Recent comments

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Sorry to disappoint the gung ho NPS crowd, but there are those of us who are critical of the bloated bureaucracy known as National Park Service. Last I knew, we had the freedom to speak our minds as well. And the freedom to expect NPS and concessionaires to work togehter instead of butting heads in improving the quality of services in our parks.

    I speak from the experience of someone who is very aware of what guests are asking for these days. I speak from the experience of someone who has had more than one person in my face because they had certain expectations not met, and may never return to a national park as a result.

    Not everyone can hike the trails for prolonged periods of time. Many elderly and young children are limited in the amount of time they can explore, yet don't want to avoid exploring altogether. Others want to get away from it all, but, unfortunately, do have to spend a certain amount of time each day checking in with the office so to speak. Are we supposed to deny these people the right to enjoy the beauty of our national parks? Are we supposed to tell them to go home at the end of the day, especially if they have family members that might want to continue exploring?

    What if a hiker is injured or ill at the last moment? Are they supposed to stare at the four walls? On days when the weather is beyond horrible, do we offer nothing? Just expect a rock hard bed, lumpy pillows, substandard food, and four walls to stare at? Expect unsympathetic, untrained employees who may not even have the skills to communicate with them?

    I think everyone has a right to enjoy our parks. Those of you who want a camp like atmosphere aren't being denied just because others have needs for a few amenities. Feel free not to bring your computer along. Feel free to book a place that does not have wifi, television, and cell phone services. But don't deny others the right to explore with limitiations. And, unless you know their individual stories, don't label them as fat and lazy.

  • National Parks Traveler Honored By George Wright Society   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Congratulations Kurt - well-deserved! A great way to mark the 10th anniversary of National Parks Traveler. All of us who care about the national parks are beneficiaries.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Thanks for backing up my comments about "too much," ec. Who decides how much to "too much" are all of us who choose where to spend our money, where to spend our time, how to keep ourselves amused, what we eat, and how much or how little we choose to exercise.

    Then, based upon our choices, we must live with the consequences -- whatever they may be.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Here's a link to information on an abandoned trail in Grand Teton:

    I don't see anything in that link about an abandoned trail. Perhpas you could be more specific and provide a quote noting that.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I have asked about trail abandonment and lack of maintenance at the Grand Teton Park Visitor's Center and I was told that they are 2 years behind on trail maintenance and that they do not take suggestions from the public on trails. It seemed to be a very touchy subject based upon the haughty reaction I recieved. My guess is that the NPS does not want to patrol and care for the trails and it's easy and cheap to let the trails go. The NPS had $80,000 to remove trails, but not enough money to timely maintain trails which makes me think the NPS has a goal to limit public trail access to the Parks. Why?

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    The NPS hired a contractor with min-excavator to "remove" many of the trails by dragging the excavator bucket to a depth of about ten inches to make the trails difficult to walk on and to encourage plant growth. The trail removal project cost $80,000. Trail removal left just as bad or a worse scar on the earth as did the trails. Some trails that were removed were just blocked with trees debris and trail closed signs. Some of the trails were never used by horseback riders and only used by wildlife like bison and elk when using ancient migration routes. The wildlife just goes over the trail removal debris/removal and signs or makes a new trail. Signs that the trails are closed were posted on the trails. Maps were made of all the so-called horse trails and the removed trails, but those maps are secret in that they are not readily available to the public on Park maps at any Park Information Center. The so-called horse trails are used by Park conscessioners, but they are public trails in a public Park and should be noted on the maps of the Park that the Park gives to the public. Most of the trails would be great for hikers to enjoy.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Interesting. Do you know why these trails were abandoned? Was it due to lack of ability to maintain them, or were there any resource issues with the routes that caused a decision to intentionally abandon them, are some of these possibly unofficial social trails, or ....?

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Here's a link to information on an abandoned trail in Grand Teton: http://thebigoutside.com/ask-me-can-you-suggest-a-backpacking-trip-in-the-tetons-that-wont-be-hard-to-get-a-permit-for/

    There are abandoned trails on the west sides of Leigh and Jackson Lake in Grand Teton as well as an abandoned trail from Trapper's Lake/Bear Paw Lake area to Jackson Lake and a nice campsite area on the Lake.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Just curious - what do you mean when you say the NPS "removed" these horse/wildlife trails? Were they physically obliterated so they can't be found (a pretty labor-intensive and expensive process) or were they "removed" from public maps that show the location of these routes. If they are "secret" trails, are they still identifiable on the ground, and used by only insiders? I'm just not clear about what these terms mean in your context.

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Thanks, for the link Smokies!

  • Concessionaires Want More Investment, Business Opportunities, In National Parks   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Grand Teton National Park removed miles of horse/wildlife trails in 2013 aqnd 2014. Many of the so-called horse trails are secret trails that the NPS does not show on maps of trails in the Park.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    it is never about just your choice.

    Alfred - as my son's Babe Ruth league coach said - "life is about choices". That is (or at least has been) the beauty of our country. We all can make our own choices.

    now practically every landlord has chosen to raise the rent.

    As Gomer Pyle said "suprise, suprise, suprise". Of course they did and prices will go up everywhere and people will lose their jobs.

    Backpacking is expensive

    Only if you want it to be.

    And please include your pictures, too.

    Not sure Kurt's server is large enough for all my pictures but would be happy to post a few. Seem to have lost the capability of doing so on this site a while back. If its still possible, Kurt, educate me - here or via email. I promise, I won't abuse.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Come on, EC. You know what I mean. If you happen to work for anyone, it is never about just your choice. We all have a boss, as the saying goes. Or perhaps you have discovered Utopia? In that case, is the Wizard in?

    Here in Seattle, we just chose to pay everyone $15 an hour, and now practically every landlord has chosen to raise the rent. Choose not to pay and move? Easy for a few people, but not for most.

    Backpacking is expensive, as is dropping out of society to do it. Forty years ago, it was far easier to do than now. But yes, if you sit on your butt all day and watch television, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    Georgia to Maine? Yes, congratulations. And yes, I would like to hear about it in The Traveler. And please include your pictures, too.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Yes David. Be glad to answer questions but don't know it is worthy of an NP Traveler story. I will say, growing up in Northern Virginia I hiked some portions of the AT as a Boy Scout. Did the same with my sons in Pennsylvania as a Boy Scout leader many years later. I had always wanted to hike the AT and I made a choice in 2002 to take the time to make it happen.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    Eric Buck, Does GA-ME 2002 mean the Appilacian trail from Georgia to Maine? If so, Awesome. That would be a good story for NP Traveler. I am sure others would like to hear your highlights. I always thought I would like to do a backpacking trip in Yellowstone or somewhere, but we only do day hikes or shorter.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    The statute of limitations for ad hominem comments by King George calling the colonists a ' rabble' has likely expired.

    If there was only a like button... this comment would get at least one thumbs up.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    but it is not always a choice,

    Yes it is a choice. You choose who you work for. You choose whether you go to school. If a high powered career is more important to you than backpacking, that is your choice. If you go to school, that is your choice. If you sit on your butt and watch TV all day. That is your choice.

    GA-ME 2002

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    You speak of choice, but it is not always a choice, especially when your employer is making demands. Or when, in going to school, you have to work as well as study. In the nineteenth century, the average workday was 14 hours and the average workweek was six days. Farmers worked even on Sunday. Would we want THAT again? Well, in many professions and industries we indeed have it, and that also affects the national parks.

    However, I get your point. No one forced us to choose those lifestyles. Now all we need to do is convince the future that working ourselves to death is the way to go.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    It is also the demise of TIME

    There is as much time as ever. It is just a matter of how chooses to use it. I certainly am not one that is going to take away that choice.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I see that we're on the same page, Owen. You bet. Americans may play hard, but we don't play long enough. Those taking the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails are in the pursuit of life-changing experiences. We should all do that at least once. . .

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    A very good point, EC. Scouting is also down. And family vacations lasting more than two weeks. Today, the average American vacation is 4.1 nights, which, 20 years ago, led to a blistering editorial in Conde Nast Traveler that we Americans were out of our minds. I use one of the quotes in Trains of Discovery:

    The decimalization of the American vacation into 4.1 nights will be regarded by Europeans as further evidence of cultural collapse. . . Americans have tragically deserted the most heroic dimension of their own continent: size. With many other Europeans, I feel that Americans are strangers to their own country in a way that no European can be. One reason is the demise of the American railroad.

    Clive Irving, Condé Nast Traveler, September 1992

    Nor is it just the demise of the railroad. It is also the demise of TIME. You need it to see wilderness properly; now everyone is watching a clock.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    One major item is the not just the absence of income, but also the absence of free time. Yet, the numbers of through hikers on the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail are increasing.

    I contend that if the US citizen were to be alllowed the same amount of vacation time as is enjoyed by most citizens of the countries of Europe, we'd see a lot more people using backpacking as a form of personal recreation.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    One major item is the not just the absence of income, but also the absence of free time. Yet, the numbers of through hikers on the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail are increasing.

    I contend that if the US citizen were to be alllowed the same amount of vacation time as is enjoyed by most citizens of the countries of Europe, we'd see a lot more people using backpacking as a form of personal recreation.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    The statute of limitations for ad hominem comments by King George calling the colonists a ' rabble' has likely expired.

  • National Park System Visitation Statistics: Where Did All The Backpackers Go?   2 weeks 1 day ago

    I think the backpacking bug gets imbedded well before college. Certainly was for me. I have to wonder whether the decline in the participation in the Boy Scouts hasn't had some influence.