More and more people are visiting national parks, media channels are flooding consumer publications with features on the parks, congressional interest seems higher than ususal, and yet parks are struggling to get by, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.
Olympic National Park
Heavy rains this week have left their mark on Olympic National Park in Washington state, tearing up roads, damaging campgrounds, and generally making a mess of things.
Massive boulders, some upwards of two stories tall, were reduced to rubble in the Elwha River in Olympic National Park by blasting experts as part of the continued restoration of the river channel.
Olympic Hot Springs in Olympic National Park has been temporarily closed to the public following the discovery of a dead man in the pool.
Stepping out at of my car at the overlook of Lake St. Mary in Glacier National Park, I expect to smell the invigorating aroma of a spruce-fir forest. Instead I smell ashes. The conifer forest is no more, and won’t be again in my lifetime, or my children’s.
Few of us with roots in the 1960s can imagine the world of environmental writing without Michael Frome. Actually, it was my mother who first discovered his articles following our trip west in 1959. From our home in Binghamton, New York, she had driven my brother August and me 10,000 miles, visiting national parks the entire way. After spending three days each at Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon, we thought we had seen it all. It little occurred to us, jockeying among the crowds of other auto “campers,” that an even greater, untouched wilderness lay beyond the pullouts, roads, and parking lots. That discovery awaited the writings of Michael Frome.
Kalaloch lies right along the Pacific Coast in the southwestern corner of Olympic National Park about halfway between the Hoh and Quinault rain forests. It is certainly the most heavily used camp area in the entire park. Reservations are a must if you want to camp there in summer. Even though I went to work online with Recreation.gov about four months before I planned to visit, there were only a few sites available. Fortunately, I was able to latch on to one of them.
I met a charming lady while standing atop what’s left of Glines Canyon Dam – a dam recently removed from Elwha River in Olympic National Park. Sharon Francis and her son were there with a girl who I guess is probably her granddaughter. I offered to take a photo of all three of them together and that led to the discovery that I was talking to the woman who had been Stewart Udall’s speechwriter.
Long-distance trail hikers soon will have a new checkbox on their to-do list: The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, a 1,200-mile-long footpath stretching from the peaks of Glacier National Park and through North Cascades National Park to the Pacific Ocean shoreline of Olympic National Park.