped on our bikes and headed down, sliding our way down a treacherous mix of snow and loose rock. Almost immediately I flew over a series of ledges and cracked the rear end off my Xtracycle." On February 16th, Austin and AUSA Camille Bibles presented a criminal complaint and affidavit before US Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey in Flagstaff, who in turn issued a summons for the group to appear in his court. Yost, Monterastelli and Thompson were charged with camping without a permit, camping in an undesignated area, use of a bicycle in a closed area, giving false information, and conspiracy. Austin tracked the individuals through their website as they rode to Southern Arizona and prepared to cross into Mexico. They had posted in their blog that they were attending the "24 Hours in the Old Pueblo," a large and popular mountain bike race north of Tucson. Saguaro rangers Todd Austin and Heather Yates drove to the event site on February 17th and were able to locate the trio. Austin posed as a freelance writer interested in the group's trip, then later identified himself as a federal law enforcement ranger and issued each his summons to appear in court in Flagstaff. The three men retained an attorney and subsequently reached a plea agreement to three charges. In lieu of a $500 fine, the men agreed to donate $500 each to the Grand Canyon Search & Rescue Fund. They also agreed to redact sections of their website pertaining to illegal activities and were sentenced to 48 hours in Coconino County jail. The case generated considerable media attention.
Name: Bil Vandergraff, Supervisory Park Ranger, Canyon District