Friday, May 31, 2019

Utility Crews Address Significant Water Leaks on East Side of Glacier Park

This spring, park utility crews have dealt with significant water and wastewater leaks throughout the park.

In April and May, crews spent several weeks finding and repairing leaks to aging pipes in the Many Glacier area.

Earlier this month, a crack in the force main along the west side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road required significant repairs.

Now crews have found multiple leaks in Two Medicine’s water system.

Each spring, staff reconnect the water system after winter, testing it to ensure proper water delivery. While it’s routine for some leaks to occur, typically they do not require such significant repair.

As a result, Two Medicine Campground will likely not open tomorrow as scheduled. The park will update its campground status page when the campground is available for use. That may be later this weekend or into the next few weeks depending on crew success repairing the multiple water leaks.

In addition to aging infrastructure, the park is also facing a significant utility operator shortage on the east side of the park due to lack of job applicants. The staffing shortage also contributes to extended delays in identifying water system problems and completing repairs. The park continues to actively recruit to fill the open positions, including offering signing bonuses for qualified applicants upon hire.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Pavement Preservation, Hiker Biker Access, and Construction Impact in June

Last month, the park began a pavement preservation project on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Chief Mountain Road, a portion of Camas Road, a portion of the Many Glacier Road near Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, and in parking lots and other smaller roads throughout the park.

In May, crews patched campgrounds, roads and parking areas on the parks, west side, and Chief Mountain Highway and St. Mary roads on the east side. Crack sealing was done all over the park in preparation for microsurfacing and chip sealing. Crews began microsurfacing in Apgar Village and the Apgar Visitor Center.

In June, crews will begin laying slurry seal on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and in campgrounds and parking areas at Apgar, Avalanche, and Lake McDonald Lodge. Traffic delays are expected on open portions of the road, no more than thirty minutes in length.

Key Points:

• Apgar Loop Road in Apgar Village will likely be treated on June 3 and June 4. It will involve a temporary closure of approximately one hour.
• Half of Lake McDonald Lodge parking lot will be closed on two separate days for treatment expected June 3 and 4.
 • Travelers on Chief Mountain Highway in June should expect delays and pilot cars.
 • Hiker-Biker access during weekdays is anticipated to move back to the Avalanche Creek gate beginning June 10 while the Going-to-the-Sun Road is treated. Hikers and bikers will see that closure move on the Current Road Status webpage. Check the webpage before heading up to the park, as the exact timing and duration of that work may change. The park anticipates that the closure will remain at Avalanche Creek through June 21.
 • Pullouts and trailhead parking areas on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Camas Road, and Many Glacier Road will be treated along with the roadway. Expect full closures lasting approximately one day of these pullout areas while work is completed.

Work crews will treat the alpine section of the Going-to-to-the-Sun Road before it opens to vehicle traffic. This year, the Going-to-the-Sun Road will not open to Logan Pass before June 22 due to pavement preservation. However, that date should not be used to plan a vehicle trip. The road typically opens sometime between mid-June and mid-July depending on plowing progress and June storms.

While pavement preservation and plowing crews are not working, hikers and bikers can go beyond gates on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Visitors should read hiker and biker safety information before embarking on a trip.

This Weekend:

Last weekend saw significant avalanche activity above The Loop, near Triple Arches. Hikers and bikers can reduce their exposure to avalanche risk by turning around at The Loop. Visitors who choose to travel into significant avalanche terrain should be aware of avalanche paths, particularly from Big Bend to Logan Pass where lingering upper-elevation snow remains. Never walk your bike over avalanche debris to get further up the road. If you must cross, cross one at a time to limit exposure. These avalanche safety precautions are similar to those taken when backcountry skiing or snowmobiling. Warm temperatures this weekend will likely make avalanche conditions more hazardous in the afternoon, though avalanches at any time are possible.

This weekend, bicyclists will encounter pavement preservation crews and large trucks beyond the Avalanche Creek gate. Crews are attempting to keep with the pavement preservation schedule after delays in equipment and material this week. They will be working in pullout areas, and will flag pedestrians around moving equipment.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Grand Teton National Park Foundation Hosts Trail Workday Tomorrow

The Grand Teton National Park Foundation is hosting a trail workday tomorrow as part of National Trails Day:
Be a part of trails stewardship in Grand Teton National Park, and contribute important and impactful maintenance to one of the most pristine trails in the National Park Service at Schwabacher's Landing.

Work will include light maintenance, with light to moderate physical activity. All ages and skills are welcome. Tools are provided.

We will address trail decompaction, construction of a retaining wall, brushing, tread work, and a small amount of buck n rail fencing.
For more information and to participate, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Interagency Response Successfully Rescues Injured Backcountry Skier in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park, Teton County Search and Rescue and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort coordinated a successful rescue of a backcountry skier yesterday.

At approximately 10:45 a.m. Teton County Dispatch received an emergency call regarding an individual that was injured after a substantial fall on the west side of Cody Peak, south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Four individuals were hiking from the top of the tram at the Resort to backcountry ski when one of the individuals slipped on firm snow and ice, falling approximately 1,000 feet. One of the individuals called 911, and two members of the party plus two other individuals from a separate party, who happened to be emergency medical technicians, descended to the injured member of the group.

Teton County Search and Rescue initiated a rescue response, including their helicopter, and notified Grand Teton National Park for assistance. Members of the mountain patrol staff from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort also assisted by skiing to the location of the injured skier.

Though the accident site was determined to be inside the park boundaries once rescuers located the scene, park and county search and rescue leaders determined that Teton County would maintain command in the interest of efficiency. The county helicopter dropped off one rescuer on a nearby ridge who then skied to the patient and determined that a short-haul extraction was appropriate.

The park short-haul team responded and the injured individual, 24-year-old Stephen Sherk from Jackson, Wyoming, was transported via short haul and driven by county ambulance to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson.

Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope. This method allows a rescuer more direct access to an injured party, and it is often used in the Teton Range where conditions make it difficult to land a helicopter in the steep and rocky terrain.

The National Park Service, Teton County and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort work and train collaboratively to respond to emergency situations. It is through this professional partnership that successful outcomes such as this rescue are possible.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Infamous Angel's Landing

Over the last year or so I've had the privilege of publishing a couple of short films by Christopher R. Abbey. This includes films on climbing 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney in California, as well as a three-day backpacking trip in the Mt. Sterling area of the Great Smoky Mountains. His latest film chronicles his hike up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, and highlights some of the crazy terrain hikers travel over to reach its summit. Hope you enjoy:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Avalanche Activity Strands Cyclists on Going-to-the-Sun Road

On Monday, significant avalanche activity at Triple Arches on the Going-to-the-Sun Road trapped thirteen cyclists on the far side of avalanche debris and left them unable to return down the mountain for a number of hours. No injuries were reported.

Earlier Monday, the park had closed the road to pedestrian and cyclist traffic at the Loop after a separate significant rock slide blocked the road and prevented emergency vehicle travel. However, many cyclists were already beyond the road closure at that point. Two Glacier National Park volunteer bike patrol units were also up the road, though on the west side of the avalanche slide area. They relayed the call for help to park dispatch, and stayed in the area for more than four hours until park rangers gained access to the scene.

A park road crew cleared the rock slide, and began cutting a path through the avalanche debris to open the way for the stranded cyclists. Avalanche forecasters with the U.S. Geological Survey also assessed the avalanche area and slope above.

The snow stabilized after several hours, allowing crews to work safely and reach the cyclists. Conditions often do stabilize after a period of hours, so the park reminds hikers and bikers to carry extra food and clothing in order to be comfortable if stranded because of an emergency or unexpected situation.

The operation took approximately eight hours and involved more than a dozen park staff and volunteers. The cyclists reportedly were cold but in good spirits, and otherwise unharmed.

Visitors photographed cyclists walking over the slide activity to continue their cycling trip up the road. If you encounter a slide along the road, turn around. Signs of slide activity means that more avalanche activity is possible, as was the case yesterday. Do not attempt to cross an avalanche slide unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do, you may become trapped on the other side as more snow continues to slide. If you must cross, use a spotter to watch for additional slide activity further up the mountain. Cross one at a time.

“If you see fresh snow on the side of the road or across the road, even if you are excited about your bike trip, turn around,” said Chief Ranger Paul Austin. “Take responsibility for your safety and though disappointing, plan on heading out another day. Biking along the Going-to-the-Sun Road is not the same as an easy bike trip around town.”

Glacier reminds visitors that conditions change rapidly in the park. Always pack extra food, bring extra clothes, and learn about potential hazards that may exist in the area you plan to visit. Read more about avalanche-related hazards during the spring hiker-biker season here.

Sunny weather affords comfortable conditions for cycling and hiking, but does increase avalanche hazard as snow softens. Even small slides can knock a person off their bike or feet, and the steep terrain along the road can increase the danger of even a small slide.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a narrow mountain highway prone to rock slides and avalanches. It's not uncommon for the park to have one or two incidents each year where visitors become trapped on one side of a slide.

Spring rescue can be particularly difficult because the road is not yet cleared along its entire length. The final area to be cleared is the “Big Drift" near Logan Pass, a large snowdrift that accumulates all winter and typically is 40 to 80 feet deep.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

National Park Visitor Spending Contributed $40 Billion to U.S. Economy

As the summer vacation and travel seasons opens, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2018 resulted in a $40.1 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 329,000 jobs.

According to the annual National Park Service report, 2018 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, more than 318 million visitors spent $20.2 billion in communities within 60 miles of a park in the National Park System. Of the 329,000 jobs supported by visitor spending, more than 268,000 jobs exist in the park gateway communities.

“This report emphasizes the tremendous impact the national parks have on our nation’s economy and underscores the need to fulfill President Trump's plan to rebuild park infrastructure,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “With 419 sites, and at least one in every state, our national parks continue to provide visitors, both local and destination, with innumerous recreational, inspirational, and world-class experiences.”

“National parks with their iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes represent the heart and soul of America,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “They are also a vital part of our nation’s economy, especially for park gateway communities where millions of visitors each year find a place to sleep and eat, hire outfitters and guides and make use of other local services that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”

Economic benefits from visitor spending increased by $2 billion and total output increased by $4.3 billion in comparison to 2017.

As a part of the report, visitor surveys were conducted at 19 parks with the results indicating that people spent more time in the parks, stayed longer in gateway communities and spent more money during their visits.

Visitation varies across the National Park System, from big parks like Rocky Mountain National Park to Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending totaling nearly $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area with visitors spending $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

The peer-reviewed economics report was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by parks and by states on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view annual, trend data.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, May 27, 2019

Hiker’s How-To: Proper etiquette for your trail adventures

Though this article is from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, this information applies to all hikers:

Colorado has a reputation for our outdoorsy ways and adventurous attitudes. We love to raft and kayak in whitewater, such as in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. We water ski at places like Lake Pueblo State Park. We plunge down snowpacked mountainsides on skis. We mountain bike on remote single-tracks. We climb cliffs. We run steep inclines for exercise and fun. We fish and hunt and go wildlife viewing.

