Recent comments

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   6 years 3 weeks ago

    You don't know the circumstances. Knowing Saif personally, I can easily say he was the nicest guy I have ever met. If you died like this, would you want people saying stuff like that about you? And also basically mimicing you? Get some maturity, grow up. You must'nt have a concience.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   6 years 3 weeks ago

    It is true that they have no original artifacts from the building in 1898. However, nor did they have anything for the Mascot Saloon, yet they completely recreated EVERYTHING in the saloon to match the way it looked in 1910. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has little devoted to the most famous character in the history of the city, and in fact has no buildings (to my knowledge) devoted, inside and out, to the 1898 era, like that of the Mascot display (1910). In my opinion, the best plan would be to restore the Parlor to the way it looked when Soapy owned it, and place the Rapuzzi collection in any other building. As I have said before, people write me every year expressing their disappointment in not being able to go inside "Soapy's saloon." I am not sure of the Park's exact plans but I am sure many Soapy fans will be somewhat disappointed that the building represents anything other than Soapy Smith.

    I have been inside the Parlor when Rapuzzi owned it, and then when Brown had it. I guess the most important thing is that it is still standing. It was beginning to lean to one side so thank goodness Brown finally sold it. I have actually made offers to buy the Parlor in the late 80s and 90s from her, and she once told me that she wanted enough from a sale "to sit in a rocker for the rest of her life." Glad it did not go the way of the Pullen Hotel. It will take close to a decade to complete the project and if I'm still around I'll have to drag myself up there for the opening day.

    Watch my sites below for the coming biography! Did you know Soapy was murdered? That Frank Reid did not kill him? Got to love history.

    Jeff Smith
    Soapy Smith website
    Soapy Smith blog

  • A Tough Week for Hikers and Mule Riders at Grand Canyon National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    In 1998, me,the wife and 2 sons, ages 16 and 13, made the day trip on the mules to Plateau Point. The 13 yr old was freaking out on the way down but he made it. Although we felt safe on the mules, it did cause some anxious moments, as it should have.

    On the way down right before one of those 180 switch backs, my mule stumbled, went down to his knees, and then back up. It bout gave me the Big One, but we all made it and had a wonderful time. We still have our certificates that shows we made it down on the mules.

    11 years later we still talk about the trip. Unbelieveable.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   6 years 3 weeks ago

    It's my understanding the park has almost no original "stuff" from the building as it was in the gold rush when it was Soapy's, but that they have most of the stuff from the Itjen era, including animatronics(!!), so they're replicating the era that they have the actual artifacts for.

  • Floods Sweeping Gateways to Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve   6 years 3 weeks ago

    There is some amazing commentary on this flood on CBC's 'As It Happens,' which is the Canadian Broadcast Company's show out of Saskatechwan, that aired last night (MAY 6). It was a devastating description, with an interview with Andy Bassich, about a rescue. He says no one living has ever seen a break-up and flooding like this. Calls it a "once in a millennium flood" with a huge snowpack and now, unusually warm weather. He is shaken.

    link to listen to the show:

    This is for the May 6 show

  • Ill-Advised Leap from a Bluff Leads to a Challenging Rescue at Buffalo National River   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Thank you for your comment. It seems that what we thought was bad luck (else we would have not been where we were) was good luck for others.

  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Lands Windfall In Donation of Historic Buildings, Memorabilia   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Stephanie, although I understand that Itjen, Pullen, and perhaps even Rapuzzi are important to Skagway, their stories can be told in any building in Skagway, however, Jeff Smith's Parlor is uniquely Soapy. His story belongs in his old saloon.

    Jeff Smith
    author of Alias Soapy Smith, the Life and Death of a Scoundrel.
    Soapy Smith website
    Soapy Smith blog

  • Ill-Advised Leap from a Bluff Leads to a Challenging Rescue at Buffalo National River   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Mike -

    Thanks for sharing some details on the incident - and for your part in getting help en route to the correct location much sooner than would have been possible if you hadn't been there. The fact that you knew enough about the area to identify the location for the emergency responders made a big difference.

  • Ill-Advised Leap from a Bluff Leads to a Challenging Rescue at Buffalo National River   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I just found this good article and felt impelled to comment. Please forgive the introductory dialogue, but it helps explain a 180 degree perspective on this terrible accident. I happened to be in those woods that night and provided 911 the location information they were seeking. I have copied here a message I sent to a close friend:

    We had fun sort of. The trip was full of “challenges”. We got a late start Friday, but got to the trail head in time to be on schedule by Sunday. This means we still had plenty of time to hike 10.8 miles by Sunday, camping anywhere each night that looked good to us.

    The plan was to drop off both mules and all packs (people backpacks and mule packs) at the starting point, then 3 out of 7 of us took the two vehicles to the end point to drop off one truck and horse trailer at the end, returning in the other truck to the starting point. By road, the end point was only 5.3 miles from the starting point. But that 5.3 mile road had a horribly wet, muddy, steep hairpin turn going downhill toward the end point. We got the vehicles to the endpoint, but had to drive an hour on other roads back to the starting point because the 5.3 mile road was not passable going uphill, even with 4 wheel drive.

    So, we hit the trail much later than expected. We camped about 1 mile down the trail and finished dinner about 11pm. Right after that someone started yelling at us from out in the woods. After some very hesitant yelling dialogue, we found that it was a young man (early 20’s) alone with a prosthetic leg, totally lost. He didn’t have a map and didn’t even know what river and park he was in or near. He was very fear stricken. He had been with 8 other people way down the mountain from where we were at some water falls when one of his friends fell 70 feet out of a tree. The other 7 people were still with the victim, with no cell service down there. After some discussion, we figured out they were at the Hemmed-In Hollow Falls. There was cell service at our location and he called 911 and I gave him all the information on his current location and the location of his friends. Then, Doyle and I walked him up to a trail junction and showed him which way to go to get back to the trail head where he and friends had parked and where the emergency services were going. Soon after, a large helicopter made two passes over Hemmed-In Hollow with a bright slight shining down into the woods, below us down the mountain. We saw no more activity. I don’t know what time it was by then.

    At about 4am, I woke up and for some reason realized I didn’t remember locking my truck at the trail head. I checked and couldn’t find my keys. I woke up my 16 year old son who was in a one-man tent and asked him to go back to the trail head with me to check on the truck. So, we hiked the mile back up to the truck and the parking lot was full of emergency vehicles – police cars, park ranger vehicles, EMT’s, volunteers. Someone met us as we came out of the woods. There were 21 men down at Hemmed-In Hollow and they had the victim “packaged” and ready for evacuation. They were taking him to Henderson House down by the river for pickup by helicopter after day break. Bringing the victim back up hill, total of 3.7 miles of trail would have been nearly impossible because some parts are difficult when carrying nothing.

    Oh, we did find my truck unlocked with the keys in the ignition!

    We slept until 9am Saturday, a breakfast of pancakes and sausage, packed up, and headed out a little after noon. We had already made plans to shorten the overall hike from 10.8 miles to about 8 miles by using a different trail toward the end. The mules did great! We had an older one that is very calm and a young one off the farm for the first time, but she is typically very sweet and calm and well rehearsed with the packs. She did great until we got on a half mile dirt road to connect from one trail to another. 8-10 loud trail bikes came along. When they saw us, they stopped long enough for Doyle to lead the young mule off the road and tie her to a tree. All but one of the bikes passed slowly, but one guy couldn’t get his bike restarted at first. When he finally got it started, it revved WAY up. Foxy, the older mule I had, jumped a little, but relaxed. The young mule Doyle had tied to the tree jumped about a foot into the air when the engine revved, but was OK and very scared. After the traffic was gone, Doyle untied her and as he started to return to the road, they both got tangled in a vine and Doyle tripped. The mule panicked and took off in a dead run down the road toward myself and Foxy. I lead Foxy right in front of her and she came to a screeching halt and let me take her lead rope. She was fine after that, but nervous.

