Sunday, December 30, 2012

RMNA seeks to add tract to Rocky Mountain National Park

Calling it a "Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity", the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, the nonprofit partner to Rocky Mountain National Park, is making a final fund-raising push to add an inholding tract of land to Rocky Mountain National Park. This west-side tract, known as the Johnson Property, rests in critical habitat. The organization needs to raise $400,000 by February 1st in order to purchase the land and add it to the park.

Here's a letter from the RMNA Executive Director that was posted on the RMNA Facebook page this week:
Dear Facebook Friends,

We wanted to provide an update on our campaign to acquire the Johnson Property. As you may recall, we have until February to raise the $400,000 needed to purchase this 3.89 acre parcel and transfer it to Rocky Mountain National Park for permanent protection. As the year draws to a close, and the deadline approaches, here’s where we stand.

As of today, we have received 619 gifts totaling $220,384. The response has been strong (thank you!), and we have just $179,616 to go.

You may have already given generously (if so, thank you!), but we knew you’d want to hear if we could still use a bit more help. We are confident we can make the deadline if our park friends pitch in what they can. A team approach will make all the difference.

If you would like more information about this project and campaign, I invite you to contact me any time (details are also available here). I also welcome opportunities to address your civic group or meet with your friends about this important effort.

Thanks again for your ongoing support of Rocky Mountain Nature Association and Rocky Mountain National Park. We can’t do what we do without you!

Sincerely,

Charles A. Money
Executive Director

At this time, approximately 4000 feet of the Continental Divide Trail in the park is shared with motor vehicles. Acquisition of the Johnson Property and removal of the access road would remove over half this vehicular use from the CDT, and would also help to reduce habitat fragmentation, enhance visitor experience and improve wildlife viewing opportunities in this area.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Brainard Lake Gateway Trailhead ribbon-cutting celebration

The U.S. Forest Service is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new Brainard Lake Gateway Trailhead on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 10 a.m.

Many aspects of the Brainard Gateway Trailhead have improved for visitors who frequent the area for hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, and sight-seeing. Recent updates include a winter recreation parking area, bathroom facilities, warming hut and newly re-routed trails.

The winter recreation parking area can be found by driving to the large parking area on the right-hand side of the Brainard Lake Road when heading westbound. For a map to the area from Colo. Highway 36 visit http://goo.gl/maps/ecNqD.

Attendees are reminded to come prepared for the day and bring adequate food, water and winter clothing to stay warm during the ceremony and make sure their vehicle is winter ready. Visitors are encouraged to stay and check out the area after the ribbon-cutting.

The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is the most popular destination on the Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests. Hiking trails to the west of the BLRA enter into the Indian Peaks Wilderness.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter scene at Bear Lake

This NPS photo was taken at Bear Lake last week after a fresh snowfall. Looming over the lake in the background is Hallett Peak. The Bear Lake area is an extremely popular destination all year round. During winter, snowshoeing is a major activity:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, December 21, 2012

All trail and area closures related to the Fern Lake Fire in RMNP have been lifted

The Fern Lake Fire is not completely out, but with 12 plus inches of snow it has reduced the fire spread and potential to spread to very low. There will be small isolated areas of smoldering and it may produce visible smoke in the coming days. Keep in mind the fire is also in the Forest Canyon area, where it initially started. A fire has not burned in that area for over 800 years so the fuels in that area are very dense and deep.

All trail and area closures related to the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park have been lifted. However, because a wildfire burned through parts of Forest Canyon, Spruce Canyon, trails in the Fern Lake - Cub Lake area as well as Moraine Park, there are potential hazards to be alert for:

* Falling trees & limbs - especially during periods of wind

* Unstable slopes & rolling material such as logs and rocks

* Burned out stump holes

* Areas that may still be smoldering or burning

* Bridges or other trail structures that may be damaged

* Off-trail travel is not recommended in burned areas



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Fern Lake Fire - One of the largest in Colorado history

With the arrival of several inches of snow in Rocky Mountain National Park over the last couple of days, it's a pretty safe bet to say that the Fern Lake Fire has been extinguished.

The fire that began as a result of an illegal campfire on October 9th has burned 3498 acres in the lower Forest Canyon, Cub Lake and Moraine Park areas, making it the largest wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park history. According to an Examiner.com article from June, the Fern Lake Fire would be ranked as the 30th largest wildfire in Colorado history.

The 2002 Hayman Fire ranks as the largest fire in state history. That blaze burned 137,760 acres southwest of Denver, and resulted in 5 deaths, 16 injuries and 600 structures destroyed.

The High Park Fire (Larimer County) in June of this year is considered to be the second largest fire in state history. That fire burned 87,284 acres, killed 1 person, and destroyed 259 homes.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pikes Peak Highway open to bicyclists year round starting Jan. 1

Pikes Peak, in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, will open the Pikes Peak Highway to unescorted bicyclists year round beginning January 1, 2013.

“After a successful pilot program in September 2012, we are very excited to open the Pikes Peak Highway to cyclists year round,” says Karen Palus, City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director. “We know avid cyclists from the Pikes Peak Region and around the world will come to experience the challenge and beauty that Pike’s Peak - America’s Mountain has to offer.”

All riders must complete a use agreement and liability waiver available at the Pikes Peak Highway tollgate. Because of the extreme nature of the mountain, children under the age of 18 must be escorted by a parent or legal guardian. Riders need to be aware that there will be vehicular traffic and construction on the Highway and should be prepared for changing weather conditions.

There is no parking near the tollgate so any riders planning to drive to the highway and then bike to the summit are encouraged to park at the Crystal Reservoir Visitors Center parking lot or above. All riders must follow all safety and traffic rules, use regulations and hours of operation.

Participants are required to pay the regular admission fee or use one of the Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain passes. North Slope fees and passes are not eligible for this opportunity.

More information can be found at: www.springsgov.com/pikespeak or www.pikespeakcolorado.com.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Take a First Day Hike

Start the year off on the right foot by taking a First Day Hike in a state park near you. All across the country state parks will be offering guided First Day Hikes on New Year’s Day 2013.

The idea for First Day Hikes originated over 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation State Park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year, and year round recreation at state parks. Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, however, all 50 state park systems have now joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

An organization called America’s State Parks has compiled an online database of more than 600 hikes on their website. You can find a First Day Hike by clicking here.

There are several opportunities for a First Day Hike across Colorado, including a few in the Rocky Mountain National Park region. Among some of the state parks offering hikes are State Forest State Park, Lory State Park, St. Vrain State Park and Golden Gate Canyon State Park.


Countdown to Christmas! Last chance to save up to 85% on Camping Gear!



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bear Lake Road Is Now Open

According to the latest update on the Fern Lake Fire, Bear Lake Road has reopened. However, closures still remain within RMNP:
Because the wildfire is still active and burning north of the Steep Mountain and Mount Wuh areas and in Forest Canyon there are numerous trail and area closures. A closure area is in effect, including Moraine Park, the Cub Lake Trail, Fern Lake Trail, the Fern Lake Road beyond the winter parking, the Hollowell Park/Mill Creek Basin area, and the Fern Lake Trail beyond Lake Helene. Please obey all closure notices. Violators will be cited and fined.
Here are the latest fire facts:

Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Size: 3,498 acres
Percent Contained: 88
Cause: Believed to have been associated with an illegal campfire in lower Forest Canyon. The investigation remains open.
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: None
Cost to Date: $6.3 million
Number of Personnel: 15

To read the entire update, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Another Record Setting Year for Canyon Lakes Volunteers

Volunteers to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District are worth more than a million – literally.

The more than 900 volunteers the district hosted in 2012 donated 51,636 hours to the local national forest in Larimer County. These hours are valued at approximately $1.1 million. Volunteers provide over $60 million in value nationwide.

This is the second time the volunteers have reached this million dollar mark and is a new record for hours donated as well. In fact, 51,636 hours is 1.8% of the 2.8 million volunteer hours for the U.S. Forest Service nationwide. The district ranks second among all U.S. Forest Service districts across the country in the number of volunteer hours contributed.

The Hewlett and High Park Fires greatly impacted the volunteer program this year. Fewer patrols took place as much of the Poudre Canyon was closed this summer; however, volunteers played a huge role in restoration efforts on trails and during the 2012 National Public Lands Day – planting trees and shrubs in two Poudre Canyon campgrounds.