But we have one activity that reigns above all others: Hiking. A reader poll on puts Colorado well ahead of Washington, Utah, Oregon and Alaska in the top 5 states for hiking.

We’re talking everything from gentle walks through the meadows and forests of places like Mueller State Park in Teller County, to steep trails with incredible exposures along cliffs like the Dixon Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, or the hundreds of miles of trails that meander through Rocky Mountain National Park.

And we hike 14ers. That’s shorthand for mountains with summits reaching 14,000 feet above sea level and higher. These are generally difficult trails due to elevation gain, length and oxygen-depleted altitude. We have more than four dozen 14ers in Colorado and it’s a badge of honor to conquer them on foot. Last summer, it’s estimated more than 334,000 people hiked Colorado’s 14ers. I can only imagine how many more people are hiking simple, everyday trails.

That’s a lot of people wandering around our outdoor spaces. And because a lot of them are new to Colorado and the outdoors, it’s a good time to talk about trail etiquette to keep the trip safe for yourself, others and the environment.

First, you need to approach a hike as you would a long vacation. Scope out your route to make sure it is the safest and most effective way of getting where we want to go. Don’t let your new trail adventure turn into a nightmare by getting lost. Research where trails begin and end and be realistic in judging your ability to cover the distance. Then plan to start early enough so you don’t end up hiking at a time of day that makes you feel unsafe. This is especially important if you get lost. Best to have daylight for searchers to have a chance of finding you.

Just as important is knowing the terrain. Anyone who has stepped on different textures of land understands that not all shoes work for all textures and trail grades. Walking shoes may be fine on a hard surfaced, flat trail but lousy if you will be on a dirt-and-gravel trail requiring climbing or a steep descent.

Make sure you have the proper gear to get you to and from, in an enjoyable and safe manner.

Next you need to think about food and water. And don’t tell me you don’t need to pack food because you’ll only be gone an hour or two. Think about what might happen if you get lost. Or if you get tired from exerting yourself at altitude more than you expected. Or you just get hungry. You will start to feel stressed and confused. Food and water are going to help you out.

With food and water you usually produce trash. And that brings me to an important trail etiquette rule: Pack it in, pack it out. It’s part of the “leave no trace” ethic of the outdoors. You’ve heard the expression: Leave only footprints and take only memories. Do not leave anything behind. Trash includes wrappers, bottles, toilet paper, bags with your pet poop, grocery bags and un-eaten food. This is critical because we share our trails with millions of people and other species.

Leaving no trace also means not cutting trees or moving rocks or picking plants. The ecosystem operates in the way it is intended, and we unfortunately don’t know enough to change it safely.

If you are lucky enough to hike a trail in solitude, don’t forget that there is always someone else who wants to enjoy the same scenery. Don’t ruin by leaving your trash - this includes dog waste bags where dogs are permitted on trails.

But more often, you won’t be alone on a route. Just like respecting other people on the highway, we must respect other people, and animals, on the trails. And the others you encounter won’t always be fellow hikers.

We share our trails with bikers and horse riders. While they may not be using the trails quite like you, they deserve just as much recreational freedom. It’s like the old saying, be nice to people and hopefully they will be nice back. If you share the trails with respect and dignity, they probably will, too.

One last request: Please keep your phone in your pocket while you are outdoors. OK, take a photo or two. Even a selfie, if you must. But do everyone a favor and don’t share every step of your journey. We are seeing headlines every day about people who die in the outdoors taking a dangerous selfie or walking off a cliff because they are looking at their phone instead of the trail and scenery.

The outdoors is a great chance to escape from the noise of your busy life. Immerse yourself in the serenity of Colorado’s great outdoor spaces. Put your phone away so that you aren’t distracted from the wonders around you.

Apply the right etiquette to your outdoor adventures, and you are sure to have no problems.

Just like everything else in life, we can enjoy the moments in what we do, while still managing to be safe doing it. Keep calm, and adventure on!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Grand Teton Reports $792 Million in Local Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service report shows that visitors to Grand Teton National Park in 2018 spent $629 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 8,620 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $792 million.

“Grand Teton National Park is an iconic national park and hosts visitors from across the country and world,” said Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service. Noojibail said, “We appreciate the support of all our park partners, neighbors and local communities that contribute to serving the visitor and creating a quality visitor experience at Grand Teton National Park.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

According to the 2018 report, most park visitor spending at Grand Teton National Park was for lodging/camping (38.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (17.4 percent), gas and oil (9.8 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.5 percent), and local transportation (6.0 percent).

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the National Park Service Social Science Program webpage at

There are several sites affiliated or managed by the National Park Service in Wyoming, including Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area; Devils Tower National Monument; Fort Laramie National Historic Site; Fossil Butte National Monument; Grand Teton National Park; John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway; and Yellowstone National Park. Visit to learn more about national parks in Wyoming and how the National Park Service works with local communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Glacier National Park Warns Spring Hikers and Cyclists About Avalanche Risk

In the spring, many visitors head to the park for hiking and biking up the Going-to-the-Sun Road. These activities have increased steadily in popularity over the years. But, like other park activities, traveling by foot or bike on Going-to-the-Sun Road has its risks.

“A lot of people think about all of the supplies they need and the conditions they’ll encounter when heading out for a hike in the park,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “Some folks don’t take the same precautions or recognize hazards when heading out for a bike ride on the Sun Road, but the same forethought and preparation can make for a much safer trip.”


