Friday, December 28, 2018

U.S. Forest Service reflects on past year’s progress

In the past fiscal year, the USDA Forest Service responded to natural disasters and battled through one of the most destructive fire seasons on record. Throughout these challenges, the Forest Service also actively treated forests to improve conditions, increase timber production, and enhance rural prosperity—all while putting customer service first.

“With the commitment and strength of our employees and partners the Forest Service continued to improve conditions across the forested landscapes this last year,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “This included active management, and increasing services and production to create jobs and support economies for rural America. We also focused on being good neighbors in communities and states, and consistently offering exceptional service and experiences for all uses of public lands. At the same time, we moved forward in in our commitment to transforming the culture to create a workplace that helps all employees do their part to deliver our mission to the American people.”

Improving Forests

In the past year, the Forest Service treated more than 3.5 million acres reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health through prescribed fire and timber sales; the latter totaling 3.2 billion board feet. The Forest Service treated an additional 2.5 million acres improving watershed conditions, ecosystems, and infrastructure, as well as providing clean water for millions of Americans.

The agency increased use of 2014 Farm Bill authorities, including 166 Good Neighbor agreements and stewardship contracts. Together, these efforts strengthened collaborative work with states and partners, improved forest conditions, protected communities, and supported as many as 370,000 jobs.

Shared Stewardship

The Forest Service prioritized working with customers, partners, and communities to achieve shared goals. In August, Secretary Perdue publicly unveiled the USDA Forest Service report on Shared Stewardship—a new approach to active forest management. This approach will help reshape the agency’s work as good neighbors and will build stronger relationships with states, partners, tribes, and communities to improve forest conditions. The Western Governors Association embraced USDA’s commitment and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Secretary Perdue. The MOU commits the USFS and WGA to a more integrated approach to prioritizing investments where they will have the greatest impact and will work together to set priorities that address risk across broad landscapes.

Another component of shared stewardship is developing the next generation of land stewards to manage and protect national forests. Over the past several years, the Forest Service worked on outreach and education for young people through programs such as Every Kid in a Park. This program leveraged nearly $7 million in private and nonprofit contributions to get fourth-graders into the great outdoors this year.

Fire Funding Fix

Last March, Congress passed historic legislation that significantly reduces the need to transfer funds from much needed management work to pay for firefighting costs, which exceeded $2 billion this year. This new law expanded authorities that the Forest Service can use to improve forest conditions and reduce wildfire risk. When the new funding fix takes effect in Fiscal Year 2020, the Forest Service budget will become more stable, freeing up funds to help accomplish critical on-the-ground work to increase forest health and resilience, as well as protect lives, communities and resources.

Improving Customer Service

The Forest Service took definitive steps to improve customer experience by modernizing our systems and employing new technology. The special use permit process was expedited, reducing the permit backlog by half. The Forest Service removed unnecessary barriers to minerals development and energy production, helping to promote energy independence, create jobs, and support rural economies. Access was also expanded through investments in infrastructure, facilities, and rural broadband.

As well, the agency made improvements to recreation opportunities, including protecting and improving access for hunting, fishing, hiking, motorized recreation, and more. The Forest Service developed fee offset projects to promote campground concessionaire facility improvements and worked with six other agencies to develop a one-stop reservation and trip-planning website to be launched in 2019.

Transforming the Culture

The Forest Service moved to permanently transform its work environment to ensure everyone is respected and included by implementing a new Code of Conduct that includes zero-tolerance for harassment, retaliation, and misconduct. Agency leadership also created a new performance requirement on work environment that has raised accountability for all supervisors, and established a new anti-harassment call center.

“We started by implementing a 30-day “Standing Up for Each Other” action strategy that requires every employee to be held accountable to the new code of conduct,” said Christiansen. “We are changing policies to further prevent harassment and retaliation, and we’re building skills within the workforce so employees prevent, recognize and intervene in inappropriate conduct and retaliation.”

Regulatory Reform

The Forest Service revised policies and streamlined processes to create efficiencies in environmental analysis, forest products delivery, energy development, and wildland fire management. Improvements in environmental analysis and decision making cut costs by $30 million, and reduced analysis time by 10 percent. The Forest Service worked with sister agencies to update policies and processes for more efficient application and implementation of mineral extraction and energy production projects. The agency also reformed wildland fire systems to better allocate resources based on risk and lower costs while continuing to protect lives, property, and resources

For more information about the U.S. Forest Service visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Montana to appeal Yellowstone grizzly decision - looks to broader effort

Last week the state of Montana filed a notice of appeal of the September decision by the federal district court in Missoula to re-instate endangered species protection to grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

“Grizzly bear recovery and conservation is an amazing success story that’s taken decades of hard work and dedication. The science is clear that grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are recovered,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams.

Montana joins the states of Idaho and Wyoming, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in appealing the court’s decision.

“With grizzly bear recovery goals met in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the safeguards in place to ensure healthy populations will persist, it’s time to hand over management to the states,” said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

In Montana, grizzly bears are expanding from beyond the core areas where they’ve met population recovery goals – the GYE and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. They are showing up in places they haven’t been for decades, like the prairie east of the Rocky Mountain Front, parts of western Montana and areas northeast of Yellowstone National Park.

The grizzly bears numbers in these recolonized areas are increasing, and while the appeal Montana is filing today will only address the GYE, it’s clear more needs to be done to look comprehensively at grizzly bear management across Montana.

“For long-term success, grizzly bear management in Montana must consider the needs of our communities and people along with those of the bear,” Williams said. “As this appeal proceeds, Montana will focus on our responsibilities for management by convening the diverse interests of our citizens to identify strategies that address emerging and future needs for bear recovery and conflict management.”

Historically, the approach to delisting has been to focus on just the NCDE and GYE. While that has been successful for grizzly bear recovery, it creates challenges for bear management. Grizzly bears are spilling out of the NCDE and GYE and showing up in communities surrounding these ecosystems where they haven’t been for decades and where people aren’t prepared for them.

Montana is home to two other recovery zones, the Selway Bitterroot and Cabinet-Yaak. Neither has met recovery goals. Between the four recovery zones, bears are expanding into landscapes that aren’t covered under an existing management plan. To address this, Montana needs a more comprehensive look.

“Montana has long been a leader in conservation and now we have a unique opportunity to forge a path forward for these iconic animals that incorporates the diverse values of our citizens as part of a solution,” Bullock said. “Ultimately a comprehensive and collaborative approach to bear management across the state is the best path toward a durable delisting rule and balancing the needs and goals of our state’s citizens.”

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Government Shutdown in Glacier National Park

According to the park website, "Glacier will remain open during the government shutdown, however park facilities, visitor centers, and restroom facilities will be closed. Roads will receive only minimal plowing as needed. Conditions are subject to change."

On the park Facebook page, officials stated that, "During the federal government shutdown, we will not monitor or update social media. Some areas of Glacier National Park are accessible; however access may change without notice, and there are no NPS-provided services."

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Government Shutdown at Grand Teton

In response to the lapse in federal appropriations, Grand Teton National Park is implementing its plan for a government shutdown. Government-operated facilities in the park will be closed. Visitors will be able to access the park, though no visitor services will be available.

Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said, “Visitors will be able to access Grand Teton National Park, but should plan ahead and use caution as park staff will not be available to provide guidance or assistance. If visitors see something that jeopardizes visitor safety or park resources, call Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3301.”

Grand Teton National Park’s shutdown plan includes:

• Park roads will remain open if they are essential to respond to emergencies—this includes most roads that are normally maintained and open at this time of year. Access to all residences will be maintained.
• Emergency response may be delayed.
• Entrance stations will not be staffed.
• Grooming of the Teton Park Road will continue through a partnership agreement with Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Grooming is scheduled to occur twice a week.
• Teton Interagency Dispatch Center will be available during normal winter hours—6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Emergency 911 calls will be answered by Teton County Dispatch 24 hours/day.
• Park website and social media sites will not be maintained.
• Concessioners and Commercial Use Authorization holders may continue to provide visitor services after coordination with the park to ensure compliance with government shutdown protocols.
• Access to Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance will continue, including staging and winter services available at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch in John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Make a Resolution to Health with a First Day Hike - January 1, 2019

Make a New Year’s resolution to health and happiness by kicking off 2019 with an invigorating First Day Hike at a state park near you. On January 1, Montana State Parks will host First Day Hikes at Makoshika State Park, Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Flathead Lake State Park-Wayfarers, Lone Pine State Park, Travelers’ Rest State Park, and Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. These fun and informative guided-hikes are open to all ages and are family friendly.

Montana State Parks First Day Hikes are available at:

Flathead Lake State Park-Wayfarers – 10am (Bigfork)
Meet at the Flathead Lake Ranger Station and enjoy a 1 to 2-mile, moderate hike around the park. Children should be prepared for hiking uphill. Participants will have the opportunity to catch their breath and enjoy beautiful scenic vistas with a few short stops along the way. Dogs on leashes are welcome. For more information call (406) 837-3041.

Lone Pine State Park – 5pm to 7pm (Kalispell)
Enjoy a moderate, 1.75-mile guided hike through the park or take a short, self-guided hike to the overlook at night to enjoy the city lights. Hikes begin and end at the picnic shelter with a bright campfire and warm drinks. Snowshoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Headlamps or flashlights are recommended. Dogs welcome on leash. To register, please call (406) 755-2706 ext. 2.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park – 11am (Whitehall)
Join park guide Audrey Howard for a moderate, 3 to 4-mile hike into the parts of the park that most visitors miss. The hike will meet at the park’s main visitor center near the park entrance. For more information, contact (406) 287-3541.

Makoshika State Park – 11am (Glendive)
Meet at the visitor center for this easy 1-mile hike to introduce participants to Makoshika’s badland topography. Refreshments provided following the hike. No dogs please. For more information, contact (406) 377-6256. Spring Meadow Lake State Park – 12pm (Helena) Join park staff for an easy 1-mile, informative hike around Spring Meadow Lake. Hot cocoa and cookies will be provided following the hike. No dogs, please. For more information, call (406) 495-3270.

Travelers’ Rest State Park – 11am (Lolo/Missoula)
Walk into history as you loop through the historic Travelers’ Rest campsite on this 1-mile, easy hike. Look out for winter birds and wildlife such as American Dippers, Belted Kingfishers, Black-billed Magpies, red fox, and whitetail and mule deer. Explore the rich riparian area along Lolo Creek, ending back at the visitor center for hot chocolate and a winter ecology game. No dogs, please. For more information, call (406) 273-4253.

Hikers should wear weather-appropriate clothing, bring a water bottle and ice cleats or snowshoes if the trail conditions are snowy or icy. First Day Hike participants are encouraged to share their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes. For more information on these or other Montana state parks, visit:,gov.

"First Day Hikes" is an annual, nationwide special event co-sponsored by America's State Parks which originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 33,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 70,500 miles on 1,100 hikes across the country. All 50 states will be participating in the seventh annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with guided outdoor exploration.

Visit Montana State Parks ( and enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and more and discover some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 17, 2018

Who Conceived The Concept of "National Parks"?

Though it's a well-known fact that Yellowstone was set aside as the world's first national park in 1872, who conceived the idea that tracts of land should be set aside for the general public? Yellowstone's establishment as a national park can be traced back to President Abraham Lincoln when he signed a bill granting the Yosemite Valley and the “Mariposa Big Tree Grove” to the state of California, “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation” in perpetuity. Although this legislation was a precursor to the concept of national parks, the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864 wasn't a new idea. Henry David Thoreau made calls for the preservation of wilderness at least a decade earlier. In his essay, Walking, he made a plea for preserving the West before it would inevitably be exploited and despoiled by human migration, asserting that “The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world.” In The Maine Woods he called for the establishment of national preserves, asking, “Why should not we…..have our national preserves…..not for idle sport or food, but for inspiration and our own true re-creation?"

