Recent comments

  • National Park Service Launches Another Website to Help You Plan Your Next National Park Trip   5 years 20 weeks ago

    This website is pretty bad.

    Nothing like some pictures of people in the early to mid-90's in faded pictures to make me think a trip to a National Park is anything more than an American pastime, which we all know isn't the case. Overall, the usability is poor and the site feels as old as the pictures.

    Would hope for a better effort on a brand new site.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Imtnbke,

    Thanks for pointing to that study. Hadn't seen it, but will have to take a closer look.

    In all, its conclusions don't sound terribly new....but they shouldn't be ignored, either. Toss in what Richard Louv wrote in Last Child in the Woods and we're -- all generations, not just boomers vs. Genx et. al. -- facing some somber news in terms of how we connect with nature. I will be curious to see if the study you cite describes the old-time conservatism as you do: "(of the type that rationalizes horse/packstock damage but can't abide a bicycle on a trail)."

    And here's a snippet of some more new data regarding outdoor activities, from the Outdoor Foundation: From 2008 to 2009 there was a 10.2 percent increase (7.6 million participants) in mountain bike participation. There also was a 19 percent increase in backpacking (7.9 million participants), so perhaps the conclusions of the study you cite isn't "spot on," as the Brits would say. I'll have more on this study in a stand-alone post, as it is important to understand where and how people are recreating, and even who (ie male vs. female, Caucasian vs. Hispanics vs. Blacks, etc).

  • National Park Service Launches Another Website to Help You Plan Your Next National Park Trip   5 years 20 weeks ago

    This is definitely a good thing. I hope it becomes more complete over time.

  • Search Under Way For Missing Backpackers in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    No substantive updates yet. Last night the park reported that the search was moving forward, but there were no developments. Hopefully there will be good news today.

  • Search Under Way For Missing Backpackers in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Lynn,

    Here's a link to a review I wrote on the book.

    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/review/2006/last-season

  • Search Under Way For Missing Backpackers in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Any updates on the Zeman search?

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I thought that Edward Abbey thought that travel bicycle was equivalent to horseback or by foot and far more preferable than by motor vehicle.

    However - some people do have this notion of thrill seekers in a Nissan Xterra commercial causing massive trail erosion by speeding through the mud or even this Nature Valley commercial which shows someone taking her bike across narrow singletrack and eventually stopping on a patch of delicate vegetation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flNLNpv7LUo

    I do remember when I used to ride on trails in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was strictly wide trails where it was legal to do so. We frankly didn't know of many singletrack trails where bicycles were legal, although we knew that illegal riding on singletrack was somewhat common.

    I will say that a simple reading of the Wilderness Act would lead me to believe (previous interpretations aside) that "mechanized transport" includes bicycles or wheeled horse trailers. Of course the difficulty is that serious all terrain bicycles weren't very common until the 1980s, so how could the authors of the Act know whether or not they should have specifically included or excluded bicycles.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    OK, the captcha for this one is "Devoted numskull"! These are great.

    The antibike folks may win various battles in the war of delay and attrition, but be poised to lose the war.

    A recent academic study reports that there is already a very narrow base of support for old-line conservationism (of the type that rationalizes horse/packstock damage but can't abide a bicycle on a trail) and that that narrow support base is at risk of becoming even narrower. Here's what the report says:

    "Our interpretation is that there are effectively two Americas when considering the pathway from nature exposure to conservation support: an elite backpacking/hiking group and a broader public lands visitation group. If this is true, then it has profound consequences for future generations and prospects for conservation support. Conservation organizations seem to be receiving donations from a very narrow group of relatively elite outdoor enthusiasts."

    "[A] recent survey of 849 Yellowstone National Park visitor groups asked what primary activities were their reasons for visiting the park. Day hiking [was] (3%) . . . and Overnight backpacking (backcountry) [was] (1%). . . . [B]ackpacking and hiking combined [are] only 4% of the reasons people gave for visiting Yellowstone . . . ."

    "The current per capita rate of backpacking is 0.054: in other words, the average American goes backpacking once every 18.5 years. . . . The demographics of this group are consistent with the description of the small fraction of the electorate that considers the environment a top priority: overwhelmingly European-American, mostly college educated, higher income and over 35. Further, based on the lagged impact of hiking/backpacking on investment, conservation NGOs have been benefiting from the tail end of a decade-old rise in the popularity of backpacking and hiking. The most recent data show a decline in hiking/backpacking popularity since 1998–2000. We project the negative effect of reduced hiking/backpacking frequency on NGO revenues to begin in approximately 2010–2011, and to continue through at least 2018." In sum, "The declines in backpacking/hiking since 2000 could imply a significant problem for conservation support."