Many groups and individuals make up the dedicated cadre of volunteers who benefit the district, including the Adopt-a-Road, Adopt-a-Trail, Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers, Colorado State University Interns, Deadman Fire Tower volunteers, Diamond Peaks National Ski Patrol, Northern Colorado Mounted Patrol, Overland Mountain Bike Club, Poudre River Rangers, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, Wildland Restoration Volunteers and visitor information hosts to name a few.

The services they provide the district are vast. In 2012, volunteers made over 16,000 public contacts helping inform visitors on a variety of topics. Besides providing the public with recreation and safety information, volunteers help improve wildlife habitat, repair trails, pull and monitor weeds, build fences and kiosks, scan photos, and collect information about forest conditions.

If you are interested in participating in one of the groups mentioned above or would like to find out how to get involved in giving back to your local forest, please contact Kristy Wumkes at 970-295-6721 or visit online.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lights in Motion: Aurora of Denali

This is too cool! In late September Denali National Park posted a five-minute time-lapse video of the aurora borealis on its website.

The video, accompanied by an original musical composition, was prepared by Denali seasonal interpreter Jacob Frank, who took more than 8,000 still images of the aurora between last January and March. By taking the still images and rendering them together in sequence, the lights were animated back to life.

Close to 60 hours were volunteered, shooting still photos in subzero temperatures. Some nights were so cold (- 42 degrees F) that the camera only worked for about fifteen minutes.

Composer Peter Van Zandt Lane was commissioned, as a volunteer, to score the video. It took Lane ten days to compose and record “Coronal Mass Ejection,” a term used to describe a burst of solar wind that ultimately created the effect of the Northern Lights. Lane hopes to show the video and perform the piece live in concert in the near future. Enjoy:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snow helps to contain Fern Lake Fire

Fresh snow is helping to contain the Fern Lake Fire. As of this morning, the fire is 60% contained. With additional accumulations expected today, ranging from 1 to 2 inches, more progress can be expected. As a result of better mapping, the fire is estimated to be 3498 acres in size.

YESTERDAY'S EVENTS:

Cold temperatures with heavy snow later in the day, forced firefighters from the fireline because of safety concerns. Snow accumulations were 4 to 6 inches in the fire area. The snow cover will prevent further spread, although the fire will continue to smolder in heavy fuels. Crews removed debris created by fire line construction along the northeast perimeter, and removed fire hose laid out to protect structures in, and in the vicinity of, the YMCA. Crews and equipment continue to be demobilized, as fire suppression objectives are met. Adequate firefighting resources are being retained to continue suppression efforts, if fire behavior increases.

All pre-evacuation and evacuation orders have been lifted and all residents have been allowed to return to their homes.

PARK CLOSURES/RE-OPENINGS:

Rocky Mountain National Park officials have opened the park on a limited basis. Visitors may enter the park through Highway 34, the Fall River Entrance, and Highway 36, the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Weather permitting, the road will be open to Many Parks Curve, the normal winter closure point on Trail Ridge Road. Bear Lake Road will remain closed until further notice because of fire operations. Upper Beaver Meadows, Hidden Valley,and trails leading into the area around the Fern Lake Fire remain closed. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fall River Visitor Center is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information call the park Information Office at 970-586-1206 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.

For the latest updates on the fire, closings and community meetings, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.

Here's a look at the fire several days ago as it burned in Forest Canyon. This NPS photo was recently published on the Inciweb website:




Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fern Lake Fire Update - More Progress Being Made

Much cooler temperatures with light snow showers greeted firefighters this morning as fire suppression activities continue. The fire is 45 percent contained, reflecting the excellent work safely performed by the 569 firefighters assigned to this incident. The fuels, or vegetation, in the fire area remain unusually dry at around 25 percent and the relative humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) is 30 percent. When these low values are combined with strong winds, the challenges to fire suppression increases.

Yesterday the fire was classified as a low intensity, smoldering fire that did not move very quickly. There are still hot pockets of burning or smoldering logs, as identified from a recent infrared flight on the south and northwest perimeter of the fire.

Today, fire crews will focus on fire line construction and securing recently constructed fire lines. Mop-up work will continue and crews will monitor the entire fire area for hot areas or escape fire. Fire crews will continue to secure the southern fire perimeter between Steep Mountain and Moraine Park. Four helicopters will support fire suppression activities by dropping water where needed. Yesterday, helicopters dropped more water than on any previous day.

As temperatures drop and the wind increases, the wind-chill factor is predicted to decrease to near zero, with hyperthermia becoming a concern for fire crews. Safe vehicle travel to and from the fire area in snow and ice conditions will be emphasized.

Some crews and equipment may be demobilized as fire suppression objectives are met.

Firefighter and public safety remain the top priority while suppressing this fire within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fire managers are focused on protecting the community and the natural resources of the area.

Smoke and possibly open flames will be visible for an extended period. This smoke comes from well within the burned area and poses no threat of escape.

A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter and crew remain on standby for rescue operations on the Fern Lake Fire. A UH-60 Black Hawk, with a crew of four soldiers and a medic, are based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., ready to respond from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

EVACUATIONS AND CLOSURES

Based on fire managers' recommendations, the Larimer County Sheriff has decided that due to the reduced threat of wildfire and fire suppression progress made during the past few days, residents and business owners may return to all areas previously under evacuation orders. The remaining evacuees were allowed back into the Highway 66 area south of Aspen Brook Drive at 9 a.m. This area will open to the public at noon today.The evacuation center has been closed.

Rocky Mountain National Park officials will reduce road closures beginning at noon today and allow traffic into the park through Highway 34, the Fall River Entrance, and Highway 36, the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Weather permitting, the road will be open to Many Parks Curve, the normal winter closure point on Trail Ridge Road. Bear Lake Road will remain closed until further notice because of fire operations. Upper Beaver Meadows, Hidden Valley, and trails leading into the area around the Fern Lake Fire remain closed. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fall River Visitor Center is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information call the park Information Office at 970-586-1206 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.

FIRE FACTS

Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Size: 3,492 acres (Current estimate due to better mapping)
Percent Contained: 45%
Cause: Under Investigation
Structures threatened: 750
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: 1
Cost to Date: $4.8 million
Number of Personnel: 569
Crews:15 (a crew is 20 firefighters)
Engines: 35
Water Tenders: 3
Helicopters: 4

For the latest updates on the fire, closings and community meetings, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Update on Fern Lake Fire - Progress Being Made

Fern Lake Fire Stats:

Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park Size: 3,486 acres (Current estimate due to better mapping)
Percent Contained: 40%
Cause: Under Investigation
Structures threatened: 750
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: None
Cost to Date: $4 million
Number of Personnel: 608
Crews:16 (a crew is 20 firefighters)
Engines: 45
Water Tenders: 5
Helicopters: 5

Update on Conditions:

Cooler temperatures with the possibility of rain and snow should help firefighters on the Fern Lake Fire today, but because of long-term drought conditions, significant precipitation will be needed to moderate fire behavior.

On the southern perimeter of the fire, numerous crews are working to complete a portion of the containment line in the saddle between Steep Mountain and Mount Wuh.

A steep canyon, or "notch," to the west of Steep Mountain continues to act like a chimney, pulling fire to its top. Crews are waiting for fire to burn out the heavy fuels in the canyon, allowing them to engage the fire in a safer location.

Resources on the northern perimeter of the fire are expected to be reduced today and the area downgraded to patrol status. Mechanical fuels treatment will continue along Bear Lake Road.

Because of the reduced threat of fire and the return of some evacuated residents, seven engines were released this morning.

Suppressing the fire within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park and protecting the community remains a top priority for fire managers, along with providing for firefighter and public safety.

A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter and crew remain on standby for rescue operations on the Fern Lake Fire. A UH-60 Black Hawk, with a crew of four soldiers and a medic, are based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., ready to respond from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

For the latest updates on the fire, closings and community meetings, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

History Repeating Itself

This story probably sounds familiar:

A wildfire begins in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. Because it's a relatively small fire, low intensity, and doesn't threaten any structures, the Park Service allows it to slowly burn. Several weeks later high winds blow down off the mountains and whip the fire out of control. The fire spreads rapidly and threatens the homes and small businesses along the eastern boundary of the park, and the residents are forced to flee in order to protect themselves from the smoke and flames.

You might think I'm referring to the Fern Lake Fire, which is currently burning in the Moraine Park area of the park. However, I'm actually referring to the 1978 Ouzel Fire which burned more than a thousand acres in the Wild Basin area of the park.