Hikers and bikers need to be particularly attuned to avalanche-related hazards, similar to those faced by snowmobilers and backcountry skiers exploring Montana’s mountains in the winter.

This spring, the park has received multiple reports about close encounters with avalanches along the Going-to-the-Sun Road and in the backcountry. Plow crews and visitors have encountered multiple avalanches crossing areas already plowed in the last two weeks, particularly in the Triple Arches area.

Avalanches that begin out of sight near the tops of the highest peaks can impact the road thousands of vertical feet below without warning.

Snow avalanches on the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor are capable of reaching the road and depositing debris piles more than 30 feet deep.

Spring avalanches along the Going-to-the-Sun Road can occur during and after snow storms, during and after rain, and on sunny days as snow softens.

Visitors should watch out for “snowballs” falling on the road from above, which can be an early warning of an avalanche. Hearing avalanche activity in the distance also means avalanche danger in the area is high.

Hikers and bikers also should learn to spot avalanche chutes and pay close attention as they walk or cycle past these areas. Avalanche chutes can often be identified by a lack of trees, many downed trees, or vegetation growing in a downward direction. Never stop for a drink of water or a photo near an avalanche chute.

People can minimize avalanche-related risks by riding portions of the Going-to-the-Sun Road below significant avalanche terrain. Though a few slide areas exist below the Loop, most exist beyond that point in the alpine section of the road.


Bears present another potential hazard for hikers and bikers. Currently, most of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is posted with warnings of “bear frequenting” as bears forage along road shoulders. Everyone should carry bear spray while recreating in the park, and be familiar with how to use it under pressure.

While visitors should be vigilant for avalanches and bears, Glacier National Park reminds bikers not to overlook a few simple, everyday guidelines for safe cycling in the park.

“We talk a lot about some of the extreme hazards along the Going-to-the-Sun Road,” said Mow. “However, one of the best and easiest things people can do to lower their overall risk is wear a helmet, reduce speed, and watch for rocks.”

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, May 24, 2019

Keep your distance from young or injured wildlife

Each spring, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks receives several calls from people who have picked up deer fawns or other wildlife.

FWP advises against this practice for several reasons. The agency does not accept, hold or rehabilitate deer and elk because the animals rarely survive the stress of captivity, and because of concerns with the spread of disease. So FWP’s likely response would be to tell people to leave the animals alone or return them to where they were found.

While people mean well, they may not understand that their intervention could possibly kill the animal or cause injury to it or to themselves. Good intentions can lead to dire consequences.

Every spring, FWP receives calls from good-intentioned people who pick up great horned owls that have bailed out of the nest before they can fly. This is a natural part of their life cycle. The adult owls monitor these young, providing them with food until they can fly — usually just a couple of days. People can help best by not touching the owls and by keeping pets restrained.

In a high-profile case in Yellowstone National Park last summer, a bison calf was picked up and transported by tourists who believed it had been abandoned. The calf ultimately had to be euthanized because it couldn’t be reunited with the herd and continued to approach people and vehicles.

If You Care, Leave Them There

To prevent outcomes like this, FWP emphasizes that all wildlife species and their young should be left in the wild. If you see a young animal alone or injured, whether a goose or a grizzly, keep your distance. It is illegal to possess and care for a live animal taken from the wild.

Animals often thrive without human intervention, and their odds of surviving in the wild are much greater if they are left alone. Once young animals are picked up by people, they usually can’t be rehabilitated. People handling wildlife also may injure themselves or the animal, or habituate it to humans, potentially causing problems if the animal is released back into the wild.

Understanding Nature

It’s natural for deer, elk and other animals to leave their young alone for extended periods of time. What appears to be an orphaned animal may not be, but chances are the mother will not return while humans are present. Fawns are seldom orphaned, but if they are, another doe may add them to the group. In 8 to 10 days, a fawn will have the appropriate gut flora and can survive on its own by nibbling grass. Young fawns have no body odor, which lessens their appeal to predators. Their spots also help to camouflage them while their mothers stash them to feed.

If you take dogs into the field, be sure to keep your dog under control, especially in the spring when newborn wildlife is most vulnerable. Pet owners can be cited, and dogs that harass or kill wildlife may, by law, have to be destroyed.

What FWP Can Do

FWP does have a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Helena. But an intake policy governs what animals are permitted, and space and staff are limited. Only an FWP official can authorize an animal being picked up and transported to the center.

If you find a wild animal and you think it needs help, you should keep your distance and monitor the animal. If you have questions, contact your local FWP official or Montana WILD at 406-444-9944.

As a wildlife agency, FWP’s priority is to keep wild animals wild, and we urge the public to help us in this mission.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Fatal Rafting Accident in Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park rangers responded to a fatal rafting accident on Tuesday, May 21, on the Snake River. A Grand Teton Lodge Company scenic float raft on a training trip hit a log snag and got tangled. The location was near the historic Bar BC Dude Ranch. Some of the passengers fell into the cold and swift moving water, and as the boat operator attempted to dislodge the raft, he fell into the water as well. The passengers were able to climb to safety on the log snag itself and eventually back into raft, but could not find the boat operator. They contacted Teton Interagency Dispatch at approximately 3:30 p.m. requesting help.

Rangers immediately responded to the scene and various locations along the river with multiple rescue boats, and rescue/medical personnel. Teton County Search and Rescue members assisted with aerial reconnaissance in the county helicopter.

At approximately 5:15 p.m. the body of the boat operator was located and recovered near the log snag. Teton County Coroner declared the victim deceased.

All the individuals involved in the accident are employees of Grand Teton Lodge Company, a park concessioner. No injuries were reported of the three passengers.

