Friday, January 30, 2015

What's It Like To Climb Mt. Rainier?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an RMI Expeditions seminar at a local outdoor shop. The folks at Rainier Mountaineering Inc. gave us (mostly hikers and backpackers) an in-depth explanation on what it's like to climb Mt. Rainier, the highest mountain in the state of Washington. RMI also described to us on what prospective climbers can expect on the two-day expedition to the 14,410-foot summit - including several hours of training, such as self-arrest techniques on snow. Ever since attending that seminar this "little adventure" has simmered on the back burner of my bucket list.

Below is short video from Backpacker Magazine that provides a quick overview of what it's like to climb Mt. Rainier:

Back in 2013 Kathy and I had the opportunity to visit Mt. Rainier National Park for the first time. Although we didn't climb the mountain, we did hike the famous Skyline Trail in the Paradise Valley, just below the southern slopes of Rainier. We have a trip report with several photos posted here.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday

If you worked at a lonely outpost in the middle of the Glacier National Park wilderness, how would you protect yourself against grizzly bears? At the Numa Ridge Lookout the fire lookouts use a heavy wooden panel with 200 spikes driven into it. With its sharp points sticking out three inches, the panel is dropped in place on the stairway each night in order to prevent grizzlies from climbing the stairs and entering the sleeping quarters! One of the lookouts to experience Numa Ridge first hand was Edward Abbey, the author of the Monkey Wrench Gang. After spending the summer of 1975 manning the lookout, he summed-up his experience by saying: “Bears, beans, bores and bugs: Numa Ridge Lookout.”

You can read a short history about Glacier’s lookouts by clicking here.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

National Parks To Be Theme Of 2016 Rose Bowl Parade

The National Park Service and Tournament of Roses Association have recently announced that they will be partnering to kick off the National Park Service centennial during the 2016 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

The theme for the January 1st parade, “Find Your Adventure,” is a nod to “Find Your Park,” the two-year public engagement campaign aimed to increase awareness and excitement about the National Park Service centennial.

This collaboration showcases the common interests of the National Park Service and the Tournament of Roses Association – to engage America’s youth, support an ethic of volunteerism, and embrace the diversity of American culture. The Rose Parade is a great opportunity to introduce the National Park Service and its programs to a broad, and large audience of participants, attendees, and viewers (80 million watched on television internationally and 700,000 watched in person in 2014).

Parade entrants (floats, marching bands, and equestrian units) will take inspiration for “Find Your Adventure” from the work and mission (i.e., parks and programs) of the National Park Service. But, the opportunities extend well beyond the two-hour parade. Over the course of 2015, the National Park Service and the Tournament of Roses Association will create opportunities for parks and programs to engage with communities across the country to help achieve the centennial goal, such as connecting with each of the marching bands representing high schools across the nation with their nearest national park units and/or programs.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grand Teton National Park From The Air

Below is some absolutely stunning aerial video footage of Grand Teton National Park, Mount Moran and Jenny Lake. The footage was taken by Skyworks during recent filming of the state of Wyoming. Enjoy:

If this film has inspired you to visit this wonderful park this summer, be sure to visit our newest hiking trail website first to find out what the best hikes are - in order to get the most out of your visit. Simply click here.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Coastal Crescent Trail: North Carolina's Newest Long-Distant Trail

This past Friday the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation and the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (FMST) jointly announced the naming of the Coastal Crescent Trail, an additional option for hikers seeking to walk across North Carolina.

The Coastal Crescent Trail, a new hiking option developed by FMST, will serve as an option in eastern North Carolina until the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail (MST) is completed along the planned route, which connects Smithfield, Goldsboro, Kinston and New Bern, following the path of the Neuse River. The newly named trail provides a guided way for hikers to explore communities and natural and historic sites in the ecologically unique and scenic lower coastal plain in Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, Bladen, Pender and Onslow counties.

In addition to the Coastal Crescent Trail, other alternatives include N.C. Department of Transportation bicycle routes, as well as a paddle trail along the Neuse River through Johnston, Wayne, Lenoir and Craven counties.

FMST will be releasing trail guides for both the Neuse River paddle trail and the Coastal Crescent Trail in 2015. They will be available online at FMST’s website. The North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, with the support of the FMST, remains committed to helping communities along the planned route of the MST to further develop the trail. The division is also committed to exploring additional community interest in trail development, including trails that connect to the MST, at both regional and local scales across the state. As part of that effort, the division, with input from the FMST, local government agencies, other partners and the public, is in the process of writing its master plan for the MST. As part of the planning process, a meeting will be held with communities along the new Coastal Crescent Trail to assess their interest in the trail. To learn about or provide input into the master planning process, please click here.

The Mountains-to-Sea State Trail links Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. A project of the North Carolina State Parks System, there are 608 designated off-road miles of the 1,000+mile route. The trail is envisioned as the backbone of a network of hiking, paddling and multi-use trails which easily connect to local and regional trails and greenways. Eventually, the trail will link 33 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and offer local access to 40 percent of the state’s population.

For more information on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please click here. The 58-mile route through the park has changed over the last several months, and this page on reflects the updated route.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Smokies Completes Comprehensive Stream Mapping Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park geographic information system specialists and scientists in collaboration with scientists from Tennessee, North Carolina, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), completed a three-year stream mapping project. Park scientists used a combination of aircraft-mounted scanners and a Global Positioning System verification system to re-inventory streams throughout the park.

Using this modern mapping technology, scientists determined the park contains 2,900 miles of streams. Of these, 1,073 miles of streams are large enough to support fish. Previously, using topographic maps, the scientists estimated there to be approximately 2,000 miles of streams in the park. A water features is considered a stream if it exhibits the hydrologic, geomorphologic, and biologic characteristics of moving water at least part of the year.

Working with the USGS, the park incorporated the new stream data into the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) which allows the researchers and the public real-time access to detailed information about streams across the nation. Park staff and research partners rely heavily upon the accurate information in the NHD to manage park water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. The NHD data is accessible via The National Map, and re-mapped streams within the park can be seen here.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday

A raft trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is the adventure of a lifetime. However, the 220 miles from Lee’s Ferry to Pierce’s Ferry is a highly technical run. There are roughly 160 rapids, many of which are Class VI, the highest rating. By 1955 there were only 30 expeditions that had successfully run the entire Colorado through the Grand Canyon. In April of that year, two twenty-somethings decided that they would attempt to not raft, but swim that entire stretch of river. So, on April 10th, unbeknownst to the national park, Bill Beer and John Daggett plunged into the 51-degree water, wearing only thin wet suits.

At first the cold water was excruciatingly painful to the swimmers. But after some time they realized that they needed the cold, numbing water as sort of an anesthesia to mask the pain from all the bumps and grinding they were receiving as they passed through the rapids. During the 26-day swim the duo became celebrities. The park caught wind of the stunt and tried to stop them near the halfway point, but the two swimmers successfully argued to Superintendent Preston Patraw that “You gentlemen realize that after all this silly publicity and stuff, you won’t have a minute’s peace until someone does swim down the river.”

The duo finally made it to Pierce’s Ferry on May 6th. Afterwards, they told the media that it was just “a cheap vacation that got a little out of hand.”