Recent comments

  • Visiting Alaska National Parks – By Train   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The Denali Star is a great and relaxing way to travel. The train is not fast but the scenery is incredible. Moose, swans, and perhaps Denali can be seen on the ride. And more! For the independent traveller I would suggest using your Denali time wisely and go stay in the backcountry. One can get away from the crowds and the hustle of the front end of the park. The ride to the back country is not fast either but again the scenery is magnificent and the wildlife viewing opportunities excellent. You will travel the entire park road and go to places the other tours do not. There are three lodges in the Katishna area at the end of the road. Denali Backcountry Lodge, Kantishna Roadhouse and Camp Denali offer multiple night stays and lots to do. Having spent time visiting in the crowded front country and having been to the Kantishna area I highly recommend, after a great train experience, a trip and stay in the backcountry of Denali Park.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Years ago the story went around about the Park Superintendent in Alaska who had agreed to a sled dog race through his park.

    With the park staff in open revolt over what they considered an inacceptible conflict with the purpose of the park, the Superintendent defended himself by saying: but look at the law ! Sled dogs are allowed in this national park !

    "Yes," the park staff snapped back, "and horses are allowed in National Parks in the lower 48. BUT they don't allow HORSE RACES !!"

  • By the Numbers: The National Park Service Workforce   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Laborer - ask the superintendent. You should be able to get a good answer. I have been a superintendent for more than 20 years and I welcome employees who have reasonable questions about management decisions. I cannot, of course, know exactly what is going on in your park. But, it might have to do with the Continuing Resolution. Because we have no 2010 budget, parks are expected to reduce spending to past levels and be cautious in making commitments. Many parks are letting seasonal employees go in order to adhere to the directives of the CR. Yes, it is nuts.

  • Can't Connect to Some NPS Websites? Don't Take it Out on Your Computer   5 years 31 weeks ago

    We were planning a visit to Lake Quinault Lodge over by the Hoh Rain Forest this morning and clicking on the main Olympic National Park link was dead, however clicking on other links within the website worked and, once inside, the main link then worked. It seems that workarounds work.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ray Bane, thanks for all the in put regarding flight into Mt. McKinley...must be awesome to see from the air.

  • National Park Service Announces Superintendent Vacancy At Gettysburg National Military Park   5 years 31 weeks ago

    It's basic. You don't look at anything of that nature at work. Period. He's a smart man, but he's got a problem understanding the basic rules that apply to all government employees and computers. As superintendent he is held to the same standards, and ought to be leading the way. Frankly, he needs to retire. As superintendent of Gettysburg, he must be a GS14/15 if not a member of the Senior Executive Service. There must be an investigation, and if he's found guilty, he should be demoted.

    The National Park Service should be ashamed of itself if it continues to pay this man, at his old salary, to sit around and do minor busy work out of the sight of the public.

  • By the Numbers: The National Park Service Workforce   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Workforce...I am currently employed by the NPS in NY State. I am also being let go in two weeks, anybody no why? Our leadership at our park is bragging about the large ammount of Stimulus dollars floating in from DC, yet nine of us laborers are being let go two months early, and that makes us uneligable for unemployment. I guess that the "job creation" hyped by Obama is yet another of his lies??? Nice to see that the NPS can rebuild three insignificant dams along the creek flowing through the property, I guess thats more important than "our " families.

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 31 weeks ago

    The biking issue is a red herring. Bikers have been negotiating with the advocates of the Red Rock Wilderness bill about boundary adjustments to exclude popular biking routes. The leading bikers' group, IMBA, posted comments on the bill at: http://www.imba.com/news/news_releases/10_09/10_01_red_rock_wilderness.html In my own travels I saw no evidence of biking in most of the proposed wilderness units, especially when I got away from Moab.

  • Death At Channel Islands National Park Demonstrates Need to Be Prepared   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I remember at my last visit (mid-summer) to Yosemite we stopped a while to see a spotter scope set up (as part of the "Ask a Climber" program) to check on the progress of rock climbers going up El Capitan. There were only maybe 2-3 groups attempting to go up, while the guy manning the event noted that in the spring or fall it might be a dozen or more. He noted that they have to carry their own water since there aren't exactly any water sources along the route. These climbers are acutely aware of the requirements for water and I suppose a lot stay away from that kind of climbing in the summer months because of the need to carry that kind of weight.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Anonymous, I suggest contacting park management to get particular information as to requirements or restrictions related to landing within park boundaries. However, if you are interested in accessing the mountain by air I strongly recommend doing it with a fully rated pilot who has extensive experience and a long history of safely operating on the mountain. Mountain flying is a whole different level of bush flying. Mountains, particularly Mt. McKinley, eat airplanes. Thin air, erratic air currents, clear air turbulence, hidden obstacles, sloping landing surfaces, sudden weather changes, etc. can turn what seems like a relatively simple landing into a disaster.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 31 weeks ago

    There are lots of warning signs on the rim, maybe there should also be some new signs below the rim: "DANGER! GROUND APPROACHING RAPIDLY"

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 31 weeks ago

    It was the right decision. I am an avid cyclist and have ridden in several national parks. Cycling on roads and designated bike trails is a great way to see and enjoy the parks, but the type of event described would be inappropriate in most park settings.

  • Demolition Update: It’s One Down and One to Go at Gettysburg   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Pesonally I'm no fan of the Cyclorama building at all, but if we truly consider ourselves historians then we must give credence to the argument that the building has historical significance based on the importance placed on the design by architechtural historians. Does it need to leave Zieglers Grove, no doubt, would it be a better alternative to move it instead of tearing it down, no doubt. The NPS is responsible for the irresponsible placement of the building on those grounds, they should take partial financial responsibility for it's movement to another location. That's where the art architechural purists need to get involved, raise some money, purchase some land and partially fund it's transfer to those grounds.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ray Bane, many thanks for the aeronautical insights on both aircrafts. I figured that the PA 18 (Super Cub) would be excellent plane for wildlife photography. Your wildlife experiences in Alaska speaks well for your credentials. One more question: What kind of pilot certification do you need to land on Mt. Denali?

  • Clash of Viewpoints on Public Land Ownership and Protection Arrives in Congress in the Form of Red Rock Wilderness Legislation   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Lets be reasonable..!!?? Let's just ban all foot traffic so the beauty of the area can only be enjoyed by aircraft. This will surely preserve it to the highest of anyones standard. However, I think we may have to kill off all the wild mustangs and other wildlife so they cannot disrupt potentially extinct plant life also.

    This is not meant to be insulting, but rather to point out how insulted that many of us in Utah are by others trying to dictate how we use our land. Just like other states, who is best suited to determine what is best for that area, those who live there or those who live 1000s of miles away? BTW, most of us old timers believe in true democracy also...not special interest. We have the highest respect/regard for our land and don't allow just anything to be built just anywhere. We believe in being good stewards to our surroundings. In Utah, we have some absolutely beautiful land that will always be protected without the Feds getting involved. Trust me, the Federal Government doesn't know what is best for us, but rather what they want from us.

  • Reader Participation Day: Winter Park Visits, Snow or Sand?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Winter in the desert can be great at Mojave National Preserve. Sand dunes, johsua trees, you name it but without the crowds at Joshua Tree and Death Valley. For snow, Crater Lake is hard to beat in the lower 48 states. They average 44 feet a winter, so there's about 6 months of skiing or snowshoeing. Rangers lead snowshoe hikes on weekends, so its accessible for even the most novice of winter visitors.

  • Falling Into the Grand Canyon Isn't Always Fatal   5 years 31 weeks ago

    According to the Grand Canyon's FAQ, visitors are charged for their own rescue. However, in some public documents on the topic, it appears the park does not wish to charge for the work of rangers already on duty - it is the fee for the ambulance and the emergency medical services that is sent to the victim, who may or may not have insurance.

    Seems fair, although I think the person who falls should be issued a bill for some part of the ranger work as well.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Anonymous,

    The Super Cub is well suited for low level and slow speed observation for a number of reasons. It has a high lift wing with a lower stall speed allowing it to fly at slower speeds. It has a tandem seating arrangement with the passenger directly behind the pilot. There is lots of window space on both sides of the fuselage allowing easy viewing when banking in either direction. Generally, the plane is a bit easier to recover from a stall. Of course, the 185 will carry more passengers and has a longer range. As d-2 says, I have flown both the 185 and PA-18 (SCub) in wildlife tracking and other low level operations. Both are excellent aircraft.

  • Yosemite National Park Says "No Thanks" to Major Cycling Race   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Much as I enjoy the Tour, I was an avid spectator when it came to San Diego last year, I do not think any public park known for its beauty and serenity should be subject to the number of fans and amount of disruption this type of event brings. There are many other options, thousands of other beautiful and challenging places to ride in California, none of which would be disrupted by the Tour going through.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I don't know why Bane isn't answering, but know that he does fly, has flown 185s and Super Cubs. Super Cubs are two seaters, a front and a back seat. The 185 is a four seater, two up and two behind. The 185 is a faster plane, and the Super Cub can fly much slower. As Ray says, both are excellent planes, highly favored in Alaska.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Bane, why the aircraft pick...the 185 over the PA 18 Super Cub. Does the Super Cub have a rear passenger seat...in back of the pilots seat? Do you fly personally?

  • By the Numbers: The National Park Service Workforce   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Of the 15,828 permament employees - only about 15-18% or so are "rangers." A number that surprises most people who think most or all park jobs are rangers. By far, the majority of jobs are maintenance positions.

  • Wolf Biologist Killed In Plane Crash in Denali National Park, Pilot Survived   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Tight 360 degree turns at slow airspeeds and low altitudes are inherently hazardous maneuvers. The stall speed of the aircraft increases with the steep angle of the turn. The passage of the plane sets up a trail of disturbed air, so the the turning aircraft may suddenly encounter its own wake turbulence. The wing on the inside of the turn is traveling slower than the outside wing, so when when a stall takes place there is a tendency for the plane to flip. With enough altitude the pilot can normally recover from the stall. When flying close to the ground, however, there may not be room for a safe recovery. In aerial wildlife tracking there should be a clear understanding that the pilot is not expected to search for wildlife. His/her role is to safely fly the aircraft and follow the directions of the observer(s) only when the directions can be carried within the envelop of safety. There are other possible causes for the accident, including fuel contamination, engine problems, local turbulence, etc. Mt. McKinley and its close sister mountains often generate their own weather conditions that can extend outward for many miles. The 185 is an excellent airplane. Personally, however, I would pick a PA 18 Super Cub for visual tracking and low level observation of wildlife.

  • SPOT – The Good, the Bad and the Silly Uses for Those High-Tech Communicators   5 years 31 weeks ago

    In this infuriating example of misuse, these hikers use SPOT as room service:

    Reposted from the Rafting_Grand_Canyon Yahoo board:

    Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
    Hikers Evacuated After Three SPOT Activations In Three Days

    On the evening of September 23rd, rangers began a search for hikers who
    repeatedly activated their rented SPOT satellite tracking device. The GEOS
    Emergency Response Center in Houston reported that someone in the group of
    four hikers - two men and their two teenaged sons - had pressed the "help"
    button on their SPOT unit. The coordinates for the signal placed the group
    in a remote section of the park, most likely on the challenging Royal Arch
    loop. Due to darkness and the remoteness of the location, rangers were
    unable to reach them via helicopter until the following morning. When found,
    they'd moved about a mile and a half to a water source. They declined
    rescue, as they'd activated the device due to their lack of water. Later
    that same evening, the same SPOT device was again activated, this time using
    the "911" button. Coordinates placed them less than a quarter mile from the
    spot where searchers had found them that morning. Once again, nightfall
    prevented a response by park helicopter, so an Arizona DPS helicopter whose
    crew utilized night vision goggles was brought in. They found that the
    members of the group were concerned about possible dehydration because the
    water they'd found tasted salty, but no actual emergency existed. The
    helicopter crew declined their request for a night evacuation, but provided
    them with water before departing. On the following morning, another SPOT
    "help" activation came in from the group. This time they were flown out by
    park helicopter. All four refused medical assessment or treatment. The
    group's leader had reportedly hiked once at the Grand Canyon; the other
    adult had no Grand Canyon and very little backpacking experience. When asked
    what they would have done without the SPOT device, the leader stated, "We
    would have never attempted this hike." The group leader was issued a
    citation for creating a hazardous condition (36 CFR 2.34(a)(4)). [Submitted
    by Brandon Torres, Canyon District Shift Supervisor]

  • Reader Participation Day: Winter Park Visits, Snow or Sand?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Living in Southern California, we have both options, but I prefer the sand over the snow. Some are surprised to know (no one on this site, I'm sure) that deserts can get quite chilly as well as blistering hot. But on winter days, the temps are quite reasonable making hiking easier. I go out to the Mojave Desert about a dozen times a year, usually between the months of November and April. While skiiers wait in line for chairlifts and dodge others on the runs, I'm enjoying massive swaths of land all to myself!

    Kolby
    http://www.100hikes.com