The victim is a 44 year-old male from Moran, Wyoming. His name is being withheld until next-of-kin notifications are completed.

The National Park Service is conducting an investigation into the accident.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Warning: Yellowstone elk with calves are extremely dangerous

Yellowstone National Park has announced that elk calving season has begun!

Cow elk are much more aggressive towards people during the calving season and may charge or kick. Stay alert. Look around corners before exiting buildings or walking around blind spots: cow elk may bed their calves near buildings and cars. Keep at least 25 yards from elk at all times.

If an elk charges you, find shelter in your vehicle or behind a tall, sturdy barrier as quickly as possible.

Remember: You're responsible for your own safety.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

National Park Service Awards Contract for Second Phase of Sperry Chalet Construction at Glacier National Park

The National Park Service (NPS) today announced the award of a $4.73 million dollar contract to Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls, MT, to complete rebuilding the historic Sperry Chalet Dormitory in Glacier National Park. The chalet was badly damaged in August 2017 during the Sprague Fire, which burned thousands of acres in the park. This is the second of two phases of construction that began in 2018.

The NPS expects that work this year will begin in early July and continue through September 30, weather permitting. The Denver Service Center, the NPS’s central planning, design, and construction management office, awarded the contract for phase two and will oversee the upcoming project.

The second and final phase of the project will include masonry repairs, the permanent roof, and all other interior finishes to complete the building and ready it for visitor use. It’s anticipated that the chalet will be ready for public overnight stays in 2020.

The first phase of the project, completed in 2018, also by Dick Anderson Construction, included building stabilization, interior seismic walls, and temporary roofing. That award was for $4.08 million.

Rebuilding of the Sperry Chalet on its original site was made possible because of the quick response and financial support of the Glacier National Park Conservancy in the amount of $396,148 to date. Immediately after the fire, the Conservancy raised significant funds for a “Phase Zero” emergency stabilization and preservation of the chalet’s stone masonry walls before winter set in. The Conservancy then provided subsequent philanthropic funding for Phase 1 construction and monitoring overflights to check on the status of the half-completed chalet as it weathered the winter. The Conservancy will contribute an additional $236,400 towards Phase 2.

“I am incredibly pleased to announce the second and final phase of the Sperry Chalet rebuilding project,” said Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “We look forward to working with Dick Anderson again. They provided exceptional service to the National Park Service and the public last year.”

“We stand at the threshold of an historic accomplishment,” said Doug Mitchell, Glacier National Park Conservancy Executive Director. “This remarkable achievement shows the power of a public private partnership where all of us are pulling together to write the next chapter of Sperry Chalet and Glacier National Park history.”

Belton Chalets, Inc. will operate the Sperry Chalet Dining Room again this summer, serving work crews and the public. Lunch and a la carte services will be available 11 am - 5 pm. Breakfast and dinner will be available to the public via reservation with Belton Chalets, Inc. by calling (888) 345-2649. Park concessioner Swan Mountain Outfitters will offer horseback rides to the Sperry area on weekends.

The NPS is rebuilding the Sperry Chalet Dormitory at its original site within the original stone masonry walls. The design rehabilitates the chalet dormitory reflecting its period of significance (1914-1949). The visitor experience will be very similar to what it has been for decades by using as much of the remaining historic fabric, and replicating historic finishes where practicable. For more information, please visit the Sperry Chalet planning webpage.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Yellowstone announces strategic priorities

Yellowstone is releasing a series of major strategic priorities that will guide short and long-term decision making over the upcoming years. The priorities focus heavily on the park’s team and organization, strengthening the condition of the Yellowstone ecosystem, improving visitor experience, investing in infrastructure, and expanding partnerships and coalitions.

“It’s important that our priorities and actions are clear, not only to the NPS team here in Yellowstone, but to ensure our partners and the public understand our direction in these very important areas,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly.

Each of the park’s strategic priorities has a range of focus areas and actions that have been identified and will be continually refined and updated. The Strategic Priorities are:

1.Focus on the Core: Success in this priority is central to Yellowstone’s future and revolves around improving the working and living conditions of the Yellowstone team, how the park manages its financial resources, and how it works toward the best administrative and operational framework. An example of a specific action under this priority includes the development of a 5-year plan to substantially improve employee housing within the park. The multi-million dollar plan will work to improve existing housing, eliminate and replace 75 trailers currently used for seasonal employees, and will explore new housing partnership opportunities with gateway communities and partners.

2.Strengthen the Ecosystem and Heritage Resources: This priority focuses on understanding and responding to the effects of climate change, promoting large landscape and wildlife conservation efforts, and protecting and improving the condition of Yellowstone’s vast cultural and historic resources. Specific actions under this priority are being developed in a range of key areas including: a bison management strategy that stabilizes and potentially expands the quarantine program; working with states to protect and facilitate important wildlife migration corridors; and expanding efforts to combat the impacts of non-native species like lake trout in Yellowstone Lake.

3.Deliver a World Class Visitor Experience: This priority aims to provide clarity and direction around how the park will handle increased visitation in upcoming years – with special focus on visitor impacts on resources, staffing and infrastructure, visitor experience, and gateway communities. Importantly, the park is moving out of the data gathering phase and beginning to determine the appropriate short and long-term actions necessary to protect resources, mitigate impacts of congestion, and improve educational, recreational, and other visitor enjoyment opportunities. This priority also focuses heavily on improving public safety and resource protection.

