Recent comments

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Why do you need to bring a loaded gun to enjoy our National Parks?

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Why do you need a loaded gun in a National Park?

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I agree with all of the above post. Me, my wife, and 2 sons made the day trip to Plateau Point. Without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable experiences in our lives. It is imbedded in our memory forever. KEEP the mules!!

  • Senate Loads Credit Card Bill With Amendment to Allow Loaded Weapons in National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    http://www.newsminer.com/news/2009/may/24/anchorage-bar-fight-ends-shooting/

    Coming to a park near you? People often do dumb things in the heat of the moment. If there is a gun handy there is a good chance it will be used. I fear that once the new law goes into effect some park visitors who in the past were comfortable unarmed will feel the need to have a gun to protect them from others who will be armed. It effectively sets off an arms race.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Mr. Kane makes some excellent points regarding areas the anti-gun groups have used to counter concealed carry in our national parks. While DVP makes an effort to excuse or perhaps more accurately, explain why the NPS handed off such crimes to other authorities, this was not the point Mr. Kane was making. The fact that the NPS did not investigate these crimes was not in question, the point of concern was the fact that they falsely represented the actual crime rates by presenting their stats as accurate representations of total crimes committed rather than a small percentage of such crimes.

    As for Mr. Burnett, I must agree with Mr. Kane's assessment of his position. It is obvious that he has a agenda and tries to support that agenda at every turn. While I support everyone’s right to an opinion and to work toward securing that position in the political arena, I do not approve of anyone using position or title in an attempt to lend creditability to skewed facts in order to sway such outcomes. In the numerous posts above, all those claiming NPS affiliation of some sort have continuously quoted these same stats and flawed studies as evidence against the need for concealed carry in parks. Now that someone has clearly pointed out the truth about these claims, suddenly these same people are on the defensive, trying to change the point by explaining "why the NPS was justified in handing off these cases" rather than addressing the point that the NPS misrepresented the statistics in the first place.

    I too have lost a lot of faith in the NPS and those groups that have joined in this sad attempt to mislead the public and congress in order to gain a personal victory over the will of the people.

    Just like the Brady Coalition, these groups know the facts and statistics do not support their position and that the only way to win their argument is to mislead and skew the facts. This says they are not interested in public safety, rather a personal agenda. This is a sad situation when the group is someone like members of the NPS who have a long standing reputation of being good, honest individuals. I really think these groups have given the NPS as a whole a black eye that will be long in healing.

    As many have already pointed out, these claims of blood in the street and drastic increases in crime and accidental shootings are the same rhetoric that has been spewed every time a pro carry bill has passed around the nation and to date it has never come to pass. The actual statistics show that CHL holders are among the safest in the nation, equaling or rivaling that of law enforcement. Likewise, the claims that the new bill's allowance of non-CHL holders to carry long guns in the parks poses a threat, well if it has not done so outside the parks there is no reason to believe it will do so inside the parks.

    The fact is, the overwhelming majority of the people of this country want this bill and it is not the right of the few to prevent that. It is now law and the will of the people has been achieved, despite the misrepresentation of fact by the small special interest groups. Now it is time for these groups to work on repairing the damage they have caused to the image of the NPS and themselves.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The mules serve a wonderful and grand tradition a the GCNP and this service needs to remain in place. My question is the number of mule trains on the N. Kaibab trail and for that matter the Bright Angle Trail on the S Rim. Last October I was on the NK going down into the canyon and 3 mule trains were separated by less than 5 minutes apart. The first train was large, pushing 20 mules and the other 2 were about 10 riders each. All total I think I stopped for 6 or 7 trains that day. It was a slow day as mule trains go I guess and the trail was a disaster. All the urine, green apple dumplings, ruts, and then the walk arounds from this mess, where possible; are causing further trail erosion. Some of the areas on the trail there is not much stand aside room to let the trains pass and when a mule decides its time to take care of business, well the splatter is down right disgusting.

    My position is not IF the trails are shared because there should be room on them for all, but spacing and the number of mule trains allowed on a daily basis needs to be seriously considered and discussed!. The mule trains need to be kept available to get those who choose not to walk down or cannot; down into the canyon to see and enjoy. However, that needs to be balance with those walking down and for those of us that choose that method we should not feel or think that we are walking in a sewer. I can only imagine what it is like on one of the south rim trails in the summer on a 100+ degree day with all the trains.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    All should be able to enjoy the park to the fullest. The mules provide an ambiance and real feel as well as a method for some visitors who may not otherwise be able to experience the canyon floor. It would not be the same without them. Lord knows what some may purpose to replace them in order to find a way to get to the bottom. They should stay - that's the bottom line.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    No, we have to keep the Bubba Burpwads of the world firearm-free in National parks. Think 100 beer-swiggin, gun-toting, triggerhappy Cheney's misfiring at campers. And little kids vacations ruined by wildlife in the death throes of agony.

  • Descendants of Mesa Verde Anasazi Help Produce a Musical Masterpiece   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Eric. Regular readers of the Traveler know that I've used the terms Ancestral Puebloans and Anasazi more or less interchangeably. I'll probably use Ancestral Puebloans much more often in the future.

  • House Seals Deal To Allow Wide Range of Firearms into The National Park System   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I suspect we've long since wrung any new ideas out of this whole discussion, so I'll move on to other topics on the Traveler.

    Rarely in webzines or major blogs have I seen the editors so involved in the comments.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Since the parks are open to ALL THE PEOPLE of this country that also includes handicapped as well. Without the mules in place, those persons that have disabilities would never have the opportunity to see what others of us can without the mules. Leave the mules there. I get so tired of the country making decisions for just a few people and really not considering what is best for everyone, not just them. I concur with all comments already made.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I like mules, do not mind their leavings and believe it is a great experience for folks that would otherwise just snap
    a few pictures from the rims parking lots.
    Historical (?) not in the least when compared to the canyons history, sounds tritely hubristic to my ear.
    Anyway, I agree with the park that it is time again to take a look at the commercial / private stock use, safety and impact issues, etc..

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

  • Descendants of Mesa Verde Anasazi Help Produce a Musical Masterpiece   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Hardly "mumbo jumbo," however you define it
    One of the dangers in using a catch all name like "Anasazi" is that it disguises real differences between the people lumped together. The Ancestral Puebloans descendants speak at least 6 distinct languages and differences between the peoples played a major role in the collapse of their civilization in the four corners region. Details in my recent book, The Ancestral Puebloan Primer (available from Lulu.com, Amazon.com, and specialty book stores).

  • Aerial Search Continuing for Missing Coloradan On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 22 weeks ago

    going alone is perfectly fine, but never,EVER travel light! always pack as if you are going to be up there a minimum of two weeks!

  • Aerial Search Continuing for Missing Coloradan On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 22 weeks ago

    A sad and difficult situation for everyone involved.

    The terrain, altitude, weather conditions and size of the area involved make this a tough one.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    ...from 2002 to 2006, 1916 violent crimes occurred in national parks, including murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery.

    As I commented on a different post on the gun topic, some of those crimes had only a technical connection to a park (Examples: the body was found in the park but the crime was almost certainly committed elsewhere; a lovers quarrel that ended in a shooting on a greyhound bus that only by coincidence happened to be driving on a road in the DC area that is under NPS jurisdiction.)

    Such incidents definitely skew the numbers on the high side, and paint an inaccurately high picture of the number of serious crimes involving visitors who were in the park minding their own business when the crime originated.

    ...the 240 women raped between 2002 and 2006... were victims because they were denied the means to protect themselves.

    First, I fully agree that these sad situations represent reprehensible crimes. However, the same principle cited above applies here as well. Some (I'd go so far as to say many) of these crimes began outside a park (where in almost every case the victims could have been armed if they had chosen to do so.) In such cases, the victim had no idea she would end up in a park before the night was over, so she certainly wouldn't have left her gun at home simply because of the previous NPS rule.

    Based on the cited numbers of an average of about 50 such incidents occurred in all NPS areas between 2002 and 2006. I'd be willing to bet that a larger number of such incidents occur each year in plenty of individual cities - where under state law, those victims were not "denied the means to protect themselves."

    No, I don't have firm numbers, and had no reason to track that, but during 30 years in NPS law enforcement and 40 years in following such reports in the media and official sources, I feel I'm on solid ground in stating that the number of women who are accosted while visiting a park and then raped are extremely small indeed.

    The same could be said of any other violent crime: the chances that a law-abiding park visitor will become the victim of a crime in a park are much lower than even the already small number of reported incidents would suggest.

    "...more than 125,000 comments were received on the proposed rule change, and that many of these comments expressed opposition to a change in the existing rules." True, but “many” does not constitute a majority. They fail to mention the 4.7 million Americans represented in the one letter from the NRA.

    Simply counting the number of members in any organization to gauge public support quickly degenerates into a game of spinning the numbers. By that measure, you'd have to consider the total membership of all groups that took a position pro or con on any issue. It's also risky to infer the position of individual members of any group on any issue. As a gun owner and former NRA member, I wasn't in favor of this particular position, and I suspect some NPCA members were.

    Sorry, just paying your dues to any group and assuming that registers your position on any topic doesn't impress me very much. If you're trying to get a picture of public sentiment on an important topic, a key measure is how many people cared enough about it respond individually to a call for public comments – which makes the distribution of opinions in those 125,000 comments that were made a much more valid measure in my book.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Craig W. I did the same thing you did; sat at the computer trying to come up with what I wanted to say, finally left the computer and came back to it, with your comment in place. I agree with you and John 100%. Its time The Majority, i.e., the Interest for All People Groups, make some decisions for us rather than mostly being dictated to by The Chosen Few, i.e., Special Interest Groups. Leave the mules alone.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I also agree with John. If they remove the mules I will have no reason to vist the park as the ride is on my bucket list.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Ditto for me to John's reply.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    As I read the article I was trying to come up with a reply. But, after reading John's reply. I must say I agree with him.

  • Brady Campaign Sues Interior Department over Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "...crime data show the park system to be one of the safest places in the nation. "

    They are correct, less crime occurs in national parks on average than in the rest of the nation, but it does not mean NO crime exists. In fact, from 2002 to 2006, 1916 violent crimes occurred in national parks, including murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery. During the same period, there were an additional 18,105 so called non-violent crimes committed on park property including burglary, theft of motor vehicles and arson. It is should be safe to assume that had some of these non-violent crimes been interrupted while occurring they would have most certainly turned into violent crimes as the perpetrators tried to complete the crime or at least escape. So, "YES" Mr. Helmke and Mrs. Brady, crime is lower in our national parks on average, but if you were one of the 240 women raped between 2002 and 2006 I sincerely doubt it would help you to know it happened in one of the safest places in the nation. These victims were victims because they were denied the means to protect themselves. Using Brady Campaign logic we should disarm our soldiers in Afghanistan because statically it is a safer war zone than any other to date. It is not that soldier do not die there, but fewer die there than die in Iraq or have died daily in other war zones. According to the DOD, as of May 2009 there has only been 686 U.S. soldiers killed in the entire 8 years occupation of Afghanistan compared to the 4300 in Iraq. Therefore, by applying Brady logic, it must be logical that these soldiers pose a greater threat by being armed than they face from the Taliban and should therefore be disarmed. I mean, just think about it, there were almost 17,000 murders in the U.S. last year alone and only 686 in the entire 8 years in Afghanistan, so if the Brady bunch does not consider us justified in protecting ourselves here in the U.S. then they certainly must not support it in Afghanistan. Really Mr. Helmke, how high must crime become in an area before ones earns the right to defend self and family?

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "its members will be irreparably harmed because they will no longer visit national park areas and refuges out of fear for their personal safety from those who will now be permitted to carry loaded and concealed weapons in such areas. Moreover, those who do visit such areas will have their enjoyment of those areas profoundly diminished by the increased risk to safety created by this rule change."

    The same has been true for thousands of Americans for years, that being those unwilling to disarm and travel into the parks defensive less or those who entered the parks defenseless and spent much of their time worrying about becoming a victim of the current crime occurring there. Unlike the irrational Brady members who falsely believe that they are safe merely because a law exists that prevents someone from carrying a gun, the rest of the nation knows that laws only stop honest people who are not a threat in the first place and give criminals a free crime zone to operate.

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "numerous studies have confirmed that concealed carrying of firearms does not reduce crime and, if anything, leads to increased violent crime."

    To date the Brady Campaign has never produced a single validated study that supports these claims. They rely mostly on reports authored by other anti-gun groups in order to distance themselves from the false reports when they are proven to be fabricated. They love to quote groups with long reputations of fabricating stories and statistics then claim no association when the report is proven bogus. The few studies they have undertaken were so skewed in application that they could in no way be considered an accurate representation of fact. In contrast, both national and state statistics show that violent crime has not risen and has in most cases decreased in areas where concealed or open carry was permitted. It is no coincidence that mass shootings occur in gun free zones.

    The Brady Bunch said:
    "...more than 125,000 comments were received on the proposed rule change, and that many of these comments expressed opposition to a change in the existing rules."

    True, but “many” does not constitute a majority. They fail to mention the 4.7 million Americans represented in the one letter from the NRA in favor of this change. For some reason the NRA is never recognized for what it actually is, a collection of members, that is American citizens who choose to voice their opinion collectively rather than publically and disruptively like the Brady squad and its numerous off shoot organizations. They want people to believe that the NRA is just a single bully on the block. Let the NRA support one of their causes and see how quick the 4.7 million members become noticed.

    In short, the Brady Bunch continues the same old Chicken Little "the sky is falling" fear mongering claims, which have been proven false time and time again across the nation, to garner support for their misguided cause. Despite the fact that disarmament has in every case resulted in an increase in violent crime (England, Canada, Australia, etc.) they continue to forge on in their attempt to make this country as unsafe and dictator ruled as the rest of the world. Fortunately this is a mute point now that President Obama has (reluctantly) signed national park carry into law.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    In my opion it would be a terrible thing to remove the mules from the park. Not only are they an historical part of the park , but for some people the only means of tranportaion down into the canyon. Therefore removing them would jeopardize a large part of the publics Grand Canyon experiance just to satisfy the grumblings of what appears to be a special interest group.

  • Cables Are In Place On Half Dome in Yosemite National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Here's the story on the gloves. They are in a word: junk. They are discarded by previous hikers and are indeed considered trash by the park service. Some people even think the NPS puts them there. They are oversized, torn, moldy (yes, sitting there for weeks tends to grow funk) and potential carriers of the affliction “mogo on the gagogo.” The point is, bring your own tight fitting – good gripping – gloves. I wear bike gloves all day as I use hiking poles and they prevent blisters. Once on the cables you need max grip. The man above is right. Coming down you will be sliding the cables across your palms just asking for blisters.

    Rick D.

  • Still No Sign of Missing Climber on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I wonder what would cause someone to not go with a buddy system. We learn that in 1st grade. Very Sad!

  • Tips for Staying Safe During Your Visit to the National Parks   5 years 22 weeks ago

    This from a local tv station on the question of "staying safe" in Grand Canyon.

    Grand Canyon fraught with peril for unprepared
    (May 23rd, 2009 @ 9:21am)

    GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. - Frank Poole worked out at a gym and hiked around his Mississippi home carrying a weighted pack for months in preparation for his trip to the Grand Canyon.
    But it wasn't long after Poole started hiking on a popular Grand Canyon trail that he was struggling to breathe. Several hours later, he was in a northern Arizona hospital, where doctors determined the 75-year-old Poole had suffered a heart attack.

    ``I never suspected I was having a heart attack,'' Poole said recently from his home in Oxford, Miss. ``I just thought it was the heat and extra exertion, the altitude and things like that. I was just so naive.''

    As tourist season picks up, emergency workers at the park and hospital officials know they'll start seeing more people with injuries or those who, like Poole, didn't know they had underlying health conditions that surfaced during the strenuous hikes at the canyon.

    The canyon lures millions of people each year with its colorful landscape, immense size, and awe-inspiring geology. But it presents obstacles that can leave even experienced hikers emerging sore and fatigued, including scorching heat during summer months, an altitude of 7,000 feet, and steep, rocky, winding trails.

    ``There's a million ways you can hurt yourself down there,'' said Lon Ayers, who works in the park's backcountry office.

    The last few weeks have illustrated that.

    In late April, an Ohio man fell 60 feet when he was peering over the edge of the canyon and lost his balance. Two days later, two teenagers and a young man who were swimming in the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon were swept away and drowned. Another injury occurred when a mule lost its footing on a trail, fell and rolled over the passenger it was carrying.

    Falls, fatigue, extreme temperatures and horseplay at national parks around the country lead to nearly 3,600 search and rescue operations each year, according to 2007 figures. The park service also responds to 16,000 emergency medical calls a year for anything from abrasions to twisted ankles, heat stroke and cardiac arrest, said Dean Ross, NPS branch chief of emergency services in Washington, D.C.

    Rangers at the Grand Canyon perform more rescues than at any other park, including 300 helicopter rescues a year, said Ross.

    People who come prepared, bringing plenty of snacks and water, and who pace themselves and listen to their bodies fare the best.

    ``Don't be afraid to try it, (but) take it easy,'' said Dave Florence of Green Bay, Wis., who recently completed a 40-mile, five-day hike at the canyon.

    But hikers don't always heed warnings from rangers and on signs posted around the canyon.

    Allan Widener of Louisville, Ky., recently took the Bright Angel trail just off the canyon's South Rim. After a park staff member strongly recommended that Widener not head down without water, the hiker quipped that, ``I don't drink water, I drink Coke.''

    On the way back from his 11/2 mile hike, leaning against the canyon wall in a shady spot, the 48-year-old said he wished he would have had something to drink.

    Park rangers say they generally encounter three types of people hiking in the canyon. There are the strong-headed ones, usually in their teens and 20s who have an invincibility complex and will go against recommendations. Others are excited and unprepared but willing to change plans if needed.

    Then there are people like Albert Shank, who are prepared and generally stick to plans they've made, but sometimes get in trouble because of circumstance or because they made a bad decision, said Marc Yeston, deputy chief ranger.

    Shank was about 28 miles into what was supposed to be a 42-mile rim-to-rim run in April when his legs started cramping and his body refused to keep down any food or water. He nearly collapsed on a park bench and spent several hours having saline pumped into his body before he was able to walk out of the canyon.

    The Arizona State University faculty associate, who often runs distances longer than marathons, had plenty of water, energy bars and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but not enough electrolytes or salty food.

    ``That was a rookie mistake, and I'm not a rookie,'' he said. ``I learned that no matter how good of shape you're in, the canyon is something you need to respect, and dehydration will take you down.''

    What can be deceiving at the Grand Canyon is that the temperature at the South Rim, where 90 percent of all visitors go, is about 20 degrees cooler than at the bottom. And while most trails lead hikers up a mountain before the downward descent, it's the opposite at the Grand Canyon.

    ``It's a unique set of circumstances,'' Ayers said. ``People from all over the world need to at least hear it from somebody on what to expect. People who have never hiked the Grand Canyon before expect it to be a walk in the park.''

    Ayers said the level to which hikers are prepared amazes him at times.

    Other times, rangers say they aren't sure what people were thinking. They've seen a man in a business suit carrying a briefcase full of water bottles, a man playing a tuba and people hiking without shoes or in flip-flops.

    ``It all stems from a lack of preplanning and knowledge of these trails,'' said Ian Buchanan, a seasonal park worker who advises people on smart hiking. ``A lot of people get the sense that it's Disneyland when it's an environmental park.''

    At the Flagstaff Medical Center - northern Arizona's only Level I trauma center - officials have a name for the spring and summer months when many tourists travel to the canyon. They call it ``Grand Canyon Season.''

    It's a time where about 30 percent of heart patients are brought in from the canyon with conditions such as valve and rhythm problems, and heart disease and blockages.

    Since the hospital started its open heart surgery program in 2004, there has been at least one month where all heart attack patients came from the Grand Canyon, said Gigi Sorenson, the hospital's cardiopulmonary services director.

    ``You just get used to it,'' she said. ``And now when tourist season kicks in, you just start to expect when they call and say they're coming from the canyon.''

    Poole, who had three clogged arteries, was the hospital's first open heart surgery patient after his heart attack at the canyon in 2004. He said his general good health, the exercise he did in preparing for his trip and willingness to seek help spared him from a more serious problem.

    He hasn't had any complications with his heart since the surgery. ``My heart's in good shape now,'' he said.

    Rick Smith