Recent comments

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Actually, the 2009 rate for a cabin without a kitchen is a little less than $150 per night plus tax that adds another $15. Ten years ago these same cabins rented for $92, so they have increased in price about 55 percent over the last decade. That is about 4 percent annually. Also, consider that cabin rental includes unlimited use of the mineral pools. We have stayed at Sol Duc four or five times and I am unfamiliar with having to take a cabin that has other guests. We did have mice in our cabin at Grant Grove in Sequoia National Park, so I guess they could be considered other guests even though they weren't paying. I would call the cabins at Sol Duc "plain" but not bare bones. They are certainly nicer than some of the cabins we have stayed in at other national parks.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Tragic to say the least...But hundreds of people die everyday in car accidents...Higher risk activities doesn't result with implementing more laws to cause less problems...More laws just backs a jacked up judicial system and makes things more difficult

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I don't have access to summary data on accidents throughout the National Park System for this year, Barky, but even if I knew the numbers I wouldn't get too excited about them. Ups and downs are to be expected in the short run (a few months to a few years). I don't want to speculate about possible causes of these short term oscillations, and I certainly wouldn't want the Park Service to base policy- and decision-making on that kind of evidence. That said, investigations of accidents, even rare ones, may suggest things that can be done to reduce risks to visitors. I'm all for that.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 44 weeks ago

    We were having a conversation about things like this yesterday. It seems there are more accidents than usual across the NPS so far this year. I'm wondering a) if statistics proves that out, or if it's just higher media reporting than usual, b) if there is a statistical rise in accidents, is it because the economy is forcing more novices to take NPS vacations than normal, or c) if cost cutbacks throughout the NPS has led to a reduction in safety.

    Thoughts?

    =============================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Surprise Tour Bus Inspections at Yosemite Yield Disturbing Results   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Just this past winter a bus carrying Japanese tourists who had visited Death Valley and Lake Mead overturned on the Hoover Dam. 7 people were killed. I'm not sure exactly what had caused that accident. It could have been something wrong with the bus or bad driving, but maybe an inspection could have stopped that from happening. I commend the parks because often our roads are curvier and steeper than the average road in America. Making sure the busses are in top shape and able to handle this is a way to keep the visitors safe. Obviously the bus companies aren't doing it, so someone should look out for the people who are putting their lives in the hands of these bus companies.

  • Half Dome Hiker Falls to His Death in Yosemite   5 years 44 weeks ago

    This is tragic ----- however, people fall in their own homes more often than in national parks. --- all tragic , but other than some training & education lets not make more laws and rules !!!!!

  • Should the Jackson Hole Airport Lease Extension Wait for Safety Audit?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Amen, D-2. This is pure Wyoming pork at the expense of a great national park.

    Rick Smith

  • Should the Jackson Hole Airport Lease Extension Wait for Safety Audit?   5 years 44 weeks ago


    If there ever was an airport poorly sited, that has outlived its usefulness, THIS is IT.

    Its survival is more testimony of the propensity of right-wing congresmen pumping public support (socialism ! ) to a local development that never would have survived in a world of pure capitalism. This survives because, located as it is INSIDE a national park, the airport can be sustained and subsidized by the kind of people who oppose federal support for nearly anything else.

    If led properly or left to its proper rules, the National Park Service should have eliminated this ridiculous strip years ago.

    Although not quite on the level of spending millions to fly mail into a handful of Montanans, this airport certainly is another slice of the pie for Wyoming. Don't you love it? With this airport you get to degrade one of the best national parks, pump money into a hole, and subsidize people who profess hostility to government waste !

    Only in America.

  • National Park Lodging Concessionaires Creating Their Own Stimulus Plans   5 years 44 weeks ago

    As someone who grew up in Port Angeles, WA, and so want my child to enjoy the Olympic National Park, and specifically for this comment, Sol Duc Hot Springs, I am outraged at the extortion that the ONP is supporting in the concessionaire Aramark. We spent many summers up there in the old cabins (gone now), my single working mother taking five kids, our one getaway. We had very little money but this was something she could do for us. Now, if I want to take my son up there to enjoy it, as of this writing, thanks to Aramark, it will cost me $200. a night for a cabin. The cabins now are bare bones, sometimes with other "guests" in them. This is outrageous. A so-called offer for 10% off one night (and more for more nights) was found to not work at all on a Monday night that was said to have a lot of availibility. I commented to Aramark but received no reply. To make it worse, ONP offers no reservation system for the nearby campgrounds which makes it impossible for anyone that works for a living to repeatedly show up hoping for a spot. Are these parks not for all of us? Why is it only rich and nonworking people get to enjoy these parks?

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I have hiked the Canyon numerous times over the years. I do consider the mules and their mess to be a great inconvience. However, they are not going to go away. Over the years I have decided that the corridor trails (aka: the freeway) are occassionally useful to connect to other trails. I have no problem with maintaining the status quo re: the corridor, as long as it prevents the concessionaires from using other trails for mules. I strongly oppose expanding use of stock on any trails other than the corridor. There are alternatives for serious canyon hikers that are mule free as well as very little contact with the hordes of people who utilize the corridor. Leave the corridor and the South Rim for the tourists. That makes the areas that require more effort (e.g. the North Rim, Tanner, Nankoweep, Red Canyon, Tonto, Point Sublime and etc.) freed up for those of us who are more willing and capable of making the extra effort.

  • Iconic Trail at Grand Canyon National Park Set for a Major Makeover   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I work on the trails at Grand Canyon. To answer the concerns about the log/rock checks, or retainer bars perpendiculiar to the trail...I hate them, and so does everyone else I know. BUT, they are necesary in preventing deep rutting caused by mules and rain, and used for 'pulling grade', otherwise we would never get up that steep hill. Don't forget, we build the corridor trails (Bright Angel, South and North Kaibab Trails) to accomadate mule traffic. Want a hiking trail? Go to the Grandview, Tanner, Hermit trails where you will see a fraction of the people and have a much more enjoyable experience.

    A current design we are working on (one fine-tuned over the course of many years of culminated trail experience specific to Grand Canyon topography), should alleviate some of the 'high-stepping' of the checks. This includes using a cobblestone rip-rap as a sub-base to the trail tread, built into the log/rock checks 2-4" below the surface, then covered with a 2-4" cap of dirt. All materials except the juniper poles are native and found adjacent to the trail in the locations they are being installed. The Juniper log poles are cut on a Forest Service plot marked for thinning, so essentially, the logs are being recycled, and we are assisting the USFS in reducing hazardous fuels in out forests.

    With re-occuring cyclic maintenance, the trail should always be covered with dirt, creating a 'ramp' effect, eliminating steps. If we lose the 2-4" dirt cap due to erosion (Grand Canyon happens to be the PRIME example of erosion in the world, and the Trail Crew there in effect are fighting it's erosion), then the trail tread will only erode down as far as the top of the rip-rap stone. The most you will have to ever step up, is 2-4".

    We take pride in our work, and these trails are our passion. Thanks for hiking. =)

  • Olympic National Park Has New Food Storage Requirements For Backcountry Travel This Year   5 years 44 weeks ago

    The great thing about this that one can get a bear canister to use during your backpack adventure from the Ranger's for free!
    (a $3 or more donation will be asked for)
    Unlike Yosemite where it will cost you $5 (for up to two weeks) with a $65 deposit (cash or credit card only).

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 44 weeks ago

    My heart goes out to my dear friends Eydie and Gene Swanson and their family, Kyle, Molly and Heidi et al over the loss of their beloved son and brother, Andrew. It is unbelievable to me and heart wrenching to suddenly lose such a vibrant and talented young man as Andrew was. I send all my love and sympathy. My heart is broken for you.
    All my love,
    Dana Wigton

  • Olympic National Park Has New Food Storage Requirements For Backcountry Travel This Year   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I read this about problems with bears in TN Great Smokies and they did close some trails and camps to reduce incidents with bears and visitors.
    http://www.thedailytimes.com/article/20090613/NEWS/306159988/-1/RSS&rssfeed=RSS

  • Should the Jackson Hole Airport Lease Extension Wait for Safety Audit?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    You make some very good points, Anon. It's very likely that some of the runway accidents can't be wholly attributed to deficiencies of the airport. For example, the NTSB thinks that a brake problem (cross-wiring of the brakes on one set of wheels) may have caused that United Airlines jet to veer off the runway. Nevertheless, the alliance expects (rightly so, I think) that the safety audit results will recommend improvements, such as runway extensions and better lighting, that will make the airport safer to use. The alliance has steadfastly maintained that such considerations belong in the airport lease EIS.

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 44 weeks ago

    OMG!! That is so sad. I just can't believe it has happened. I had an appt with Dr. Swanson next Wed. and surgery scheduled on July 2nd. He was a very nice man and I feel privileged to have met him. My heart goes out to the friends and families of both of these men.
    Hollie Hanf

  • Jon Jarvis Nomination As Next Director of National Park Service Imminent   5 years 44 weeks ago

    The man for a tough , tough job.
    Solid !

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Drew was a good friend who'll be missed. My heart goes out to all his loved ones.

  • Roped-Together Climbers Die in Fall On Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Boy does that suck. One mistake. Game over.

  • Should the Jackson Hole Airport Lease Extension Wait for Safety Audit?   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Prior to either wholeheartedly dismissing or supporting the delay, I would think that a compromise could be included in the renewal requiring the safety audit be performed.
    As for the unusually high rate of "accidents" (apparently mostly running off runways), did the findings in those instances find the problems with the airport, or simply pilot error? Weather at Jackson Hole is notoriously poor in the winter (ski season), and planes often divert to Idaho Falls. Flying in poor conditions is much harder than driving in them, and we certainly shouldn't fault the airport IF the errors lie elsewhere, and shouldn't hold up critical funding unnecessarily.

  • With 391 Units In the National Park System, You'd Think TripAdvisor Could Find 10 It Liked   5 years 44 weeks ago

    I do have to support Kurt's concept that TripAdvisor aught to be giving the public accurate information about what types of public land sites they are visiting. I mean really, you can't come up with 10? Or at least give the article a different title. Like the government doesn't have enough problems educating the public on which public land they're on. Conversely, Kurt seems to infer that if you don't have the title "National Park" after your name, you're less valuable. I don't think Congress intended that nor the people who championed the creation of many of these special places in our country. To dismiss an area as not being "as special" simply because of some verbage certainly negates the point of the National Park SYSTEM. Let's look past the big Y parks and realize there are a lot of beautiful and important places in this country that aren't call a national park. Just my two cents...

  • National Park Mystery Photo 6: A Movie-Goers Special   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Let's close this one out. Vinn was in the ballpark with "The Incredible Hulk," but the 2008 superhero film with that title didn't have an arch cameo. It was the 2003 Ang Lee-directed film "Hulk" (aka "The Hulk") that had a Double Arch cameo (sharing that distinction with "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.") The Double Arch action in "Hulk" has Hulk jumping off the arch (at the 103-minute mark). About two minutes later, Hulk is chased by helicopters around the sandstone bowl at Delicate Arch, which is also in Arches National Park.

  • Surprise Tour Bus Inspections at Yosemite Yield Disturbing Results   5 years 44 weeks ago

    My first time to Tunnel View was great--for the first five minutes. Somehow, I hit a lull in traffic and my girlfriend and I had the view practically to ourselves for a few minutes; then a tour bus pulled over and unloaded dozens of Japanese tourists who noisily snapped dozens and dozens of photos as the bus idled and overwhelmed the viewpoint with exhaust before noisily reloading and pulling off, a cloud of diesel belching from the tailpipe.

    The NPS should regulate buses in national parks. I'll go one step further and call for their outright ban.

  • Surprise Tour Bus Inspections at Yosemite Yield Disturbing Results   5 years 44 weeks ago

    Retired? God, I wish! But seriously, there's no need to get bent out of shape over my comment.

    But just in case I haven't yet made Kurt mad too, here's some real nitpicking:

    Kurt said:

    Yosemite receives approximately 3.5 million visitors per year, with approximately 250,000 arriving on a tour bus. The large majority of tour bus passengers are international visitors from countries such as Japan, Korea, Germany, and England. Many of these visitors come to Yosemite in conjunction with visiting other parts of California.

    It is a primary concern of the NPS in Yosemite that these visitors are safe during their travels in the park.

    (Emphasis mine)

    When I read this I figured the first bold "these visitors" referred to the subject of the previous sentence, "the large majority" of International travelers. It would follow that the next bold "these visitors" in the next sentence also refers to the same group, thus Yosemite's primary concern is the safety of International visitors. That seemed odd, given that I thought we were talking about unsafe buses, not whether Yosemite was risking the harming foreign nationals in particular.

    Call me an old curmudgeon (I'm 35 and giving unsolicited critiques of Kurt's writing is just a pleasurable hobby), but I'm still wondering how these International visitors are relevant to a bus safety article. :-)

  • Roadwork In Sequoia National Park to Snarl Traffic For a While   5 years 44 weeks ago

    This is one of the worst stretches of roads in any national park; something like 130 curves and dozens of switchbacks in just 9 or so miles. I'm getting queasy just thinking about the trip on this road in the back of a government minivan; we had to pull over for me to loose it along side the road. Seen it happen to countless others along that stretch. And with construction and the fumes! NO way!

    Were it me, I'd just drive around Grant Grove, Kings Canyon, and Giant Sequoia National Monument and leave the Vomit Comet for the strong-stomached.