Friday, July 25, 2014

Outdoor Recreation Participation Report: Camping and Backpacking Continues to Decline

The Outdoor Foundation is reporting that a record number of Americans participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2013, with nearly 50% of all Americans ages six and older taking part in at least one of the 43 outdoor activities, according to the latest Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. That percentage equates to 142.6 million American outdoor participants. Although the number of participants rose, the percentage of participants fell slightly from 49.4% in 2012 to 49.2% in 2013, due to population increase.

Compared to 2012, participation in outdoor activities increased or remained flat among youth and young adults - signaling a positive trend in America's inactivity crisis. The participation rate among children ages six to 12 rose one percentage point to 64%. Participation among young adults ages 18 to 24 also rose one point to 58%, while hard-to-reach adolescents, ages 13 to 17, remained flat at 60%.

Below are a few stats of interest:

* Participation in day hiking remained relatively flat again for the second year in a row. However, the latest figures don't reflect the strong growth in the outdoor pursuit in recent years. Compared to 2006 (the first year of the study), hiking is up 15.1%. Compared to 2010, participation in hiking has increased by 5.8%.

* Though backpacking has seen an increase in the number of participants over each of the last 2 years, the average number of outings per backpacker has dropped off sharply. As a result, backpacking has dropped out of the top 5 favorite outdoor activities for adults (ages 25+), based on the frequency of activity.

* Camping (within a 1/4 mile of a vehicle or home) continues to decline: down 11% when compared to 2011, and down almost 18% since 2006.

* Participation in adventure racing and triathlons saw the largest increases over the past three years. Adventure racing increased by 28%, while off-road triathlons increased by 25% and road triathlons increased by 10%.

In 2013, the top 5 most popular outdoor activities for adults (ages 25+), based on participation rates were:

1. Running, Jogging and Trail Running - 16.2% of adults
2. Fishing - 14.8% of adults
3. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) - 13.1% of adults
4. Hiking - 11.4% of adults
5. Camping (Car, Backyard and RV) - 10.6% of adults

The top 5 favorite outdoor activities for adults (ages 25+), based on frequency of activity were:

1. Running, Jogging and Trail Running - 81.4 average outings per runner
2. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) - 51.7 average outings per cyclist
3. Birdwatching - 37.7 average outings per birdwatcher
4. Wildlife Viewing - 25.2 average outings per viewer
5. Hunting - 24.2 average outings per hunter

The report is based on online and household surveys of more than 19,000 Americans ages six and older, and covers 43 different outdoor activities, making it the largest survey of its kind. To download a complete copy of the 2014 Outdoor Recreation Topline Participation Report, visit The Outdoor Foundation website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, July 24, 2014

St. Mary Visitor Center Closed Temporarily

The St. Mary Visitor Center on the east side of Glacier National Park is temporarily closed. Park rangers responded to an alarm at the visitor center at approximately 4 a.m. today. It is believed that the visitor center furnace may have malfunctioned and the water sprinkler system activated. There is water damage to the building and contents, as well as to some of the utilities. The extent of the damage is being assessed.

A visitor contact and information center is set up in the visitor center parking lot. Park rangers will be available to assist visitors.

Back country permits and aquatic invasive species (AIS) boat inspections will be available at the Hudson Bay District Office located in the park administrative area in St. Mary. Signs near the park entrance will be posted to provide directions.

The park shuttle system and transportation services by Xanterra and Sun Tours are unaffected and operating as scheduled. The restroom facilities at the visitor center are available. Evening interpretive programs continue at the St. Mary Campground as scheduled.

There is no phone service at the St. Mary Visitor Center at this time. Visitors are encouraged to contact the park at 406-888-7800 for park information, or click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Trail Conditions Around Sperry Chalet

If you have any plans on hiking to the Sperry Chalet in the near future, you may want to make note of this blog posting from the manager of the Sperry Chalet, which was posted yesterday, July 23rd:
Around Sperry Chalet there are still some snow patches and wet spots, but the trails are rapidly melting out and become more accessible every day.

The Sperry Trail from Lake McDonald Lodge is clear all the way to the chalet front door. No worries on this trail.

The Sperry Glacier Trail has about 25% snow cover. Especially as you get higher in elevation. The bridges are in place over the water crossings and many adventurers are enjoying this route. You should still be very cautious when crossing the snow. Some side hill slopes need to be contended with, take your time and take care with your footing.

