Monday, March 30, 2015

Update on Progress at Jenny Lake

The Spring 1939 issue of Grand Teton Nature Notes reported that “By far the most popular trail in the park is the lower portion of the Cascade Canyon Trail which leaves Jenny Lake and climbs above Hidden Falls.” More than 75 years later that statement still holds true. As a result of overuse through the years the park, in conjunction with the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, launched a multi-year project in the spring of 2014 to improve the area surrounding Jenny Lake.

Inspiring Journeys: A Campaign for Jenny Lake is a $16.4 million public-private collaboration that will transform Jenny Lake’s trails, bridges, key destinations, and visitor complex. The much needed upgrades will improve the experience of hikers headed to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, Cascade Canyon, as well as the loop trail around Jenny Lake.

This short video provides an overview of what's been accomplished so far, and what's to come in 2015:

Progress at Jenny Lake from GTNP Foundation on Vimeo.

For more information on the project you can visit the Grand Teton National Park Foundation website.

Grand Teton Trails

Saturday, March 28, 2015

AWAKE - Electric Northern Lights Time Lapse

Although I've never seen them in person, I absolutely love the northern lights. Someday I hope to remedy this situation!

I guess the next best thing to seeing them in person is to watch videos by people who have seen them. Below is a short film that was recently published by Alexis Coram. Without question you can definitely say that he captured the "Aurora Borealis magic". In his comments about making the video, Alexis said that he "spent 4 nights outside of Fairbanks in February - two of those nights were entirely overcast and not a light could be seen. The other two nights were electrifying. I stood outside for hours - shooting and gazing in awe at the orchestral dance above and around me. I felt more awake than ever during those moments."


AWAKE - Electric Northern Lights Time Lapse from Alexis Coram on Vimeo.

Grand Teton Trails

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time to Give Wildlife a Brake: Spring Migration Underway in Grand Teton

Wildlife have begun their annual migration from wintering areas toward summer ranges located in Grand Teton National Park. Because spring migration appears to be fully underway, motorists are advised to drive with extra caution during the coming weeks, and be alert for animals wandering near park roadways, especially Highway 26/89/191 (Hwy 89) and the Antelope Flats/Kelly scenic loop roads. Spring migration is a critical time to give wildlife a brake!

Early this week, elk started to drift north from the National Elk Refuge. With the receding snowpack, elk have fanned out across the sagebrush flats north of the Gros Ventre River. Various small and larger groups of elk can be found scattered across this broad area; some have bunched up near Hwy 89 before crossing the roadway. In addition, several moose are roaming the sage flats between the Gros Ventre Junction and Moose Junction. A group of six to seven moose are lingering near Hwy 89 as they browse both sides of the roadway, especially near Airport Junction and Sleeping Indian Turnout. Bison and mule deer will soon make their transition from wintering areas to summer ranges, as well.

A number of moose are struck by vehicles each year—and often killed—on Hwy 89 just south of Moran Junction in an area of dense willows near the confluence of the Snake River and Buffalo Fork River. This section of highway carries a 45 mph speed limit day and night. A nighttime speed limit of 45 mph is also posted for the entire length of Hwy 89 within Grand Teton because animals tend to move during low light conditions and are generally most active between dusk and dawn. Lower speed limits are posted in an effort to slow drivers and reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions.

Motorists are required to drive the posted speed limit and advised to be alert for animals that cross roads unexpectedly. Driving slower than indicated speed limits—especially at night—can increase the margin of safety. Collisions between motor vehicles and wildlife may result in severe damage to the vehicle, serious or fatal injuries to occupants of that vehicle, and/or death for the animal involved.

Animals are often weakened from the rigors of a Jackson Hole winter and they may be forced to use precious energy whenever startled or disturbed by vehicles and humans on foot or bicycle. Park visitors and local residents should keep their distance from ALL wildlife, maintaining a distance of 100 yards from bears or wolves and 25 yards from other wildlife, including nesting birds.

Public closures are now in effect near sage grouse leks (mating grounds) throughout the park to protect grouse during a vulnerable time of year. Anyone visiting these locations must obey the posted closures to reduce disturbance to sage grouse on their seasonal mating areas.

Grand Teton Trails

Throwback Thursday

Did you know that Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park was once the site of a backcountry lodge? Over the course of the first half of the 20th century, hikers had the option of overnighting in style alongside this beautiful subalpine lake. During the summer of 1958 the lodge was managed by future folksinger Judy Collins and her husband. Several years later Collins would hit the big time with her hit “Both Sides, Now", which was released in 1967. Less than decade later, in 1976, the National Park Service razed the property and returned the lake to its natural state. Modern-day hikers visiting the lake would never know the lodge even existed.

Hiking in Glacier National Park
Grand Teton Hiking Trails

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Prevent Blisters

As Sheri Propster emphatically states, blisters do suck! In this short video she offers several ways to help prevent, and treat, blisters. A couple years ago I also published a blog that offers several tips for "taking care of your hiking feet", which provides an overview of taking care of your entire foot while hiking.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bears are out of Hibernation in Grand Tetons

Bears are out of hibernation and active again in both Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Now that bears are awake, appropriate precautions must be taken. Park visitors and local residents need to exercise common sense and good judgment, stay alert, and follow these recommended safety precautions while skiing or hiking in Grand Teton National Park and the Rockefeller Parkway:

• Make noise
• Travel in a group of three or more
• Carry bear spray and know how to use it
• Maintain a 100-yard distance from bears at all times
• Never approach or feed a bear under any circumstance

Long-term data indicates that 50% of adult male bears are out of their winter dens by mid-March each year, and females with yearlings emerge shortly after. When bears leave their winter dens, they search for any food source that will help restore fat reserves lost during hibernation. Winter-killed animals provide immediate sources of protein, and hungry bears may strongly defend carcasses and other food sources against perceived threats. Carcasses should serve as a point of caution—a red flag to detour away from the area. As snow banks recede, bears also dig up wildflower bulbs and burrowing rodents.

Access to human food and garbage is a death sentence to a bear. Black and grizzly bears that learn humans are an easy source for food items can become a nuisance, as well as a safety concern. Food-conditioned bears are often removed from the population via management actions such as relocation or euthanization.

Park visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage and other odorous items unavailable to bears at all times by storing these attractants inside hard-sided vehicles, by disposing of garbage in bear-resistant trash cans or dumpsters, and by keeping personal items—such as backpacks—within arms' reach at all times. It may be a cliché; however more often than not, "a fed bear is a dead bear."

Visitors are asked to report bear sightings or sign to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible. Timely reporting will help park staff provide important safety messages about bear activity to other visitors.

For further information on bear safety behaviors when hiking, camping or picnicking in bear country, visit the park's safety tips webpage.


Mountain Lion Killed After Fighting with Dog

A mountain lion was shot and killed by a park ranger after the lion attacked a dog in the employee housing area of Glacier National Park in West Glacier Saturday evening.

At approximately 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, a park employee returned to her residence and upon opening the car door, her two dogs unexpectedly raced out of the car. The employee followed after the dogs and observed one of the dogs in a fight with a mountain lion. The other dog was quickly retreating back to the employee.

Other housing residents heard the dogs, lion and employee yelling, and ran to offer assistance. A shovel was briefly used unsuccessfully to separate the mountain lion and dog. The animals tumbled over an embankment near the Flathead River. Another housing resident arrived with bear spray and began throwing rocks and logs. The mountain lion pinned down the dog near the river’s edge.

A park ranger arrived at the scene and shot the mountain lion. The dog broke away and jumped into the river. After confirming the mountain lion was down and wasn’t moving, the park ranger entered the river to bring the dog to safety. Others helped to get the injured dog to the river bank.

The dog was transported to a veterinarian. After many stitches and wound care, the dog is anticipated to fully recover. A necropsy will be performed on the mountain lion to determine health and age.

The park headquarters and employee housing area have been posted for mountain lion frequenting over the winter months. A mountain lion was hazed this winter in the employee housing area after observations of the animal near homes and offices.

Park rangers believe additional lions may be in the headquarters developed area. The park will continue to implement management actions in the area as appropriate, including posting the area to lion frequenting, educational outreach to employees and visitors, area and/or trail closures, hazing and possible removal. These actions are consistent with park management plans.

Glacier National Park is home to mountain lions. If there is an encounter with a mountain lion, visitors and employees are encouraged to make noise and do not run. Talk calmly, avert your gaze, stand tall, and back away. Unlike with bears, if attack seems imminent, act aggressively. Do not crouch and do not turn away. Lions may be scared away by being struck with rocks, sticks, or by being kicked or hit. Lions are primarily nocturnal, but they have attacked in broad daylight. They rarely prey on humans, but such behavior occasionally does occur. Children and small adults are particularly vulnerable. Report all mountain lion encounters immediately to a park official.

Pets are allowed in developed areas of the park, including frontcountry campgrounds and picnic areas, along roads, in parking areas, and in boats on lakes where motorized watercraft are permitted. Pets are not permitted on trails, along lake shores, in the backcountry, or in any building. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet, under physical restraint, or caged at all times, including while in open-bed pickup trucks.