However, even Thoreau's call for a national preserve wasn't an original idea. The joint publication of Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1798 is widely recognized as the birth of Romanticism in English literature. In addition to being close friends, both poets held nature in high regard, and both enjoyed exploring the Lake District, a mountainous region in northwestern England. During his early adult years Wordsworth in particular spent many of his holiday vacations on walking tours, several of which included extended tours of the Lake District. In 1810 he published A Guide through the District of the Lakes, which likely contains the world’s first written call for a national park. In the conclusion of the book Wordsworth argued that the Lake District should be considered “a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.”

If you would like to learn more about how preservationists impacted the sport of hiking, my new book explains the crucial roles played by Wordsworth, Thoreau, Muir, Roosevelt and others. Ramble On: A History of Hiking is now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Glacier National Park Publishes "Story Map" of Sprague Fire

Earlier this week Glacier National Park published a "story map" of the Sprague Fire of 2017. Here's the announcement of this new multimedia product from the park's Facebook page:
A new story map explores the conditions leading up to the Sprague Fire and the actions taken to suppress it. The Sprague Fire Story Map details the efforts made to protect the five structures in the Sperry Chalet complex and the path taken after the fire’s end to restore the destroyed Sperry Chalet Dormitory. This restoration story is still to be written, but thanks to the Glacier National Park Conservancy and the many partners and individual supporters, the reconstruction of the Sperry Chalet is expected to be completed by December 2019.
The multimedia product provides a detailed account of the fire and includes some amazing photos. As you scroll through the presentation there will be an aerial view of the chalet after it burned - note all the live trees surrounding the chalet. Did a blowing ember make its way into the building? To view the story map, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, December 14, 2018

Appalachian Mountain Club Reviews "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Earlier this week the Appalachian Mountain Club published a review of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. I want to sincerely thank Priscilla Estes for publishing a glowing and gracious review of the book in the latest edition of Appalachian Footnotes, the quarterly magazine of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Ms. Estes concluded her fairly extensive review by stating: "Doran’s book is a treasure: a well-written, entertaining, knowledgeable, and exactingly researched book on the roots of hiking and hiking clubs, the history of trail-making, the evolution of hiking gear and clothing, and the future of hiking on overcrowded trails. Doran weaves the social, cultural, industrial, and political milieu into this fascinating history. Amusing, astonishing, and sometimes alarming anecdotes, along with photos, footnotes, and an extensive bibliography, make this a fascinating and significant account of the history of hiking."

To read the entire review (on page 6), please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who Established The World's First Hiking Club?

Most writers and historians have credited the Alpine Club of London as being the first mountaineering or “walking club” in the world, and the Alpine Club of Williamstown as being the first hiking club in America. The Alpine Club of London was formed in 1857, during the "Golden Age of Alpinism", for accomplished mountaineers who had successfully climbed a mountain higher than 13,000 feet. Six years later the Alpine Club of Williamstown was founded by Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College in Massachusetts. Although not widely known, or even properly recognized, the Exploring Circle preceded both of those clubs by several years. The Exploring Circle was founded by Cyrus M. Tracey and three other men from Lynn, Massachusetts in 1850 in order to advance their knowledge of the natural sciences. Although it continued as a very small club, it remained active for more than 30 years. If you would like to learn more about the formation and the significant contributions of these clubs, and many other hiking clubs that formed between the Civil War and World War I, you can read about them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Something To Remember: N.E.A.R

You've probably heard dozens of times the old adage that you should remain in place if you were ever to become lost or injured in the wilderness. But does this advice makes sense in every situation? Last week I was watching SOS: How to Survive on the Weather Channel. The host, Creek Stewart, introduced a "test" to determine whether you should remain in place, or take steps to self-evacuate. The "test" asks three simple questions. The answer to these questions could save your life one day:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Steamboat Geyser erupts and breaks all-time record

Steamboat Geyser erupted at about 1:07 a.m. on Saturday, December 8, 2018, and set a new record. This eruption, the 30th since March 15, 2018, surpasses the previous all-time record of 29 documented eruptions set in 1964.

During major eruptions Steamboat Geyser shoots water more than 300 feet into the air.

“The heightened activity at Steamboat this year is uncommon but not unprecedented. We have seen similar activity twice previously; once in the early 1960s, and again in the early 1980s. Conversely, the world’s tallest active geyser has also exhibited years of quiescence or no major eruptions, with the longest being the 50-year period between 1911 and 1961,” said Jeff Hungerford, Yellowstone’s park geologist. “We’ll continue to monitor this extraordinary geyser.”

More information about the geyser can be found at Steamboat Geyser. No photos or video of the December 8th eruption are available, but here is an earlier video:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Who Made The First Hike in Recorded History?

Undoubtedly there are scores of unknown people throughout the ages that have walked for pleasure or sport. Although the record is sparse, there are a few examples of individuals who took to the woods and mountains prior to the modern era. In all likelihood, the oldest recorded hike for pleasure was taken during the second century when the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, ascended Mount Etna on the island of Sicily for the simple pleasure of seeing the sunrise from its summit. Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire from 117 to 138 CE, and was considered to be one of the “Five Good Emperors.” During his reign Hadrian travelled to nearly every corner of his sprawling empire. During a return trip from Greece in 125 Hadrian made an apparent impromptu detour to Sicily to make his ascent of the 10,922-foot mountain, which is still among the most active volcanoes in the world.

It would be several centuries before another hike for pleasure was recorded in the annals of history. One reason for this extended gap is that people simply didn't have a need to record their simple acts of walking. More importantly, however, mountains were seen as dangerous and mysterious by most Western cultures prior to the fifteenth-century. People from the Middle Ages widely regarded mountains with fear, awe and disgust. Some men even swore affidavits before magistrates that they saw dragons in the mountains. It wasn't until the Renaissance era that fear of mountains began to slowly subside, and men began venturing into the highlands. If you would like to learn more about the early years of hiking, as well as many other stories associated with the history of hiking as it progressed to become one of the world's most popular activities, you can read them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, December 10, 2018

Flathead Avalanche Center to Begin Seasonal Daily Forecasts

The Flathead Avalanche Center (FAC) will begin issuing daily avalanche forecasts on Sunday, December 9, 2018. The center, operating under the Flathead National Forest, provides avalanche danger ratings and travel advice for the Whitefish Range, Swan Range, Flathead Range, and Glacier National Park.