The Gunsight Pass Trail still calls for extreme caution. There is still enough snow at Gunsight Pass to make for a perilous crossing. These snowfields slide down off a cliff, so you do not want to slip or stumble here. In fact, if you do not have well practiced self arrest skills, you should not attempt this route. There is also an exciting waterfall to ford at the head of Lake Ellen Wilson. For hikers of average ability, this route will not be a good idea until sometime in August.

The trail from Sperry Chalet to Lake Ellen Wilson is amazing with wildflowers right now. A few short snow crossings remain, but this is a treat of a day hike out from Sperry Chalet.

The mosquitoes around Sperry Chalet are pretty bad this week. My bug spray was not quite enough, I had to pull on long sleeves and extra clothes to thwart the little villains. Come prepared.

Be safe out there and happy hiking.


For more information on the Sperry Chalet, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Full-Scale Search for Overdue Hiker Leads to Discovery of an Apparent Fatal Fall

The body of an overdue hiker was discovered at approximately 2:30 p.m. yesterday, July 22nd, near the mouth of Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park. Will Cornyn, 36, of San Francisco, California did not have a pulse when one of several search teams found him lying below a steep cliff band near Inspiration Point. He was pronounced dead on the scene at 2:53 p.m. by park EMTs in consultation with the park's medical director, Dr. A.J. Wheeler.

Cornyn headed out late Sunday afternoon, July 20th, from the southeast shore of Jenny Lake with a goal to hike to Lake Solitude in the North Fork of Cascade Canyon. He did not return to his campsite at Jenny Lake that evening, and was reported overdue by his girlfriend at noon on Monday, July 21st. Cornyn had not planned for an overnight stay in the backcountry and did not carry equipment necessary for spending a night in the mountains.

A "hasty" search was initiated Monday afternoon with park rangers who were on routine patrol and additional rangers were called into service. Two rangers also flew in the Teton Interagency contract helicopter to conduct an aerial search until darkness prevented further efforts. The aerial search was temporarily delayed by intense thunderstorms that passed across the Teton Range and battered the peaks with heavy rain, strong winds and lightning strikes.

Seventy-four people gathered early Tuesday morning to begin a full-scale search for the missing hiker, not seen since 5 p.m. Sunday. Multiple Grand Teton National Park employees and Teton Interagency fire personnel—plus a Teton Interagency helitak crew, a Teton Interagency contract helicopter, four search dog teams from Wyoming K-9 and JH Search Dogs, and several park volunteers—thoroughly searched numerous backcountry locations in Cascade Canyon and Paintbrush Canyon and surrounding areas in a coordinated effort to locate the overdue hiker. After nearly six hours, one of 19 assigned search parties discovered Cornyn. His body was extricated from Inspiration Point via a helicopter long-line and turned over to the Teton County coroner about 4:30 p.m.

As the extensive search for Cornyn was getting launched, a second search and rescue operation began for a guided climbing party that missed a routine check-in call during a climb of the Grand Traverse on Monday evening. A Teton Interagency contract helicopter with two rangers on board flew a reconnaissance mission at 8:45 a.m. to locate the guided party and determine if assistance was needed. Scott Huntsman, 48, of Salt Lake City, Utah and his climbing guide with Exum Mountain Guides were attempting the Grand Traverse of the Teton peaks and had just descended to Gunsight Notch above Valhalla Canyon at approximately 4 p.m. Monday when a rockfall, possibly triggered by the afternoon rainstorm, struck Huntsman and injured his foot. The climbers' rope was trapped by the rockfall and they had to cut it free. Using the remaining 120 feet of rope, the two climbers rappelled to a point in Gunsight Couloir where they settled in for the night on a ledge. Early Tuesday morning, the Exum guide helped Huntsman descend over snow to a location near the bottom of Valhalla Canyon where a rescue helicopter could land. He then hiked out to seek help from park rangers. The Exum guide encountered searchers in Cascade Canyon who were looking for Will Cornyn. The helicopter attached to the Cornyn search was able to land near Huntsman at an elevation of 9,500 feet. He was placed inside the ship for an evacuation flight to the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache. Huntsman was then transported by personal vehicle around 12:30 p.m. to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming.

