Sunday, June 30, 2013

Learn the Rest Step

The "Rest Step" is a technique used by mountaineers to slow their cadence, rest their muscles, and preserve their energy while hiking on steep terrain at high altitudes. Essentially, the “rest step” takes pressure and strain off your muscles and transfers it to your bone structure.

Although it’s mainly useful on snow, or on climbs at elevation where endurance is important, it can be employed on any trail with steep slopes. It’s worked quite well for me on many trails in Glacier and Colorado in recent years.

The tool is most effective on slopes that gain - say - more than 800 feet per mile.

Here’s how it works:

As you step forward on a climb, lock your rear knee and keep all of your weight on that rear leg. As you’re swinging your other leg forward, relax the muscles in that leg. Once your forward foot comes to rest on the ground, keep it relaxed so that there’s no weight on it. You can stop in that position for as long as you need to. When you're ready to take the next step, shift your weight to the front foot, step forward with the other and lock the rear knee again, and repeat the entire process.

The locked rear knee provides support for your weight without requiring help from the leg muscle. That means your leg, hip, and back muscles get a rest, if only for a short moment. Stay paused in that position for however long it takes to avoid running out of breath.

A mountain climber in the Himalayas may stay motionless between steps for 10 seconds or more. At lower altitudes, you might only need a half-second pause. The key is to get into a steady rhythm of doing the same thing for each step you take. You can adjust the cadence and the length of your stride according to the steepness of the terrain.

Continuous movement is a great strain on your muscles. Moreover, stopping and starting, slowing down and speeding up, wastes energy. The key to preserving your energy for the long haul is to be the tortoise, rather than the hare.

You can quickly get an idea of how this works by practicing on your steps at home. The benefits are especially clear if you can try it after a long hike, run or bike ride when your leg muscles are already tired. Go up the steps as you normally do and you’ll probably feel a little bit of a burn in your quadriceps. Now, try the rest step and notice how the burn is substantially reduced.

Hiking in

Friday, June 28, 2013

Death on Highline Trail Under Investigation

Glacier National Park Rangers are investigating an incident in which a 64-year old man from Washington State died along the Going-to-the-Sun Road near the Rim Rock area, about a mile west of Logan Pass. The man has been identified as 64-year old Charles Fred Huseman from Packwood, Washington.

At approximately 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday, park dispatch received a report from a park ranger requesting emergency medical assistance in the Rim Rock area along the road. The park ranger arrived at the scene and administered CPR and utilized an automated external defibrillator (AED), with the assistance of local bystanders. The individual was declared deceased at the scene. The body was transferred to the Flathead County Coroner and transported to a local mortuary.

Park rangers received witness accounts that indicate the man was hiking alone on the Highline Trail, which is closed due to snow danger. It's believed that the visitor slipped on a snow field and fell appoximatley100 feet to his death, landing along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The weather at Logan Pass Wednesday afternoon included sun, rain, hail and gusty winds. The incident is under investigation with the National Park Service.

All visitors are reminded that winter conditions exist in many locations in the high country, including the Logan Pass area. Please exercise caution when walking on snow and be alert of possible collapsible snow, steep slide areas and changing weather conditions.

The park states that more details will be shared as the investigation is completed.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Plan To Protect Yellowstone's Native Vegetation Approved

A plan to help protect Yellowstone’s natural landscapes and native plant diversity from the spread of invasive plants has been approved.

A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) that allows for Yellowstone National Park to implement a management plan to prevent the establishment and spread of terrestrial invasive plants and to restore, as needed, native plant communities within the park was signed by John Wessels, the Director of the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service, on June 19, 2013. The Environmental Assessment (EA) that analyzed two alternatives was released for public comment February 22, 2013.

The Invasive Vegetation Management Plan provides a park-wide comprehensive approach toward invasive vegetation management to preserve, protect and restore the diversity, ecological integrity, and processes associated with native plant communities in Yellowstone. The plan expands current invasive plant management efforts and implements a park-wide Integrated Weed Management strategy that aims to:

• Prevent the entry and establishment of new invasive plants,

• Control existing populations of invasive plants by eradicating them, reducing their abundance and density, and containing their spread, and

• Restore native plant communities when they have been disrupted or replaced by invasive nonnative plant populations.

Under the approved plan, Yellowstone will use a wide-ranging combination of techniques and tools to manage invasive terrestrial vegetation. The overall goal of the invasive vegetation management program will be to preserve the biological diversity of native flora through prevention, containment, and control of invasive plants.

Copies of the EA and the FONSI can be found on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yellowstone Black Bear Lethally Removed From Campground

A black bear that refused to leave a Yellowstone National Park campground after obtaining human food was lethally removed by Yellowstone National Park staff on Saturday evening, June 22nd.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. that day, a 142-pound adult male black bear entered the Canyon Campground and approached within six feet of a man and woman eating. The campers backed off and the bear ate some of their food. The bear also went through the campers’ garbage and sniffed and pawed at their tent. The bear then left the site and sniffed and pawed at other tents, bear-proof dumpsters and bear-proof food storage boxes and dug through fire pits in other campsites in the campground.

Rangers responded and hazed the bear out of the campground, but the bear returned and re-entered the campground. Due to safety concerns for park visitors, the bear was shot and killed at approximately 9:00 p.m.

Park visitors are reminded to keep food, garbage, coolers and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods, and helps keep park visitors and their property safe.

Hikers in bear country are encouraged to travel in groups of three or more, carry bear pepper spray, make plenty of noise on the trail, and to be alert for the presence of bears. If a bear charges during a surprise encounter, stand your ground, do not run, and use your bear pepper spray.

Park regulations require that you to stay at least 100 yards away from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense against bear attacks is to stay a safe distance from bears and use your binoculars, spotting scope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.

Bear sightings should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.

For more information on hiking and recreating in bear country, please click here.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Park Shuttle Service Begins July 1st

Glacier National Park's free, optional shuttle system that provides shuttle services along the Going-to-the-Sun Road will begin operations July 1st and run through Labor Day.

On the west-side of the park, shuttle services begin at the Apgar Transit Center. Service to all west-side shuttle stop locations begins at 9:00 a.m. with shuttles departing every 15-30 minutes until 7:00 p.m. Prior to 9:00 a.m., there is no shuttle service to Apgar Village, Apgar Campground, or Lake McDonald Lodge. Between 7:40 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., west-side shuttles will only service Sprague Creek, Avalanche Creek, The Loop, and Logan Pass shuttle stops. An express trip from the Apgar Transit Center to Logan Pass departs daily at 7:30 a.m., without intermediate stops.

The St. Mary Visitor Center is the hub for shuttle services on the east-side of the park. Shuttles begin service at 7:30 a.m. and depart every 40 to 60 minutes. The last shuttles of the day leave Logan Pass for the Apgar Transit Center and St. Mary Visitor Center at 7:00 p.m.

The shuttle system is intended to minimize impacts on visitors throughout the multi-year rehabilitation project on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. For more information on the shuttle system, please click here.

For more information on the services and the trailheads along each of the shuttle stops, please click here.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Prolific Beargrass Blooms in Glacier National Park This Year

Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is a common wildflower found in Glacier National Park and this year has produced prolific blossoms, especially near park headquarters on the west-side of the park.