“It has been a slow start to winter thus far,” said FAC Director Zach Guy “but it looks like we will be returning to an active and snowy weather pattern next week. Unfortunately, the dry weather and thin snowpack we have right now is a recipe for avalanche problems in the future. Under dry conditions like we have had, the snow coverage quickly evolves into a fragile layer that can plague the snowpack for weeks or months. That’s what we are seeing in the backcountry right now. It’s not a problem at the moment, but once winter storms start adding weight on top of these layers, we expect dangerous avalanche conditions to develop.” Anyone recreating in the backcountry this winter can access current avalanche conditions and observations at The FAC also offers a variety of avalanche courses and awareness talks.

The Flathead Avalanche Center continues to evolve to meet increasing needs of winter recreation. “We are increasing our field presence to provide more accurate and useful products,” said Guy. “Our staff is doing a great job of capturing avalanche conditions using photos and video and turning their observations into teachable moments and useful travel advice. You can still have a ton of fun in the backcountry when conditions are dangerous, it’s all about choosing the right terrain for the right conditions. We illustrate that through our forecasts, social media products, and field observations.”

The center recently hired Blase Reardon as the lead forecaster. Reardon has a wealth of forecasting experience, most recently from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center based out of Aspen, Colorado. His roots snow science roots stem from NW Montana, where he used to forecast for the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier Park. Blase will be rounding out the forecasting staff alongside Zach Guy, Mark Dundas, and Clancy Nelson. Dundas is in his fourth season with the FAC, and Nelson is a new addition, coming from the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What Was The Firefall Tradition in Yosemite?

In 1871 James McCauley began construction on the Four Mile Trail, a precipitous footpath that still carries hikers from the Yosemite Valley floor to Glacier Point, while gaining more than 3200 feet along the way. McCauley, who was closely associated with the Mountain House, a hotel built atop Glacier Point in 1873, is most famous for initiating the “firefall” tradition, which lasted almost one hundred years.

Although there’s some dispute as to why, when and who originated the firefall, McCauley is generally recognized as being the first person to shove fire over the cliff at Glacier Point, likely in 1871 or 1872. During the first several decades the ritual was conducted on an irregular basis, but by the 1920s it had become a nightly feature during the summer months. According to the June 1934 edition of Yosemite Nature Notes, workers gathered red fir bark from fallen trees during the day, sometimes accumulating as much as a quarter of a cord of wood. Around 7:00 p.m. a bonfire was lit, and then at roughly 9:00 p.m., after the pile had been reduced to a mound of red hot coals, the fire tender would slowly shove the glowing embers over the side of the cliff, thus giving the appearance to everyone in the valley below that a solid stream of fire was falling from the precipice. My new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, chronicles some of the other pyro rituals surrounding the "firefall" tradition, as well as the ironic fate of the Mountain House.

And yes, the 1970s soft-rock band is named after the ritual. Ramble On is now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Public Comments Encouraged for Mountain Goat Plan

The National Park Service is encouraging public comment on a proposal to remove nonnative mountain goats from Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This proposal is to aid in the conservation of a native population of bighorn sheep and protect other park resources and values from the rapidly growing nonnative mountain goat population.

The Mountain Goat Management Plan and Environmental Assessment is available for public review and public comments should be submitted to the park by January 6. The park is hosting a public open house on Wednesday, December 12 at The Wort Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hotel is located at 50 North Glenwood Street. The public is encouraged to visit anytime during the open house to speak with park representatives.

Currently the nonnative mountain goat population within the park is estimated at approximately 100 animals. Resident mountain goats within the park are likely from a population that was introduced outside the park southwest of the Teton Range in the late 1960s and early 1970s. First observed in the Teton Range in 1979, they have now established a breeding population that is growing rapidly.

The Teton Range within the park is also home to a small herd of approximately 80 native bighorn sheep. Prior to 2015, the population was estimated to be approximately 100-125 sheep. This herd is one of the smallest and most isolated in Wyoming, and has never been extirpated or augmented. The Teton Range herd of native bighorn sheep is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors.

Research indicates that the potential for resource competition and disease transmission between mountain goats and bighorn sheep is evident, and expected to increase. Bighorn sheep are highly susceptible to pathogens and disease transmission. Without active management, the mountain goat population is expected to continue to grow and expand its distribution within the park, threatening the existence of the native Teton Range bighorn sheep herd.

The National Park Service has a responsibility to maintain the ecological role of native species and reduce the potential for local extinction of a species. Management policies call for managing, when feasible, nonnative or “exotic” species that could have a substantial impact on park resources.

Park staff believe action is needed soon because the mountain goat population in the park is currently at a size where complete removal is achievable in a short timeframe. The estimated growth rate of the population of goats in the park suggests that complete removal in the near future may become unattainable after about three years.

Three alternatives to respond to the situation have been identified in the environmental assessment; 1) no action, 2) lethal and nonlethal removal of nonnative mountain goats, and 3) lethal removal of nonnative mountain goats.

The preferred alternative at this time is to use a combination of capture and translocation, and lethal removal methods to remove the mountain goat population in the park. The goal would be to remove the mountain goat population as quickly as possible to minimize impacts to native species, ecological communities and visitors. Goats could be translocated to suitable locations where they are native, or to accredited zoos, or lethally removed. Based on current estimates of mountain goat numbers, significantly reducing or eliminating the population is achievable in the next few years.

For more additional information, review the Mountain Goat Management Plan and Environmental Assessment and to provide comment visit Comments should be submitted to the park by January 6.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Why Were Locomotive Bells Placed Atop Mountain Passes in Glacier National Park?

Did you know that locomotive bells were once placed atop four mountain passes in Glacier National Park? Why were they placed there, who pushed the idea, and what became of them?

To further enhance the Swiss experience for park visitors, W. R. Mills, an advertising agent for the Great Northern Railway, and H. A. Noble, manager of the Glacier Park Hotel Company, requested permission from the park in 1925 to place locomotive bells atop the summits of several passes. According to Donald H. Robinson's administrative history of Glacier National Park, the request originated from on an old Swiss custom of placing bells on mountain tops and passes so that hikers and horseback riders could ring loud bells in the mountains, and signal people in the valleys that they had reached their destination. In September of 1926 the request was finally approved to place bells at Swiftcurrent Pass, Siyeh Pass and Piegan Pass. Three years later a fourth bell was added at Scenic Point in Two Medicine. Visitors continued ringing the bells until the fall of 1943, at which point they were removed by the hotel company and donated to a World War II scrap metal drive.

Although the bells were removed, and most of the backcountry chalets were razed or destroyed, much of the Great Northern Railway network still remains. In addition to most of the trails, the Belton Chalet, Glacier Park Hotel, Many Glacier Hotel, Sperry Chalet and the Granite Park Chalets are all still used by park visitors today.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating time period during the early years of Glacier National Park, as well as many other stories associated with the history of hiking, you can find them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Donate to the Sperry Action Fund to Rebuild Sperry Chalet

During this season of giving, I thought I would remind all Glacier Park enthusiasts that the Glacier National Park Conservancy, the official non-profit fundraising partner of Glacier National Park, is still trying to raise funds to rebuild the historic Sperry Chalet, which was lost during the August 2017 Sprague Fire. Though the park is moving forward with the rebuilding of the chalet, they still need funds to complete the multi-year project. To date, the Sperry Action Fund has collected roughly 77% of the $618,148 goal. For more information, and to donate, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Teton Park Road Converts to Over-Snow Access

Due to recent snow accumulation and anticipated snowfall, the status of Teton Park Road, Moose-Wilson Road, and Signal Mountain Summit Road within Grand Teton National Park has been changed from wheeled access to over-snow access. The designated portions of these roads are now ready to accommodate winter recreation, and use of the roads by wheeled vehicles is prohibited for the season.

Each year, Teton Park, Moose-Wilson, and Signal Mountain Summit roads are closed to public motor vehicle use beginning November 1. During the period of time that the roads remain free of snow, visitors may use the roadways for recreational activities such as walking, bicycling, and in-line skating.

Once snow begins to accumulate on the roadbeds, the status is changed to over-snow access and approved winter season activities such as cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snow-shoeing become possible. Snow bikes are not permitted on roads designated for over-snow access. Snow bikes are allowed on all roadways open to motor vehicle use in Grand Teton National Park.

The 14-mile section of the Teton Park Road between the Taggart Lake Trailhead and Signal Mountain Lodge will be groomed approximately twice-weekly beginning Tuesday, December 4 and continuing through mid-March. The road is scheduled to be groomed on Tuesday and Friday mornings, though the schedule is dependent on snow and weather conditions. For grooming updates, visitors can call the park’s road information line at 307-739-3682.

Grooming is made possible through the financial support of Grand Teton National Park Foundation and its donors with important support from a Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trails Program grant managed by the State of Wyoming.

Generally, pets are only permitted along park roadways open to motor vehicle use. However, pets are allowed on the over-snow access portions of the Teton Park Road and Moose-Wilson Road by special exception. For the safety of wildlife, pets, and visitors in wildlife habitat, pets must be leashed at all times. Pet owners are required to pick up waste.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Rock Buttress Near Jenny Lake Has Fallen

A large rock buttress above the Hidden Falls viewing area on the west side of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park that the park has been monitoring has fallen. The extent of the debris and damage from the fallen rock was aligned with a risk assessment and modeling that the park conducted earlier this summer.

Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said, “It appears that our risk assessment and modeling accurately aligned with the rock fall event that recently took place above Hidden Falls.” He adds, “Human safety is always the priority and our abundance of caution and the risk assessment served us and our visitors well.”

Park staff surveyed the site on the west side of Jenny Lake on Sunday, November 11 after receiving a report of the fallen rock from an employee of park concessionaire Exum Mountain Guides. After investigating the site and consulting with a University of Utah seismic expert who confirmed there has been no major seismic activity in the area in the last few weeks, park staff believe that recent seasonal weathering contributed to the rock fall. According to snow-cover, park staff believe that the rock fall event happened sometime before a snowstorm on Sunday, November 4.

The crack in the rock identified earlier this summer was approximately 100 feet long and it appears that the entire length of the crack broke off or calved from the mountainside. After initial observation, it appears that the Hidden Falls Overlook did not receive any damage. Large rock debris is located about 50 yards from the overlook with small rock and tree branch debris closer to the overlook area.

Park staff hope to retrieve data from electronic monitoring equipment that was installed earlier this year to learn more about the incident. The park has been monitoring this same rock buttress since mid-summer when the expanding crack in the rock was identified.

In July an emergency closure was implemented in the Hidden Falls area for human safety due to the expanding crack in the large rock buttress above the Hidden Falls viewing area. During the closure, National Park Service staff implemented multiple methods to monitor the situation and developed a risk assessment for potential rock fall. Subject matter experts from the National Park Service Geologic Resources Division, Yosemite National Park, and United States Geological Survey Landslide Hazards Program were consulted.

Based on the risk assessment that used field observations and modeling regarding what would happen if the rock buttress were to come loose and fall, most of the Hidden Falls viewing area was reopened to the public in early August. The modeling indicated that rock fall, if it did occur, would be unlikely to reach the viewing area due to distance and terrain. A small closure remains in effect west of the viewing area.

Noojibail said, “I am pleased that our risk assessment was accurate regarding the extent of debris and that we took subsequent actions to reduce the risk of possible injuries in a very popular area of the park.” He adds that any additional actions that may take place in the area will be based on additional assessment, most of which will occur in the late spring or early summer.