Here's a quick overview of the fire from Rocky Mountain National Park: A History, by C. W. Buchholtz: 
On August 9, 1978, a bolt of lightning struck near Ouzel Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park and started a fire in a subalpine spruce-fir forest. In accord with a new philosophy that recognized the ecological significance of natural fires, Park rangers monitored the fire continuously as it carried out its "cleansing" role. For days the fire behaved as expected, spreading slowly and casting only an occasional puff of smoke into the sky. But then on August 23 and again on September 1, gusts of wind caused the fire to intensify and spread rapidly. As public pressure grew Park officials decided that the fire could remain wild no longer and assigned firefighter crews to control the blaze. With the help of snow and rain, containment seemed assured by September 11th.

However, on September 15 winds exceeding thirty miles per hour swept out of the west, whipped the fire back into life and pushed it eastward toward the Park boundary. Residents of nearby Allenspark were alarmed at the rapid progress of the fire. People living in a housing subdivision even closer to the Park boundary found themselves directly in the path of the fast-approaching fire. Nearly 350 people prepared to flee or fight for their homes. Facing this emergency, some 500 firefighters scrambled to prevent the "Ouzel Fire" from escaping the confines of Rocky Mountain National Park. After days of strenuous effort, the fire crews successfully controlled one of the wildest elements of nature and kept the Ouzel Fire within the Park.
The fire was finally brought under control by September 30th, and wasn’t fully extinguished until December 4th! In all, the Ouzel Fire burned more than a thousand acres, making it the largest fire in Rocky Mountain National Park history at that time.

The scars from the fire can still be seen along the trail to Bluebird Lake:


It's funny how history has a way of repeating itself, and that we as humans have a hard time learning from the lessons of the past.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fern Lake Fire Update

Firefighters kept a watchful eye on the Fern Lake Fire last night, which remained quiet on the perimeter with some tree torching in insulated canyons where remaining heavy fuels continue to burn out. The focus for today is the Steep Mountain area, specifically the fireline from the Mill Creek Trail to the west of Steep Mountain, then east to the junction of the Moraine Park Trail and the Cub Lake Trail. Numerous spots are still causing concerns. Multiple handcrews will be working along this fireline, extinguishing spots which could become issues during continued wind events. Crews are also preparing structures in the area. Feller bunchers are being used to reduce fuel loading along the Bear Lake Road.

The north perimeter of the fire is in mop up status, with crews and engines working into the fire area at various distances which minimize the potential spread or spotting. Any hazards which interfere with access, or pose an immediate hazard to firefighters or the public are being mitigated.

Air assets will be used today as needed based on wind and weather conditions. An additional helicopter will arrive today, providing additional capabilities.

So far the fire has remained within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. To date, the fire has burned 3,477 acres. Here is the latest map showing the boundaries of the fire:



RMNP Closures:

Highway 36 to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park opened at 9 a.m., Wednesday. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center opened to the public at 9 a.m., although the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park via Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance will remain closed. Fall River Visitor Center will go to its normal winter hours and will be closed on Wednesday. For further information on Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park's Information Office at 970-586-1206.

Some Evacuees Allowed to Return to Homes:

Evacuated residents in the Highway 66 area from Highway 36 up to and including Aspen Brook Drive were allowed to return home Wednesday morning, Dec.5, at 9 a.m. This area will remain in pre-evacuation notice for the near future. Between 9 a.m. and noon only residents and business owners are allowed into this area with identification. After noon, the area will be open to the public.

Officials also announced tentative plans to allow the remaining evacuees in the Highway 66 corridor to return home on Friday morning, Dec. 7. These plans are only tentative and could change based on fire and weather conditions, so no further announcements regarding the possible lifting of evacuation status for this area will be made until Thursday, Dec. 6.

For the latest updates on the fire, closings and community meetings, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Classic Hikes of North America

Classic Hikes of North America, the latest release from Peter Potterfield, offers hikers of all abilities details on "25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada".

Illustrated with more than 150 color photographs, Classic Hikes of North America covers a diverse range of hikes: from routes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the Grand Canyon; from the Sierra Mountains to the Black Hills, as well as Big Bend, North Cascades National Park, the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina, the Slate Range in the Canadian Rockies, the Long Range Traverse of Newfoundland, and more than a dozen other classics.

Peter Potterfield, an experienced hiker and photographer, has hiked more than 10,000 miles on six continents, including the trek to Mount Everest, a retrace of Ernest Schackleton's route in Antarctica, the wilds of Arctic Sweden and the rugged coasts of Tasmania. Potterfield now brings his expert advice back home in Classic Hikes of North America, a beautifully photographed and eminently practical guide of the best backcountry treks in the United States and Canada. The author has photographed, analyzed, and graded these spectacular wilderness experiences with both beginners and avid hikers in mind, and puts them within reach for any aspiring hiker.