    We had plans to camp that night on the last trail leading to our end point. When we got to that trail, it was marked with a “no camping” sign. So, since it was almost dark, we got on the road and hiked straight to the endpoint. By the time we did the hour drive back to the starting point to get my truck, then back to the endpoint to pick up the rest of the guys and packs, then drove home, we got to my house at 1am and Doyle got home with the mules about 2am. We ended up hiking 7 miles (two of us had 9 miles in).

    Sunday morning, we were all glad we weren’t picking up a wet camp in that freezing wind!

    Most of us had a good time. A few had very sore feet or wet feet because the trails were holding a lot of water from recent rains and were very muddy. Doyle and I were very proud of the mules performance.

    We will plan things differently and more thoroughly next time!

  • National Park Quiz 53: Castles   6 years 3 weeks ago

    As a National Park Service buff, I enjoyed your Castle quiz. I just wanted to say that the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) owns 150 acres of the 172 acre Governors Island. The remaining acerage is administered by the National Park Service, this includes Fort Jay and Castle Williams. Castle Williams and Fort Jay are not managed by GIPEC at all, yet the National Park Service and GIPEC are both land owners on Governors Island and work together for the island's future.

    For more information please visit and

    Thank you.

  • Mammoth Cave National Park Tours Not Affected By White-Nose Syndrome   6 years 3 weeks ago

    The U. S. Forest Service has recently taken action as well.

    On April 24, 2009, the U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region Deputy Regional Forester signed an emergency closure order for all caves and mines on NFS lands in the Eastern Region in response to white nose syndrome.

    The USFS Eastern Region covers: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    Forest Service officials are very concerned about the spread of White-nose Syndrome, a malady of unknown origin that has led to the death of nearly 500,000 bats in the New England and Mid-Atlantic States. There is evidence to suggest that human visitors to infected caves can inadvertently transfer White-nose Syndrome to clean caves and mines. To help slow the spread of White-nose Syndrome to other areas of the United States, the Forest Service has joined with other agencies and caving organizations to temporarily close caves and mines on National Forests in the Eastern and Southern Regions.

    The USFS Southern Region website is currently being overhauled and is not current, so I couldn't verify the above information that the emergency closure order also applies to caves on USFS land in that area. The USFS Southern Region encompasses 13 States—from Virginia to Florida and Oklahoma – as well as Puerto Rico.

    A key question is how effective these closures will be, since enforcement relies to a large extent on voluntary compliance, but all officials can do is try.

  • Fire in the Hole! Explosives Help Uncover Fossils At Dinosaur National Monument   6 years 3 weeks ago

    An amazing process - but one that works if you have the right people involved.

    Last summer at Mount Rushmore, I was a bit surprised to learn how much of the "carving" of those famous faces, including some fairly detailed work, was accomplished with explosives.

  • Mammoth Cave National Park Tours Not Affected By White-Nose Syndrome   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Yes, the Smokies' caves were closed about a month ago.

    You can find that story by clicking here.

  • National Park Quiz 53: Castles   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Thanks for the additional info, Former. I understand that putting in an additional pipe would have cost far too much.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Saif Savaya, i hope everything turns out for the best. I love you man.

  • Ken Burns' National Parks Documentary: Where Does it Stand?   6 years 3 weeks ago
  • Mammoth Cave National Park Tours Not Affected By White-Nose Syndrome   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Weren't all the caves in the Smokies already closed to the public and cavers.

  • Rooms Available for The Summer At Zion National Park -- At Least Right Now   6 years 3 weeks ago

    If you go, be sure to stay in one of the historic "Western Cabins" designed by Underwood. They are fully restored, with modern touches. Very nice combination of historic charm and modern convenience. Hopefully the restaurant and service level have improved since my visit! For my photos see

  • Billing For Search and Rescue Missions -- Yes, or No?   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Jim.hiker great observation on who is really getting rescued. Before we launch into Human Error, Gross or Reckless Negligence or Intentional Rule Violator decisions the National Park Service needs to start treating our visitors like adults. When we accept responsibility for creating the nuisance in the first place and mitigate it, post appropriate warnings and honestly relay what the ramifications are if you choose to disregard the warnings we might see some folks make the right decision in the first place. Our visiting public is smarter than we give them credit for. When you are drawn like a moth to the flame towards the lava spewing into the ocean to get a glimpse of Pele you pass signs that tell you in no uncertain terms what your fate will be if you play with lava. I think most adults can figure that out. Nowhere on that hike do we accurately post the ramifications for walking on unstable terrain for 2 miles in flip flops, sandals, motorcycle boots and high heels. These unsuspecting visitors embark on the journey only to meet their fate of a serious knee or ankle injury that keeps them from their original destination. Human Error, Gross or Reckless Negligence or Intentional Rule Violator? If we spent the time and energy at this level we would decrease our SAR work load significantly. I'm all for holding people accountable for their actions, it's a tool we have and use. Clearly it's not the answer to this significant fiscal dilemma. I’m not ready to charge the public (honest error) for a rescue if we’ve not done our due diligence and as you’ve pointed out this is where we spend the majority of our time and energy.

  • National Park Quiz 53: Castles   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Re: #4 - The water for the Pelton water wheel was more than sufficient when the system was new in the late 20's, but because of aging infrastructure there is no longer sufficient water through the original water main to leave it running now like it did then ... the actual generator still works like new, the spring puts out more than enough water, it's just that the pipe just can't get enough water from the spring to the generator anymore.

  • Freeze On New Regs Could Impact Efforts to Expand Mountain Biking in National Parks   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I see the damage that can be done by idiots that drag their rear tire down the hills. This is what causes most of the damage. I’ve biked and hiked the same trails every weekend for years, I also carry a 357 GP100. I’ve never had a problem.

    I wish Bush would have left it alone, now it’s an issue……

    Please forgive my writing skills, I went to public school before the no child left behind initiative started….

  • Woman Dies in Fall From Angel's Landing   6 years 3 weeks ago

    I climbed AL last week. The entire park was amazingly beautiful. The views from AL were spectacular but they were from many other places as well. Without a doubt, there is adrenalin climbing AL. There are a few narrow places where extra caution is required but caution is recommended on pretty much the entire trail - an accidental loss of balance or trip, even by the most experienced and prepared people, can result in an undesirable fate.

    I disagree with any suggestion that people who fall are necessarily acting foolishly - when coming down AL in several sections, I was mentally focussed, had proper hiking boots, not carrying too much, and all that was needed was for me to accidentally trip or lose my balance and I could have had an undesirable ending. Accidents happen to the most experienced and prepared.

    Although all 5 non-suspicious deaths off AL are tragic, I'm surprised there haven't been more since the park was established - that's over many decades. I think the warnings were clear. Leave these places open. Every time we hop in a vehicle or cross a street, we're put in danger but I don't see anyone saying we should ban automobiles. I think the place should be closed in icy/snowy conditions and perhaps at night. I'm not sure about kids - in groups, it's not a good idea - too much peer pressure. Although kids tend to have more physical stamina than adults, they are also less conscious of danger and generally less responsible....and often act more foolishly when in groups. I wouldn't bring my young kid up there, but that's me. Carrying a young child in a pack up there is plain stupid.

    I'd be more hesitant going up there in heavy tourist season. There are some sections where I'd want to be the only person going through them. I'm sure in summer there are far more people going up and down on many sections at the same time - I wouldn't want that. It wasn't bad when I was there.

    Enjoy the place. It's amazing. Oh, if you notice any loose post or a problem with the chain, please report it to the park officials.

  • Stranded Boaters Rescued from the "Narrows" at Zion National Park   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Lynn, what's so stupid? To kayak the narrows, to go on an adventure that involves risk? My be to risky for you and it may be to difficult for many but certainly not stupid. Stay in your car with your cocker.

  • Floods Sweeping Gateways to Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve   6 years 3 weeks ago

    Damn, what a mess. Ice jam flooding is miserable. Sounds like Eagle and Eagle Village will need some serious help when the waters recede. Good to hear that the Park Service was able to help. I remember traveling by dog team down the frozen Yukon from Eagle. It was some of the roughest ice conditions I had ever encountered.

  • Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River   6 years 3 weeks ago

    we love and miss you saif. we're all praying for you at SHHS. all there is now is hope....stay strong. <3