Rock fall is a part of the naturally dynamic environment of mountains, and is always an inherent risk when traveling in the Teton Mountain Range. As a relatively young mountain range, the Tetons are still rising and actively eroding.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Profound Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Hiking

Arguably the single most important event to spur the development of hiking and walking for pleasure was the Industrial Revolution. The social changes brought about by industrial development were profound: from the rise of great cities that quickly became islands of filth, dirty air and overcrowding; to the creation of the factory system that resulted in long hours at monotonous jobs in harsh working conditions. From the factory system the labor movement would evolve, which eventually led to higher incomes, shorter work weeks and the introduction of vacation time. Around this same timeframe industrial societies saw significant improvements in transportation, which gave people much greater freedom of movement. The rise of great cities also spurred demand for more wood products, which resulted in large swathes of forests being cut to fulfill those demands. The Industrial Revolution also gave rise to Romanticism and Transcendentalism, as well as club culture. My new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, explains how all of these trends helped to shape the sport of hiking from the late 1700s through the World War II era. The book is now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, November 24, 2018

John Muir Wasn't Much of a Camper

John Muir wasn't much of a camper. This may come as a surprise to many outdoor enthusiasts. Muir is obviously well-known as a naturalist, preservationist, and as an activist. He's also widely known for his extended hiking adventures and climbing exploits in the California Sierras, and in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Despite the countless hours he spent wandering in the backcountry, Muir apparently spent very little time trying to hone his camping skills. After his death in 1914, C. Hart Merriam published a memorial to his longtime friend in the January 1917 edition of the Sierra Club Bulletin. In the article the renowned ornithologist recalled some of the adventures he had shared with Muir over the years. Though fully acknowledging the wealth of information Muir had collected on the natural world, Merriam thought very little of his camping skills, stating that “in spite of having spent a large part of his life in the wilderness, he knew less about camping than almost any man I have ever camped with.” In fact, Muir’s habit of not packing the proper gear almost cost him his life on several occasions. You can read about one such incident on Mount Shasta, as well as Muir's important contributions to hiking in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, November 23, 2018

Who Was The First Leader in Outdoor Gear and Apparel?

Long before they used scantily-clad teen models in controversial advertising campaigns, Abercrombie and Fitch was the preeminent outdoor goods retailer in America. Founded in 1892 in New York City, the merchant retailer began selling high-end outdoor gear and apparel through expansive catalogs in 1903. During the early twentieth century the retailer outfitted several famous explorers and adventurers, including Teddy Roosevelt, Robert Peary, Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, Richard Byrd, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

By 1917 the growing retailer moved into a 12-story building in Midtown Manhattan. Atop the building was a luxurious log cabin which served as a townhouse for Ezra Fitch. This lofty cabin would play an important role in the history of hiking in the Northeast. If you would like to learn more about the gear and apparel Abercrombie and Fitch sold through their first catalogs, as well as the crucial role the log cabin played in the development of the newly proposed Appalachian Trail, check out my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Becoming a Mazama Wasn't Easy

One of the first hiking clubs in the Pacific Northwest held their inaugural meeting in one of the most extreme locations imaginable. On June 12, 1894 organizers for the newly proposed Mazamas club published an advertisement in the classifieds of the Morning Oregonian announcing that a meeting would take place during the following month atop Mt. Hood - the highest peak in Oregon. The ad proclaimed that the meeting would include a “typical mountain banquet.” It was also made clear that any prospective hiker who wished to become a charter member of this new group was required to attend this organizing meeting. On July 17th more than 300 people responded to the advertisement by arriving at one of two designated spots along the flanks of the 11,249-foot mountain. Two days later a total of 193 climbers reached the summit, of which 105 would become charter members. Before descending from the peak the new organization released three homing pigeons that announced to friends in Portland that the club had been successfully established. The Mazamas, like many of the first hiking clubs, had some bizarre and highly stringent criteria for joining. Many of those same clubs also had some very quirky traditions, many of which are detailed in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 19, 2018

National Park Service Announces Entrance Fee-Free Days for 2019

The National Park Service will waive all entrance fees on five days in 2019. The five entrance fee-free days for 2019 will be:

• Monday, January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
• Saturday, April 20 – First Day of National Park Week/National Junior Ranger Day
• Sunday, August 25 – National Park Service Anniversary
• Saturday, September 28 – National Public Lands Day
• Monday, November 11 – Veterans Day

“The entrance fee-free days hosted by the National Park Service are special opportunities to invite visitors, volunteers and veterans to celebrate some important moments for our parks and opportunities for service in those parks,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith.

The National Park System includes more than 85 million acres and includes national parks, national historical parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, national battlefields, and national seashores. There is at least one national park site in every U.S. state.

Last year, 331 million people visited national parks spending $18.2 billion, which supported 306,000 jobs across the country and had a $35.8 billion impact on the U.S. economy.

Only 115 of the 418 parks managed by the National Park Service charge entrance fees regularly, with fees ranging from $5 to $35. The other 303 national parks do not have entrance fees. The entrance fee waiver for the fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

The annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. There are also free or discounted passes available for senior citizens, current members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens.

Other federal land management agencies offering their own fee-free days in 2019 include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Invention of Carrarmato: Almost All Hikers Still Wear Them

A deadly climbing accident in 1935 led to the invention of one of the most important pieces of hiking gear - one that nearly every hiker benefits from to this day. While descending a mountain in the Italian Alps an experienced climbing team was caught in a severe snowstorm. Unable to descend along the icy rock walls, six of the climbers died from exhaustion, exposure and frostbite. Distraught over the loss of his friends, the guide attempted to solve the problem the climbers encountered during that expedition with the invention of "Carrarmato", an Italian word that means “tank tread". The name of the guide and inventor, Vitale Bramani, offers a clue as to the name of the company and the more common name for the product that most hikers wear today. If you would like to learn more about this story, and many others associated with the history of hiking, you can read them in my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, now available on Amazon:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Grizzly Bear Cub Killed in Train Collision Near Columbia Falls

A male grizzly bear cub was killed in a train collision last week on the railroad tracks near Columbia Falls. BNSF Railway reported hitting a grizzly bear near North Hilltop Road on Nov. 8, 2018. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks responded and did not find any evidence of attractants at the site nor were there any additional bears involved in the crash. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was notified of the death.