An additional emergency call came in at 11:30 a.m. for a 16-year-old hiker with a knee injury who was situated just below the Cascade Canyon forks. Searchers already in the field for the full-scale search diverted to assist the injured teen and provide medical care. The young hiker was ultimately able to hike out with assistance by the attending searchers.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Glacier National Park Creates $179 Million in Economic Benefit

A new National Park Service report shows that the 2.2 million visitors to Glacier National Park in 2013 spent nearly $179 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 2,824 jobs in the local area.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “Glacier National Park plays a critical role as an economic driver in Montana.” Mow said that the report indicates that national park tourism returns $10 for every $1 invested across the country, and that’s significant, especially in the local and regional economy of Montana.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

According to the 2013 economic analysis, most visitor spending was for lodging (30.3%) followed by food and beverages (27.3%), gas and oil (12.1%), admissions and fees (10.3%) and souvenirs and other expenses (10%).

The largest jobs categories supported by visitor spending were restaurants and bars (50,000 jobs) and lodging (38,000 jobs).

The full report is available here and includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bear euthanized after charging picnickers in Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Rangers euthanized a black bear from the Two Medicine area on Friday, July 18, after several reports in which the bear exhibited apparent food-conditioned behavior, including an incident in which the bear charged a picnicking family.

On Thursday, July 17, the black bear approached a family that was eating at a picnic table at the Two Medicine Picnic Area. The family yelled and clapped hands, but the bear charged towards the table, and the family retreated to their vehicle. The bear consumed the food and left the area after a park ranger repeatedly hazed the bear with rubber bullets and bean bags.

This same black bear was observed digging in a fire pit in the area, and did not seem bothered by human presence. There were several sightings of the bear on and near to the park trail system along the shore of Two Medicine Lake. The bear was determined to be a food-conditioned bear, and a threat to human safety. Trail and picnic area closures were implemented in Two Medicine.

The bear was euthanized. This action is consistent with Glacier National Park’s Bear Management Plan. The male bear was approximately five years old and weighed approximately 225 pounds.

Food-conditioned bears are those that have sought and obtained non-natural foods, destroyed property or displayed aggressive, non-defensive behavior towards humans and are removed from the wild. Food-conditioned bears are not relocated due to human safety concerns.

Black bears are not good candidates for animal capture facilities such as zoos and animal parks due to the plentiful nature of the species throughout the United States.

Park visitors are reminded to keep campgrounds and developed areas clean and free of food and trash. Regulations require that all edibles, food containers, and cookware be stored in a hard-sided vehicle or food locker when not in use, day or night. Place all trash in bear-proof containers. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter around your camp. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite.

If you see a bear along the road, park officials ask that you not stop. Stopping and watching roadside bears will likely start a "bear jam" as other motorists follow your lead. "Bear jams" are hazardous to both people and bears as visibility is reduced and bears may feel threatened by the congestion. You should report all bear sightings to the nearest ranger.

Visitors to Glacier National Park are also reminded that the park is home to both black and grizzly bears. Hikers are highly encouraged to hike in groups, make noise when hiking, and have bear spray accessible and know how to use it. For more information about recreating in bear country, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Water System Temporarily Down at Logan Pass

Visitors to Logan Pass are encouraged to bring their own water or refillable water bottle this week while temporary water tanks are being installed.

The water system at Logan Pass will be shut down later this afternoon, July 22nd, at approximately 5 p.m. It's anticipated that a temporary system will be operating by the weekend. During this week, the park will provide a number of large water bottles in the Logan Pass Parking area for visitors to fill their personal water bottles. Personal refillable water bottles are also available for purchase at the Logan Pass Visitor Center from the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

The public restroom facilities at Logan Pass will be operational.

The permanent water tank that provides drinking water to Logan Pass will be rehabilitated and coated this summer and fall. During this time, two temporary tanks will be utilized to provide drinking water.

Last week the temporary 5,000-gallon tanks were transported to Logan Pass via the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and then air lifted to a location approximately one-half mile northwest of the visitor center. The project is anticipated to be completed this fall, and the temporary tanks will be removed at that time. All work being conducted will be in compliance with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and US Public Health Service.

The main water tank that provides drinking water to Logan Pass was installed in 1964. The tank’s interior and exterior surfaces need to be sandblasted and coated. The circular tank is approximately eight feet high and 17 feet in diameter, and has a 13,600-gallon capacity. It is also located about one-half mile from the Logan Pass Visitor Center.

Hiking in Glacier National Park