Friday, September 19, 2014

Mount Evans Highway to Close for Season Due to Road Construction

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will close the remaining 10 mile segment of the Mount Evans Highway (State Highway 5) for the season to most vehicular traffic Monday, September 22nd, for road construction.

CDOT needs to build a retaining wall along the edge of the highway to improve its stability near Lincoln Lake, about 6 ½ miles up from Echo Lake, requiring a full closure of the roadway. Only authorized vehicles and hunters with a current license for that game management unit will be permitted to use the highway during the closure period.

Annually, CDOT closes the five-mile segment from Summit Lake to the top of Mount Evans (14,264 feet) the day after Labor Day, per agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. The 10 mile section from Echo Lake (State Highway 103) to Summit Lake closes annually in early October. This year’s earlier closure will provide CDOT the time to make these road improvements prior to snowfall. State Highway 5 is scheduled to reopen for the summer season Friday, May 22, 2015, weather permitting.

Information regarding the opening and closing of seasonal highways in Colorado is available on the cotrip.org website or by calling 511.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014

RMNP Announces Saturday Evening Programs

Rocky Mountain National Park announced yesterday two upcoming Saturday evening programs at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center over the next couple of weeks. As the park celebrates its Centennial, the programs will honor the past and celebrate the present to inspire future generations.

On Saturday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m. join a park ranger for Treacherous Treks: History of Longs Peak. As the only "fourteener" in the park, Longs Peak challenges many people to reach its summit. From the early years of Native American stories of trapping eagles upon its summit and the first recorded ascent in 1868 by John Wesley Powell, Longs Peak continues to share stories of beauty and peril. Many people have attempted to summit the 14,259-foot Longs Peak; some were successful, some were not. Follow the treks of Enos Mills, Agnes Vaille and others up to the mightiest peak in the park.

On Saturday, September 27, at 7:00 p.m. join Mary Taylor Young for Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years. A century has passed since Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915. But the story of any park with "Rocky Mountain" in its name begins not just a hundred years but a billion years ago. Award winning writer, Mary Taylor Young, tells the story of her new book.

These programs are free and open to the public. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

U. S. Forest Service Announces Future Plans for Popular Agnes Vaille Trail

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is developing a proposed re-route of the popular Agnes Vaille Falls Trail in Chaffee County. The area and trail will remain closed to public use until October 1, 2015 because of planning, construction and monitoring efforts.

In collaboration with the Johnson Family from Buena Vista, Colorado, the Salida Ranger District is designing a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible trail. The redesigned trail will no longer take hikers to view the falls due to safety concerns. It would connect to a portion of the existing Agnes Vaille Trail and offer a variety of scenic vistas within the Chalk Creek drainage. Potential additions include interpretive panels that describe the cultural, natural and geologic features of the area. The Salida Ranger District hopes to start construction during the summer of 2015.

Currently the trail and surrounding area is closed for health and human safety by a special order closure. The USFS will to continue to monitor the area as they watch for conditions that may pose health and safety hazards to visitors.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fatality Near Alberta Falls

At 11:30 a.m. this morning, Wednesday, September 17th, a man's body was discovered along the shore line next to Glacier Creek at the base of a rock outcropping, roughly 200 feet down from Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park. Rangers reached the body approximately 30 minutes later and confirmed that the man was deceased.

There were no witnesses and the incident is under investigation, foul play is not suspected. The man's body was flown to a landing zone near the Glacier Basin Campground and was transferred to the Larimer County Coroner's Office. The man is 33-years-old. His name and hometown will be released after next of kin have been notified. No further information is available at this time.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Drones Banned in Colorado National Monument

Launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft on lands and waters within Colorado National Monument is now prohibited and has been posted in the 2014 Superintendent's Compendium.

The term "unmanned aircraft" is defined as any device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device. An interim policy is now in effect for all national park units while a Servicewide regulation is finalized.

There has been dramatic growth throughout the country in the numbers and use of unmanned aircraft during recent months with visitor and staff complaints of noise and nuisance, harassment of park wildlife, and safety concerns. "Simply put, experiencing quiet and solitude is a value that people seek and want protected within their national park units," states Superintendent Lisa Eckert.

A superintendent's compendium is a compilation of restrictions and permit requirements imposed under the discretionary authority of the superintendent. These are determined based on being necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety, protection of environmental or scenic values, protection of natural and cultural resources, aid to scientific research, implementation of management responsibilities, equitable allocation and use of facilities, or the avoidance of conflict among visitor use activities.

The National Park Service may authorize unmanned aircraft for administrative purposes such as search and rescue, fire operations and scientific study.

More information regarding this ban may be obtained from the Superintendent's Compendium, available from the Colorado National Monument website.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Winter is Coming: Seven Days on the John Muir Trail

"The mountains are calling and I must go"

- John Muir

Below is a video from Ryan Commons that documents his hike across the Sierra Mountains along the John Muir Trail.

Ryan made the trip from the Mt. Whitney Portal to Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park - 222.4 miles - in just seven days! Along the way he climbed a total of 42,000 feet, or, put another way, almost 8 miles of climbing! Obviously he put in some pretty insane milage each day to accomplish this goal.

Ryan followed the trail up to Mount Whitney, which, at 14,496 ft, is the highest peak in the lower 48. From there he passed through King's Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness before ending his journey in Yosemite.

At 40 minutes in length, the video is fairly long, but is very well made, and well worth the spectacular scenery alone:


WINTER IS COMING - Seven Days on the John Muir Trail from Ryan Commons on Vimeo.






Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Key Milestones in Hiking

Over the last several decades the sport of hiking has become increasingly more popular. According to the latest Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, 11.4% of all adults in the United States participated in hiking in 2013. But the burning question to a modern-day trekker such as myself, is when did people take to the trail for pleasure? Ever since our predecessors began walking on two feet humans have used bipedal mobility to hunt, explore, migrate to another territory, or trade goods with another community. At some point we as humans figured out that there doesn’t have to be a utilitarian reason for walking. We discovered that joy can be found by simply traipsing through the woods, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, admiring the beauty of a wildflower, marveling at the roar of a waterfall, or soaking-in the awe-inspiring views from a mountain top. Is this a recent phenomenon, or was this something that humans always had a natural urging for? Here are a few of the key milestones in the history of hiking that’s led to its popularity today:

~3300 BCE: In 1991 two German tourists found the mummified remains of “Otzi, the Iceman” at roughly 10,530 feet in the Ă–tztal Alps along the Austrian–Italian border. Although scientists aren’t sure what this 5000-year-old man was doing at that high elevation, there are some that believe that Otzi may have been one of the first hikers or mountaineers.

125: The 2nd century Roman Emperor, Hadrian, hiked to the summit of Mt. Etna on Sicily to see the sunrise.

1778: Thomas West, an English priest, published A Guide to the Lakes, a detailed account of the scenery and landscape of the Lake District in northwestern England. The guide helped to popularize the idea of walking for pleasure and “to encourage the taste of visiting the lakes by furnishing the traveler with a Guide”.

1786: The beginning of modern mountaineering is marked by the first ascent of 15,771-foot Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps.

1799: Williams College (of Massachusetts) President Ebenezer Fitch and two others climb Mt. Greylock.

1819: Abel Crawford, and his son Ethan, blaze an 8.5-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. This path is the oldest continually used hiking trail in the United States.

1830: A crew of 100 students and professors from Williams College blaze the Hopper Trail to the summit of Mt. Greylock. Later that same year students would build a wooden tower atop the same mountain. The tower was maintained into the 1850s, and was used for sightseeing and scientific observations.

1854: The beginning of the systematic sport of modern mountaineering as we essentially know it today is marked by the ascent of the Wetterhorn in the Swiss Alps by Sir Alfred Wills. His book, Wanderings Among the High Alps, published two years later, helped make mountaineering fashionable in Britain, and ushered in the systematic exploration of the Alps by British mountaineers These events also marked the beginning of the so-called “golden age of alpinism”.

1857: The world's first mountaineering club, the Alpine Club, was founded in London.

1863: Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College founds the Alpine Club of Williamstown, the first hiking club in America. The stated purpose of the organization was “to explore the interesting places in the vicinity, to become acquainted, to some extent at least, with the natural history of the localities, and also to improve the pedestrian powers of the members”

1867: John Muir begins a 1000-mile walk from Indiana to Florida, which he recounts in his book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. The trek launched a lifetime career of hiking and wilderness advocacy. His conservation efforts, books and articles would help to establish several national parks during and after his lifetime.

1872: Yellowstone becomes the world’s first national park after legislation is signed by President U.S. Grant.

1876: The Appalachian Mountain Club, America’s oldest recreational organization, was founded to explore and protect the trails and mountains in the northeastern United States.

1876: Newtown, England entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones designs the "Euklisia Rug", considered by many to be the forerunner of the modern sleeping bag. The rug included a wool blanket with a pocket at the top for a sewn-in, inflatable, rubber pillow. Once inside, the camper (or soldier) folded the blanket over and fastened it together, thus keeping themselves “snug in a rug”.

1879: One of the first hiking clubs in England, the 'Sunday Tramps', was founded by Leslie White. These early “rambling” (English for walking) clubs sprang up in the northern areas of England as part of a campaign for the legal "right to roam", a response to the fact that much of the land in England was privately owned.

1922: Lloyd F. Nelson submits his application to the U.S. Patent Office for his "Trapper Nelson's Indian Pack Board", which is acknowledged to be the first external-frame backpack. The "Trapper Nelson" featured a wooden "pack board" as its frame. On the frame was a canvas sack that contained the hiker's gear, which rested on the hiker's body by two canvas shoulder-straps. Prior to his invention hikers used a rucksack, which was essentially a loose sack with shoulder straps.

1930: The Green Mountain Club completes construction of the Long Trail, making it the first long-distance hiking trail in the United States.

1937: America's first “grand” trail, the Appalachian Trail, was completed in August of 1937. A forester by the name of Benton MacKaye conceived the idea in 1921.

1948: Earl Shaffer becomes the first person to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

1967: Climber Greg Lowe invents the internal frame backpack. The “Expedition Pack” also featured the first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and the first load stabilizers.

1969: Bob Gore accidentally stretches a solid polytetrafluoroethylene tape by almost 800%, which forms a microporous structure that was roughly 70% air. The discovery was introduced to the public under the trademark of "Gore-Tex", which became the first breathable, waterproof, and windproof fabric.

1992: Ray Jardine introduces the concept of ultralight backpacking with the release of his book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook. During his first PCT thru-hike Jardine’s pack weighed just 25 pounds. By his third it was less than 9 pounds. “Ray’s Way” of thinking has led to several innovations that have benefitted both backpackers and hikers.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com