Recent comments

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    If he keeps treating them "like a big dog", sooner or later one of them is going to treat him like a disposable chew toy.

  • Traveler's Top Overlooks In the National Park System   5 years 20 weeks ago

    I'll take this as an invitation to add to the list:

    Wind Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Standing at the rim near the mouth of this deep and narrow canyon, you look out over the wilderness of the northwest corner of the park's southern unit. The Little Missouri River meanders through scrublands filled with bison and pronghorn. Come here at dawn for a surreal experience.

    Pyramid Point, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. After a steep climb through birch-maple forest on the back of a perched dune, you emerge on a flat summit with the vast blue of Lake Michigan suddenly filling your vision. 500 feet below and about 10 miles out is the park's wilderness area, North Manitou Island.

    Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. 360 degree views. Glacier filled valleys, elk-filled fields, snow-capped mountains, the town of Port Angeles, the Straight of Juan de Fuca....you can see everything from up there.

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Anyone who advocates "wacking" a bear is wacko. I do not think of brown bears as "savage, man-eating carnivores" but I have a great deal of respect for their potential to do some serious harm when they feel threatened. Your guide is an example of the arrogance and ignorance that can lead to tragic results to both bears and humans.

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Maybe so, Fred, but I'm not sure I'd want to get close enough to a bear -- black, brown, grizzly, or polar -- to smack it on the nose!

  • How To Avoid A Bear Attack in the Great Outdoors, The Cartoon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    When I was in Alaska last year, we saw several grizzlies (called "brown bears" up there). Our guide said that he often had to "holler at them" and "whack them over the head" to get them to leave the fishermen alone. He said, "you just need to treat them like a big dog." I thought that sounded like a foolish way to handle savage, man-eating carnivores, but he said it worked. Maybe the punch to the nose isn't all that bad an idea.

  • Scientists: Climate Change Seems Responsible for A Loss of Large-Diameter Trees in Yosemite National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The other shoe is a pair of papers by van Mantgem et al. (Ecology Letters10:909-916 (2007); Science 323:521-524 (2009)) showing that from Sequoia NP to Yosemite NP, over the past 20-30 years, per tree per year mortality rates have roughly doubled (that's what's referenced in the first paragraph of your excerpt).

    Part of increased mortality is _because_ there are more small trees (small trees die at much higher rates than big trees, and fire suppression lets many more saplings become small trees rather than being killed as seedlings & saplings), but part is less soil moisture to go around even if the densities stayed the same.

    One sobering implication is that even with increased controlled burns (to thin the medium trees and thus reduce the competition for water), it will take centuries to get back to the numbers of large trees found even 100 years ago. And, even with shifts in species ranges (e.g., those central Sierra species growing by Lassen or into Oregon), there won't be really big trees. Locations with favorable climate when the tree is an establishing sedling & sapling won't still be favorable by the time the tree might get large.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Releases Renderings of New Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Thanks for the correction, Heather. So noted.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Releases Renderings of New Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    As the curator of the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, I need to inform you that there is a MAJOR error in this report. DNM collections has NOT been moved to a facility in Vernal, UT. The joint state-federal facility you speak of has not even been built yet! This project has been postponed several times because the federal funding for it has not come through yet.

    Heather Finlayson
    Curator of Collections
    Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum
    Vernal, UT 84078

  • Vandals Remove Fencing That Was Protecting Turtle Nest at Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 20 weeks ago

    The turtle nest is in an area closed to ORV traffic. The NPS announced with the closure that their was a set of footprints and canine prints in the closure area...a SMALL addition to this article that the author overlooked.

  • Historic Lighthouse Aids in Rescue at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Lake Superior often doesn't get the respect it deserves from recreationists. I'm not saying any of these folks were ill-prepared (except, perhaps the guide service that should have had more guides for a 19 boat group), but it's fairly common for people to think "lake" and decide boating or kayaking there should be a walk in the park. Apparently not enough people listen to Gordon Lightfoot songs. If Superior can take out a 30,000 ton iron ore freighter, it can swallow a kayak in the blink of an eye.

    I've had several friends run into trouble in the channels between the Apostles and between the islands and mainland. A lot of unpredictable waves out there. When I was in college in Ashland, a couple friends of mine decided they were going to go pole rafting on a big chunk of floating ice off the Bayfield shore. To make a long story short, it's amazing how many kids actually survive college to tell the stories later! (Yes, they managed to self-rescue without USCG assistance.)

    We're going kayaking in the Apostles next summer. Hopefully we won't get a write-up on Traveler.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Whoa, Anon. Referring to an entire mountain as a peak is a practice as common as dirt. If you really want to avoid confusion when referring to the very top of the mountain, use the word summit.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    "Two of the kids stopped to take a rest, the slide occurred. One of the kids died on the peak, another little girl was injured. And then the last child was fine.”
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Kudo's to park Superintendent Darlene Koontz for adding confusion to a story that should be pretty straightforward. How in the blazes could the little boy have died of a rock slide if he was "on the peak"? He was obviously somewhere on the trail between the peak and the parking lot for that to have happened.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    One sentence is essential in your article: the mountain is barren and there is no vegetation to stabilize the flanks. I climbed Lassen Peak last year and I noticed some huge breadcrust bombs above the trail to the summit. Heavy rains or a slight earthquake may destabilize them. One should not forget Lassen is an active volcano (The last eruption occurred between 1914 and 1917). Besides, park authorities are right to ask hikers to keep to the footpath. Taking short cuts contributes to cause landslides that can become tragic.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago

    i am very saddened to hear this news. my brother in law and i just hiked this trail about five days ago. there were two snow fields we crossed which looked a touch treacherous, but otherwise, it was smooth sailing for us. i am very sorry for the family.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    This dosen't have much to due with the terrible idea of scenic flights at any Park, but I have to agree with Frank C. about monopoly concessions. In addition to the tiny fees paid to the government, often the facilities are property of the NPS, which picks up most of the maintenance tab. The infrequent renewals tend to breed overly cosy concession managers and Park managers, a very powerful bloc in planning & policy affecting both the visitor experience and the economy of rural gateway communities.

    A couple examples from Mount Rainier: The Paradise mass transit system leaves from one concessionaire and delivers you to another, while bypassing most local businesses. Clients of lodging and climbing concessions had access during the six-month 'flood' closure of 2007, while the public was totally excluded, even from hiking across the boundary.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    How in the hell can we relegate illegal mountain biking in the national parks when we can't even curtail illegal wildlife poaching, or stop drug pushers from instilling meth labs and from growing marijuana. We need more crises intervention across the board to stop this illegal activity. Were ----ing the parks big time folks. Say, Ray and Random Walker...your my pack backing buddies in spirit. Love your mountain zest for life.

    [This comment was edited to remove an offensive remark]

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Frank and Anonymous,

    Did you guys miss the memo on condescension?

    Kurt, I did not get a memo on condescension, but I did get the one on personal attacks and have been avoiding those. I assure you that any condescension readers might take from my words are read into them by the reader, and I am endeavoring to write in neutral tones.

    As for putting concession contracts up for bid, that introduces the appearance of competition, but the government remains a middleman, and for periods as long as decades, all other competition is excluded by law from entering the market.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 20 weeks ago


    "does the level of national park visitation even matter? Shouldn't it suffice that we protect these unique places"

    I couldn't agree more.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Frank and Anonymous,

    Did you guys miss the memo on condescension?

    Beyond that, Frank, I'd disagree with your perception of Xanterra as a government-granted monopoly. As your own source notes, such a monopoly is created when "a government grants exclusive privilege to a private individual or firm to be the sole provider of a good or service; potential competitors are excluded from the market by law, regulation, or other mechanisms of government enforcement.(my emphasis)."

    As the recent post out of Bryce Canyon clearly illustrates, concession contracts are put up for competitive bid. In that most recent case, Xanterra lost its contract to Forever Resorts, a development that runs counter to your contention.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Reading all the posts prior to mine, the PCT was established for hikers and equestrians. If mountainbike people and dirtbike people want to ride a trail, go through the process and channels and get one established. The existing PCT does see bike and off-road vehicle traffic, mostly dirtbikes that tear up the trail. Living near the trail I see them all the time. The BLM, forest service and PCT association do not have the manpower to patrol or police the usage, nor do they have enough volunteers to repair the damage done by illegal users. So buying a special permit to allow mountainbikers to ride it will not cover that deficit for manpower and repairs. It just does not exist. The mentality of mtnbike riders in some of these posts is childish, you're going to ride it anyway since you haven't been caught and are aware there is little to no enforcement. If I rode in your front yard against your wishes and clearly against the law without your permission I would get a citatioin by the local police, there are plenty of those around in cities. Get some sense.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Xanterra: the private sector at work.

    Anonymous, you missed the part where I described Xanterra as a government-granted monopoly. Xanterra is in no, way, shape or form part of the "private sector". Your entire response after that false assertion is ridden with logical fallacies, so I will not address it other than what I've already mentioned.

    Thank you, and have a good day.

  • Jon Jarvis Questioned During His Confirmation Hearing On Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 20 weeks ago


    When this topic comes up, the argument that I hear most often is that according to our mission statement we are to also provide recreational opportunities. I always remind people that this was written in 1916 when recreational opportunities meant hiking, skiing, swimming, etc. Motorized recreation was not even a thought and even cars were believed to be a passing craze.

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Captured in Stone   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Or, _very_ similar artwork can be found in Devil's Lane in the Needles District. Again, bring lots of water: its 5-6 miles from the end of the "road" at Elephant Hill. I rode past Elephant Hill once in an NPS Bronco driven by a _very_ skilled 4'10" technician: I know I'll never attempt to drive that hill.

    Or, near sunset, grab a good beer, drive 279 toward Potash from the tailings pile across from the entrance to Arches, pull over along the river, and you can see some not quite as nice art (plus recent "additions").

    Craig Childs knows where even better art is located, but he's not saying...

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Xanterra: the private sector at work. If it were up to Libertarians there would either be 5000 tour operators at Crater Lake or it would be a private reserve for the hyper-rich. But being the "best idea America ever had" it naturally follows that Libertarians don't like parks.

    I suppose I can quit reading these threads since the majority of them end up as soapboxes for proselytizers of the demonstrably false Libertarian quasi-religion. Whether it's the fault of the True BeLIEvers or of the moderators (who should know by now that said True Believers have no self-control) I won't presume to say. Just had to get it off my chest.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park Trail?   5 years 20 weeks ago

    Mountain biking on the Collier Ridge Loop in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area!

    Trail Description from the park's website:

    Beginning from the Bandy Creek Visitor Center the trail starts and finishes on the West Bandy Creek Road.
    1.1 miles after leaving the Visitor Center the single track begins, turning left off West Bandy Creek Road. Look for and follow the marker posts.
    The single track section features creek crossings, jumps, sandstone climbs and drops, short slalom sections through trees and fast downhill runs.
    1.8 miles after leaving West Bandy Creek Road the trail splits offering riders the choice of a novice or advanced section.
    If you are not an advanced rider continue straight to Hwy 297, turn right and ride single file near the white line. Look for the marker to turn right back onto the single track.
    The advanced ride turns right coming immediately to a sandstone ledge with a steep drop. Beyond this the trail features numerous steep climbs and drops with some sharp turns and log crossings.
    Once the two sections rejoin either continue west along Hwy 297 and take the West Bandy Trail (see below) or remain on the Collier Ridge Trail for another 2.3 miles back to the West Bandy Creek Road. Turn right and return to the Visitor Center.

    Total novice ride is 8.0 miles with 3.6 miles of gravel/paved road and 4.4 miles of single track.

    Total advanced ride is 7.7 miles with 2.2 miles of gravel road and 5.5 miles of single track.