Beargrass is not a grass, but a member of the Melanthiaceae family (recently split from the lily family). The plant is native to Montana, but can also be found in subalpine meadows and coastal mountains throughout the Pacific Northwest, extending from British Columbia to northern California and eastward to Alberta and northwestern Wyoming. Beargrass can grow up to five feet in height with long and wiry, grass-like basal leaves at the base of the stalk and a cluster of small, dense white flowers at the top. Bears do not eat the plant, but they will use leaves as denning material. Sheep, deer, elk, and goats are known to eat beargrass.

Beargrass can bloom whenever climatic conditions are ideal, not necessarily every seven years as common myth suggests. A single plant may have numerous basal rosettes on a common root system. Each rosette will bloom only once. Factors for abundant plant blooming include ideal amounts of spring rainfall and moisture present in the soil. While some beargrass can be found blooming every year, park managers note that mass blossoming of beargrass typically occurs every five to ten years in Glacier National Park. Blooming can begin in late May in lower elevations and continue into August in the high country.

The plant was first called beargrass by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, 19th century explorers of western America. At that time "Bear grass" was a common name for yucca (commonly called soapweed today), which bears a superficial resemblance to beargrass. Native Americans have used beargrass leaves for basket weaving and roots were used to treat injuries. Other common names for this plant include bear lily, pine lily, elk grass, squaw grass, and turkeybeard.

Visitors are encouraged to experience the abundance of beargrass in Glacier National Park this year, but are reminded that picking flowers or collecting plants is prohibited within the park.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mountain Goat Study to Begin at Logan Pass

Glacier National Park, in partnership with the University of Montana, is preparing to conduct a three-year research study on how mountain goats are affected by roads, people and trails in the Logan Pass area. The research is a critical component of the current Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management planning effort, as human-wildlife interactions within the corridor is an identified issue of concern.

Interactions between humans and goats are increasing in the Logan Pass area, creating potential unhealthy, unnatural and unsafe conditions. Acting Glacier National Park Superintendent Kym Hall said, "Our existing knowledge about mountain goats in the park is very limited and not sufficient on which to make management decisions." An incident in Olympic National Park has also prompted park managers to seriously research this issue. In 2010 there was a visitor fatality that was a direct result of an interaction with a mountain goat.

Hall said the mission of the National Park Service includes protecting the wildlife and providing for the enjoyment of them in such a way that will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. She believes this study, with its combination of methods, strategies, sample size, focused study area and limited duration, is an attempt to balance the park's need to develop long-term and science-based management strategies for the Logan Pass area and the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor while at the same time providing a quality visitor experience that celebrates the park's wildlife. The mountain goat is a recognized iconic and historic symbol of the park. Hall said that park managers have discussed the study and feel that the research plan will allow for the gathering of valuable data, while managing goat and human safety as the top priority.

Specific goals of the project include an understanding of:

- Individual goat use of Logan Pass and adjacent areas and movements on the landscape,

- Goats and humans in close proximity to each other and possible deterrents,

- Goat concentrations and unnatural behavior,

- Goat use of roads, developed areas and proximity to people as safe havens from predators, and

- Productivity estimates of females.

The study will incorporate observational, collaring, messaging and marking techniques. Researchers will spend time observing and recording human-goat interactions. Informational signs about human-goat interactions will be placed in the Logan Pass area. Approximately 20-25 goats will be collared of the estimated 1,500 goats in the park, or approximately 1.6% of the estimated park-wide population. A few goats that will not be able to be collared may be temporarily marked to enable a researcher to visually distinguish between individual goats.

Research on bighorn sheep will also be conducted simultaneously, with observational, messaging and marking techniques. No collars will be placed on bighorn sheep, as individual sheep are easier to identify due to horn variations.

The project is anticipated to begin later this summer with National Park Service employees overseeing and conducting much of the collaring work, in collaboration with other researchers. The principal investigator for the project is Dr. Joel Berger. He is the John J. Craighead Chair and Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana, Senior Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and a member of the National Park System Advisory Board Science Committee.

The total cost of the three-year project is estimated to be approximately $150,000. National Park Service and Federal Highway funds will be used.

Hall said, "We approved a similar mountain goat study a few years ago and immediately stopped the project after two goats died while being tranquilized. We are implementing numerous changes and restrictions, and believe we can safely and successfully conduct all aspects of this research to collect needed data."

The data gathered through the goat research will be valuable to incorporate into the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan. "We need good science-based information to make the best decisions related to a popular area for wildlife and visitors," said Hall.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Monday, June 24, 2013

July Ranger-Led Hikes and Programs Published

The July Ranger-Led Hikes and Programs Schedule for Glacier National Park was released earlier today. Visitors will find many of the traditional hikes on the schedule for this upcoming month, while a few new hikes have been added to the list (compared to previous years). I really like that the park is now publishing the schedule on a monthly basis, rather than the old format the spanned roughly 6 or 7 weeks.

To see the new July schedule, please click here. Once you have an idea of which hikes you want to take during your visit, please visit to get all the details for (most of) those hikes.

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Grand Teton Rangers Handle Two Rescues & EMS Response On Same Day

NPS Digest is reporting that Grand Teton rangers handled back-to-back rescue missions last Thursday, one of which involved a fatality. At the same time, other rangers dealt with a cardiac arrest in Buffalo Valley.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for help from a location on Mount Owen (12,928 feet) just before 2:30 p.m. Jeff Judkins, 38, of Lander, Wyoming, and his climbing partner were on an ascent of the Crescent Arête (11,200 feet) when a door-sized rock broke free as Judkins was pushing himself onto it. Judkins fell about 15 feet before hitting a sloping ledge below, then another five feet before his climbing protection caught him. Luckily, neither of the climbers was hit by the rock.

Two rangers were inserted via short-haul to a nearby ledge just before 5 p.m., and they prepared the two climbers for short-haul extrication from the accident site to Lupine Meadows. This rescue was completed at 5:15 p.m. The Crescent Arête is adjacent to the Northeast Snowfields route on Mount Owen, and is an uncommon climb due to its technical nature. It is rated a 5.7 on the Yosemite Decimal System. Fred Beckey and Yvon Chouinard made the first ascent of this climb in September of 1959.

Moments after the first mountain rescue was completed, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received another call for help after a climber fell into a moat in the North Fork of Garnet Canyon. Gary Miller, 55, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, was descending from the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton after a successful summit of the peak earlier in the day when he slipped on snow and slid into an icy water moat near a rock band. Miller was on a climb being guided by one of the park’s authorized concessioners. Climbing guides successfully extricated Miller from the moat before rangers arrived at the site.

Six rangers were flown to a temporary landing zone near the moat location in Garnet Canyon. Rescuers raised Miller to a site where he could be flown in a rescue litter via short-haul to Lupine Meadows by a Teton Interagency contract helicopter. A ranger attended Miller below the helicopter on the flight to the park’s rescue cache. Once at the rescue cache they were met by a team of park medical providers led by Dr. Will Smith of St. John’s Medical Center, and an Air Idaho Life Flight ship waiting to provide transport to critical care in Idaho Falls. Miller was pronounced dead at 8:35 p.m. at the rescue cache and his body turned over to the Teton Country coroner.

