Sunday, October 21, 2018

First Phase of Sperry Chalet Rebuild Successfully Concludes for Winter

Crews will complete Sperry Chalet reconstruction activities for the season next week and will prepare the site for winter weather. The chalet dormitory building was badly burned in the 2017 Sprague Fire. The contractor, Dick Anderson Construction, has been working at the chalet since July 9, and completed Phase 1 of the reconstruction effort one week ahead of schedule and on budget.

"I cannot say enough good things about the great team rebuilding Sperry Chalet. I've seen the photos and the progress the construction crew has made is incredible," said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "After last year's devastating fire, I made rebuilding Sperry Chalet a top priority. It wouldn't have been possible without our private partners, community members, and entire Glacier National Park team. I look forward to visiting Sperry again soon."

This summer, crews successfully stabilized the building including installing foundations, roofing, first and second story sub-floors, and interior seismic walls. The roof includes a temporary outer layer with a snow and ice shield to weather the upcoming winter, and a permanent, structural, inner roof layer.

In the next two weeks, Dick Anderson Construction will complete any remaining “punch-list” items from the Phase 1 contract and dismantle their camp for the winter.

Phase 2 design is underway with Anderson Hallas Architects out of Golden, CO with an expected completion of late winter of 2019. The design will include floor plan details including finishes, windows, doors, and balcony work. The National Park Service Denver Service Center expects to solicit bids for Phase 2 construction in spring of 2019.

“The National Park Service worked closely with Dick Anderson Construction to successfully deliver Phase 1 of this project on schedule,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “This first phase was made possible with significant collaboration among the design team, construction team, the park’s philanthropic partner the Glacier National Park Conservancy, and Belton Chalets, Inc. who opened the doors of their Sperry Chalet dining room to provide crew meals along with food services for the visiting public.”

Photos and video of the construction effort can be found on the Glacier National Park Conservancy website.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, October 19, 2018

Rangers Rescue Injured Visitor at Hidden Falls

Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted an early evening short-haul rescue at Hidden Falls on the west side of Jenny Lake on Saturday, October 13. Teton Interagency Dispatch received a call at approximately 4:45 p.m. on Saturday from a bystander indicating someone had fallen and needed help at Hidden Falls. A second call from another bystander was received and additional information was communicated that the injured visitor was in the water, shivering significantly and possibly hypothermic and unable to move due to injuries.

Due to time of day and decreasing daylight, weather conditions, and information about the situation, Grand Teton National Park Rangers responded to the incident via helicopter and prepared for a short-haul evacuation.

Will Levis, 25 years of age from Rexburg, Idaho, was rescued via short-haul and transported via park ambulance to St. Johns Medical Center in Jackson. Levis and another individual were climbing the Hidden Falls water falls above the viewing area. They were scrambling across wet rocks when Levis slipped and fell approximately 20-30 feet in Cascade Creek. The temperature at the time of the accident was 35 degrees and the water temperature was estimated at approximately 40 degrees.

All visitors and recreationists are reminded that park rescue operations may be limited by reduced staff, severe weather, and limited helicopter use this time of year. Please consider the recreational experience and be prepared for self-rescue, as well as have the appropriate skills and equipment for each respective activity.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Announcing The Release of My New Book on The History of Hiking

I’m very excited to announce the release of my brand new book on the rich history of hiking! Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, such as Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. To give you a better idea of what the book encompasses, I've copied the introduction to the book (below), which is now available on Amazon.

Ramble On:

How did hiking evolve from the upper-class European sport of alpinism and the publication of an English travel guide into an activity that now has millions of participants all over the world? Who built the thousands of miles of trails that now crisscross America? What did early hikers wear, and what were some of the key inventions and innovations that led to our modern array of hiking gear and apparel? How was information about hiking, trails and gear disseminated in the early years? And what were some of the reasons why people hiked, and how have those changed over time?

Ramble On, a general history on the sport of hiking (also known as rambling, tramping, walking, hillwalking, backpacking or trekking), attempts to answers these questions, as well as many others. This book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the nineteenth century, the first trails built specifically for recreational hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel.

When I first considered writing this book two years ago I wasn’t really sure how much relevant information I would be able to find, or how compelling of a story could be written about the history of hiking. I feared that I wouldn’t have enough material to write a full book. However, after diving into the project I soon realized that hiking actually has a very rich and compelling history, and has been profoundly influenced by a series of events that had nothing to do with hiking. I was continuously amazed by how much hiking has been molded by societal trends, as well as national and international events. The story of hiking took me in many directions that I never would’ve considered, from Romanticism and Transcendentalism, to the Industrial Revolution and the labor movement, to the rise of automobiles, environmentalism, club culture, and even art, to name just a few.

However, what intrigued me the most were the anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, as well as the peculiar and quirky traditions of some of the early hiking clubs. One of the most compelling stories was the apparel women were forced to wear during the Victorian Era, and the danger those fashion standards posed to women who dared to venture into the mountains.

This book also takes a look at some of the issues that currently impact hikers and trails, such as overcrowding and social media, and takes a peek into the future on how some of these trends could unfold. I also explain some of the solutions public land managers are currently considering, and offer a few suggestions myself.

My hope is that you will you come away with a better understanding of what it took to make hiking one of the most popular activities in the world, and what we need to do to preserve our trails and the spirit of hiking for future generations to come.

To order your copy now, please click here. Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Highway Closure North of Colter Bay October 16 & 23: Expect Two-Hour Delays

Grand Teton National Park, in coordination with Federal Highway Administration, is conducting maintenance work at several bridge locations along U.S. Highway 89/287, in the northern area of the park. The work will involve a temporary highway closure at Arizona Creek, approximately five miles north of Colter Bay.

Two 2-hour closures of the highway are planned for Tuesday, October 16 and Tuesday, October 23. Closures will occur mid-morning and mid-afternoon each day, with time between the closures for one-way traffic access through the area.

Those wishing to access or depart Yellowstone National Park on these dates through Yellowstone’s South Gate may want to consider using the Yellowstone West Entrance to avoid the delay.

One-lane traffic with up to 15-minute delays will begin Tuesday, October 2 as construction crews prepare for the installation of the new wing walls at Arizona Creek. The delays may be daytime delays only, but it is possible that the delays may occur during the night as well. Please be prepared for 15-minutes delays through October 23.

The work will address deferred maintenance in the park. The scope of work at Arizona Creek is to replace four failing concrete wing walls that channel water into the box culverts and protect the adjacent bank. Pre-cast wing walls will be installed by using a crane to move them and set them in place. One pre-cast wing wall weighs approximately 46,000 pounds and therefore requires a large crane to set the walls in place. The crane will take up both lanes of traffic once set up.

Significant work on Pacific Creek and Spread Creek bridges along U.S. Highway 89/191/287 is also taking place with minimal traffic delays. The work as Pacific Creek is completed and work continues at Spread Creek. Please expect sporadic daytime 15-minute delays at Spread Creek for the next two weeks. Spread Creek is located approximately four miles south of the Moran Junction.

During this time of the year, visitation to the area winds down, services and facilities are closed, and there is much less traffic, making it the opportune time for this work to take place before winter weather arrives.

The construction schedule is subject to change due to weather conditions and other factors. Updates will be communicated via roadside signs near Colter Bay and Flagg Ranch, park road information line (307.739.3682), and park social media (@GrandTetonNPS on Facebook and Twitter).

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Public Invited to Mt. Brown Hawk Watch Event in Glacier

Glacier National Park will host a Mt. Brown Hawk Watch Program on Saturday, October 13 from 12 pm- 4 pm near Lake McDonald Lodge. Park biologists will teach volunteers how to identify and count migrating raptors. The event is part of the park’s Year of the Bird celebration.

Participants should bring binoculars and prepare to count Golden Eagles on their annual migration south past Mount Brown. Biologists, park staff, and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about the integral role of raptors in our ecosystems, the risks they face, and why Glacier has started the Mount Brown Hawk Watch Program. The event will begin at the Golden Eagle interpretive sign near Jammer Joe’s parking lot; snacks and hot beverages will be provided. Attendees need not stay for the whole time. Volunteers can also hike to an observation point just below Mount Brown Lookout. People interested in hiking up Mount Brown should call the Glacier Citizen Science Office for hike times and additional details.

Each year in the fall, golden eagles migrate from northern breeding grounds to warmer climates. One of the most important North American golden eagle migration routes passes directly through Glacier National Park along the Continental Divide. Large numbers of other raptors also use this migration corridor during the fall and spring months.

In the mid-1990s biologists documented nearly 2,000 golden eagles migrating past Mount Brown annually. Recent data from outside Glacier National Park indicate significant declines in golden eagle numbers. Due to this concern, the park initiated a Citizen Science Raptor Migration Project in 2011 to investigate possible locations for a Hawk Watch site. Hawk Watch sites are part of an international effort to track long-term raptor population trends using systematic migrating raptor counts. Observers also record data on sex, age, color morph and behavior of raptors, as well as weather and environmental conditions. To see a map of Hawk Watch sites around the world go to

The Year of the Bird marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the important roles birds play in our ecosystems. The National Park Service has joined in with the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, Bird Life International, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and 200 other organizations to celebrate this momentous anniversary. The MBTA has protected billions of birds since its inception. The U.S. and Canada first signed it into law in 1918. In 1936, international governments expanded the MBTA to include Mexico, followed by Japan and the former USSR (1970s).

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, October 1, 2018

Grizzly Bear Research Trapping Taking Place in Grand Teton

Grizzly bear research and trapping operations will occur in Grand Teton National Park from now through mid-November. Park biologists in cooperation with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will conduct this research to monitor the population of grizzly bears as part of on-going efforts required under the 2016 Conservation Strategy for the Grizzly Bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

When bear research and trapping activities are being conducted, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring. For bear and human safety, the public must respect these signs and stay out of the posted areas.

Trained professionals with the interagency team will bait and trap grizzly bears in accordance with strict protocols. Once trapped, the bears are sedated to allow wildlife biologists to collar the bears and collect samples and data for scientific study.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to collaboratively monitor and research grizzly bears in the ecosystem on an interagency basis. The gathering of critical data on the bears is part of a long-term research effort and required under the 2016 conservation strategy to help wildlife managers devise and implement programs to support the ongoing conservation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s grizzly bear population. The team includes representatives from the National Park Service, U. S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, September 28, 2018

Glacier National Park Prepares for Colder Temperatures

Glacier National Park has begun preparing for the winter season. Most concessioner operated services including hotel accommodations, horseback rides, guided hikes and boat tours have all ended. Sun Tours and Red Bus Tours will continue through mid-October. Village Inn will close October 1. National Park Service ranger-guided programs will continue into the fall and winter. Check the park’s website for scheduled activities.

The boating season is coming to a close. All waters east of the Continental Divide (including but not limited to Two Medicine Lake, St. Mary Lake, and Swiftcurrent Lake) will close to boating on October 1. West side waters including but not limited to Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, and Kintla Lake, will close on November 1. The Apgar boat inspection station will be staffed every day from 8:00 - 4:00 in October. From October 14 - October 31, the station will be staffed by law enforcement rangers and may be intermittently closed due to medical emergencies or other law enforcement priorities. Similar to 2018, west side waters will reopen to boating in May of 2019 and east side waters will reopen in early June of 2019. Precise dates will be released in the early spring.

Many campgrounds have closed or have entered primitive status, which means that no running water is available. The only fully operational campground remaining for the season is the Apgar Campground. It will enter primitive status on October 9. More information about Glacier’s campgrounds can be found on the park’s Campground Status webpage.

Road crews have begun installing snow poles in the alpine section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The road will close in the alpine section the morning of October 15, meaning that October 14 is the last day to drive the road in its entirety before the alpine section closes for the winter. Once the alpine section of the road closes, crews will take down just under a mile of removable guardrail in eight foot sections to protect them from avalanches that cross the road all winter long, along with other winterization activities.

The park closes the Going-to-the-Sun Road in segments for the winter. The first segment to close is typically between Avalanche Creek on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side. That closure typically occurs on or before the third Monday in October, weather conditions dependent. This year, a construction project will briefly close the road at the foot of Lake McDonald from October 15-19, rather than Avalanche Creek. The road then closes at Lake McDonald Lodge on the west side and the “1.5 mile gate” just past the St. Mary Campground turnoff on the east side on December 15, weather conditions permitting. It remains closed at those gates until road crews begin the spring road opening process, which typically takes approximately 3 months, starting at the beginning of April each year.

Visitors traveling to the park for the later fall and winter months should plan on dressing warmly and prepare to be more self-sufficient as some visitor services in and immediately adjacent to the park will be closed for the season. However, multiple nearby communities remain open with a full suite of year-round services for fall and winter travelers.

Information about traveling to Glacier can be found on the park’s website including trip planning information for both fall and winter.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking