Recent comments

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    OK, here's a tenuously proposed triggering mechanism: the humidity was rising that night, and sandstone constitutes a semipermeable membrane. H2O molecules are lighter than N2 and O2, vibrate more rapidly, and find their way through the rock faster than dry air. This enables the rock to build up a partial pressure of water vapor faster than the total pressure of dry air in the rock can be dissipated, so that the gasseous pressure in the rock may build up a few mmHg of pressure--maybe enough to trigger a collapse. I suppose the mechanics and magnitude of such a phenomenon could be studied experimentally. --AGF

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Maybe it was only by rare chance that my husband and I--visiting Arches in May--saw a couple on top of Wall Arch. Later in the day we saw a man on top of Sand Dune Arch. The following day we saw a woman and her young daughter walk during 30 MPH wind gusts across Mesa Arch in Canyonlands, which is exposed on both sides to tremendous drop offs, so frightening to see that I had to walk away. I was so sure we were about to witness people dying that my experience was wrecked.

    Or perhaps these incidents were not coincidental to our visit. Perhaps others blogging here--and park officials, even-- are naive about the audacity of visitors and the frequency with which they stand and walk on top of these fragile, beautiful arches, ignorant or inconsiderate of the harm they do. If there are rules, we saw none posted. If there are not rules and fines--heavy, steep fines--then perhaps there should be.

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I agree that the idiots watching this happen should have at least honked their horns to try to scare the bear away. But they only thought of the photo op and did not think of the safety of the bear, themselves and other visitors to come !
    As far as calling a ranger, there is no cell service in most of the Great Smoky Mtn NP and unfortunately you can spend most of the day there and never see a ranger ! Budget custs once again surface their ugly face Way too many visitors have absolutely no common sense and the wildlife always suffer.

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I grew up in the Carolinas and was a frequent visitor to Great Smoky Mtns NP and the surrounding national forests. Things may be different today, but the Forest Service and NPS did a pretty poor job educating visitors about the potential for bear encounters and their consequences. Bears were never a consideration when I went camping and backpacking in eastern forests. I was pleased to see user-friendly bear cables in Great Smoky's backcountry campsites when I visited a year ago, which is more than I can say for similar campsites in some Western parks frequented by bears. But as recently as seven years ago, back east, "bear protocol" simply wasn't part of our lexicon.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I don't think that delisting should be an answer, but that NPS is ment to protect not sell of units to others like a bussiness. However, maybe a compromise would be that some parks be opterated as assocatied areas. This means that they still keep their titles, NPS still montiors and helps run them, and all laws governing the management of National Park Units still apply like with assocatied areas today.

  • Having Suffered Severe Storm Damage, a Witness Tree at Gettysburg National Military Park is Unlikely to Survive   6 years 7 weeks ago

    A "before" photo of the intact tree can be seen at this site. I'm not sure I can find an after photo.

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I agree with Jeff but would add that stupidity of the people in the parking lot is mind boggling! The only sane comment was someone yelling out that someone should beep there horn but these poor excuses for adults would rather have a photo op,put themselves(with children) at risk and unfortunately contribute to the eventual killing of the animal. I wonder if they saw a bunch of people trashing the car would they have done anything? It's a wonder the world is such a mess when people can't think about right and wrong. The guy who Filmed this should be fined as aiding the bear in the cars destruction!

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    This arch has been sitting around for half a million years or so without falling. Of course the long term cause is gradual erosion, but I suspect the immediate cause was weather and tide related: drier than normal, coupled with shear stresses caused by a temperature gradient. Problem is, August 1 had a 40 degree differential compared to a 25 degree drop Monday night, and the new moon occurred 2 days earlier as well. The winds were stronger Friday than Monday night. Did it fall two days after it cracked? I doubt it, but there must have been some reason it fell when it did. We're a month past aphelion, with its weaker tides, but the arch has gone through the worst of a summer full of expansion and contraction. Winter freezing and thawing does the long term damage, but summer probably provides more triggering mechanisms. Ice ages may set the arches up to tumble during interstadials. I think natural global warming could be the culprit. --AGF

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I don't know that these folks are all that wrong. Far be it from me to get in between a large, hungry bear and it's food. Sure, they should've contacted SOMEbody, but chase it away? Not me! What's to stop him from charging you? Some of these folks really took their life in their hands being so close in the first place.

  • National Parks in the News: Did You Say that Park Police Officer Mary Jane Hempfield is a Turtle?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    It's a shame this information was made public - now these growers will be out looking for box turtles to destroy, in case they're the "informant". I'm sure whatever they're tagged with is obvious, thus ruling out the non-"officers", but still, criminals do tend to have a cruel streak and may be nondiscriminating.
    Nice name, though, for your helper!

  • Why You Should Not Store Food in Your Car at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    The people that stood around and watched this bear break into the car were totally irresponsible. Why didn’t they chase the bear off and call the Park Service? Not only was this car damaged, but that bear may have caused trouble for other cars, campers or, possibly even acted aggressively towards some hikers. It would not surprise me if the bear had to be destroyed because it was, or became, a problem bear.

    No doubt the car owner made a huge mistake by keeping food in a car with its windows partially open. However, those people that stood around and watched the bear taught it not to fear humans. There in lies the problem.

    Jeff
    www.HikingintheSmokys.com

  • Having Suffered Severe Storm Damage, a Witness Tree at Gettysburg National Military Park is Unlikely to Survive   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Regarding this quote:
    "When a witness tree is lost, its passing is mourned, as when a storm toppled a witness tree at Antietam National Battlefield last June. "

    When I followed the link, I read that all the witness trees were spared in the June storm at Antietam; while a number of trees were lost, none were witness trees.

    Also, I would like to see a photo of the Gettysburg witness tree after the storm. We were drenched by a sudden downpour while at the Cemetery in July and I may have stood under or near that very tree.

    [Nice catch, Donna. I've edited out the flawed statement and inappropriate link. Damn that CRS! BJ]

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Stephen C: Your comment that "trolleys have been tried by the NPS on other seashore parks and didn't work". Can you tell us what seashore parks the trolley's were tried and when. Like to know more of facts why the trolley system failed...was it the lack of money or not a feasible plan due to logistics?

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Anon---this website is a clearing house for information and opinions which gives us, the contributors, an opportunity to share information like the recent "drawnings" you mentioned in Indiana Dunes. We cannot expect the editors of this website to have the ability or time to be up to the minute with all of the things that are happening in a 391 unit system. Instead it behooves us to share what we know so as to better inform the readership of this website. It takes a village dude!

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Anon, it's interesting that you should mention drownings. This morning I've been working on an article about drownings and other water accidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It's one example of the numerous articles in Traveler that focus on the 333 national parks that don't happen to be among the 58 National Park-designated "elite." The nature of your comment leads me to believe that you are a new reader, so let me invite you to explore several months worth of Traveler articles (you don't have to read them; just scan through the listings) so you can get a better feel for what we do here at Traveler. Be sure to read our "About the Traveler" statement, which can be reached via the link in the Visitor Center menu at the upper right on Traveler's home page. We always like to hear from readers, Anon, so don't hesitate to give us the benefit of your suggestions and constructive criticism. I've made a mental note to write an article about Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore the first chance I get.

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    SaltSage236,

    Thanks for correcting me. This is particularly useful information for me to have since I volunteer and sometimes give interpretive programs at BISO.

  • Climber Dies In Accident In Grand Teton National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I notice you have posted stories on visitor deaths at Tetons and Grand Canyon but no mention of the two recent drawnings at Indiana Dunes. Is this part of your campaing that only national "parks" are worthy of discussion on this site?

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    I am so glad I got to see this arch this year!! It was magnificent....as well at the others being just as wonderful. On some one could tell that it won't be long before the succumb to gravity....see them while you can.

  • Backcountry Volunteer Survives 100 Foot Fall While Canyoneering at Zion National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    When you say "lower 48", that is an antiquated phrase and inaccurate. It should be "middle 48" unless you neither consider Hawaii a state or south of the Florida Keys.

  • Considering a Hike up Half Dome?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Half Dome is dangerous. It's like walking on a very steep roof on top of a skyscraper with the aid of cables.

    I believe it is poor ethics to discourage the use of safety equipment in such a hazardous situation. The hazard should be respected as well as each individual's physical and mental challenges. Many of the young men ascending wont notice the hazard, but it is there.

    The cables are not merely a backup in case your feet slip. They are part of the primary method of ascent. My observation is that feet slipping was the norm, and people relied on their forearms to pull themselves up the slope rather than try to rely on their feet.

    Rather than requiring permits, I'd support hefty citations for those who create hazards for others. Proper equipment could be a form of permit, although some may heighten their disrespect for the situation simply because they have a harness and create a danger for others.

    I witnessed the 3 instances of dropped equipment: a bottle, a metal thermos, and a camera cap from climbers ahead of me. I saw one of the resting boards get suddenly torqued away from its resting position, most likely because someone was climbing outside the cables. I saw fear on the face of one young man who slipped while he was descending outside the cables. He seemed grateful for the advice I gave him which should have been common sense. I saw a man with a cramp while on the cables.

    The mountaineering shops in the valley seemed amazingly inexperienced with the cable system with a mixture of arrogance. Don't be surprised if they downplay your safety in (false) fear of inconveniencing other tourists. The cable posts are about eleven feet apart, not fifty, so a harness system would be useful in keeping you on the mountain. Also, I witnessed the use of a Via Ferrata style harness on this route which didn't seem to increase inconvenience to anybody. That person and I passed in opposite directions--she was going up on one cable, and I was going down on the other cable. Unfortunately, I also witnessed the use of a homemade false-security "harness" which used a plastic buckle! This was a good article: http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/half-dome/cables-tips.htm

    It isn't Disneyland. I noticed that the maps along the trail seemed to not show Half Dome, which is probably a good filter of average tourists.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    "The NGO model raises concerns; look at what The Presidio Trust has become. Formed, in theory, to help the Presidio become self-sufficient, the trust has turned the Presidio into a business commons and threatens to dilute the history of the place."

    I confess to not knowing the details of the Presidio Trust, but for the Presidio itself, which has a long history of use and occupation and located in America's third largest urban area, it seems appropriate to redevelop this city park with commerce in mind.

    I believe the "NGO model", or conservation trust model, is essentially sound. There are numerous examples of successful conservation trusts in America and in the world, the largest of which is the Nature Conservancy. Some comparisons to the national park system:

    Area protected
    NC: More than 117 million acres
    NPS: 84.4 million acres

    Annual Funds
    NC: $1 billion
    NPS: $2.4 billion

    The Nature Conservancy has more than a million members and 84% overall program efficiency. The NPS doesn't really have "members", but instead has taxpayers, and I'm not sure anyone could tell you the efficiency rating (a percentage of funds that goes directly toward conservation rather than organizational maintenance--bureaucracy) for the NPS, but I'd be willing to wager it's much, much lower. I would love being able to "buy in" to the parks and being able to be a supporting member. I'd readily pay at least $100 a year for such a membership, especially if the managing organization could be as efficient as the Nature Conservancy.

    One of the most attractive features of conservation trusts is the insulation of park management from politics, distant bureaucrats, and corporatism.

    I'm glad to see this thread and suggestions to repair the system. I believe that at the very least, as some have suggested, cutting loose from NPS management all but the 58 "national park" units is warranted.

  • Is It Time to Overhaul the National Park Service and the National Park System?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    National parks are considered playgrounds by those who recognize them as lands to be used solely for recreation (snowmobilers in Yellowstone, for example) without regard for the greater purpose of the parks' creation. Thus, (hopefully) as a marker of a paradigm shift in parkland management and a symbol of America's commitment to preserve the natural wonders of our parklands unimpaired for future generations, we must cease calling them and treating them as "parks" per se, instead redefining these lands as great ecological preserves, and treating them as such. Hence, we'll have Yellowstone National Preserve with private motorized vehicles of all kinds required to be left outside the front gate. Of course, the current definition of "preserve" will have to be changed. Maybe then taxpayers will recognize parklands as places not for thrillseeking, but for celebrating, studying, and exploring our most spectacular wildlands, which are allowed to exist without the threat of motorized vehicles and thrillseekers hell-bent on conquering nature rather than experiencing it on its own terms. Perhaps this is an overly idealistic view, but weren't the dreamers of the national park system and the Wilderness Act equally idealistic?

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Some points that are illuding those that don't know about beach sand, trollys, and mother nature.

    1. Just making a point with this analogy. The Air force could bomb that sand with 10,000 pound bombs and next week you would not see where the craters were. Army trucks could ride for a month on the same sand and overnight you would never know the army trucks were there. What I am trying to say is that heavy trucks are not a problem heavy trucks on the beach are no problem. In fact, heavy trucks with heavy duty transmissions usually pull the subarus, small SUV's, and crossovers out of the sand when they venture out on the beach. Those small vehicles that do make it off the beach usually stop by the transmission shop on the way home for a rebuild.

    2. Trollys have been tried by the NPS on other seashore parks. It did not work. Already proven.

    3. Mother Nature will prevail no matter what any group does to change her. She will take and she will give on her terms not ours.

    More later,

    Stephen C

  • Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park   6 years 7 weeks ago

    Global warming is what created most of our NP's anyway...Love the warming,,,

  • How is Cape Hatteras National Seashore Faring Under Travel Restrictions?   6 years 7 weeks ago

    While political groups and state and federal protection agencies have played games over the last 22 years - the population of piping plovers has declined by half.

    [That's not true.] Plovers weren't observed in Cape Hatteras until the 80s. Cape Hatteras isn't part of their natural range. Storms and predators make it extremely hostile to plovers as they account for the lions share of plover deaths. There are also only 21 documented cases of a piping plover being run over by a vehicle. 20 were by government officials (AKA Park Services).

    You guys are trying to play God and establish a migratory bird in a region outside it's natural range. Stop ruining our beaches.