Earlier in the day, Teton County requested assistance from rangers for a cardiac arrest underway in Buffalo Valley. A park ambulance and six rangers responded jointly with Jackson Hole Fire/EMS personnel to the incident location. The 56-year-old man was pronounced dead after nearly an hour of resuscitation efforts.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What to do when lightning strikes while hiking

Lightning can be one of the most frightening hazards that hikers encounter during the summer months. With warmer weather comes an increased chance of running into a thunderstorm while out on the trail, especially during the afternoons. Hikers need to be watchful for storms that produce lightning, particularly in open areas where you may be the highest object in the immediate area.

According to the National Weather Service there are, on average, roughly 20 million lightning strikes that result in 273 injuries and 48 deaths in the U.S. each year. Those casualty figures may seem fairly low. Indeed, National Geographic estimates the odds of being struck by lightning at only 1 in 700,000 in any given year. However, over the course of a lifetime, your odds of being struck jump to 1 in 3000!

Hikers at the higher elevations in Glacier should be especially conscious about the dangers of lightning. According to the National Outdoor Leadership School, lightning density maps show lightning strikes occurring more often at higher elevations in the Rocky Mountains, where the air and climate is drier.

The good news is that the number of lightning related fatalities has trended downward since 1940 when deaths were measured in the hundreds. There are probably several reasons for this, including a much better understanding of lightning, which has lead to better education on safety and avoidance.

So, what can you do if you’re out hiking and a storm approaches? The first thing you need to understand is that lightning can strike more than 10 miles away from the center of a thunderstorm - well beyond the audible range of thunder. Therefore, if you hear thunder, you’re already within striking range of a storm and should seek shelter immediately.

To measure the distance between you and a lightning strike, count the number of seconds between the time you see a flash and the bang of thunder. Divide that number by five. This will give you the number of miles the lighting strike is away from you.

If you do caught by a storm, and you’re below treeline, here are a few things that you can do to improve your safety:

• Buildings with exposed openings such as backcountry camping shelters or picnic pavilions are not safe.
• Avoid caves as they can channel electricity fairly well.
• Avoid close contact with others. Spread out at least 50 feet apart in order to minimize the chance of everyone in a group being struck.
• Get away from water, and avoid any low spots that accumulate rain run-off.
• With no other options, take shelter under a group of shorter trees among larger trees. A thick forest is far better than a lone tree or a small group of trees.
• Drop all metal objects during a storm, such as internal or external frame backpacks, trekking poles (including aluminum and carbon fiber), crampons, jewelry, etc., and move 100 feet away from them.

If you’re out in the open or above treeline:

• Avoid solitary trees – they’re one of the most dangerous places to be during a storm. Also, avoid any other objects that are higher than the rest of the terrain around you.
• If you can’t immediately get below treeline, find the lowest point of open area and move there quickly.
• Adopt the lightning position as a last resort: Crouch down on the balls of your feet and keep them as close together as possible. Cover your ears, and don’t allow other body parts to touch the ground. By keeping the surface area of your body in contact with the ground to a minimum you reduce the threat of electricity traveling across the ground from affecting you. Keep in mind that this position should only be used as a last resort.

A recent study analyzing lightning victims in Florida found that most people were struck either prior to the storm (rain) reaching their location, or after the storm (rain) had ended. Most of the people that were struck were either near water or near/under trees.

If you feel hairs on your head, leg, or arms tingling and/or standing on end, it means you’re in an extremely high electrical field. If you or any member of your group experiences any of these signs, take it as an indication of immediate and severe danger. The response to any of these signs is to instantly (seconds matter) move away from long conductors (metal fencing, power lines), tall trees, or high points, and spread out and adopt the lightning position.

For more information, including first aid for victims, please click here and here.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Storms Impact Glacier National Park

Recent rain and wind storms have created high water, down trees, debris slides, and other challenging situations in Glacier National Park. Impacts are evident throughout the park, and more impacts are being discovered in the back country as crews are able to survey the areas.

Park employees are busy clearing trails of downfall trees from the recent storms. Some front country and backcountry trails may be impacted and hikers should use caution.

Back-country visitors should be aware that most creeks and streams are already running high from snowmelt and have spiked higher with recent rains. Extreme caution or perhaps an alternate route should be exercised for foot or stock crossing of creeks and streams. Some creeks and streams may be impassable at this time.

The North Fork, Apgar and Fish Creek areas sustained the most damage from a storm Tuesday night, June 18th. Numerous trees were blown down blocking access on roadways and trails. The Apgar Backcountry Office building in Apgar Village and a restroom in the Apgar Campground sustained major roof damage from falling trees, and large branches were dispersed on buildings and power lines throughout the area.

The North Fork area of the park received over an inch of rain within a 60-minute timeframe Tuesday evening. The Upper Bowman Creek Bridge has washed out. Water in the North Fork of the Flathead River and most of the creeks and streams in the area has risen from recent storm waters. Additional reports of damage in the area are expected and visitors should travel with care.

The northeast side of the park sustained impacts from a storm that moved through on Wednesday evening, June 19th. More than two inches of rain fell in the Many Glacier area prompting the Swiftcurrent Creek to rise at the bridge that provides access to the Many Glacier Hotel and nearby facilities:

Crews used sand bags to protect park utilities and monitored the situation. The Many Glacier Hotel did not sustain any damage. Park crews and Glacier Park Incorporated employees worked cooperatively to address visitor needs and monitor the situation. Many trails in the Many Glacier, Belly River and St. Mary areas sustained flooding and damage, but the extent of the impacts are not all known at this time.

Visitors are encouraged to report any damage they may find in the park by contacting park headquarters at 406-888-7800. For more information about park trail status, please click here.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Safety Concerns Prompt Temporary Closure of Inspiration Point in Yellowstone

Concerns over visitor safety have prompted officials at Yellowstone National Park to temporarily close a popular viewpoint.

Inspiration Point is one many popular spots along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from which visitors may view Lower Falls.

The last two tiers of concrete stairs leading to the viewing platform and the platform itself have deteriorated over time.

Due to concerns of visitor safety, the lower section of steps and the viewing platform are temporarily closed.

Park staff members are assessing the damage and determining how to move forward with repair or replacement of the failed stairway and platform.

It is not yet known when the area may reopen to visitors.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons Take Proactive Measures to Stem Spread of Norovirus

The National Park Service is urging visitors to northwestern Wyoming to be vigilant about hand washing while on vacation, due to greater-than-normal reports of gastrointestinal (GI) illness in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and areas outside the national parks in Montana.

On June 7, several members of a tour group arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs complaining of stomach flu and other GI symptoms. Within 48 hours, numerous employees, whose jobs place them in direct contact with visitors, reported similar symptoms. Tests conducted on some of the sick visitors and employees came back positive for norovirus, the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S.

Over the past week, additional cases of GI illness among visitors and employees have been reported at both national parks. To-date, those reports include over 100 suspected cases of norovirus among employees in Yellowstone and about 50 suspected cases among employees in Grand Teton. Fifty visitors also went to medical clinics within Yellowstone with symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.

While only a small percentage of people have been affected, the National Park Service and all the businesses serving park visitors have instituted a variety of precautions intended to limit the spread of the virus. These include increased cleaning and disinfection of all public areas including stores, gift shops, restaurants, and lodging facilities, and isolation of potentially infected employees until they have been symptom-free for at least 72 hours.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 21-million people in the United States contract norovirus every year. Norovirus is usually not serious. Most people get better in 1 to 2 days. Symptoms include stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. This very contagious virus can be contracted by direct contact with an infected individual, by touching surfaces contaminated with norovirus, or by consuming contaminated food or drink.

Frequent hand washing with soap is the best way for individuals to limit their chance of contracting this virus. Wash hands carefully, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food. Alcohol- based sanitizers are not a substitute for soap and water, but serve as a temporary measure if soap and water are not available.

For more information on the illness, please click here.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Thursday, June 20, 2013

West-Side Access to Logan Pass Anticipated Tomorrow Afternoon

All 50 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are anticipated to be open to vehicle travel by tomorrow afternoon, June 21, weather dependent. Weather forecasts call for rain showers, wind gusts up to 40 mph, and possible snow. As of Thursday afternoon, snow was falling at the higher elevations and approximately one inch of slush was on the road. The temperature at Oberlin Bend, just west of Logan Pass, was 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Crews are working to remove mud and rock debris from the road and prepare for public access. Visitors are encouraged to drive with care.

The Logan Pass Visitor Center is expected to open Saturday, June 22, but hours of operation may be limited. Restroom facilities are available at Logan Pass and potable water will be available Friday. Visitors are reminded that conditions are still winter-like at Logan Pass and inclement weather is expected over the weekend. Exercise caution when walking on snow and be alert of possible collapsible snow and falling snow or rock debris.

Rehabilitation efforts continue on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this summer. Construction activity on the west-side of the park will occur between Logan Creek and Avalanche Creek through August. On the east-side, construction will occur between Rising Sun and Siyeh Bend beginning July 8 with activity occurring 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday morning. Sun Point will be closed to the public beginning June 30 due to construction. Visitors should expect 40-minute maximum construction delays for one-way travel across the entire road.

Bicycle restrictions are in effect on the Going-to-the-Sun Road through Labor Day. Bicycle travel between Apgar and Sprague Creek Campground and eastbound travel from Logan Creek to Logan Pass is not allowed on the road from 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The visitor shuttle system traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road will operate July 1 through Labor Day. Transit centers are located near Apgar on the west-side of the park and the St. Mary Visitor Center on the east-side. For more information about the shuttle system please click here. Additional information on park roads, weather conditions, and visitor services can be found on Glacier National Park's website, or by calling park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

Hiking Glacier National Park

The Old Copper Mine at Cracker Lake

If you’ve ever had the chance to hike to Cracker Lake, it’s likely you’re aware of the remnants of the old mine located near the far end of the lake.

The mine was established after copper ore was discovered near the shores of the lake in 1898. Although the Blackfeet Indians owned all of the lands east of the Continental Divide, they sold their claim on the mountainous area to the United States in 1896 for $1.5 million. This parcel, which became known as the “Ceded Strip,” would eventually become part of Glacier National Park. By an Act of Congress the transaction officially took place on April 15, 1898. On that same day the area was declared open, and a "rush" to stake mining claims took place. At the appointed hour a volley of shots rang out and the rush began with a wild stampede of miners on horses, in wagons, and even on foot. Within a matter of hours hundreds of claims were staked in the Swiftcurrent Valley and in adjacent areas such as Rose Creek, Boulder Creek and Cracker Lake.

The Cracker Lake Mine was established on the southern end of the lake at the foot of Mt. Siyeh. According to legend the mine received its name when two prospectors, L. C. Emmonds and Hank Norris, after staking their claim, had a lunch of cheese and crackers on the site. Later in that same year the claim was sold to the Michigan and Montana Copper Mining & Smelting Company.

At the site, miners dug a thirteen hundred foot tunnel, built a sawmill, and erected a steam driven concentrator to process the ore.

According to Through The Years In Glacier National Park, Charles Nielson used a large freight wagon and twelve mules to transport the 16,000 pound concentrator on a 29-day trip from Fort Browning to the mine. Often the load was hauled with block and tackle up the bed of Canyon Creek to its headwaters at Cracker Lake. Although hauled in and installed, the concentrator never operated. A mining expert from Helena determined that the site wouldn’t be profitable and discouraged further development (and you thought the boys on Gold Rush were the only ones that didn’t have a plan!).

The boom town of Altyn

One of the financial backers of the Cracker Lake Mine was Dave Greenwood Altyn. A town bearing his name was built near Cracker Flats, and was active from 1898 to 1902. During its peak it had an estimated population of 600-800 people, and boasted a store, post office, hotel, newspaper, several saloons, and many of the other establishments typically found in a boomtown. After the Cracker Mine went bust, so did the town. The former townsite was eventually buried under water after the Lake Sherburne reservoir filled the valley in 1921.

After the short boom most of the mining claims were abandoned. Unfortunately for the miners who staked their fortunes in this area, little or no minerals were found. With the exception of a few diehards, most of the claims were abandoned by 1903.

The land surrounding the Cracker Lake Mine changed hands several times throughout the following years. It was finally picked up on a tax deed from Glacier County on September 22, 1953 by the Glacier Natural History Association. In October of that same year the land was turned over to the Federal Government for $123.96, the cost of acquiring it and clearing title.

Today hikers can still find many of the remnants from the old mine. In addition to mine tailings, you can still see several abandoned machinery parts, including the boiler. The tunnel entrance is also nearby, though entry into the mine shaft is prohibited by the park. For more information on the hike to Cracker Lake, please click here.

Glacier National Park: The First 100 Years details the astonishing changes the park has undergone since its designation in 1910, including the Great Northern Railway's Swiss-style chalets & lodges. It features more than 200 historical photographs, as well as some of the finest artwork of the region and its people, including Charlie Russell.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Injured Climber Rescued After Fall near Black Rock Chimney on Grand Teton

At 11 a.m. on Monday, June 17th, Grand Teton National Park rangers responded to a report of a 57-year-old male with an injury who was climbing near the Black Rock Chimney on the Grand Teton. Jim Williams of Jackson, Wyoming was leading a client on a guided trip of the Grand Teton for an authorized park concessionaire when the snow that he was standing on collapsed, causing him to take a short fall. During that brief fall, Williams caught a crampon on the ice and sustained an injury.

Williams was able to get himself and his client through technical terrain from the Black Rock Chimney to just above the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton. This effort involved descending across rock, ice and snow and required multiple rappels. Rangers commend Williams for self-rescuing with his client to the extent that he did.

Park rangers met Williams and his client at 3:15 p.m. just above the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton. After assessing several factors relevant to a ground-based evacuation via rescue litter - including terrain conditions, distance to the trailhead, and the potential for injury to rescuers - a decision was made to fly Williams to the valley floor via helicopter. The aerial evacuation meant that fewer rescuers spent less time in precarious conditions.

Williams arrived at the Lupine Meadows rescue cache on the valley floor at 4:14 p.m. To conduct the aerial evacuation, rangers requested a ship from Yellowstone National Park because neither of the two Teton Interagency contract helicopters was available for the rescue operation. One ship is on fire assignment in Utah, and the other is not yet in contract service to Teton Interagency Fire.

After the Yellowstone ship landed at Lupine Meadows, Williams transported himself to medical care in Jackson, Wyoming.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Planning Begins

Public scoping has begun for a multi-year planning effort to address transportation, visitor use and resource management within the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor in Glacier National Park. Several public meetings are scheduled in and around the park this summer to solicit ideas, concerns, and impressions regarding future management of the road corridor.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road spans 50 miles through the heart of the park and the corridor area includes all trails and pullouts that can be accessed from the road. This area experiences a high concentration of visitor use, particularly from the end of June to mid-August. The corridor also contains tremendous biological diversity and valued cultural resources.

Popular trails along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, such as Avalanche Lake Trail, have seen an increase in use by as much as 250% in the last 25 years. These increases are resulting in significant congestion and resource impacts on vegetation and wildlife. Additionally, a recent financial analysis indicates the park's shuttle system, implemented in 2007 to reduce construction delays during road rehabilitation, is not financially sustainable considering the future need to replace buses.

Using input from the public and ongoing wildlife and social science research, park managers seek to develop a range of management alternatives during the planning effort. The plan will utilize adaptive management strategies to provide outstanding recreation and education opportunities for visitors while ensuring protection of the park's significant natural and cultural resources.

Public open houses to discuss planning efforts with surrounding communities and visitors will be held from June through August in various locations. The following public open houses will be from 4-7 pm:

Monday, June 24
Kalispell Flathead National Forest Supervisor's Office
650 Wolfpack Way

Tuesday, June 25 
Missoula Ruby's Inn and Convention Center
4825 N. Reserve Street

Wednesday, June 26
Great Falls Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
4201 Giant Springs Road

Thursday, June 27
Waterton, Alberta Canada Bayshore Inn Resort and Spa
111 Waterton Avenue

Conversations with visitors will also be hosted throughout the park on July 19th and August 9th. For additional information about the open houses and planning efforts, visit the park's scoping newsletter available here, or contact the park at 406-888-7800.

This is the first phase of the planning effort and additional public comments will be solicited as alternatives are developed. A record of decision for the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement is anticipated by 2016. Road rehabilitation is projected to be finished by 2017.

Public comments are encouraged and may be submitted online or by mail to:

Glacier National Park
Attn: GTSR Corridor Plan
P.O. Box 128
West Glacier, MT, 59936

Public scoping comments are due by September 6, 2013.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Presentation June 25

The public is invited to a free presentation about Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road Rehabilitation Project on Tuesday, June 25th, 5:30-7 p.m. at the St. Mary Visitor Center on the east side of Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park Landscape Architect Jack Gordon and Federal Highway Administration Resident Engineer Mike Baron will share images and information about the extensive rehabilitation project on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, including construction activity for this summer and fall.

The focus of this year's rehabilitation work will be on the east side of Logan Pass, from Siyeh Bend to Rising Sun, as well as some work on the west side between Avalanche Creek and Logan Creek.

The major rehabilitation project on the road is anticipated to be completed in 2017. As a national historic landmark, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is managed to retain its historic character and to allow opportunities for visitors to experience the park's magnificent scenery and unique character.

For more information about the program, please contact the park at 406-888-7800.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Monday, June 17, 2013

Slew of Incidents Keep Grand Teton Rangers Busy This Weekend

An active weekend in Grand Teton National Park kept rangers and emergency responders exceptionally busy. Park staff handled two search and rescue missions, eight medical calls, including one fatality, and multiple reports of property damage, plus one serious personal injury, in the aftermath of a significant wind event in the Colter Bay area.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday night, Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of two overdue hikers in the Pilgrim Creek area. Two park rangers canvased the area and were not able to locate any associated vehicles or the overdue hikers. The rangers determined that the hikers were likely on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and not in Grand Teton National Park, so search efforts were transitioned to Teton County Search and Rescue in coordination with Forest Service personnel. The missing hikers were located in good condition the next morning by Teton County searchers.

Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of another overdue party just after 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning. A 38-year-old visitor from Israel was reported missing by his friends when he did not return from a solo day hike. The hiker planned to spend the day in Cascade Canyon and return to his group about 7 p.m. That night, park rangers searched the Jenny and String Lake areas, but did not locate the missing man. A park ranger on a routine backcountry patrol in Cascade Canyon had not received word of any distressed hiker, so rangers decided to begin a ground-based search at first light on Sunday morning. The individual was located uninjured near String Lake around 11 a.m. Sunday.

The overdue Cascade Canyon hiker had met someone on the trail who had crossed Paintbrush Divide, and he decided to give that route a try in sneakers. When the hiker reached the divide, he realized he was not appropriately equipped to cross the steep snow-covered and exposed divide, so he retreated down Leigh Canyon. When it became dark, the hiker decided to stay put for the evening. Park rescuers commend the hiker for making a decision to not try and cross the divide when he realized it may be more challenging than what he was equipped to handle without an ice axe or good mountaineering boots. Rescuers also credit the hiker with making a wise decision to "hunker down" and stay put after dark.

Sunday afternoon at 2:15 p.m., a 74 year-old male visitor from Troy, Michigan had a heart attack while on a ranger-led hike at Swan Lake near Colter Bay. The park ranger naturalist leading the hike immediately realized what was happening and initiated CPR while also alerting emergency responders of the situation. Six park rangers and one Jackson Hole Fire/EMS employee responded to the scene, which was just over one mile from the Hermitage Point trailhead. After nearly one hour of CPR, the individual could not be revived and was pronounced dead. The gentleman's body was turned over to the Teton County Coroner.

Just after emergency personnel returned back to Colter Bay following the cardiac arrest, a significant wind event occurred knocking down or breaking over 100 live trees. The most significant damage occurred in the Colter Bay Campground and RV Park. Three or four trees struck vehicles, and a tree branch struck a 30-year-old German woman, causing life-threatening injuries. The branch was estimated to be 40 feet long with a diameter of over 10 inches. The injured female was transported by park ambulance to St. John's Medical Center in Jackson before being flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

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The Voice of Glacier

The Voice of Glacier is Park Ranger Doug Follett. The 86-year-old has been working as a seasonal interpretive ranger in Glacier National Park for more than 50 years now, and is one of the longest serving employees in the National Park Service.

In this short video, by National Parks Magazine, Ranger Doug reminisces about his childhood in the park, and reflects on the hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors he's guided through Glacier:

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Friday, June 14, 2013

East-Side Access to Logan Pass Available Tomorrow

Access to Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park will be available to vehicle traffic from the east-side of the park the morning of Saturday, June 15th, weather dependent. Vehicles on the west-side of the park can travel as far as Avalanche Creek. All 50 miles of the road are anticipated to be open to vehicle travel by Friday, June 21st at the earliest.

Restrooms at Logan Pass will be open, but potable water will not be available until next week. The Logan Pass Visitor Center remains closed at this time.

Visitors will discover a snow-covered landscape at Logan Pass (as seen in the NPS photo below). Winter weather may be encountered with cold temperatures and wind, freezing temperatures at night, as well as icy conditions. Sturdy boots, warm clothing, and adequate fluids are necessary when spending time outside. Unpredictable and rapidly changing weather may cause falling rock and snow debris, so please use caution when traveling the road.

The trails are covered in snow and may be difficult to follow. Visitors should exercise caution when walking on snow. Be alert for snow that may not support your body weight due to melt holes and running water beneath the snow. Snow bridges over streams and wet rocks along streams can be hazardous. Avoid crossing steep, snow-covered slopes where a fall could be disastrous. A reliable map and compass are recommended when traveling on snow-covered trails. The Highline Trail from Logan Pass is closed due to snow conditions.

There are no hiker/biker restrictions on the Going-to-the-Sun Road this weekend. Beginning Monday, June 17, hikers and bikers cannot travel between Avalanche Creek and Logan Pass due to road construction and park road crew work. For current information on hiker/biker access on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, please visit our road status webpage.

Favorable weather conditions and monetary support from the Glacier National Park Conservancy contributed to the timely accessibility of Logan Pass this year. Funds from the Conservancy were used to facilitate park employee overtime hours needed to open the road.

Additional information on park roads, weather conditions, and visitor services can be found on Glacier National Park's website, or by calling park headquarters at 406-888-7800.

Hiking Glacier National Park

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jeff Mow Named Superintendent Of Glacier National Park

Jeff Mow, a 25-year veteran of the National Park Service, has been named superintendent of Glacier National Park. Mow, who is now superintendent of Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, will begin his assignment at Glacier on August 25th.

“Jeff’s wide experience in many roles across the National Park Service make him an excellent fit for Glacier, one of our most beloved national parks and a focus of great pride and interest among Montanans,” said John Wessels, Intermountain Regional Director. “He has proven himself a very effective communicator and manager, able to build consensus both inside parks and with our partner organizations and park gateway communities. I know he will work well with Glacier’s local, national and international partners, stakeholders and constituents at this very special place in the northern Rockies’ ‘Crown of the Continent.’”

Mow, who has led NPS management and stewardship at Kenai Fjords since November 2004, is eager to return to Glacier and Montana.

“My first visit to the park was in 1988 as a wild land firefighter on the Red Bench Fire near Polebridge,” he recalls. “Twenty-five years later, it is such an honor and privilege to return as superintendent and a newest member of Glacier’s outstanding management team. I can’t wait to join with the park staff and partners as we meet numerous challenges and opportunities facing the park in the next few years.”

Mow, 54, is a native of Los Angeles. He is a 1981 graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he majored in environmental education. He attended graduate school at the University of Michigan, focusing on geology. During college and graduate school, he spent four summers in southwestern Montana as a geologic field assistant with the U.S. Geological Survey. After teaching geology at a community college and working for four years as an instructor at the Yosemite Institute, Mow moved north to Alaska to begin his NPS career.

His first NPS post was as a seasonal park ranger at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Gustavus, Alaska. From there, he moved to Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway for his first permanent NPS job as a park ranger. Next came Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Bettles, where he served as a district ranger, chief of operations, and subsistence manager.

In 2001, Mow was named an NPS Bevinetto Congressional Fellow, moving to Washington, DC, to work with the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The fellowship, a key developmental program in the Park Service, is named for the late Tony Bevinetto, a former NPS employee who served on that committee’s staff in the 1970s and ’80s.

In 2002 Mow returned to park management as superintendent of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. Since becoming superintendent at Kenai Fjords, Mow’s additional duties have included the role of Department of Interior incident commander in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, policy analysis with the NPS Climate Change Response Program (since 2010), and acting superintendent of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska last year.

As superintendent of Glacier, Mow will oversee the management of more than 1 million acres of parkland, a staff of about 155, and an annual operating budget of more than $12.5 million.

Mow, a member of Rotary International for about nine years, has served as president of his local Rotary Club in Seward, Alaska. He and his family are passionate about winter sports, including cross-country and downhill skiing and lake/pond ice skating. In the “off-season,” they enjoy biking, hiking, camping, and paddling. Most recently, the Mows have become fans of high school athletics.

Hiking Glacier National Park

The Top 10 Hikes in Glacier National Park

Many people who are unfamiliar, or are making their very first visit to Glacier National Park, want to know what the best day hikes are in the park. Below are my personal top ten hikes in Glacier. Hopefully this will be useful as a starting point as you try to decide where you want to hike during your visit this summer.

Highline Loop – This world famous hike should be on the bucket list of any self respecting hiker. The incredible views, the wildlife and the wildflowers, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember the rest of your life.

Piegan Pass – Just a notch below the Highline Trail on the“awesome meter”, but far less crowded.

Ptarmigan Tunnel – If you’re anywhere near Many Glacier, the hike to Ptarmigan Tunnel shouldn’t be passed up. The highlight of the hike is passing through a 240-foot tunnel that cuts a hole through the Ptarmigan Wall. It was built for horses and early park tours by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930's. After hiking all day in the Many Glacier Valley, walking to the other side of the tunnel is like walking into another world.

Grinnell Glacier - Another extremely popular hike in the Many Glacier area. This one visits the famous 300-acre glacier that sits just below the Continental Divide.

Preston Park - One of my favorite areas in Glacier is Preston Park. It’s a large, incredibly beautiful alpine meadow, located in the valley between Mt. Siyeh and Matahpi Peak (near Logan Pass).

Iceberg Lake - One of the most popular hikes in Glacier. And for good reason. This is a great opportunity to see icebergs floating in a gorgeous alpine lake. You’ll also have commanding views of the Ptarmigan Wall, an arête, or thin ridge of rock separating two valleys that have been carved by glaciers.

Cracker Lake - Cracker Lake in the Many Glacier area has to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The lake has the most magnificent turquoise color you’ll ever see. If you could ignore the magnificent scenery of the surrounding mountains, it would still be well worth the hike just to see the amazing color of the lake. If it weren’t for the walk through a long section of forest, I would’ve ranked this one a little higher.

Pitamakan Pass - Dawson Pass usually gets all the attention in Two Medicine. However, at least for me, I think the views from Pitamakan Pass are much more dramatic. From the knife-edge pass you can see five lakes on either side of you.

Scenic Point - The rock outcropping that sits above alpine tundra meadows offers stunning panoramic views of the Two Medicine Valley. On a clear day you can even see the Sweet Grass Hills rising above the Great Plains 90 miles away!

Dawson Pass - One of the most popular backcountry hikes in the Two Medicine area is the one up to Dawson Pass. The hike can be shortened to just 9.4 miles by taking the shuttle boat across Two Medicine Lake.

So did I miss anything? Are there any other hikes that you think I should've included on this list?

Hiking Glacier National Park

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do Air Horns make good bear deterrents?

** For the most up-to-date information on this topic, please click here.

A couple of years ago I came across an article suggesting that air horns might make for a good bear deterrent. To me this kind of made sense. My thoughts were that the high-decibel noise coming from an air horn might be more effective than bear spray because:

1) You don't have to worry about the direction of the wind (or rain)

2) You don't have to wait for the bear to get close enough before sounding the horn

3) Bears have much better hearing than humans, thus the noise would bother them even more than humans

4) When a problem bear is captured and then released, biologists/rangers always use lots of noise to scare the bear so that it stays away from humans in the future

Never hearing anyone else make a similar suggestion, I just assumed that it probably wasn’t a good idea. However, I proceeded to do a little research and found one person who claims to have successfully used an air horn to scare a bear away. This was from a personal website, so I wasn’t about to put my life on the line based on one website claim.

Thinking about this again recently, I decided to revisit the subject to see if there was anything new on to report on. In particular, were there any new studies providing hard evidence as to whether air horns actually work or not?

It seems that the idea of using air horns as a bear deterrent has actually gained some traction since I last visited this topic. However, I couldn’t find anything definitive. In other words, I couldn’t find any studies that have actually been conducted on black bears or grizzly bears to determine the effectiveness of air horns as a deterrent.

However, here’s what I did find:

In a fairly recent “Ask A Bear” column, Backpacker Magazine cited a test conducted on polar bears in the 70s that found that ultrasonic frequencies fine-tuned and blasted over large speakers repelled bears roughly 69% of the time.

This was the only study that I could find that was even remotely related to my question, but it really doesn’t answer it. One, the test was conducted on polar bears, and two, air horns weren’t used in the test. I should point out, though, that the column also states that bear guru Stephen Herrero thinks that an ultrasonic bear repellent is worthy of further study and testing.

The Get Bear Smart Society, a Canadian organization that works to educate the general public as well as government agencies across North America, believes that air horns can be effective when used in conjunction with human dominance techniques to move a bear off (as mentioned in their A guide to non-lethal management techniques).

On their website, they state:

Noise deterrents work by making a loud, unpleasant sound that causes the bear to be uneasy and move away. Noise deterrents are advantageous if you are a long distance away from the bear. Furthermore, they cause neither harm nor injury to the bear when correctly used.

In some cases, noise deterrents do not work either because the bear has habituated to human noise or because it has no natural fear of the noise. For example, a habituated bear is very unlikely to respond to a vehicle siren if officers remain in the vehicle. Unlike human dominance techniques which speak the language of the bear, a bear may have to be taught that noise deterrents are followed by an unpleasant or negative situation. However, once a bear makes the association, an officer may only have to cock his shotgun to make the bear leave

I found several governmental websites in the United States and Canada that offered similar advice. For example, the Kenai Fjords National Park website states that “It is a good idea to carry a non-lethal deterrent such as an air horn or pepper spray in case of a surprise encounter…”

As a result of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published Deterrence Guidelines in the Federal Register, which states that:

These guidelines…are appropriate for safely and nonlethally deterring polar bears from damaging private and public property and endangering the public. The use of commercially available air horns and other similar devices designed to deter wild animals…may be effective in deterring bears while causing no lasting or permanent harm to individual animals.

The Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science at the University of Alberta has this advice on their Bear Safety Information page:

Make lots of noise, especially when traveling in dense vegetation. Sing, shout, or talk loudly. You can carry portable air horns, cans of rocks. (Please note that bear bells are not effective – they do not make enough noise to warn a bear that you are approaching. You need to be loud so the bear can hear you coming!) Remember that the noise you make can be masked by loud natural sounds such as the wind or water. Therefore it is possible that the noise you make can go unnoticed by a bear whose attention is focused on feeding. You must make every attempt not to surprise a bear. In areas of loud natural noise, be louder!

However, they do warn that air horns can sometimes provoke a bear into attacking.

The Alberta Sustainable Resource Development website makes these points about deterring a bear:

• Noisemakers are best used to deter a bear that is at a distance – one that sees you and continues to approach or one that’s heading to your camp or settlement.

• Before using noisemakers, be sure to assess the situation. Make sure the surroundings are clear of people and the bear has an obvious way out. A bear that’s been startled by a noisemaker may not be able to avoid groups of people as it flees the area.

• Remember, the noisemaker may not immediately deter the bear, especially if the bear has had previously experience with noise deterrents. Also, noisemakers may not prevent the bear from returning to the area.

• Bear spray is best used when you need to deter a bear at close range.
The bottom line, I guess, is that there’s no 100% safe and reliable way to deter a bear. Each bear has a different personality, and each encounter is essentially a unique situation. In addition to air horns and pepper spray, high pitched whistles are also known to be of help in some situations.

Your best bet is to make sure you make a lot noise while hiking in bear country, and to practice bear awareness and avoidance techniques.

If anyone has access, or knows of any definitive studies that have been conducted with air horns, please let us know and/or provide a link in the comments section.

Hiking in

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hiking the "Grand Loop" in Glacier National Park

Thanks to its topography, excellent trail system, and a favorable location of accommodations, hikers have the opportunity to experience an epic three-day loop in Glacier National Park that includes the absolute best scenery the park has to offer. And, it doesn’t require lugging any backpacking equipment around, or camping under the stars. This “grand loop” starts from Logan Pass, visits Granite Park Chalet, drops down into the Many Glacier Valley, climbs over Piegan Pass, and then heads back down to Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Every step along this trek offers awe-inspiring beauty!

The best way to do this hike is to park your car at Rising Sun on the east side, or at Apgar on the west, and take the free shuttle up to Logan Pass. From there you’ll hike 7.6 miles along the Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet. Due to its exceptionally beautiful views, the Highline Trail is likely the most popular backcountry trail in the park, and should be on the bucket list of any self-respecting hiker. With an elevation gain of only 975 feet, the hike to the chalet is also relatively easy.

If you feel this first leg of the loop is too easy, and you still have a little gas left in the tank, I highly recommend taking the 0.6-mile Garden Wall Trail up to the top of the Continental Divide. From this perch, 900 feet above the Highline Trail, you’ll have commanding views of Grinnell Glacier on the other side of the divide.

That night you’ll stay at the historic Granite Park Chalet. The Chalet has 12 guest rooms, each with 2 to 6 bunks. Although very basic, and virtually no amenities, it’s still much better than camping if you’re not a fan of sleeping in tents. Be forewarned though, you will need to make a reservation several months in advance.

The next day you’ll make the short climb over Swiftcurrent Pass before making the 2300-foot descent down to Many Glacier. From the top of the pass, down to the head of Bullhead Lake, the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail drops nearly 2000 feet in just three miles. Once in the Swiftcurrent Valley the trail flattens out substantially. As you proceed down the valley you’ll pass Redrock Falls, Redrock Lake, Fishercap Lake, as well as several alpine meadows. In all, this leg of the trek covers 7.5 miles.

Before leaving Swiftcurrent Pass, however, you do have the option of visiting the Swiftcurrent Fire Lookout. The lookout is perched atop Swiftcurrent Mountain, which requires a climb of more than 900 feet in roughly 1.4 miles. As you might expect, the panoramic views from this outpost are quite spectacular.

Once in Many Glacier you’ll have several options for overnight accommodations, including staying at the historic Many Glacier Hotel.

Your third day of hiking will be the longest and the toughest. Hikers will climb roughly 2700 feet as they make their way up to Piegan Pass, before dropping back down to Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The climb out of the Many Glacier Valley is 8.4 miles by itself, and then from Piegan Pass to Siyeh Bend is another 4.4 miles. Although Piegan Pass isn’t nearly as popular as the Highline Trail or Swiftcurrent Pass, it’s only because it’s overlooked by most people. If you still haven’t had enough of the mind-blowing scenery, I highly recommend taking the short and easy side trip out to Preston Park, located roughly 2.4 miles from your end point. I would have to rank this as one of the beautiful alpine meadows I’ve ever seen.

Upon returning to the Going-to-the-Sun Road simply take the shuttle back to your car.

The exceptionally beautiful views, the excellent opportunities for spotting wildlife, and the proliferation of wildflowers along most of the route, all combine to make this a hike you'll remember for the rest of your life.

The National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for Many Glacier includes the entire route described in this posting. The sectional maps series for Glacier National Park have a scale of 1:50,000, and provide much greater detail such as backcountry campsites, footbridges, stream crossings, water and snow hazard locations, points-of-interest, as well as shuttle stops. All Trails Illustrated Maps are waterproof and tear-resistant.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Whitefish Man Rescued from Upper McDonald Creek

On Thursday evening Glacier National Park Rangers rescued a stranded visitor from Upper McDonald Creek.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6th, park dispatch received a report that a rafter had fallen in the water in Upper McDonald Creek near Red Rock Point, and was stranded on a rock in the middle of the creek. Park rangers responded to the scene, and at approximately 6:15 p.m. the 23-year old male from Whitefish, Montana was rescued.

The Flathead County Swift Water Rescue Team also responded to the incident and successfully retrieved the man's belongings that were located downstream.

The visitor was cited for boating in a closed area. Upper McDonald Creek, from the motor vehicle bridge across McDonald Creek inlet at the head of Lake McDonald upstream to the Mineral Creek confluence, is closed to all boating and floating for the protection of nesting harlequin ducks.

Park visitors are reminded to use caution around water. Spring conditions in the park include increased amounts and high levels, fast moving, and frigid cold waters in lakes, streams and creeks. Drowning is the leading cause of death in the park. For information about boating, kayaking or canoeing in the park, please contact the park at 406-888-7800 or click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Celebrate the Glacier Park Lodge Centennial on June 22nd

The Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier will be celebrating its 100th year anniversary on Saturday, June 22, 2013.

To help celebrate, there will be a re-dedication ceremony on the front lawn from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, which will include an all-American Bar-B-Q, birthday cake and live music.

The lodge will also offer a Centennial Celebration Dinner, which will feature the same items that were served at the original opening celebration for the Glacier Park Lodge on June 22, 1913. In addition to great food, live music will also be on tap.

Constructed by the Great Northern Railway almost a century ago, the lodge was built around a three-story lobby that measures 200 feet by 100 feet, and is lined with Douglas-fir columns, 40 feet tall, and between 36 and 42 inches in diameter. Each column was brought in by rail from the Pacific Northwest because trees in Montana rarely grow so large. A total of 60 such trees were used, with Douglas-fir in the lobby and cedars for the exterior. The lodge was loosely styled as a Swiss chalet, similar to other lodges and backcountry chalets built by the Great Northern Railway between 1913 and 1917.

Here are a couple of photos from around the lodge:

For more information on the centennial event, please click here. To make reservations for overnight lodging in the area, please visit our accommodations page for East Glacier.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Participation in Outdoor Recreation Activities Reaches Highest Level in Six Years

Participation in outdoor recreation reached a six-year high in 2012 with nearly 50% of Americans ages six and older taking part in at least one of the 43 outdoor activities included in the latest Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. This percentage equates to 141.9 million American outdoor participants, reflecting an increase of nearly a million people compared to 2011. In addition, outdoor participants were more active in 2012 than in past years, taking an average of 87.4 outdoor outings per participant for a total 12.4 billion outings. Overall, more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2012 than in any year since The Outdoor Foundation began measuring participation six years ago, perhaps signaling a move toward healthier, more active lifestyles.

These findings are part of The Outdoor Foundation's 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, the leading report tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth, young adults, diversity and the future of the outdoors.

Participation rates by age remained consistent in most categories from 2011 to 2012 — a testament to the resilience of outdoor participation in uncertain economic times. Participation rates among younger generations remained steady yet are still significantly lower than they were in 2006. Young participants are also less diverse than the nation’s population as a whole. In 2012, 71 percent of youth and young adult participants were non-Hispanic Caucasian – which is not reflective of the nations increasingly diverse population.

When averaging the year-to-year changes in participation for specific outdoor activities over the past three years, multisport activities, such as triathlons and adventure racing, have experienced the largest average annual increases in participation. Activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, camping, RV camping, and rafting have all experienced the largest average annual decreases.

Here are a few stats of interest:

* After showing a sharp decline in 2011 versus the prior year, backpacking made a strong return in 2012. The report shows a 23.6% increase in the number of people participating in the outdoor pursuit. The 2012 numbers were also the highest level of participation in the 7-year history of the study.

* Interestingly, however, camping (within a 1/4 mile of a vehicle or home) declined 9% when compared to 2011.

* Participation in hiking remained relatively flat for 2012. 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 15.7%. Compared to 2010, participation in hiking has increased by 6.3%.

In 2012, the top 5 most popular outdoor activities for adults (ages 25+), based on participation rates were:

1. Fishing - 15.7% of adults
2. Running, Jogging and Trail Running - 14.9% of adults
3. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) - 12.0% of adults
4. Hiking - 11.7% of adults
5. Camping (Car, Backyard and RV) - 11.5% of adults

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

1. Running, Jogging and Trail Running - 87.2 average outings per runner
2. Bicycling (Road, Mountain and BMX) - 58.4 average outings per cyclist
3. Birdwatching - 40.7 average outings per birdwatcher
4. Backpacking - 33.4 average outings per backpacker
5. Wildlife Viewing - 29.9 average outings per viewer

The report is based on an online survey of more than 42,000 Americans ages six and older and covers over 40 different activities, making it the largest survey of its kind. To download a complete copy of the 2013 Outdoor Recreation Topline Participation Report, visit The Outdoor Foundation website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Glacier Road Crews Currently Working on the Big Drift at Logan Pass

Glacier National Park road crews working on plowing snow off the Going-to-the-Sun Road have finally reached Logan Pass earlier this week. They're currently working on the Big Drift, which is located just east of Logan Pass, and is usually more than 30 feet deep.

Again, this year, the park is posting some incredible photos of the road as they dig out of the snow:

In addition to snow plowing, crews are also re-installing more than 400 guard rails that are removed each fall in order to prevent them from being damaged by avalanches and harsh winter elements:

You may want to note that the latest update on park website states there will be no hiker/biker restrictions on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, beginning this weekend, for those visiting from the west side. Here's some additional information:
On Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9, there are no hiker/biker restrictions on the Going to the Sun Road and hikers/bikers can (go) as far as they want. On Saturday, the Logan Pass Parking Lot will be closed due to crews working in the parking lot from 7am-1pm.

For hikers and bikers coming up from the east side, here's the latest from the park website:
Hiker/bikers can travel to Siyeh Bend while the road crew is working, Tuesday through Friday, there will be no hiker/biker restrictions this weekend (6/8 and 6/9). On Monday, June 10, the road crew will be working and hiker/bikers can travel 2 miles beyond the vehicle closure to Siyeh Bend.

Motorists should note that the earliest the entire 50-mile road can be opened to vehicle traffic is June 21st.

You can view many other photos of road crew progress and winter scenery on Glacier's Flickr page.

Hiking in Glacier National Park