    "Given the trends of increasing US population diversity, urbanization, and economic and cultural changes, we fear that the currently narrow base of conservation NGO supporters will become even narrower. To avoid becoming marginalized, the conservation movement will need to diversify its outreach strategy, engaging novel and diverse constituencies." The nongovernmental organizations referred to are "The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, and Environmental Defense."

    Source: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0007367

    The NPS is ahead of the old-line environmental legacy outfits in recognizing that to remain relevant it can't rely on the tiny fraction of the population that insists all backcountry park visits be on foot or by hoof. Other uses in keeping with national park values have to be encouraged, and mountain biking is, in my view, foremost among them. The NPS seems to be embarking wisely on measures that will ensure its funding long after backward-looking environmental groups have gone the way of the woolly mammoth. (Although I hear the mammoth may be about to be cloned, so one must never rule anything out.)

  • Search Under Way For Missing Backpackers in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Lynn -

    The book is The Last Season, by Eric Blehm.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    [Deleted duplicate.]

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I realize this thread is geared towards the western parks, but we have lots of bikers on the trails in the east too. Generally my attitude is live and let live, I'm willing to share the trail with whoever comes. The ruts I can deal with, they'll fill back in in time, but I wish some of these bikers would use common sense and not run over the delicate herbs on the side of the path. A ladyslipper might be beneath their notice, but it's no less rare. Have a little care, I say.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    In my neck of the woods all the trails are built and maintained almost exclusively by the mountain biking community. If it wasn't for the MTB community there would be very few hiking/running/biking trail systems. Because of the MTB community free trails are built and maintained with no cost to the taxpayers. Most people think that the trails were built by the "state", "county" or "city" with no idea that it is 100% volunteer effort by people that ride bikes and love the outdoors. The MTB community is full of environmentally minded people that are far more concerned about the impact of what they build than just creating trail.

    Too many people don't have their facts straight and are uneducated about bikes in the wilderness. When people lump bikes in with motorcycles, snowmobiles, jet skis, etc. it just shows their ignorance. They also don't understand the different types of cycling and the impacts of each. Most folks have driven by Winter Park or visited Whistler and assume that that is modern day mountain biking. It is for the downhill scene. That isn't what back country cycling is about. Saying that a Pugsley is mainstream and that is what the current and future bike is like is also showing supreme ignorance. What is seen in magazines, on TV, and on YouTube isn't what you are going to see in a back country "wilderness" area. The "Mountain Dew" crew won't be showing up in the wilderness. Just like you won't see a Pugsley doing a downhill run at Whistler.

    People need to educate themselves before they make statements justifying the limitations of specific user groups.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    As a wilderness user as a hiker and a backpacker and an avid mountain biker and a beginning equestrian I have these few words to say. Firstly, as a mountain biker of 15 years I have had only one negative experience coming across another trail user, besides that most trail users I come across, be they bikers, or hikers, or horseback riders, we usually nod and say hi and smile. I slow down if I am on the bike, and that is that. The last time I was in a wilderness parcel of national forest land, in the Ruby Mountains in Nevada, there were cows in the "wilderness" area, shitting in the stream that was the water source for a hiker, so how "pure" is that? In Yosemite National park, mules and horses are allowed that shit directly in the streams, or on bridges that are directly above streams. How is a bike worse than that? If you are going to allow a horse on a trail, you should allow a bike. And really I see no reason not to allow a bike on any trail that a human can walk on either. Most bikers don't have the skills to ride on such trails, and for those of us that do, it is a wonderful treat (and there aren't that many of us).

  • Search Under Way For Missing Backpackers in Kings Canyon National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Kurt, off the topic, I have a question for you. I read a library book a couple of years ago about a ranger who vanished from his post in King's Canyton and whose body was found in the water a couple of years (I think) later. He was going through personal trauma at the time and there was some talk of suicide (although that proved to be untrue). It was a hell of a book,, heartbreaking and insightful, and I'd like to get a copy of it, but for the life of me I can't remember the name of the book or the other. Would you happen to know what I'm talking about? I'm going to try Google but I don't know if I have enough info. Thank you.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    At a time when we are fighting obesity and threats to the environment, why is the "Old Guard" so excited about alienating a whole new generation of outdoor enthusiasts?

    No scientific fact behind the erosion arguments. The truth is, some people don't want to share. And those that say "there are plenty of other trails to ride" have not had their favorite trail closed to them. Not all trails are created equal; a dirt road is not the same as a trail, a trail 100 miles away is not a trail in your own backyard.

    If we really believe Wilderness needs to be pristine, then let's ban all human impacts in these areas -- seriously.

    I am a hiker, equestrian, and cyclist, so I see this from all sides. As environmentalists, we should spend our limited energy on protecting our public lands from development, clear cutting, and mining rather than fighting each other!

  • Winter Reaches the High Country Of Yosemite National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Wow, what a scene. I drove thru here Thursday Oct. 8 last week and fall colors weren't even in full strength yet.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I slowed down and realized that Betty wrote, "Once wilderness is gone, it is gone forever..." Sounds poetic but it isn't true. Many locations inside current and proposed wilderness areas were mined and logged and grazed and inhabited by humans in the past and yet, they are now beautiful peaceful places providing rich habitat for flora and fauna.

    Perhaps I was too sensitive, but the tone of this sentence came across as mtn biker hating."There are plenty of places where people can play with their toys (mountain bikes, snowmobiles, off road vehicles), there needs to be places where nature can just be nature at its best."

    Regardless, I disagree with the implied argument that hikers allow nature to be "at its best" but mountain bikers and other users do not.

    If y'all really want to get riled about something, consider this. Near where I live, inside Carson Iceberg and the Emigrant, the USFS allows cattle grazing inside designated wilderness areas.

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Years ago I did a section of the Appalachian Trail, starting from the awesome Mt. Katahdin. I'd like to do another epic hike in my lifetime, but this time starting from Georgia. And I want to do it soon - I don't know about Father Time, but I do know that gravity's got us, and there's not a thing we can do about it! :))

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Hi John,

    I would try contacting the park directly, either by phone or email. They have a huge archives that includes documents related to the history of the park as well as the battle itself. I'm sure that they would have a program or some other document from the 1938 reunion that would have a list of attendees.

    The park phone number is 717-334-1124 or you can send a form email at the park web site www.nps.gov/gett

    Good luck!

  • Talking With National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, the Interview   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Kurt, may I congratulate you on a great interview! You asked some well-thought out questions. For his part, the Director answered honestly and clearly, with a liberal dose of empathy. Before I heard this, he was a cipher to me - now I know he's not just another bureaucrat. He was very reassuring and sensible and told us exactly what we needed to know. I have high hopes for him, and wish him every success. For what it's worth, you've got my thumbs up! How come we don't see *you* on PBS? Impressive by any standard - great job!

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Getting temporarily lost in the backcountry of Canyonlands National park.

    Oh ya, have that one on the list (and now will ponder it once more :-))

    Have already started collecting maps, field & trail guides, histories & fiction stories etc. for a winters mulling, pondering and planning a
    Sierra High Route mosey meander.

    "...adventure without regard to prudence, profit, self-improvement,
    learning or any other serious thing" -Aldo Leopold-

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Now we're talking....!

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    1. Hike to McGonnagal Pass in Denali National Park when the weather allows extended views of the big Mountain.
    2. A two week plus journey by Dory through the Grand Canyon with daily opportunities for extended hikes.
    3. Biking the entire park road in Denali Park on a midsummer evening when the buses were all resting.
    4. Getting temporarily lost in the backcountry of Canyonlands National park.
    5. Just to sit and ponder at Gettysburg.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Nothing worse than spending two days hiking in to a wilderness area and on arrival the second night encountering the group of people on horseback who started on the trail head that morning and passed you that afternoon, setting up their wall tents right where you were planning to camp. Not much difference between that and a mountain bike accept for the amount of erosion, and not to mention that mountain bikes don't poop out noxious weed seeds.
    If the rule is gonna stand let it stand. But banning mountain biking on an area based upon speculating future wilderness areas that may be 10 years in the future. Sounds to me like a an opportunity to create an amendment to the memorandum of understanding specific to the respective area and a test out what progress feels like.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 20 weeks ago

    @ Kurt commented: "Regarding horses and pack stock, that's a wobbly argument. They've been going into these landscapes longer than they've been designated wilderness, so long that it rightfully could be argued a traditional use. Do I like walking around the piles they leave behind? Nope. Do I like the massive camps they erect? Nope."

    Your attempt to explain away this example of trail-use hypocracy is what's wobbly. I hear that running cattle, mining and logging were common "traditional" uses, too, in many of these areas. Shall we grandfather them back in?

    I have never EVER seen more overall trail damage, sediment loss, animal burrow collapse (under the trail bed), and trail entrenchment than those used by individual equestrain groups and pack trains, this after 45 years of hiking/backpacking, and 24 years of mountain biking. I'm astonished that this use is perpetuated. Yet, it speaks clearly of the western "cowboy ethic" being equally entrenched in land use politics to this day. It's not at all about environmental impacts with bike use. Give me a break. If it were, there would be no more equestrian/pack train use. Period. End of story. It's about exclusion under guise of environmental concerns.