4.Invest in Infrastructure: The park’s maintenance backlog exceeds half a billion and is likely much higher. Actions within this priority include: developing a more cogent deferred maintenance reduction plan, improving the quality of data and prioritization processes, and taking better advantage of current and future funding to improve asset conditions and protect investments.

5.Build Coalitions and Partnerships: Yellowstone’s success is predicated on strong partnerships and coalitions. The park will continue to build and align priorities with many partners including Yellowstone Forever and our incredibly generous philanthropic community, with tribes, elected officials, environmental and conservation groups, concessioners, and communities, states, and other federal cooperators.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, May 20, 2019

Forest Service Requests Public Assistance Identifying a person of interest in the Roosevelt Fire Investigation

Fire investigators with U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are continuing their efforts to locate the person, or persons responsible for the ignition of the Roosevelt Fire. The incident led to the loss of numerous private homes and structures in the Bondurant area, as well as serious injuries to National Forest visitors. Interviews conducted during the course of the investigation have led to a description of a person of interest in the case.

Investigators have determined the Roosevelt fire to be human caused, originating from an abandoned, or inadequately extinguished warming fire in the upper reaches of the Hoback River drainage. The fire ignited approximately three miles west of the Upper Hoback Trailhead, on a small topographic bench, along a steep timbered slope, approximately 110 yards above the trail, on the south side of the canyon. The area is located approximately three-quarters of a mile east of the lower reaches of Roosevelt Meadows, just inside the Sublette County line.

Investigators are seeking to identify an individual observed on the afternoon of Friday, September 14, 2018 below the point of origin. He's described as a white adult male, between the ages of 40 and 50 years old with brown hair and a short, scruffy beard. The individual is believed to be between 5'10" and 6' 0" tall, weighing approximately 185-200 pounds. He was seen carrying both a hunting rifle and compound bow on his pack that day. He was reported to be glassing the north rim of the canyon for an extended period of time. It's believed this person may have information as to how the fire began.

Anyone with information as to the cause of the incident, or the identity of the individual observed in the area, is urged to contact U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement at 208-557-5852. Please leave a detailed message with information as to how investigators may reach you. Continued support from National Forest visitors and our citizen partners in the community is greatly appreciated.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Gear Review: Kuhl Renegade Cargo Short

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to test my new pair of Renegade Cargo Shorts during a hike in our local park. The Renegade is made by Kühl, an outdoor clothing company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Kuhl website states that "Going off the grid takes more organization than you might think." The Renegade Cargo Short "features pockets inside other pockets to ensure your important items are secure. And the DURALUX™ fabric feels soft while giving you enough stretch to go anywhere you want to go. Get organized for the adventure ahead with men's cargo shorts made with innovative features." The product description continues by stating that "DURALUX™ feels like cotton, superior anti-abrasion, stronger, softer, more breathable than standard nylon."

By all appearances the Renegade Cargo Short is a very well-made pair of shorts. Despite being made with durable fabric, the Renegade feels fairly soft, and more importantly, is extremely comfortable. I also appreciate the ample pocket space. I own a well-known brand of hiking shorts that doesn't even have back pockets. In another well-known brand of hiking shorts that I own the pockets are extremely shallow, with barely enough room to fit my normal-sized wallet. The back pockets on the Renegade are the perfect size. Additionally, the Renegade sports side and front pockets as well.

At first I thought the shorts felt a little tight when I first put them on. However, after wearing them around the house for awhile they seemed to fit my form more naturally. Not only will I be wearing them on hikes, but the design looks so great that I'll also be wearing them around town as well.

My only real complaint with the Renegade Cargo Short is their length, which comes just over my knee-caps. Style-wise, I'm more of a fan of shorter shorts. This is just a personal preference, however.

All in all I think the Renegade is a great pair of shorts, and look forward to wearing them in the mountains this upcoming season. For more information on the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Shorts, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, May 17, 2019

Men sentenced for illegal mountain lion hunt in Yellowstone National Park

Three men who violated the Lacey Act in Yellowstone National Park (an act that prohibits hunting in the park) have been sentenced in federal court. The men, from Livingston, Montana, were charged with illegally hunting a male mountain lion in the northern section of the park, north of the Yellowstone River, December 12, 2018.

According to court documents, Austin Peterson, Trey Juhnke, and Corbin Simmons, crossed the park’s marked boundary to hunt mountain lions. Each hunter admitted to shooting the lion and transporting the carcass back to their vehicle. Simmons then falsely claimed to have harvested the animal north of the park boundary in Montana. This affected the state’s quota system by denying a legal hunter the opportunity to legally harvest a lion.

On Friday, May 3, 2019, Peterson, age 20, was ordered to pay approximately $1,700 in restitution and fees, and must serve three years of unsupervised probation, during which time he is banned from hunting, fishing, or trapping worldwide. Juhnke, age 20, and Simmons, age 19, received similar sentences at hearings in April 2019. All three pleaded guilty to the charges at prior court hearings.

“I would like to express a sincere thank you to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, law enforcement officers at Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch, and the US Attorney's Office - District of Wyoming for being involved in this case,” said Yellowstone National Park Chief Ranger Pete Webster. “Their thorough work spotlighted this egregious act and the consequences incurred for hunting illegally in Yellowstone National Park.”

Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of US or Indian law or in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law.

If you witness a crime, have information about suspicious activity or wildlife takings in Yellowstone, call the 24-hour Tip Line at 307-344-2132. Callers can remain anonymous.

