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

Monday, November 12, 2018

National Parks Traveler Reviews "Ramble On"

Kurt Repanshek from the National Parks Traveler recently took the time to review my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, which he published on his website yesterday. In case you're unaware, the National Parks Traveler is the leading, editorially independent, nonprofit media organization dedicated to covering national parks and other protected areas. The website is focused on informing the public of environmental, scientific, and other newsworthy developments surrounding, involving, and affecting national parks, other protected areas and their governing bodies.

Up front, Kurt stated it pretty bluntly that: "Hiking might seem rather bland as a topic to build a book around, but just as Terence Young did in 2017 with Heading Out: A History of American Camping, Doran's research brings to light some surprising hiking trivia." He continued later, stating,: "But Ramble On is more than a book of hiking trivia, though it is chock-full of that. Rather, it can be viewed as a vehicle for taking measure of where hiking got its start, why we hike, and what the future of the activity might look like as we crowd the outdoors."

To read the entire review, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Anne's Travels Take on "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Earlier this week Anne Whiting, the author of Anne's Travels, published a review of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. Ms. Whiting, the author of three state-wide trail guides, is also the author of Anne's Travels, a blog that covers her hiking adventures across America. In fact, the blog is a very rich database chronicling hundreds of her hikes that are sorted by state. This is a great resource if you're heading to a new hiking destination and you want to find out what the best hikes are in order to make the most of your trip.

Anne concluded her review by stating: "Overall, I was very impressed with the amount of information packed into 206 pages.... It’s the perfect gift for someone who loves to hike or who loves American history. Or purchase it for yourself to immerse yourself in the history of hiking in America."

To read the entire review, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Rare Caribou Sightings Reported in Northwest Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional staff have received reports of a rare sight in northwest Montana. Residents have recently documented sightings of woodland caribou near the U.S.-Canada border. The multiple sightings include the potential for a bull and a cow in separate locations.

Caribou, members of the deer family, are native to northwest Montana but have almost completely disappeared from the contiguous United States over the last half century. Woodland caribou herds once stretched from central British Columbia to Idaho, Montana and Washington. The decline in population is largely attributed to high mortality linked to habitat fragmentation, alteration, loss of old growth forest, and subsequent predation impacts. Woodland caribou are now protected in the United States and British Columbia.

Caribou have been known to roam from the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in southern B.C into Montana, Idaho and Washington but the occurrences have become increasingly rare.

Caribou are similar in size to mule deer but have different coloration, large round hooves and unique antlers. Even cow caribou can have visible small antlers.

“There are three weeks left of big-game hunting season in Montana. Hunters are reminded to be sure of their target and beyond,” said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 wildlife manager.

After confirming reports of the recent sightings, Montana FWP contacted wildlife biologists in British Columbia and informed them of the sightings. FWP will continue to work closely with partners in British Columbia on the conservation of the species.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 5, 2018

Audubon Invites You to Join the 119th Annual Christmas Bird Count

For the 119th year, the National Audubon Society is organizing its annual Christmas Bird Count. Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere. The data collected by participants continues to contribute to one of only two large existing pools of information notifying ornithologists and conservation biologists about what conservation action is required to protect birds and the places they need.

The Christmas Bird Count is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle and is led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations to Audubon. Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard that day—not just the species but total numbers to provide a clear idea of the health of that particular population.

Last year, the 118th Christmas Bird Count included a record-setting 2585 count circles, with 1957 counts in the United States, 463 in Canada and 165 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands. This was the eighth-straight year of record-breaking counts. In total, 76,987 observers out in the field and watching feeders tallied up 59,242,067 birds representing 2673 different species and 426 identifiable forms—about one-quarter of the world’s known avifauna. Approximately 5 percent of the North American landmass was surveyed by the Christmas Bird Count. Last year included a new species for the entire Christmas Bird Count database: a Mistle Thrush representing the first ever appearance of that species in North America.

Continuing the disturbing finding from last year was the continued decline of the Northern Bobwhite, the only native quail in the eastern United States. This species has essentially disappeared from the Northeast and faces massive declines due to loss of shrubland habitat exacerbated by increased droughts. Other species in decline include American Kestrels, our smallest falcon, and the Loggerhead Shrike, a predatory songbird that impales its prey on thorns. While the reasons for these declines is poorly understood, scientists suspect loss of habitat as well as susceptibility to pesticide use.

Beginning on Christmas Day in 1900, Dr. Frank M. Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – which evolved into Audubon magazine -- proposed a new holiday tradition that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. So began the Christmas Bird Count. 119 years later, the tradition continues and still manages to bring out the best in people.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate and the quarterly report, American Birds, is available online. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information and to find a count near you visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Expect Smoke Around Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance

Wildland fire staff will burn piles of woody debris near the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Parkon Thursday, November 1. Staff will ignite the piles around 10:00 a.m. Visitors should expect smoke in the area after 10:00 a.m. and through Friday, November 2. Burning the piles is the last step of the Firewise project where staff removed vegetation around buildings in order to reduce the threat of wildfire.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking