Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rangers Recover Body Near Logan Pass

Park rangers recovered the body of an 18-year old male visitor on Friday afternoon, September 19, in the Big Drift area east of Logan Pass. It is believed the victim, Brandon Luis Avalos, from St. Maries, Idaho, died from an accidental fall.

Park employees in the Logan Pass area were notified by friends of the victim on Friday morning, about 11 a.m., that Avalos had fallen in an area along the Going-to-the-Sun Road east of Logan Pass, and believed to be dead. Park rangers rappelled to the scene and found the deceased man.

An initial investigation indicates that Avalos and three friends were visiting the park late Thursday night, September 18. At approximately 10 p.m. Thursday, the visitors were traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road and stopped near the Big Drift area east of Logan Pass when Avalos exited the vehicle. Avalos did not return, and the friends thought perhaps he was hiking back to Logan Pass. The friends stayed in the area overnight waiting for Avalos to return. They began looking for him Friday morning, and contacted park employees when they found his body.

It is believed that Avalos climbed over the guard rails along the road and fell approximately 100 feet. The area he fell is very steep with several cliff bands and large areas of rocks.

Glacier County Sheriff's Office determined cause of death as an accidental fall. Park rangers recovered the body at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, and it was transported to a local funeral home.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Access to Logan Pass Changes This Weekend

The last day to access Logan Pass by vehicle from the east side of Glacier National Park will be Sunday, September 21, allowing accelerated fall season rehabilitation on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Vehicle traffic will be restricted on the east side near the St. Mary Campground beginning Monday, September 22. Vehicle access to Logan Pass will be available from the west side of the park through Sunday, October 19, weather permitting.

Fall access to east-side hiking trails between the St. Mary Campground and Logan Pass will be limited during road rehabilitation activity beginning Monday, September 22. Hikers wanting to hike any of the trails that are accessed, or may be an exit point, along the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, are highly encouraged to contact the park at 406-888-7800 before departing. The trails that are affected include Siyeh Pass, Baring Basin, Piegan Pass, Otokomi, St. Mary Falls/Baring Falls/Virginia Falls, Gunsight and Sperry Trails. For more information on status of trails and access, please contact the park or click here.

Access to some backcountry campsites on the east side of the park will also be affected. All backcountry campers are required to have a permit from the park’s backcountry office for overnight stays. All backcountry permits must be obtained from the Apgar Permit Center at this time of the year. For more information on backcountry camping and trail access, please contact the park at 888-7800 or click here.

Times and locations for boat inspections for boats launching in Glacier National Park are changing. Inspections for the west side of the park will be conducted at the Apgar Backcountry Office, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through the end of October. Boat inspections for the east side of the park, Many Glacier and Two Medicine areas, are by appointment only. Appointments are available by contacting the park at 406-888-7800.

The Logan Pass Visitor Center will be open through this Sunday, September 21, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Apgar Visitor Center and the St. Mary Visitor Center are open through October 5, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily.

Visitors to the Many Glacier area of the park should be aware that the replacement of the Swiftcurrent Bridge will begin shortly after the Many Glacier Hotel closes for the season on Sunday, September 21. Visitors can expect short delays beginning September 26. As of September 29 there will be no vehicle or pedestrian traffic as the bridge is replaced. It is anticipated that the work to replace the bridge will continue through mid-November. Access to Cracker Lake and the Piegan Trail will be through the Grinnell Picnic Area, at the Grinnell Trailhead. The Swiftcurrent Bridge is located at the foot of Swiftcurrent Lake and provides vehicle and pedestrian access to the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District, and the Many Glacier Hotel.

Autumn visitors to Glacier National Park will find less crowds, cooler temperatures, and changing vegetation colors. Area residents and visitors are reminded that the park is open year-round and park recreational opportunities can be found during all seasons.

For additional park information, visit the park’s website or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Body of Missoula Man Recovered on Mount Siyeh

The body of a 22-year-old-man from Missoula, Montana, Beau Weiher, was recovered from the north side of Mount Siyeh in Glacier National Park on Sunday night, September 14th, at approximately 7 p.m.

Park dispatch received notification Saturday night about 8 p.m. from Weiher’s family that he was overdue from a solo day hike in the Many Glacier area.

Early Sunday morning park rangers initiated a ground and aerial search. Information from Weiher’s family and friends indicated that Weiher’s intended route was probably a challenging hike in the Piegan Pass and Mount Siyeh areas, and may have included a base jump.

Park rangers found tracks that suggested Weiher might have been in the area below the summit of Mount Siyeh. The area included snowy terrain. At approximately 6 p.m. Sunday, personnel on board the Two Bear Air Helicopter spotted what they believed to be a parachute. The body of Weiher was found at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday night below the summit of Mount Siyeh.

The body was recovered and transported to the Many Glacier area via Two Bear. Glacier County Sheriff’s Office confirmed death, and the identify of Weiher.

The initial investigation indicates that Weiher attempted to base jump off an area of Mount Siyeh. In base jumping, participants jump from fixed objects and use a parachute to break their fall. Base jumping is prohibited in most National Park Services sites, including Glacier National Park.

Cooperating agencies that assisted the National Park Service with this incident included Two Bear Air, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, and Glacier County Sheriff’s Office.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Winter is Coming: Seven Days on the John Muir Trail

"The mountains are calling and I must go"

- John Muir

Below is a video from Ryan Commons that documents his hike across the Sierra Mountains along the John Muir Trail.

Ryan made the trip from the Mt. Whitney Portal to Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park - 222.4 miles - in just seven days! Along the way he climbed a total of 42,000 feet, or, put another way, almost 8 miles of climbing! Obviously he put in some pretty insane milage each day to accomplish this goal.

Ryan followed the trail up to Mount Whitney, which, at 14,496 ft, is the highest peak in the lower 48. From there he passed through King's Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness before ending his journey in Yosemite.

At 40 minutes in length, the video is fairly long, but is very well made, and well worth the spectacular scenery alone:

WINTER IS COMING - Seven Days on the John Muir Trail from Ryan Commons on Vimeo.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Traveling in Glacier during the Early Years of the Park

Last week I posted an article about the historic brochures that are now available for viewing on the National Park Service website. This week I wanted to highlight a couple of interesting tidbits I found in the 1920 and 1936 brochures for Glacier National Park that I thought were quite entertaining.

For example, in the 1920 brochure, visitors were told that "Once off the excellent trails in the developed part of the park (meaning, traveling from hotel to chalets, or from chalets to chalets), the trails are little better than the original game trails."

Following along the trails established by and for the chalet system, the brochure states that;

"The average tourist....usually enters at the east entrance, visits the Two Medicine Lakes, and passes on to St. Mary Lake, believed by many travelers the most beautiful lake in the world. After seeing some of the many charms of this region, he passes on to Lake McDermott (now Swiftcurrent Lake), in the Swiftcurrent Valley. The visitor then usually crosses over the famous Gunsight Pass to the west side, where he usually but foolishly contents himself with a visit to beautiful Lake McDonald and leaves by the Belton entrance."

Interestingly, the Two Medicine Valley was considered to be "one of the best known sections of Glacier." Not anymore. For many visitors, Two Medicine is more or less an afterthought.

We also find out that the "Wild animals are more frequent and tamer". Wow, were they used as circus animals in the off season?!

For all of those addicted to your Iphones and tablets, you can rest assure that, "Telegrams may be sent to all parts of the world from Belton and Glacier Park. All hotels will send and receive telegrams by telephone connection with these offices."

Speaking of hotels, in 1920 you could get a room at the Many Glacier Hotel, "with bath, including meals, American plan, per day, per person, $6, $7, $8, $9, and $10."

Modern day guests time-traveling back to 1920 definitely won't need to bring their Ipods:

"At all of the principal hotels in the park dancing is provided each evening for the guests, good music being furnished for this purpose. At some of the chalets there is opportunity for impromptu dancing, as phonographs or pianos are provided for furnishing music."

In 1936, the park brochure offers some pretty sound hiking advice:

"The trip should not be ruined by attempting too much. An average of 2 or 3 miles per hour is good hiking time in the rough park country. One thousand feet of climb per hour is satisfactory progress over average trails. In this rugged country, hikes of 15 miles or more should be attempted only by those who are accustomed to long, hard trips."

Pretty reasonable advice, but then the brochure goes on to warn;

"An attempt at mountain climbing or "stunts" should not be made alone unless one is thoroughly acquainted with the nature of Glacier's mountains and weather. Too often "stunts" result in serious body injuries, or even death, as well as much arduous work for rangers and others."

Were they referring to a young Evel Knievel there?

Did not know about this:

"Shelter cabins have been erected by the Government on Indian, Piegan, and Gunsight Passes. They are equipped with flagstone floors, stoves, and a limited supply of fuel wood. They are for the free use of parties overtaken by storm. Mountain etiquette demands that they not be left in a disorderly state, that no more fuel be consumed than is absolutely necessary, and that their privileges and advantages not be abused."

I found this to be quite interesting on a couple different levels:

"Glacier offers exceptional views to delight the photographer. While the scenic attractions are most commonly photographed, the animals, the flowers, and the picturesque Blackfeet Indians provide interesting subjects. Photographic laboratories are maintained at Many Glacier, Lake McDonald, and Glacier Park Hotels, and at Belton village. Expert information regarding exposures and settings is also available at these places."

Under the large heading "IDEAL PLACE TO SEE AMERICAN INDIANS", we have this information:

"Today the Blackfeet on the reservation adjoining the park on the east remain a pitiful but picturesque remnant of their former pride and glory. They have laid aside their former intense hostility to the whites and have reconciled themselves to the fate of irrepressible civilization. Dressed in colorful native costume, a few families of braves greet the park visitor at Glacier Park Station and Hotel. Here they sing, dance, and tell stories of their former greatness. In these are reflected in a measure the dignity, the nobility, the haughtiness, and the savagery of one of the highest and most interesting of aboriginal American peoples."

On the other hand, reading the rules and regulations from the 1936 guide, I was quite amazed by how enlightened the park was with regards to bears, camping, fires, garbage and general conservation issues at that point in time.

If you enjoy going back in time, these brochures are quite entertaining.

Hiking in

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Free Entrance to all National Parks on September 27th

All 397 national parks will offer free entrance on Saturday, September 27th for National Public Lands Day. The 21st annual event is offered to encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. You can visit for a list of parks and information to help plan your park adventure.

“National Public Lands Day reminds all of us of the vast and diverse nature of America’s open spaces, from small neighborhood parks to large national parks, and the importance of each one,” said former National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We are fortunate that more than 600 million acres of public land, including national parks, provide all of us with cherished places where we can go to unwind, recreate, or learn.”

Many people will lend a hand to help the land and spend part of National Public Lands Day volunteering on work projects. More than 175,000 people are expected to plant trees, clean watersheds, remove invasive plants, replace signs, and otherwise beautify 2,000 public sites throughout the country. Visit for more information.

Other Federal agencies offering free admittance on September 27th include the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service.

If you do plan to visit Glacier on National Public Lands Day, or anytime this fall, be sure to visit the accommodation page on our hiking website to help with all your vacation planning.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Key Milestones in Hiking

Over the last several decades the sport of hiking has become increasingly more popular. According to the latest Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, 11.4% of all adults in the United States participated in hiking in 2013. But the burning question to a modern-day trekker such as myself, is when did people take to the trail for pleasure? Ever since our predecessors began walking on two feet humans have used bipedal mobility to hunt, explore, migrate to another territory, or trade goods with another community. At some point we as humans figured out that there doesn’t have to be a utilitarian reason for walking. We discovered that joy can be found by simply traipsing through the woods, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, admiring the beauty of a wildflower, marveling at the roar of a waterfall, or soaking-in the awe-inspiring views from a mountain top. Is this a recent phenomenon, or was this something that humans always had a natural urging for? Here are a few of the key milestones in the history of hiking that’s led to its popularity today:

~3300 BCE: In 1991 two German tourists found the mummified remains of “Otzi, the Iceman” at roughly 10,530 feet in the Ă–tztal Alps along the Austrian–Italian border. Although scientists aren’t sure what this 5000-year-old man was doing at that high elevation, there are some that believe that Otzi may have been one of the first hikers or mountaineers.

125: The 2nd century Roman Emperor, Hadrian, hiked to the summit of Mt. Etna on Sicily to see the sunrise.

1778: Thomas West, an English priest, published A Guide to the Lakes, a detailed account of the scenery and landscape of the Lake District in northwestern England. The guide helped to popularize the idea of walking for pleasure and “to encourage the taste of visiting the lakes by furnishing the traveler with a Guide”.

1786: The beginning of modern mountaineering is marked by the first ascent of 15,771-foot Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps.

1799: Williams College (of Massachusetts) President Ebenezer Fitch and two others climb Mt. Greylock.

1819: Abel Crawford, and his son Ethan, blaze an 8.5-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. This path is the oldest continually used hiking trail in the United States.

1830: A crew of 100 students and professors from Williams College blaze the Hopper Trail to the summit of Mt. Greylock. Later that same year students would build a wooden tower atop the same mountain. The tower was maintained into the 1850s, and was used for sightseeing and scientific observations.

1854: The beginning of the systematic sport of modern mountaineering as we essentially know it today is marked by the ascent of the Wetterhorn in the Swiss Alps by Sir Alfred Wills. His book, Wanderings Among the High Alps, published two years later, helped make mountaineering fashionable in Britain, and ushered in the systematic exploration of the Alps by British mountaineers These events also marked the beginning of the so-called “golden age of alpinism”.

1857: The world's first mountaineering club, the Alpine Club, was founded in London.

1863: Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College founds the Alpine Club of Williamstown, the first hiking club in America. The stated purpose of the organization was “to explore the interesting places in the vicinity, to become acquainted, to some extent at least, with the natural history of the localities, and also to improve the pedestrian powers of the members”

1867: John Muir begins a 1000-mile walk from Indiana to Florida, which he recounts in his book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. The trek launched a lifetime career of hiking and wilderness advocacy. His conservation efforts, books and articles would help to establish several national parks during and after his lifetime.

1872: Yellowstone becomes the world’s first national park after legislation is signed by President U.S. Grant.

1876: The Appalachian Mountain Club, America’s oldest recreational organization, was founded to explore and protect the trails and mountains in the northeastern United States.

1876: Newtown, England entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones designs the "Euklisia Rug", considered by many to be the forerunner of the modern sleeping bag. The rug included a wool blanket with a pocket at the top for a sewn-in, inflatable, rubber pillow. Once inside, the camper (or soldier) folded the blanket over and fastened it together, thus keeping themselves “snug in a rug”.

1879: One of the first hiking clubs in England, the 'Sunday Tramps', was founded by Leslie White. These early “rambling” (English for walking) clubs sprang up in the northern areas of England as part of a campaign for the legal "right to roam", a response to the fact that much of the land in England was privately owned.

1922: Lloyd F. Nelson submits his application to the U.S. Patent Office for his "Trapper Nelson's Indian Pack Board", which is acknowledged to be the first external-frame backpack. The "Trapper Nelson" featured a wooden "pack board" as its frame. On the frame was a canvas sack that contained the hiker's gear, which rested on the hiker's body by two canvas shoulder-straps. Prior to his invention hikers used a rucksack, which was essentially a loose sack with shoulder straps.

1930: The Green Mountain Club completes construction of the Long Trail, making it the first long-distance hiking trail in the United States.

1937: America's first “grand” trail, the Appalachian Trail, was completed in August of 1937. A forester by the name of Benton MacKaye conceived the idea in 1921.

1948: Earl Shaffer becomes the first person to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

1967: Climber Greg Lowe invents the internal frame backpack. The “Expedition Pack” also featured the first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and the first load stabilizers.

1969: Bob Gore accidentally stretches a solid polytetrafluoroethylene tape by almost 800%, which forms a microporous structure that was roughly 70% air. The discovery was introduced to the public under the trademark of "Gore-Tex", which became the first breathable, waterproof, and windproof fabric.

1992: Ray Jardine introduces the concept of ultralight backpacking with the release of his book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook. During his first PCT thru-hike Jardine’s pack weighed just 25 pounds. By his third it was less than 9 pounds. “Ray’s Way” of thinking has led to several innovations that have benefitted both backpackers and hikers.

Hiking in Glacier National Park