Though seldom seen by the public, biologists estimate that 20-31 adult cougars reside year-round in the northern range (an average of 12-18 females and 8-13 males). These estimates are based on field surveys and statistical analyses conducted from 2014–2017. Biologists found higher estimates in the later years of the study. The numbers do not include kitten and sub-adult cougars which accompany a portion of the adult females each year. Monitoring efforts since 2017 suggest a stable population consistent with these estimates for previous years.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Pavement Preservation Project Begins in Grand Teton This Week

Pavement preservation work on U.S. Highway 89 and other areas in Grand Teton National Park may begin Thursday, May 16, and travelers should expect up to 15-minute daytime delays as chip seal activities get underway. Work on U.S. Highway 89 will begin at the park’s southern boundary and continue northbound throughout the year, extending to the south gate of Yellowstone National Park. Road work is dependent upon weather and temperature conditions.

The park-wide pavement preservation project is expected to be completed by the end of September. Visitors will see increased construction signage and equipment staging throughout the park.

The project is funded and managed in partnership with the Federal Lands Highway Program. The contract for the project was awarded to Intermountain Slurry Seal of Salt Lake City, Utah. Activities include patching holes and sealing cracks in the pavement surface, applying a chip seal or micro seal on the road surface, followed by a fog seal to reduce airborne gravel. Striping will be the final action.

The chip sealing work is a rolling construction operation that will gradually proceed from south to north on U.S. Highway 89. Visitors can expect temporary delays and reduced speed limits in these mobile construction zones. Work at parking lots will be managed by sections so that a portion of the lot will always be accessible.

Chip sealing is a cost-effective way to provide an improved road surface and preserve the underlying pavement. When proactive preventative maintenance activities are completed on park roads, more serious and costly damage to the pavement structure will be averted.

Road work will generally occur between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, including weekends. No work will be permitted Saturday through Monday of Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-27, or over the Independence Day Holiday, Wednesday afternoon through Sunday, July 3-7.

Weather and temperature permitting, work will occur at the following locations and dates listed:

U.S. Highway 89/191/26

South Boundary to Antelope Flats
Begin mid-May and complete by July
Expect 15-minute delays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Expect possible 30-minute delays from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. later this summer

Antelope Flats to East Boundary near Moran
 Completed by mid-July
Expect 15-minute delays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Expect possible 30-minute delays from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. later this summer

Moran Junction to south gate of Yellowstone National Park
Begin late August and completed by early September
Expect 30-minute delays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Expect possible 30-minute delays from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Park Roads

Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center Parking
Begin May 15 and complete by July
 Work will be completed in two phases to allow for visitor parking and access.

Gros Ventre Road (Kelly Road)
Begin late May and complete by July
Expect 15-minute delays

South Jenny Lake Access Road and Parking
  Begin early June and complete by July
Work will be completed in four phases to allow for visitor parking and access.

Colter Bay Entrance Road
Completed by mid-July
Maximum 15-minute delays

Colter Bay Visitor Center Parking
Completed by mid-July
Work will be completed in six phases to allow for visitor parking and access.

Leeks Marina Access Road
Prior to June 15 or after September 15, or completed at night 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Maximum 15-minute delays during daytime hours
Work on the Leeks Marina Access Road and the Colter Bay Entrance Road will not be performed concurrently.

Updated road status and conditions will be available by calling the park road information line at 307-739-3682 and on the park’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

In addition to the pavement preservation work, the final phase of emergency repairs related to the June 2017 washout of the Gros Ventre Road will occur late this summer. Work is expected to begin in late July and continue into November. Traffic delays associated with the Gros Ventre Road repair project will be limited to 15 minutes between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The work will focus on realigning the road to restore the original 45 m.p.h. speed limit and replacing the concrete barriers with a guardrail. Additional stream bank armoring will occur upstream and downstream from the work that was completed in the fall of 2017.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Biologists set to begin grizzly bear captures for research purposes in Yellowstone National Park - Public reminded to heed warning signs

As part of ongoing efforts to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Yellowstone National Park and the USGS would like to inform the public that biologists with the National Park Service and Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) will be conducting scientific grizzly bear research operations in Yellowstone National Park from May 13 through July 31.

Team members will bait and trap bears at several remote sites within Yellowstone National Park. Once trapped, the bears are anesthetized to allow wildlife biologists to radio-collar and collect scientific samples for study. All trapping and handling are done in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.

None of the trap sites in the park will be located near any established hiking trails or backcountry campsites, and all trap sites will have posted warnings for the closure perimeter. Potential access points will also be posted with warning signs for the closure area. Backcountry users who come upon any of these posted areas need to heed the warnings and stay out of the area.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team was established in 1973 to collaboratively monitor and manage ecosystem bears on an interagency basis. The gathering of critical data on bears is part of a long-term research and monitoring effort to help wildlife managers devise and implement programs to support the ongoing conservation of Yellowstone’s grizzly bear populations.

The IGBST is composed of representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department, and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, May 10, 2019

Flash Sale: half-off on "Ramble On: A History of Hiking" today

As you're likely already aware, I published my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, last fall. Today, I wanted to announce that for a very limited time the eBook version of the book will be on sale. Beginning at 8:00 am MST today you will be able purchase the eBook version for only $4.99 on Amazon - a 50% discount off the regular price of $9.95. You can take advantage of this limited time offer until 12;00 pm today. For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Additionally, if you like the book, I would really appreciate if you could write a short review on my Amazon page.

Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Annual Bear Monitoring and Capturing Begins in Glacier

Each year, Glacier National Park participates in an interagency effort to monitor grizzly bear population trends in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.

To monitor population trends, experts use bait stations, automated cameras, and traps to capture and mark the animals. An estimated 300 grizzly bears live in the park. The park’s goal is to maintain a sample of up to 10 radio-marked female grizzly bears for this monitoring effort. This year, some bears may receive a collar for the first time. Others may have a collar replaced if it is near the end of its useful lifespan.