Two additional grizzly bears were identified as dead in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem in the last month. An adult female grizzly bear was found dead near Sullivan Creek southwest of Hungry Horse Reservoir. The bear was wearing a GPS radio collar that notified FWP of the mortality. FWP investigated the scene and determined the bear likely died of natural causes.

A separate adult female grizzly bear was found dead near Wildcat Creek west of Hungry Horse Reservoir. The bear was also wearing a GPS radio collar that notified FWP. Upon investigation, FWP determined the animal likely died of natural causes.

So far this year, 48 grizzly bear mortalities have been identified in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem due to a variety of circumstances, including management action, collisions, natural deaths and augmentation. Bears are classified as mortalities if they die, are taken to an accredited zoo or research facility if possible, are euthanized or are moved to another ecosystem. One-to-two bears are annually targeted for relocation to the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem as part of an augmentation program.

The NCDE is home to more than 1,000 grizzly bears. The NCDE is a designated grizzly bear recovery zone that spans Glacier National Park, parts of the Flathead and Blackfeet Indian Reservations, parts of five national forests and a significant amount of state and private lands. FWP maintains a population monitoring program and follows protocols and management objectives designed to maintain a healthy grizzly bear population in the NCDE. This includes tracking known mortalities, whether bears are killed or removed from the population, and notifying the public.

Bears are still actively seeking food sources before the winter denning season. Bears typically enter their dens by late November and early December and do no re-emerge until spring.

Residents and recreationists are urged to be “Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, November 16, 2018

Study: It's not trails that disturb forest birds, but the people on them

A new study has recently been published in Frontiers, an "Open Science platform", that you may also find interesting:

The first study to disentangle the effect of forest trails from the presence of humans shows the number of birds, as well as bird species, is lower when trails are used on a more regular basis. This is also the case when trails have been used for many years, suggesting that forest birds do not get used to this recreational activity. Published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the finding suggests the physical presence of trails has less of an impact on forest birds than how frequently these recreational paths are used by people. To minimize the impact on these forest creatures, people should avoid roaming from designated pathways.

"We show that forest birds are quite distinctly affected by people and that this avoidance behavior did not disappear even after years of use by humans. This suggests not all birds habituate to humans and that a long-lasting effect remains," says Dr Yves Bötsch, lead author of this study, based at the Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach, Switzerland and affiliated with Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University Zurich, Switzerland. "This is important to show because pressure on natural habitats and nature protection areas is getting stronger and access bans are often ignored."

Many outdoor activities rely on infrastructure, with roads and trails being most common. Previous research has shown that trails cause habitat loss and fragmentation, where larger areas of habitat are dissected into smaller pieces thereby separating wildlife populations. However it has been difficult to say for certain whether it is the presence of trails or humans that have the most impact on forest birds.

Bötsch explains, "Previous studies provide conflicting results about the effects of trails on birds, with some studies showing negative effects while others do not. We thought differences in the intensity of human use may cause this discrepancy, which motivated us to disentangle the effect of trails from the presence of humans."

The researchers visited four forests with a similar habitat, such as the types of trees, but which differed in the levels of recreation. They recorded all birds heard and seen at points near to the trails, as well as within the forest itself, and found that a lower number of birds were recorded in the forests used more frequently by humans. In addition, they noticed certain species were more affected than others.

"Species with a high sensitivity, measured by flight initiation distance (the distance at which a bird exposed to an approaching human flies away), showed stronger trail avoidance, even in rarely frequented forests. These sensitive species were raptors, such as the common buzzard and Eurasian sparrowhawk, as well as pigeons and woodpeckers," says Bötsch.

He continues, "Generally it is assumed that hiking in nature does not harm wildlife. But our study shows even in forests that have been used recreationally for decades, birds have not habituated to people enough to outweigh the negative impact of human disturbance."

Bötsch concludes with some advice, which may help to minimize the adverse effects on forest birds by people who use forests recreationally.

"We believe protected areas with forbidden access are necessary and important, and that new trails into remote forest areas should not be promoted. Visitors to existing forest trails should be encouraged to adhere to a "stay on trail" rule and refrain from roaming from designated pathways."

Te original research article can be found here:

The corresponding author, Dr. Yves Bötsch from the Swiss Ornithological Institute, can be contacted here:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Investigation Identifies Grizzly Bear in Surprise Attack Near Columbia Falls

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ investigation into a surprise bear attack last weekend northwest of Columbia Falls has confirmed that an adult grizzly bear was involved in the encounter.

At approximately 9:20 a.m., Nov. 11, an adult male was hunting with a partner on private timberland off Trumbull Canyon Road. The individual was walking off trail in forested timber when he reported turning around as a bear attacked him. The bear bit both of the victim’s arms and pulled the individual by the leg approximately 7-8 feet before letting go and fleeing the scene. The victim’s hunting partner contacted authorities.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Wildlife Human Attack Response Team (WHART) responded along with Two Bear Air Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and ALERT Air Ambulance.

Two Bear Air transported the victim to a location where ALERT Air Ambulance picked him up and transported him to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

The FWP WHART investigation included on-site visits, victim interviews, evidence collection and analysis. The investigation has identified the animal as a grizzly bear. A “surprise encounter” prompted the attack, according to WHART investigators. No action will be taken against the bear.

Northwest Montana is bear country with populations of grizzlies and black bears. Bears are especially active in fall and early winter before denning season. Recreationists are urged to be “Bear Aware” and follow precautionary steps and tips to prevent conflicts.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The True Realities of Women’s Hiking Attire During The Victorian Era

The following is a short excerpt from my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking:

For women, hiking attire during the Victorian Era was an extremely complicated affair. The subject was frequently discussed and debated throughout the pages of Appalachia during the first decade of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The December 1887 issue of Appalachia ran a lengthy article by Mrs. L. D. Pychowska on the “walking-costume for ladies.” It provided head to toe advice on how women should dress for a hike. This included wearing a grey flannel trouser beneath two skirts. The under skirt, which reached to just below the knee, was also to be made of grey flannel. The outer skirt, however, was to be made of winsey or Kentucky jean, both of which were considered to be strong enough to withstand tears from walking through briers and undergrowth. The outer skirt was also meant to be worn to ankle length. However, if the hiker were to find herself climbing steep terrain she could simply pull out a strong clasp pin and raise the skirt higher, “washwomen fashion,” until the difficult section was completed. “Basquines,” or corsets, were optional apparel according to the author. At the end of the piece the writer assured her readers that her recommendations on female tramping attire would be “sufficiently presentable to enter a hotel or a railroad car” after a long tramp through the woods, “without attracting uncomfortable attention.”

The true realities of wearing a “costume” such as this were not considered or debated in Mrs. Pychowska’s article. Conversely, a passage in an article from the June 1877 issue of Appalachia put an exclamation point on the true dangers women faced as a result of the clothing they were forced to wear while tramping. The author related the story of a guided hike on Mt. Washington during the prior year. While descending Tuckerman Ravine one of the ladies in the group paused momentarily to stand atop a large rock above a 25-foot outcrop. Unbeknownst to the hiker, her tattered dress had become caught on a sharp protrusion on the rock. When she attempted to jump to another large rock the snag violently jolted her back, and left her dangling upside down above the abyss. Fortunately her mountain guide was nearby and was able to pull her to safety before falling.

In one particular instance the burdensome attire that women were expected to wear may have been at least partially responsible for the death of one hiker. On September 13, 1855, 22-year-old Lizzie Bourne of Kennebunk, Maine became the first woman to die while climbing Mt. Washington, and quite possibly the first woman to die while hiking in America. On that late summer day Lizzie had planned to hike to the Tip Top House atop Mount Washington with her uncle George and her cousin Lucy. As a result of early morning rain, however, the trio was forced to postpone the start of their trip. Just after lunch the weather finally cleared and they set out by trekking up the partially completed carriage road. However, as they continued towards the summit of the peak, the threesome encountered another round of bad weather while proceeding along the Glen House Bridle Path, which continued to worsen as they climbed higher. In a letter to the Boston Journal, which was intended to provide “a correct account of the whole affair,” George Bourne attested that as they ascended towards the summit, “Elizabeth began to show signs of weariness, and needed assistance.” As night fell upon the mountain, darkness and fog completely obscured the view of their destination. Fatigue had also crept in on each of the hikers. Not knowing where they were, or how far they were from their destination, the trio made the decision to lie down on the trail and wait out the night. Despite building a wind break from nearby rocks, George was convinced that each of them would perish due to the extreme cold and the violent wind. Indeed, that night, around ten o'clock, Lizzie quietly passed away while lying on the trail. In his letter to the Boston Journal, Bourne stated that it was “evident that Elizabeth did not die from the cold alone, but from some organic affection of the heart or lungs, induced by fatigue and exposure.”

With the arrival of daylight the next morning George and Lucy tragically discovered that they were within sight of the Tip Top House. Had they known that they were that close they could’ve easily made it to safety, and Lizzie likely would’ve survived. After her death tourists and hikers began piling stones on the spot where Ms. Bourne died. A stone monument now stands on that same spot to mark and commemorate her passing.

Did Lizzie’s attire contribute to her death? Perhaps. She wore a heavy skirt, petticoat, pantaloons and stockings. Nicholas Howe, author of Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire, estimates that Lizzie may have worn as much as 45 yards of fabric! When this outfit became soaked in cold rain there’s no doubt this would’ve weighed her down, resulting in more stress on her heart, and certainly would have accelerated the effects of fatigue, exposure and hypothermia.

While Mrs. Pychowska was espousing the benefits of wearing the proper costume to coincide with the mores of the Victorian Era, there was a long debate, at least among female members in the Appalachian Mountain Club, about what women should wear while hiking. During the May 9th meeting chronicled in the June 1877 edition of Appalachia, a Miss Whitman suggested that skirts be designed in a manner so that they “could be shortened to any necessary extent by rolling it up.” A Mrs. Nowell discussed the “disadvantage of ladies on mountain excursions on account of their long skirts, and recommended the use of gymnasium dresses or something similar, as an outside garment for such occasions.” In that same edition of Appalachia, Mrs. W.G. Nowell, one of the founding members of the club, and presumably the same Mrs. Nowell who spoke out during the May 9th meeting, published an article titled, “A Mountain Suit for Women.” In this piece Harriet Nowell once again took issue with the garb women were expected to wear during this era. She also mentioned the discussions she had with other women about the impracticalities and dangers of women’s hiking attire. Apparently they had carefully deliberated over what their alternatives were, and presented one possible solution: “The only thing we could think of was a good flannel bathing suit.” Mrs. Nowell continued by stating that they “could not see why it should be more improper to wear this” suit while hiking, “than it would be along a crowded and fashionable beach.” She went on to make the point that women would be “relieved of the excessive weight of her ordinary dress,“ thus allowing them to carry their own gear. She concluded her piece by declaring that “Our dress has done all the mischief. For years it has kept us away from the glory of the woods and the grandeur of the mountain heights. It is time we should reform.”

An article published on the Tramp and Trail Club of Utica website notes that by the 1920s women had solved the problem of impractical skirts by stuffing them in knapsacks once they had reached the trailhead, and then putting them back on before returning to town. Bold and daring women eschewed skirts altogether and simply wore knickers with long socks from their home. An online exhibit on the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University website, titled, Taking the Lead: Women and the White Mountains, notes that skirts had virtually disappeared by the mid-1910s, and by the 1930s women were wearing clothes similar to what female hikers wear today, including shorts and halter tops.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking chronicles the history of the first hikers, trails and hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel, including many other stories about the attire both men and women wore during the early years of the sport. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking