Friday, January 30, 2015

What's It Like To Climb Mt. Rainier?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an RMI Expeditions seminar at a local outdoor shop. The folks at Rainier Mountaineering Inc. gave us (mostly hikers and backpackers) an in-depth explanation on what it's like to climb Mt. Rainier, the highest mountain in the state of Washington. RMI also described to us on what prospective climbers can expect on the two-day expedition to the 14,410-foot summit - including several hours of training, such as self-arrest techniques on snow. Ever since attending that seminar this "little adventure" has simmered on the back burner of my bucket list.

Below is short video from Backpacker Magazine that provides a quick overview of what it's like to climb Mt. Rainier:

Back in 2013 Kathy and I had the opportunity to visit Mt. Rainier National Park for the first time. Although we didn't climb the mountain, we did hike the famous Skyline Trail in the Paradise Valley, just below the southern slopes of Rainier. We have a trip report with several photos posted here.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rangers Are Attempting To Locate Man Last Seen On Trail Ridge Road In Rocky Mountain National Park

On Monday, January 26, park rangers contacted Jay Starr Jr, 34, from Cohoes, New York. Starr had entered Rocky Mountain National Park on foot and indicated he was planning to walk westbound over Trail Ridge Road. Rangers advised him against this based on his behavior and his lack of preparedness for winter alpine conditions. Starr was wearing tennis shoes, jeans or tan canvas pants, a black/blue jacket, no hat or gloves and was carrying a plastic grocery bag.

Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, with its highest point reaching 12,183 feet. Over ten miles of the road are above 11,500 feet. The road closed to vehicles for the season on November 4, 2014. The closures are located at Many Parks Curve on the east side and Colorado River Trailhead on the west side. The road is not maintained during the winter. Conditions on the road range from bare wind-blown asphalt to deep snow drifts.

On Tuesday afternoon, January 27, park rangers on skis contacted Starr above Many Parks Curve on Trail Ridge Road.Rangers were concerned for his welfare and were attempting to assist him. Starr fled from rangers up a dry section of the road. Starr continued to elude rangers until darkness fell.

Beginning early on Wednesday, January 28, two teams of rangers attempted to locate Starr again on Trail Ridge Road. One team came from the east side of the park and the other team came from the west side of the park. Rangers faced wind gusts of 50 to 60 miles per hour. These high winds and blowing snow hampered following Starr's footprints. Aerial operations were not possible due to high winds. The entire road corridor was checked. Starr was not located.

Today, Thursday, January 29, rangers are again attempting to locate Starr in areas around Trail Ridge Road. Aerial operations may be used if conditions allow. Park rangers have been assisted the last two days by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer with an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) equipped with snow tracks. Today's operations are also being aided by an over-snow tracked vehicle and operator from Estes Park Power and Light. The motorized equipment is only being used on Trail Ridge Road.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who might have information on Starr's whereabouts. Please call (970) 586-1204.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

National Parks To Be Theme Of 2016 Rose Bowl Parade

The National Park Service and Tournament of Roses Association have recently announced that they will be partnering to kick off the National Park Service centennial during the 2016 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

The theme for the January 1st parade, “Find Your Adventure,” is a nod to “Find Your Park,” the two-year public engagement campaign aimed to increase awareness and excitement about the National Park Service centennial.

This collaboration showcases the common interests of the National Park Service and the Tournament of Roses Association – to engage America’s youth, support an ethic of volunteerism, and embrace the diversity of American culture. The Rose Parade is a great opportunity to introduce the National Park Service and its programs to a broad, and large audience of participants, attendees, and viewers (80 million watched on television internationally and 700,000 watched in person in 2014).

Parade entrants (floats, marching bands, and equestrian units) will take inspiration for “Find Your Adventure” from the work and mission (i.e., parks and programs) of the National Park Service. But, the opportunities extend well beyond the two-hour parade. Over the course of 2015, the National Park Service and the Tournament of Roses Association will create opportunities for parks and programs to engage with communities across the country to help achieve the centennial goal, such as connecting with each of the marching bands representing high schools across the nation with their nearest national park units and/or programs.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grand Teton National Park From The Air

Below is some absolutely stunning aerial video footage of Grand Teton National Park, Mount Moran and Jenny Lake. The footage was taken by Skyworks during recent filming of the state of Wyoming. Enjoy:

If this film has inspired you to visit this wonderful park this summer, be sure to visit our newest hiking trail website first to find out what the best hikes are - in order to get the most out of your visit. Simply click here.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Happy Birthday! Rocky Mountain National Park Turns 100 Today

On January 26, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation creating Rocky Mountain National Park.

The culmination of over six years of advocacy, Rocky Mountain National Park was created to preserve the high elevation landscapes and wilderness character of the southern Rocky Mountains for the benefit and enjoyment of this and future generations.

“The people of Colorado have many things to be thankful for at the beginning of this new year”, wrote the Rocky Mountain News, “but perhaps none of them…means more to the future of the state than the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park. The passage of this bill is the crowning result of one of the best organized and most efficiently managed campaigns ever conducted by Colorado people to obtain a benefit for the state.”

An official public dedication was held later that year on September 4, 1915. Thousands of people gathered in Horseshoe Park to hear Enos Mills, Stephen Mather, F.O. Stanley, and many others express their joy and support for the creation of the country’s newest national park.

One hundred years later, Rocky Mountain National Park attracts over three million visitors annually and is one of America’s premiere wildlife watching destinations. Ninety five percent of the park enjoys elevated protection as designated wilderness, and Trail Ridge Road allows visitors to view the alpine tundra on the country’s highest continuous paved road. Human and natural history continue to provide inspiration and wonder to new and returning visitors.

On September 3, 2014, Rocky Mountain National Park began a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary. Continuing through this coming September, special programs and events throughout the park and the surrounding communities will celebrate the wilderness, wildlife, and wonder that millions of people have come to appreciate and enjoy. The celebration will culminate on September 3rd and 4th with rededication events on both sides of the park.

On September 18th and 19th, Rocky Mountain National Park will host an employee/alumni reunion at the YMCA of the Rockies. Former employees and past interns of Rocky Mountain National Park are invited to return to the park and celebrate the centennial with new and old friends alike.

Please visit the park’s centennial website for more information on events and how to get involved.

For more information on hiking in RMNP, please click here.


Colorado Mountain Club Video: Navigation

So you're heading out into the backcountry. You think you know exactly where you are going and that it will be easy to get back. But is it? What if clouds roll in? What if you get caught out after dark? What would you do if you really did get lost?

Below is the 4th video in the Colorado Mountain Club's series focused on backcountry education. The series was made possible by the CMC Steve Gladbach Memorial Fund. Steve Gladbach was a beloved Colorado mountaineer, a long time member of the Colorado Mountain Club and belonged to the community. He loved climbing. In the summer of 2013 he lost his life while descending Thunder Pyramid Peak.

One of Steve's passions was mountaineering education and safety. Through the generosity of family and friends, the Steve Gladbach Memorial Fund was created to promote Colorado mountaineering education.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Record Visitation For Rocky Mountain National Park in 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park received its highest annual visitation in 2014. At the end of October the park had already received record visitation. After including November and December visitation statistics the park received 3,434,754 visitors for 2014. The highest visitation prior to 2014 was in 2000, when the park received 3,380,044 visitors.

Determining visitation is a difficult and imprecise effort. Visitation statistics are reliably good estimates and help park managers see overall trends. Fall visitation, particularly on weekends, continues to increase at Rocky Mountain National Park. Here's a graphical look at visitation since the park's inception:

Many other national parks in the Rocky Mountain West also had increases in visitation last year. Rocky began its Centennial Celebration in September of 2014, which will continue through September of 2015. Other parks celebrating their Centennial Anniversaries have experienced increases in visitation as well.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206. Visit the park's website for information about the park's Centennial Celebration.

If you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this upcoming year, please note that our hiking website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings in both Estes Park and Grand Lake. Also, don't forget to check out our other Things To Do page to help with your trip planning.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

10 Ways to Use Duct Tape

Everyone knows that duct tape is a miracle tool/product. It can be used for a multitude of purposes to help out in a variety of jams. In this short video Backpacker Magazine shows 10 creative ways to use duct tape while out on the trail. These are just a few examples of how this product can be used in the field. Don't like the idea of carrying a role in your backpack? My wife solved this issue by wrapping a couple yards of tape around her trekking pole (just below the handle). If ever in need, she can quickly and conveniently cut-off a strip.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Glacier National Park: The Official Trailer

If you haven't been yet, Glacier National Park is an absolute must visit for every hiker out there. No place else is like it! Finley-Holiday Films has recently completed a four-year filming project on this very special place. Below is a trailer from that film to wet your appetite.

If this video inspires you to visit Glacier this upcoming season, the best way to explore this wonderful park is to take a hike along one of the many hiking trails that meander throughout the park.

If you do plan to visit Glacier this year, please note that our website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings and other things to do to help with all your vacation planning.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Canyon Lakes Ranger District Volunteers Outdo Themselves Again

In 2014, volunteers to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District were worth a million – over $1.1 million actually. This is the third year district volunteers have reached the million dollar mark.

As with previous years, volunteers exceeded expectations in the services they provided the Canyon Lakes Ranger District on the Roosevelt National Forest. The 875 volunteers spent their time assisting visitors, repairing trails, providing administrative assistance, conducting wildlife surveys, and much, much more. In total, 49,051 hours were spent in support of the Forest Service mission of “Caring for the land, serving people.”

Highlights from last year’s work included a record number 40 participants in the Deadman Fire Lookout Volunteer program, contacting 1,500 visitors, and flood restoration work. Poudre Wilderness Volunteers took on coordination of much of the flood recovery trail work, hosting 22 public work days and accounting for approximately 3,220 of the overall volunteer hours.

“Our volunteers allow us to leverage our resources to make a greater impact to both the land and our visitors,” Canyon Lakes District Ranger Kevin Atchley said. “Without their support, most of the 22,325 visitors they contacted would not have had the opportunity to learn about the Forest Service and our public lands. We cannot thank them enough.”

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.

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 check online.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Explore Rocky Mountain This Winter

The park's Centennial is a great reason to celebrate the park throughout all seasons! For many visitors, winter is their favorite time to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park. The park is less visited but still very much open and alive with activity. Beautiful backcountry areas can be reached on snowshoes, skis, and at lower elevations - even with hiking boots! Elk, coyotes, deer, snowshoe hares, and other wildlife remain active through the winter. Their story is told by the tracks left in the snow. For those visitors who are prepared, winter is an enchanting time to explore the park.

Snowshoeing and skiing are fun ways to experience the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park. This winter, join a park ranger on a wintry excursion! The park offers ranger-led snowshoe ecology walks for beginner-level snowshoers on the east side, and for beginner and intermediate-level snowshoers and cross-country skiers on the west side of the park. Reservations are required and there is no additional fee beyond the regular park entrance fee.

Snowshoeing is easy to learn and opens up a new way to see the beauty of nature during its quietest season. For beginners, the snowshoe program is a two-hour exploration of the natural world of the subalpine forest. No previous snowshoe experience is required. On the east side, this walk is held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. through March 21. The beginner snowshoe tour on the west side is held on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. through March 7.

For more experienced snowshoers, a two-hour snowshoe walk is offered on the west side of the park on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. through March 8. Previous snowshoeing experience is recommended because of the elevation gain, mileage, pace and terrain covered in this program.

Ranger-led cross-country ski tours are offered on the west side of the park on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. through January 31. Participants ski a snow-draped landscape and learn about the Kawuneeche Valley.

All snowshoe walks and ski tours require reservations. Reservations can be made in advance, seven days or less prior to the desired program. Participants must furnish their own equipment, including poles with baskets, and be at least 8 years old. To make reservations for east side snowshoe walks, call the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center at (970) 586-1223. To make reservations for west side snowshoe walks and ski tours, call the Kawuneeche Visitor Center at (970) 627-3471. Please call between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily.

Camping takes place in the winter too! Moraine Park Campground is open all winter; the fee is $14 per site per night. Water and dump stations are not available in winter. Self-registration permits for backcountry camping in winter zones are available. There is no charge in the winter for backcountry camping. Sledding activities can be enjoyed in Rocky Mountain National Park at the Hidden Valley area. Hidden Valley slopes have been contoured to enhance the safety of sledding and other snowplay activities. The gentle sledding hill is especially enjoyed by younger park visitors.

Facilities at Hidden Valley include a warming hut, which is open weekends, and heated flush restrooms which are open daily. This area is also a good base location for those interested in backcountry skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the undeveloped areas in and around Hidden Valley. Backcountry users should be aware of avalanche conditions; always check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website before an adventure.

Full Moon Walks are offered on the east side of the park on February 3 and March 5. Times and locations will vary each month. Reservations are necessary and may be made seven days in advance by calling (970) 586-1223.

When recreating in the park in the winter always be prepared for the possibility of snow, freezing temperatures, short winter daylight hours, cold winds and changing winter weather. Navigating in winter conditions can present difficult challenges. Many park trails are not marked for winter use. Signs and the summer trails can be buried beneath snow and difficult to follow. Following other people's tracks could get you lost, so having a topographic map and compass or a Global Positioning System (GPS) is strongly recommended. Planning ahead is critical!

Whenever visiting Rocky Mountain National Park to snowshoe, ski or hike, stop by a park visitor center or call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206 for current road and snow conditions. Come enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter!

If you plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this winter, or anytime this year, please note that our hiking website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings in both Estes Park and Grand Lake. Also, don't forget to check out our other Things To Do page to help with your trip planning.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Major Changes at Wetherill Mesa in Summer 2015

Visiting Wetherill Mesa in 2015 will involve a different set of opportunities than in years past, according to Mesa Verde National Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer. "One of the things we've heard from visitors many times is that they would like more opportunities to explore on their own, and more hiking opportunities," he said. "When we learned that changes in contracting law make it impractical to run the free tram on Wetherill Mesa next summer, it seemed like that could be a good place to try to offer some new options," he said.

Although park staff is still working out many details, the plan involves three major changes:

1) In spring and fall, the Wetherill Mesa road will be opened for day-use when the weather permits, and the 6-mile tram road, now called the "Long House Loop" will be open for hiking and bicycle riding. The alcove sites will be closed until summer, but other existing hiking trails will be open for hiking.

2) In summer, there will be no tram service. "Long House Loop" (the old tram road) will be open for hiking and bicycle riding during the day. Ranger-guided tours of Step House will be offered several times per day. Step House includes evidence of habitation from Basketmaker as well as Pueblo eras and tells a more comprehensive story of Ancestral Pueblo habitation at Mesa Verde than most alcove sites. Long House will be open for self-guided visits. Rangers will be present to answer questions.

3) A bicycle rental concession may be available for daily bike rentals on Wetherill Mesa.

"The autumn 'Wetherill Mesa Hike and Bike' events have been really popular in the past few years," said Spencer. "We're using that model to develop a similar experience for our summer visitors."

Details will be posted on the park website as they become available. Or you can call 970-529-4465 for up-to-date information.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

DIY: Waterproof a Rain Jacket

In this short video Backpacker Magazine shows how to waterproof a rain jacket. This is a very simple process for an older jacket that's lost some of its repellent over the years: