Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Flathead National Forest Surveys Through September 30th, 2015

You may see more Forest Service and contract employees working in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service roads on the Flathead National Forest. They will be wearing bright orange vests and will be near a sign that says “Traffic Survey Ahead”. These folks may be out in all kinds of adverse weather conditions. These well trained interviewers want to know about your visit to the national forest. All information you give is confidential and the survey is voluntary.

This on-going national forest survey has already been conducted once on every National Forest in the country. They are now returning five years later to update the information previously gathered as well as to look at recreation trends over time. The information is useful for forest planning and even local community tourism planning. It provides the National Forest managers with an estimate of how many people actually recreate on federal lands and what activities they engage in while there. Other important information that forest and tourism planners need includes how satisfied people were with their visit, as well as the economic impact of your recreation visit on the local economy.

This recreation visitor program gathers basic visitor information. All responses are totally confidential, in fact a person’s name is never written anywhere on the survey. The basic interview lasts about 8 minutes. Every other visitor is asked a few additional questions which may take an additional 5 minutes. The questions visitors are asked include: where they recreated on the Forest, how many people they traveled with, how long they were on the Forest, what other recreation sites they visited while on the Forest, and how satisfied they were with the facilities and services provided. About a third of the visitors will be asked to complete a confidential survey on recreation spending during their trip.

Information collected in this national study will be used in local Forest planning, at the state planning level, and even by Congress. The more they know about the visitors, especially their satisfaction and desires, the better managers can provide for their needs. The survey takes place from October 1st, 2014 through September 30th, 2015.

Although the survey is entirely voluntary, the USFS greatly appreciates if visitors would pull up and answer a few questions. It’s important for the surveyors to talk with local people using the forest as well as out-of-area visitors so all types of visitors are represented in the study. Even if you answered the survey questions once already, we would like to talk to you about each of your national forest visits, so if you see us out there again, please stop for another interview. If you have any questions about this program you can visit the USFS website.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Glacier Youth Conservation Corps Introduces Youth to Diverse Park Programs

The Glacier Youth Corps Partnership, a volunteer partnership program supported by the Glacier National Park Conservancy, Montana Conservation Corps, National Park Foundation, and Glacier National Park, provides diverse work and educational opportunities for youth ages 15-24 in Glacier National Park while supporting the completion of important park projects.

The program began last summer, exposing current Montana Conservation Corps crew members to a wide range of career paths at Glacier National Park through immersive projects across several park divisions. Projects include trail maintenance, citizen science data collection, native plant restoration, historic structure maintenance, noxious weed control, and backcountry shelter repair. Youth involved with this program have the opportunity to learn new skills and work alongside staff from the park’s fire management office, maintenance crews, and the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center.

Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, “Glacier National Park contains a diverse body of skilled employees, and this program provides a unique opportunity to work within a variety of park divisions. The participants gain varied skill sets, and the park is able to complete significant projects. It is a mutually beneficial program.”

One of the participants with the age 18-24 group said, "People think we're afraid to work, that we are the lost generation, the failure to launch generation, but we work hard every day. This is our public service that gives us a sense of purpose, it makes a difference to Glacier National Park, and for us. It is about leadership and watching your team form to do things we did not think possible when we first came in."

The Glacier Youth Corps Partnership is currently a 2-year pilot program. Due to the generosity of many donors, the Glacier National Park Conservancy was able to contribute $55,000 to fund the first year of the program. The National Park Foundation awarded the program a matching grant of $55,000 to fund the second year. Future funding availability and continued interest from involved partners will determine the program’s longevity.

For more information on the Montana Conservation Corps, please click here.

For more information about the Glacier Youth Corps Partnership please contact Glacier National Park’s Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Kusky at 406-888-7851, or the Glacier National Park Conservancy at 406-892-3250. For more information about volunteering in Glacier National Park, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Friday, September 26, 2014

USFS Backs-Off Threat of Photo Fees

As a follow-up to a posting from earlier today, I just found out that the U.S. Forest Service is backing away from a threat to impose fees on photographers who take photos on national forest lands. In a press release issued late last night, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell stated: “The US Forest Service remains committed to the First Amendment. To be clear, provisions in the draft directive do not apply to news gathering or activities.

He also goes on to state: "The fact is, the directive pertains to commercial photography and filming only – if you’re there to gather news or take recreational photographs, no permit would be required. We take your First Amendment rights very seriously. We’re looking forward to talking with journalists and concerned citizens to help allay some of the concerns we’ve been hearing and clarify what’s covered by this proposed directive.”

The statements are the result of an apparent firestorm from a recently proposed, but vaguely-worded rule, that some have interpreted to mean that the USFS would be imposing fees on professional media, as well as amateur photographers, for taking photos on national forest lands. This had some First Amendment advocates alarmed.

The USFS press release further clarifies the intent of the rule with this statement:
The proposal does not change the rules for visitors or recreational photographers. Generally, professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models, actors or props; work in areas where the public is generally not allowed; or cause additional administrative costs.
However, neither Tidwell or the press release makes clear how, or if bloggers would be impacted in anyway. Although I do think bloggers would ultimately be part of the exemption, it's not entirely certain to me.

To read the full press release, please click here.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

U.S. Forest Service Wants $1500 to Take a Photo

Imagine walking into the Flathead National Forest and snapping a few photos of your favorite mountain, wildflower or moose. Then suppose, since your photos turned out to be pretty awesome, that you decide to post them on your blog. Or, perhaps you're an amateur photographer and you thought that maybe you could make a few bucks by selling a print of one of those photos at a local art fair. Now, imagine getting slapped with a $1000 fine from the U.S. Forest Service for failing to obtain a permit to take that photo! Getting that permit isn't exactly walk in the park, either. The U.S. Forest Service wants a $1500 fee to purchase that permit in the first place!

If the USFS gets its way, those scenarios could become fact.

Back in early September the agency in charge with overseeing our national forests proposed a new rule that has First Amendment advocates alarmed. In addition to the impact this would have on bloggers and amateur photographers, many are concerned that the vaguely-worded rule could apply to professional media as well. Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, recently told Oregon Live that, “It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional. They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can’t.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon weighed in with this statement: "The Forest Service needs to rethink any policy that subjects noncommercial photographs and recordings to a burdensome permitting process for something as simple as taking a picture with a cell phone. Especially where reporters and bloggers are concerned, this policy raises troubling questions about inappropriate government limits on activity clearly protected by the First Amendment."

Here's a summery of the rule as published on the Federal Register:
The Forest Service proposes to incorporate interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40 to make permanent guidance for the evaluation of proposals for still photography and commercial filming on National Forest System Lands. The proposed amendment would address the establishment of consistent national criteria to evaluate requests for special use permits on National Forest System (NFS) lands. Specifically, this policy provides the criteria used to evaluate request for special use permits related to still photography and commercial filming in congressionally designated wilderness areas. Public comment is invited and will be considered in the development of the final directive.
So what if this rule (and thinking) makes its way over to the National Park Service? More importantly, who owns our "public lands" anyway?

For more information, or more importantly, to voice your opinion, please visit the Federal Register website. The USFS will be accepting comments through November 3, 2014.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Teton Rangers Take Action to Protect People & Moose In Gros Ventre Campground

Grand Teton National Park rangers will implement several actions to protect both people and moose in the Gros Ventre campground. The area will be posted with signs urging people to keep their distance from moose, camping will be consolidated within a few campground loops, and rangers will step up patrols to protect campers, wildlife viewers and several moose that are currently using campground areas during their fall rut (mating time). These actions became necessary after numerous human-wildlife interactions resulted in property damage, people getting charged by a bull moose, and the untimely death of a female moose this morning when she nearly severed her hind leg on a fire grate while fleeing both people and a bull that was pursuing her.

Park rangers were forced to euthanize the cow moose due to the severity of her leg injury. Her calf was not injured during the commotion. While moose calves orphaned at this age can survive on their own, their probability of survival is somewhat reduced.

Although the behavior of a single bull moose during its mating season was a contributing factor in the ill-fated death of the female moose this morning, the concentration of people approaching and crowding around these animals has caused them to become overly agitated and consequently a safety concern. When provoked, bull moose and other animals will sometimes charge. Recent reports indicate that people have been charged by moose on numerous occasions throughout the Gros Ventre campground, as a result of their close approach.

Wildlife viewing is a favorite activity in Grand Teton National Park, especially during the fall when animals exhibit interesting seasonal behavior. Because many people have approached wildlife too closely in their attempt to photograph a particular animal(s), park rangers will step up their patrols, including the use of 'plain clothes' patrols, and cite anyone who does not maintain the appropriate distance. Park regulations state that people must keep a distance of 25 yards from moose and 100 yards from bears—and may not harass or alter the behavior of wildlife, regardless of distance. While 25 yards is the minimum distance to maintain from moose, rangers recommend staying at least 100 yards away from bull moose during the rut.

Park biologists also remind all visitors that fall is a stressful time when wildlife must preserve energy to survive the winter. Allowing wildlife the space they require for both seasonal movements and activities is especially important this time of year.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yellowstone Seeks Public Input on Proposal to Update and Repair Canyon Rim Overlooks and Trails

Yellowstone National Park is considering a proposal to update and repair many of the overlooks and trails located on the North and South rims of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

This project is being proposed to address aging and deteriorating infrastructure, provide improved accessibility to visitors, improve pedestrian flow, address safety issues, and improve the visitor experience in the area, all while retaining the historic integrity of this extraordinary portion of the park. Areas to be addressed in the plan includes the Brink of the Upper Falls, the Brink of Lower Falls, Uncle Tom’s Point, Inspiration Point, Red Rocks Point, Crystal Falls, and their associated connecting trails.

The Yellowstone Park Foundation, official fundraising partner of Yellowstone National Park, is presently funding an effort to obtain design proposals from landscape architectural firms for the overlooks and trails in question.

An Environmental Assessment will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. As part of the planning process, the park is reaching out to the public and asking them to share their comments, concerns, and ideas which will be used to aid in the development of a range of alternatives.

Comments may be submitted online, hand-delivered during normal business hours to the mailroom in the park’s Administration Building in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, or mailed to the Compliance Office, Attn: Canyon Rim Overlooks and Trails, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY, 82190.

Comments will not be accepted by fax, e-mail, or in any other way than those specified above. All comments must be received by midnight MDT, October 24, 2014.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Outdoor Industry Association Applauds Introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act of 2014

The Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) applauds the introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); and in the U.S. Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Developed in close consultation with the outdoor industry, the U.S. textile industry, and congressional representatives, this bipartisan piece of legislation will lower costs for outdoor industry businesses, prevent rising retail prices for consumers, and spur innovation by U.S. companies.

“I commend Representatives Reichert and Blumenauer and Senators Cantwell and Ayotte for coming together in a bipartisan effort to support the outdoor recreation industry, a vital part of the economy at the state and national level,” said OIA President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer. “The U.S. OUTDOOR Act will lower costs for outdoor businesses, fuel innovation, attract more consumers to get outdoors using high-quality, affordable apparel and will create more jobs in the United States. We look forward to the enactment of this important legislation.”


* creates unique classifications specific to recreation performance outerwear high-tech apparel, designed especially for outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking, skiing or snowboarding, hunting, fishing, paddling and other recreational activities - in the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule; and

* eliminates onerous duties on these new classifications.

The Senate bill also includes the Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research Fund (STAR Fund) that will promote U.S. jobs and technologies through investments in American research programs and services towards sustainable, eco-friendly apparel supply chains.

The commercial manufacturing industry for recreational performance outerwear moved offshore decades ago, primarily following the technological advancements and commercial manufacturing capacity that are required by U.S.-based outdoor companies. According to the International Trade Commission there is no commercially viable manufacturing of recreational performance outwear in the U.S. In fact, the bill has been thoroughly vetted with the domestic textile and apparel industry to ensure that none of the products covered by the bill are produced in the U.S.

The high tariffs that remain (some as high as 30%) make it harder for millions of Americans to enjoy outdoor recreation in our parks and public lands and, at the same time, stifle innovation, economic growth and the creation of new jobs. If enacted, the bill will add to the $646 billion in consumer spending and the 6.1 million jobs generated by the outdoor industry.

OIA is encouraging consumers and its outdoor companies to contact their members of Congress to request support for the legislation.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Jared Polis (D-CO) in the House, and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rangers Recover Body Near Logan Pass

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Access to Logan Pass Changes This Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Body of Missoula Man Recovered on Mount Siyeh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Winter is Coming: Seven Days on the John Muir Trail

"The mountains are calling and I must go"

- John Muir

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Traveling in Glacier during the Early Years of the Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were they referring to a young Evel Knievel there?

Did not know about this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier.com

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Free Entrance to all National Parks on September 27th

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

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

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

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

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

Hiking in Glacier National Park

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Key Milestones in Hiking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, September 1, 2014

How to Dress in Glacier National Park (in 1920)

Awhile back I posted a news items about the National Park Service adding another 100 new historical park brochures to the NPS Brochures website. The site already includes several old brochures from Glacier National Park.

I was particularly intrigued by a section of a 1920 brochure that describes how visitors should dress when visiting the park. Here's what it has to say:


As a rule tourists are inclined to carry too much. A very inexpensive and simple outfit is required—old clothes and stout shoes are the rule. For a week's to two weeks' trip, either afoot or horseback, the following list is about all that is required:

1 suit of old clothes.

2 pairs of cotton gloves.

1 sweater or mackinaw wool jacket.

1 old felt hat.

2 suits of wool underwear (medium weight).

1 rubber blanket or raincoat, if on walking tour. Waterproof slickers are furnished free with saddle horses.

3 pairs of wool socks (heavy).

1 pair of stout lace shoes or hunting boots.

1 pair of canvas leggings (if shoes are worn).

The above, together with toilet articles, will go in a compact bundle and can be put in haversack or bag. Women should have either stout shoes or boots and riding trousers or short divided riding skirts.

Essential articles of clothing of good quality, including boots, shoes, haversacks, slickers, blankets, camping equipment, provisions, etc., may be purchased at well-stocked commissaries at Glacier Park Station and at St. Mary and Many Glacier Chalets. The Glacier Park Hotel Co., which operates these commissaries, also makes a practice of renting, at a nominal figure, slickers, riding trousers, mackinaw coats, and other overgarments.

Stores carrying a similar general line of articles most useful in making park trips are located at Belton, Mont., the western entrance to the park, and at Glacier Hotel (Lewis's) at the head of Lake McDonald.

An overnight stopping place is maintained at Christensen's ranch on the Flathead River road about 2 miles south of Logging Creek, where travelers and horses are accommodated. A small store carrying some provisions, principally lunch stuff, cigars, tobacco, and fisherman's supplies, is at the foot of Lake McDonald.

(Hmmm, I guess they didn't have Gore-tex or fleece back then...)

Hiking in Glacier.com