Each chapter includes:

* Level of difficulty, both in physical effort and psychological challenge
* Details on trail conditions and recommended seasons
* Notes of potential hazards or difficulties
* Detailed route descriptions
* Detailed maps for every route
* Resources for information, staging, accommodations, and transportation


For more information on this wonderful book, please click here.



Jeff
Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fern Lake Fire Update and Stats

Firefighters made good progress yesterday after a night during which strong winds tested completed firelines. All lines successfully held with only a few spot fires outside the lines. The fire remains within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Favorable weather conditions yesterday gave firefighters an opportunity to work on spot fires in the Steep Mountain area, using both ground and aerial resources. A handline is being constructed from the west side of Moraine Park along the southern portion of Steep Mountain in preparation for a possible burn-out to strengthen that section of the line. A feller-buncher (a machine that cuts and stacks trees) worked along the Bear Lake Road, helping to reduce the fuel load. Structure assessments continue in evacuated areas to the east and southeast of the fire area. Engines will patrol evacuated areas tonight to watch for any fire activity.

Fire Facts:

Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Size: 3750 acres (yesterday this was reported to be 4400 acres)
Percent Contained: 40%
Cause: Under Investigation (purportedly from an illegal campfire)
Structures threatened: 1,000
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: None
Cost to Date: $1.9 million
Number of Personnel: 250
Crews: 3
Engines: 42
Water Tenders: 11
Helicopters: 3

The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park via Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance is still closed. The Fall River Visitor Center, however, remains open. Also, you can still access the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, Lily Lake Trailhead, Longs Peak trails, and the Wild Basin area (although the Wild Basin road is closed at the winter parking lot). The west side of RMNP is also open. You can drive to the Colorado River Trailhead where you'll reach the winter closure point.

Here's an update from 7News in Denver as of last night that includes some film footage of fire suppression efforts yesterday:



For the latest updates on the fire, closings and community meetings, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Hiking with your dog in the Rocky Mountain National Park area

Since launching our new hiking website a few weeks ago, a couple of people have already asked as to whether or not pets are allowed on any of the hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately for dog lovers, the answer to that question is no.

The park prohibits dogs (and other pets) on all backcountry trails for several reasons:

• Dogs can carry disease into the park's wildlife populations.

• Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife.

• Dogs bark and disturb the quiet of the wilderness.

• Pets may become prey for larger predators such as mountain lions, coyotes and bears. In fact, in August of 2016, a black bear killed a leashed dog in Shenandoah National Park. This isn't an isolated incident. According to a study conducted by Stephen Herrero and Hank Hristienko, both leading authorities on bear behavior, dogs were involved in more than half of all black bear attacks between 2010 and 2013. Bears aren't the only issue for dogs in the backcountry. Moose have also injured hikers while out on the trail with their dogs. Here and here are two relatively recent incidents in Colorado alone.

• Many people, especially children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors.

Although not allowed on trails, pets are still permitted in Rocky Mountain National Park. According to the park website, pets:
"are allowed only in areas accessed by vehicles, including roadsides, parking areas, picnic areas and campgrounds. They must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet and attended at all times. Pet etiquette dictates always cleaning up after your pet and disposing of waste in trash receptacles."
If you still wish to hike with your dog while visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park area, you do have a few options outside the park. There are several multi-use trails around the Town of Estes Park, as well as open space areas within the counties surrounding the park. Some of these include:

East of the Continental Divide:

• Buchanan Pass Trail
• Crosier Mountain
• Hermit Park
• Lake Estes Trail/Dog Park
Lily Mountain
• Lion Gulch / Homestead Meadows
• Mud Lake Open Space
• Rabbit Mountain
• Meadow Mountain / St. Vrain Mountain
Pawnee Pass (Indian Peaks Wilderness)
Lake Isabelle (Indian Peaks Wilderness)
Long Lake Loop (Indian Peaks Wilderness)

West Side of the Continental Divide:

• Cascade Mountain
• Bowen Pass
• Bowen Lake Loop
• Roaring Fork Trail
• Cascade Creek Trail

For additional information on most of the trails listed above, please click here.

You should also note that the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District has roughly 15 miles of dog-friendly trails. For more information on these trails, please click here.

All trails in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, which surrounds Rocky Mountain National Park on all sides, are open to pets; however, some require pets to be leashed. You should always check first for information concerning a particular trail in the national forest. Hiking guides are available at ranger district offices. They describe the trails and identify special regulations, such as restrictions on dogs or horses, permit requirements, or other special trail regulations. You can also call:

• USFS Boulder Ranger District, Boulder: 303-541-2500
• USFS Canyon Lakes Ranger District, Ft. Collins: 970-295-6700
• USFS Sulphur Ranger District, Granby: 970-887-4100

Just south of RMNP, in the popular Indian Peaks Wilderness, dogs must be kept on hand-held leashes at all times. Failure to leash your dog could result in a fine.



Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado covers 80 hikes in Colorado where dogs are welcome. The author, Ania Savage, describes rarely explored trails, short day hikes, longer backpacking trips, as well as information on off-leash hiking areas. She also provides a hike selection chart that compares trails by leash regulations, suitability for senior dogs, stream access, mountains you can climb with your dog, and more.







Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
HikinginGlacier.com

Monday, December 3, 2012

Despite high winds, fire contained within Park boundaries

Due to the hard work of firefighters, high winds in the Fern Lake Fire area did not cause the fire to spread any closer to Estes Park, and it is still contained within Rocky Mountain National Park boundaries. Approximately 150 firefighters and 19 engines worked on the Fern Lake Fire overnight. Spot fires continue to burn in the Steep Mountain area and crews continue working to keep it from moving further to the south. Structure protection crews are still stationed along Bear Lake Road to try to keep the fire within the park.

The fire management team is optimistic about the fire after fire lines held last night in spite of heavy winds. Forecasted weather conditions are also favorable with cooler temperatures in the mid-30s to low 40s and lighter winds for today. Calm winds are expected tonight. Today an air tanker is available and will help support firefighting efforts if wind conditions allow. Helitankers will also fly if winds allow.

Approximately 250 personnel are currently working on the fire and more resources are on the way. No injuries have been reported. Only one private cabin is confirmed lost in Moraine Park, within the park. The fire is approximately 4,400 acres and if weather conditions allow, there will be an infrared flight to map and estimate the fire size more accurately today. The last containment estimate for the fire is 20 percent.

Here's photo of Moraine Park by Justin Smith that was published on the InciWeb website:


For visitors, you may want to note that the Fall River Visitor Center will be open all week from 9am-4pm.

For the latest updates on the fire, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fern Lake Fire Update

As a result of the strong winds that blew through Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday night and Saturday morning, the Fern Lake Fire has more than doubled in size. Officials say that the fire spread approximately 3 miles in 35 minutes during the early morning hours of December 1st. The rapid advancement of the blaze forced the evacuation of more than 1000 people.

Here's a photo of Moraine Park by Bjorn Skovlin that was posted on the InciWeb website:


On Friday the fire was mapped at 1515 acres:


As of yesterday it was mapped at 3584 acres, and clearly shows how the fire advanced through the Moraine Park area:


Here's an update, as of last night, from 7News in Denver:



A community and evacuee meeting is scheduled for 5 pm today at the Town Hall board room, 170 MacGregor Avenue. This meeting will be live streamed at www.estes.org/boardsandmeetings and broadcast live on local cable channel 12.

There is also a Red Flag warning today.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DENVER HAS ISSUED A RED FLAG WARNING FOR WIND AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 6 AM MST MONDAY. THE FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

* AFFECTED AREA...FIRE WEATHER ZONES 214...215 AND 216.

* TIMING...WINDS WILL INCREASE THROUGH TODAY ESPECIALLY IN THE AFTERNOON. LOW HUMIDITIES WILL ALSO DEVELOP AS TEMPERATURES CLIMB INTO THE UPPER 40S AND 50S. WINDS WILL BECOME EVEN STRONGER TONIGHT...THOUGH IT WILL BE TURNING COLDER WITH HIGHER HUMIDITIES.

* WINDS...WEST 25 TO 40 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 65 MPH.

* RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AS LOW AS 17 PERCENT.

* IMPACTS...FIRES WILL BE EASIER TO START AND WILL SPREAD MORE QUICKLY UNDER THESE CONDITIONS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND UNSEASONABLE WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE RAPID FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
Based on wind forecasts for this evening, residents should be aware that pre-evacuation and evacuation notices could be expanded. You can sign up for emergency notifications at www.leta911.org.

For visitors, you may want to note that the Fall River Visitor Center will be open all week from 9am-4pm.

For the latest updates on the fire, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fern Lake Fire more than doubles in size in last 24 hours

Firefighters continue to hold the Fern Lake Fire within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Mapped at 3,584 acres today, the fire and has more than doubled in size, compared to 1515 acres on Saturday.

The fire spread approximately 3 miles in 35 minutes during the early morning hours of December 1st. One local report stated that "the blaze fueled by winds gusting to 75 mph consumed all of Moraine Park overnight, a mostly grassy area of roughly 600 acres".

There is no estimation of containment at this time. Fire managers are cautiously optimistic regarding management of the fire as winds were not as extreme today as they were overnight. Right now, the majority of Estes Park is unaffected by the fire.

Smoke from the blaze has been impacting the area especially during the evening hours. Approximately 150 personnel are working on the fire and more resources are on the way. Crews will monitor the fire throughout the night. No injuries have been reported. Only one private cabin is confirmed lost in Moraine Park, within Rocky Mountain National Park.

A Type I Incident Management Team will assume responsibility for Fern Lake Fire management on Sunday afternoon. Multiple resources are on order including Hot Shot crews, additional engines, two additional type I helicopters, and all available local resources. Two heavy air tankers are on order however, they were not able to fly today due to the weather conditions in California where they are stationed. Air support assigned to the fire was not used today due to gusty winds. Structure protection is being provided by many local Fire Departments. Cooperating lead agencies are the National Park Service, Larimer County Sheriff's Department, the Town of Estes Park and the Estes Valley Fire Protection District.

The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park via Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance remains closed. The Fall River Visitor Center, however, is open.

Approximately 1100 contacts for approximately 700 properties were made through reverse notification today. Currently, approximately 681 of those contacts are still evacuated along Hwy 66. The remainder of those contacts have since been reduced to pre-evacuation status. Pre-evacuation means that residents should be prepared to evacuate at any moment.

For the latest updates on the fire, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

Evacuations for 700+ ordered for Fern Lake Fire near Estes Park

Update as of 1 pm: Firefighters are holding the Fern Lake Fire within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fire managers are cautiously optimistic regarding management of the fire as winds are not as extreme as they were overnight. The priorities for are: Firefighter and public safety Incident stabilization Controlling the fire perimeter keeping the fire from spreading beyond the park boundaries so residents may be allowed to re-enter when it is safe for them to do so. Multiple resources are on order, including a Type I Incident Management team, hot shot crews, additional engines, two additional type I helicopters, and all available local resources.

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Strong winds overnight have pushed the Fern Lake Fire into the Moraine Park area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

As a result, more than 700 people living near Estes Park were ordered to evacuate this morning. According to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, evacuations have been ordered for: Highway 66 and all adjacent streets including the YMCA High Drive; and all adjacent streets on Marys Lake Road up to Moraine Ave and Marys Lake on the West side.

Evacuees were asked to meet at Estes Park High School at 1600 Manford Avenue in Estes Park. Larimer County Sheriff's Office and Estes Park Police Department are facilitating evacuations. The affected public may call 970-498-5500 for more information.

The Moraine Park Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park was also evacuated at 1:50 a.m.

As of 4:00 a.m. this morning, December 1st, the fire had not crossed Bear Lake Road. However, parts of the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park is now closed until further notice. The park housing area as well as park headquarters and Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is also in the evacuation area. Currently, other RMNP areas on the east side are open, including Lumpy Ridge, Lily Lake, Longs Peak, Wild Basin. The Fall River Visitor Center and the west side of the park are currently open.

The higher winds have contributed to increased fire behavior and a spot fire in the southwest corner of the fire, west of the confluence of the Forest and Spruce Canyons. The fire is burning actively and creating additional spot fires from embers that have landed on receptive fuel beds. Increased smoke from the additional fire behavior may be more noticeable. The fire is now estimated to be 1515 acres.

A high wind warning is in effect until 11 a.m. today, which includes west winds of 25-45 mph, with gusts up to 75 mph possible.

For the latest updates on the fire, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.


Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com