Brightly colored warning signs identify bait stations and trap sites. Visitors are required to heed these signs and not enter closed areas. In 2010, a man was killed by a grizzly bear seven miles east of Yellowstone National Park after wandering into a capture site. Trapping efforts will continue May 8 through October at various locations throughout the park.

“Glacier National Park is bear country, and park visitors should be prepared for bear sightings, in addition to following other hiking safety precautions,” said Jeff Mow, Glacier National Park Superintendent.

Park visitors should travel in groups and make loud noises by calling out or clapping their hands at frequent intervals, especially near streams, and at blind spots on trails. These actions help avoid surprise bear encounters. Do not approach any wildlife; instead, use binoculars, telescopes, or telephoto lenses to get a closer look. Visitors should maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards from any bear within the park.

While carrying firearms within national parks and wildlife refuges is permitted as consistent with state laws, proper use of bear spray has proven to be the best method for fending off threatening and attacking bears, and for preventing injury to the person and animal involved. Wounding a bear, even with a large caliber firearm, can put you and others in far greater danger.

Anyone participating in recreational activities in bear country is highly encouraged to have bear spray. The bear spray should be readily accessible, and hikers should know how to use it.

Visitors should store food, garbage and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes when not in use. Garbage must be deposited into a bear-resistant trashcan or dumpster. These actions help keep bears from becoming conditioned to human food, and help keep park visitors and their personal property safe.

Visitors should report any bear sightings or signs of bear activity to the nearest visitor center, ranger station or by calling 406-888-7800 as soon as possible.

In addition to bear safety precautions, hikers in Glacier National Park should review other safety measures to take when exploring park trails. To help plan day hiking trips in the park, Glacier offers a Day Trip Plan to help visitors prepare for their hike. Before departure, it is vital to tell someone where in the park you are going, and how long you expect to be gone. Visitors should carry the ten essentials, including a map of the area, a compass, a flashlight, extra food, extra clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen, a pocketknife, matches in a waterproof container, a candle or other fire starter, and a first aid kit. Visitors should also carry bear spray and be prepared for suddenly changing weather events.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Big Bend National Park

After leaving White Sands National Monument, Kathy and I headed southeast towards Alpine, Texas. Along the way we were scheduled to stop at the McDonald Observatory, located in the Davis Mountains just northwest of Alpine, to take part in their Tuesday night "Star Party". If you saw my post from White Sands, you'll likely notice large billowy clouds in my photos. Those clouds proceeded to develop into major thunderstorms. Fortunately our route took us completely around these storms. However, as got to Van Horn and beyond, more clouds began to develop. We thought for sure the Star Party would be canceled. However, once we arrived at the observatory, which sits atop a relatively low mountain, we enjoyed clear skies above us - though heavy clouds and storms threatened in all directions. As the sun set, and darkness enveloped the mountain, our luck continued as the Star Party went-off as scheduled, and we were able to view the stars through several telescopes. To be honest though, we were both pretty disappointed in the "party". We thought we would be looking at supernovas and planets in great detail, but the telescopes simply did not provide that amount of power. The best part of the party was watching the lightning that seemed to spark all around us in the far-off distance.

After getting to our hotel around midnight, we were awakened early the next morning by a raging storm that looked like a hurricane from our third floor window. Just south of town we passed several mounds of hail that had accumulated from the storm. Fortunately we weren't impacted by any severe weather as we drove south towards Big Bend National Park. By the time we reached the outskirts of the park we could see a massive storm raging over the east side of the park. Our primary destination, Santa Elena Canyon, was on the west side of the park, and appeared to be under blue skies. So far so good! However, once we arrived at the trailhead we found out that Terlingua Creek was impassable due to heavy rains. We were only able to see the mouth of this spectacular canyon:

After hiking a couple of other trails on the west side of the park, we began making our way towards the east. As we progressed we could see massive storm clouds brooding towards the north. By this time it was late afternoon and we were essentially done with our visit, and were really hoping that we would be able to avoid severe storms as we headed north towards Fort Stockton. Before heading out of the park we stopped at the visitor center in Panther Junction, located near the north-central portion of the park. Here we saw a car totally destroyed by hail. There were large pock marks on the hood and trunk, and their windshield was completely destroyed. They had been waiting for several hours for a tow truck. Fortunately for us, our route took us around the storm as we headed towards the northeast.

Here are a few other photos from our time in the park:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

White Sands National Monument

After leaving the Santa Fe area we drove down to White Sands National Monument in south-central New Mexico. It was truly another world. The sand is pure white, and looks like snow in many places. Driving in certain places, or pulling into some parking lots you would've thought that you would need snow tires.

White Sands is the world's largest gypsum dunefield, which encompasses roughly 275 square miles of desert below the San Andres Mountains. The national monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield. Because the park is surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range and the Holloman Air Force Base, the park is closed for short periods due to missile testing. Therefore, it's always important to call or check the park website on the day of your visit to make sure the park is open.

White Sands National Monument has been featured in several films, including Four Faces West (1948), Hang 'Em High (1968), The Hired Hand (1971), My Name Is Nobody (1973), Bite the Bullett (1975), Young Guns II (1990), White Sands (1992), King Solomon's Mines (1950), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), and Transformers (2007).

White Sands is also the site of the detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb, located roughly 60 miles north of the monument. Now known as the Trinity Site, the bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945.

Here are a few photos from our visit:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking