Recent comments

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Ken,

    Here are some additional pictures to wet your appetite for your upcoming trip and hike into the Grand Canyon.

    http://www.parksonline.org/parks/owenhoffman/grandcanyon2007/index2.html

    You won't need to worry about ice on the trail at that time of the year. The inner canyon will be much warmer than in winter, but still more reasonable than during the 110 degree plus days of mid summer.

    I am writing my answer to your request for information assuming that hiking is second nature to you, even at age 75. Here's a test: If a ten-mile all-day uphill hike is relatively easy, then you are ready for the Grand Canyon. If such a hike is presently impossible to do, then I would not recommend hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back.

    I am fairly fit at age 63, but I found my upper legs to be quite fatigued by the time I approached Phantom Ranch. I used hiking poles. Many others did too. By the end of the hike down, my stride walking into Phantom Ranch was more of a hobble than a gait. I don't know how I'd feel at age 75, but I hope I'll still be able to do it when I'm your age. When we did our hike in December, there were perhaps two persons that we met in your age group who were hiking and staying at Phantom Ranch.

    I recommend diligently training for this hike between now and April. Walk everywhere you can. Include long walks up and down hills wearing a small pack. Pre-hike training will reduce the inevitable fatigue and pain from a 7-mile downhill journey. Pre-hike training will also forewarn you of possible physical difficulties you should be prepared for.

    The views are spectacular, but even with the commercial duffle service, pre-hike training is a must. In fact, I would not recommend anyone at any age undertake this hike without having engaged in at least a few months of pre-hike conditioning. Pre-hike training will pay off tremendously, especially with regards to negotiating the thousands of stair-like water breaks when descending the South Kaibab. Before doing this hike, try hiking a few miles downhill carrying a relatively heavy pack and see how you feel.

    When you start your hike, leave as early as you can after breakfast and go as slowly as you are able to walk, which will guarantee that you spend more time looking at the scenery than at the trail. See if the views along Cedar Ridge approaching O'Neill's Butte are as spectacular in the early morning light of April as they were for me in late December.

    Carry at least two quarts of water down. You might be able to carry less on the return, because you can re-stock with water at Indian Gardens. However, if the weather is very warm, I would be sure to carry two quarts at all times.

    Give yourselves enough time to hike down really slowly and to rest up before dinner. I might suggest a Phantom Ranch dinner seating later than 5 PM, if you can arrange it. I enjoyed having a bunk at Phantom Ranch to rest-up before dinner. Staying two or more nights in the canyon is a great idea. This way, you will be reasonably well rested upon hiking out.

    During your "rest" day, try (if you are in the mood for and are able to engage in more walking) hiking up the North Kaibab Trail along the gradual incline of Bright Angel Creek and the inner Bright Angel Fault to Ribbon Falls. This is another spectacular spot in the inner canyon and makes for a perfect day hike. You can trace your steps before and after the hike using Google Earth (highly recommended).

    In April, you will have more hours of daylight than we did in late December. But, I wouldn't worry at all about possible darkness. Hiking slowly is the key. Carry a flashlight or head lamp for emergencies. Carry a first-aid kit and moleskin to attend to the likely event of blisters.

    Be sure to stop frequently to take lots of photos. Newer digital cameras do a terrific job on Grand Canyon moods, colors and contrasts.

    I hope I've been of some help. If you do this hike at your age, it will be something to tell your great grand-children about, and I hope you will comment about your experience on National Parks Traveler. Good luck.

    Sincerely,

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Shenandoah National Park Announces Opening Dates   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Visitor Center openings are evidence of the erosion of purchasing power of NPS's operating funds-- in the 70's when I worked at SNP, the Harry Byrd VC was open year around. with steady visitation. The winter visitors, fewer in number than during the peak times, and of course wanting to warm up a bit, provided great opportunities for "teachable moments" beyond simply telling folks where the bathroom was...

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    These are all good comments. I'm no expert so I read them to learn more about the situation. An excess of ANYTHING is not good. I wonder if we bring in wolves because there are too many elk, what will happen when we have too many wolves? We have to approach this intelligently, with the best interests of our wildlife heritage at the top of our priority list.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    There have been lots of suggestions for increasing carrying capacity, but most of them are unacceptable for obvious reasons. For example, some people advocate installing elevated monorail systems in our big nature-based national parks so that more visitors can be conveyed around and through the parks without unduly damaging the resources. This mass transit system would be in addition to, not instead of, traditional hiking, backpacking, and horse packing.

  • A Winter Visit to Grand Canyon National Park's Phantom Ranch   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Owen--My wife and I are 75. We plan to do the GC on April 5-7, 08. Going down S.Kaibab and returning via BA trail. We have duffel service both ways for us and our son(46) and his wife. Will be staying at the BA campground for two nites. Eating our meals at Phantom. Any advice for us "oldies"? Any suggestions? Thanks

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Wow! I've looked at alot of different sites about the Wolves and Elk in Colorado, Idaho,Wyoming and Montana. I can admit when I'm wrong. Elk populations are not being decimated by wolves, depending on who you talk to. There are many reasons such as fire, disease etc... I guess what I would like to know is... what happened to the wolves in Rocky Mountain Nat. Park before? Were they hunted out? Did they move to different places? What originally happened to them? If it was because of natural reasons, leave it alone. If it was because of human reasons, make it right. Where do the wolves they want to introduce to RMNP come from? Are they captured from another state and moved? This whole thing is crazy to me. What it all boils down to (for me) is Why move the Wolves in to the Park if they are not (or very little) preying on the Elk to begin with? Maybe just relocate the Elk? I don't think Sharpshooters or BIRTH CONTOL is the answer, nor do I think wolves are the answer. From what I've read recently wolves are not going to thin out the Elk, the Elk will thin themselves out as they have in Idaho for example. Thanks for the commentary on this subject. P.S. I was not talking about Wolves killing humans, it was about killing off Elk which I was somewhat wrong about. They do not kill enough Elk to Decimate whole herds.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    If you wish to use a "scientific method" to determine "...how much access and use can be permitted without seriously reducing recreational quality or causing unacceptable damage to physical and cultural resources in the parks." It seems that we would need to answer a few questions. First, what do we mean by recreational quality and 2) what is "unacceptable damage." These are fraught with value laden questions that are not necessarily amenable to scientific inquiry.

    Perhaps National Parks are not overused but underfunded.

    Carrying capacity in range management is about maximizing the productivity of the range, not limiting it. Perhaps we should ask if there are ways that we could increase the capacity of parks in ways that reduce visitor's carbon footprints, promotes the conservation of the natural, cultural, and historic conservation.

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Following up on wolf deaths, there is a (partial, I'm sure) list of confirmed deaths by wolves on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_attacks_on_humans

    If this is correct, there has been 1 death in all of North America in the past 10 years. By comparison, in 2006 there were 174 deaths in the United States alone caused by West Nile virus.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Anon has a good point about unfair advantages that internationals might enjoy if they were to book their peak-season park visits through tour operators who get a permit allocations without being subject to the lottery. However, advocates of the lottery system might simply point out that international visitors already enjoy, at very modest prices, the use of national parks that American taxpayers have funded. And millions of Americans who helped to fund the very parks that the internationals are visiting cannot afford to visit the parks themselves. If I were in charge of tweaking the system, I would have the Park Service charge tour operators very hefty fees for their peak-season permit allocations, with modest surcharges imposed on permits used by internationals.

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I don't understand the problem with bringing back the natural order of things and having the wolves come back? The elk need to be culled because their natural predators have been decimated. Are wolves threatening to humans? How many deaths have wolves caused since they've been reintroduced? I haven't heard of one death, but then again I don't try to read Idaho or Wyoming newspapers for such news.

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Marylander -- I personally think that Glen Canyon should be on the list of everyone's list of 100 places to see before you die. Oh that's right, no one can see Glen Canyon because it's under hundreds of feet of water. I say make Glen Canyon as accessible as possible -- bring back Hayduke and take down that dam!

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Normally I am dead set against big projects in the parks for the purposes of recreation... but Lake Powell is different. It is unlike anything I've ever seen, it is spectacular, and it should be on everyones list of 100 places to go before you die. I am for this project 100% - make the lake as accessable as possible!

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Here's an idea. Any lottery should be open only to American citizens whose taxes pay for the parks. Seriously, if American citizens have difficulty getting access to the popular national parks that they pay for while tour operators catering to foreign visitors get preference, how much support will there be for funding for the parks?

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Just an update to my previous comment. In 1995 66 gray wolves were reintroduced to central Idaho and Yellowstone Nat. Park. Today those wolves number more than 1200! More than 700 in Idaho. I'm sure if you checked the Elk population it would be down dramatically. After a phone call to a friend where I used to live, the Elk herd that wintered on my property are no longer there and the wolf sightings are happening more and more. So again I say MOVE THE ELK OUT and DON'T MOVE THE WOLVES IN! Don't get me wrong, besides my dogs , my favorite animal is the WOLF, a beautiful and interesting animal. Thank You for this site. The articles are wonderful and informative.

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I agree with JoeSF, why add to the existing problem? Why move wolves in? Why not move some Elk out? I lived in a remote part of Idaho for a few years and the Elk population was quite large. I personally had a herd of more than 100 that would winter in my front yard. Sometime in 1995 someone who had probably never been to this area of Idaho thought it would be a good idea to drop 25 or so wolves in to this area, not to cull the herd, only because there were no wolves in the area. When I left Idaho there were approximately 150. I don't know if these suit and tie people who come up with these ideas have ever had to live with wolves outside their front door, but I wish they would and maybe they would not be so fast to change the way things are in these places. Move 'em out, don't move 'em in. On a side note, I did witness the dropping of a Grizzly Bear in that same area of Idaho after a huge fight over wheather or not the bears should be introduced to the area. They were not there to begin with and should not be put there just because! I'm going to stop now before this comment becomes a novel! Thank You.

  • Arches and Canyonlands In the Fall: Rock Architecture and Dwindling Crowds   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I see you can do a lot of thinks in this beautiful place. To bad it's so far away from my country.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    No, the parks should have the news stations broadcast overbooked conditions often during peak season. The information can steer people to underused parks so they can enjoy their holiday or at least alert them to the overcrowed conditon. I think many would opt to do something else if they knew in advance. This can be done at no cost since the federal government owns the air waves and it is a public service. The internet should be used as well.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Monument or Park, the key word here is "Dinosaur".

    Of course, the monument has lovely rivers, wildlife, botany and cultural resources. Park management has recently been using these other resources as justification for reducing the paleo program (see www.ubstandard.com, article on 2/19/08). Clearly ALL resources need protection and interpretation. However, it isnt called Dinosaur National Monument for nothing! Paleo has been identified as its core mission as well as being part of the founding legislation.

    What I want to know is:
    -- Is the priority balancing a budget or keeping the park active and dynamic?
    -- What sort of specific requests (and advocating for the need of a full paleo program) have been done by park management? That is, did anyone TRY to keep the program alive or merely favor balancing numbers?
    -- How are these decisions being made without a FY2008 budget in place while there is talk of a $200 million increase?
    -- Why have internal suggestions of alternative interpretive programs (since the quarry building closure) such as screenwashing demonstrations and re-opening of "outsourced" quarries not occurred? Did someone want to claim that "paleontology has lost its appeal"?
    -- Does park management fully understand the pitfalls of relying on outsourcing to continue the program?
    -- Do they know the value of the work currently being done by all staff?

  • Glen Canyon NRA Releases EA on Castle Rock Cut Deepening   6 years 8 weeks ago

    This is the problem with going back to the NPS mandate. Glen Canyon is a national *recreation* area. Perhaps the recreation areas should be evaluated as to whether they belong under the park service's purview at all, so that recreational users can enjoy them uninhibited.

  • Wolf Advocates Plan to Sue Rocky Mountain Park Officials Over Elk Plan   6 years 8 weeks ago

    The wolf solution will just cause the Parks to face the task of culling the wolves later on. I dont think thats going to make anyone happy. Having some wolves is ok but you cannot create a balanced eco sysytem in a bottle. Suing the Parks is a waste of Parks resources. If people are suing over the elk they will be suing over the wolves next. The numbers will build up.

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    Ouch. Shoot the messenger why don't you?

    The fact of the matter is that in the monument's past there have been efforts to see it renamed Dinosaur National Park, so that was an accurate statement. Would such a change have an overall impact on management of Dinosaur? Maybe, maybe not.

    But you can be sure the surrounding communities would love to see the change in designation as it would bring in more tourists. That's exactly what's behind the move down at Cedar Breaks National Monument to have it renamed a "park."

  • Dinosaur National Monument Cutting Paleontology Staff   6 years 8 weeks ago

    What the heck is a "full-fledged national park.? You should know better. There is no difference in management by law or policy of a unit of the National Park System based on its nomenclature. When places like Cayuhoga and Congaree changed to national "parks" nothing changed but their names. YOu should be the voice of accuracy for parks, not a contributor to the silly nonsense that is perpetuated by the meaningless diversity of designations.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    My trust of the NPS's ability to use the "best available scientific methods" as the basis of any decision is non existent.

  • Does the National Park Service Need a Quota System for Peak Seasons?   6 years 8 weeks ago

    I hate the idea of the permits, first and foremost. However, they aren't really necessary by the very design of the parks. Take Yellowstone, for example. Yellowstone is one of my favorite parks in the world, but I know if I want to visit it I need to make camping reservations WAY in advance. There are only so many camping spaces and hotel rooms available, hence only so many people can visit. Do I think those campsites and rooms should be done on a lottery: NO WAY!!! First come, first serve. Let it be known when reservations are going to be accepted and then let people reserve.

    Do I want to buy a campsite off ebay? Nope. The problem with a lottery is just like the problem with ticket scalping. People- who have NO intention of ever visiting the parks- register for the lotteries at all the parks, use every family members name, and when they become "winners" they put those up on Ebay for 200% markup. A 15$ campsite suddenly becomes 150$ and bad people rake in the money. Let's face it, that is the American way.

    However, and I do feel that the park service could and probably should increase their prices, on a first come, first serve basis, people who are truly interested become the 'winners.'

  • Grand Canyon National Park Officials Release Transportation Plan EA   6 years 8 weeks ago

    The shuttle busses will not work. No one will voluntarily give up their car for the bus. They will only work if mandatory like Zion.