Friday, May 31, 2019

Recovery Operations For Ryan Albert Missing Since Early October

This past Saturday, a team of two Rocky Mountain National Park climbing rangers conducted a patrol of Longs Peak. While patrolling down the section known as The Trough, rangers found a glove that matched the brand that Ryan Albert was believed to have been wearing. Albert was last seen on October 4, 2018.

Yesterday, Thursday, May 30, a team of four highly skilled park climbing rangers ascended The Trough and after several hours of searching in this steep winter alpine terrain, located Ryan Albert’s body covered in deep snow at an elevation of approximately 12,300'. This location is approximately 1,000' below The Ledges section of the Keyhole Route (approximately 2,000' below the summit). This area is in winter conditions with deep snow and ice.

This morning, rangers completed an on scene investigation and Ryan Albert’s body was recovered by helicopter. His body was transferred to the Boulder County Coroner’s Office. Boulder County Coroner’s office will not release positive identification until completion of an autopsy. Once the investigation is complete more details will be released. Until then, no further information is available.

On October 5, 2018, search efforts began in the Longs Peak area of Rocky Mountain National Park for Ryan Albert after he was reported overdue by a family member. Albert was last seen on October 4, by another park visitor at approximately 10:30 a.m. in the area of Granite Pass heading toward the Keyhole on Longs Peak. Inclement weather that started on October 4, was the beginning of a multi-day weather pattern of extreme conditions including low visibility and fog, thunderstorms and snow showers and freezing temperatures in the 20s and 30s. Search teams faced pockets of deep snow as well as verglas ice. Those winter conditions lasted through the search efforts.

During the first two days of these search efforts in October, in challenging weather and terrain, teams were able to search higher elevations including sections of The Boulder Field, the Keyhole Route, The Loft, Chasm Cirque, North Longs Peak and Boulder Brook. As the snow accumulation and ice continued to build at higher elevations, teams worked lower in the search area throughout the first week. On Friday, October 12, eight days after Albert was last seen, a break in the weather allowed aerial reconnaissance to take place. In addition to searchers looking from the helicopter, footage was taken of high probability areas. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members spent numerous days reviewing the extensive footage.

Another significant winter storm began late Saturday, October 13, bringing additional snow accumulation at higher elevations. On Thursday, October 18, through Saturday, October 20, teams went back to the upper mountain at the Keyhole and Ledges area and again faced continuing deteriorating conditions including waist and chest deep snow, steep icy slopes and extremely slow travel. On Sunday, October 21, a team traveled to the Chasm Cirque area and visually searched Lamb’s Slide, Mills Glacier, Camel Gully and the Chasm View fall line with binoculars and spotting scopes.

Assisting Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members during the previous search efforts in October were Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue based in Boulder County, Trans Aero, Northern Colorado Interagency Helitack and Colorado Search and Rescue Board members. When conditions allowed, dog teams from Larimer County Search and Rescue, Rocky Mountain Rescue and Front Range Search and Rescue Dogs also assisted.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Aggressive bear believed to have attacked woman in Monday morning attack killed by wildlife officers

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers and personnel with the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services tracked and killed an aggressive bear believed to have been responsible for attacking a female hiker near Aspen Monday morning.

At approximately 8:30 yesterday morning, witnesses reported seeing a bear in the proximity of the Hunter Creek trailhead that closely matched the description of the one involved in the attack.

After following the bear's trail during the morning, officers killed it on Highway 82 near the intersection of McSkimming Road just before 1 p.m. this afternoon.

CPW officers will transport the carcass to the agency's Wildlife Health Laboratory for a full necropsy, then to a laboratory in Wyoming for DNA testing.

By policy and to protect human health and safety, CPW officers are required to euthanize any wild animal that has injured a human, regardless of the circumstances. Relocation is not an option due to the agency’s dangerous bear policy and concerns the bear would resume its aggressive behavior in its new territory.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lily Lake Phenology Walk At Rocky Mountain National Park

Help Rocky Mountain National Park document seasonal biological events as a citizen scientist on your next stroll around Lily Lake. The Lily Lake Phenology Walk allows visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park an opportunity to collect scientific data and learn more about plant and animal species found within the park. Over time, as observations are collected, the park will gain a better understanding of how plants and animals at Rocky Mountain National Park respond to environment changes. Has there been a shift in when willow shrubs begin to bud in the spring? Are Aspen leaves changing color later or earlier than in the past?

With just a smartphone or a tablet with an internet browser, the Lily Lake Phenology Walk webpage provides descriptive images to help answer simple questions related to the timing of biological life cycle events of certain species found along the trail. Adding only 20 minutes to your hike on the 0.8-mile trail that circles Lily Lake, this activity is perfect for frequent or one-time visitors of all ages.

Phenology, the study of the timing of biological life cycle events and how climate and habitat influence them, has been a topic of interest lately as we contemplate how species will react to a changing climate. The data gathered with the Lily Lake Phenology Walk can help determine if there are shifts in the phenology of the park’s species in this area.

Further information about the Lily Lake Phenology walk, including links to the questions page and previously submitted data is available at For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please visit or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206. For more information about the hike around the lake, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Infamous Angel's Landing

Over the last year or so I've had the privilege of publishing a couple of short films by Christopher R. Abbey. This includes films on climbing 14,505-foot Mt. Whitney in California, as well as a three-day backpacking trip in the Mt. Sterling area of the Great Smoky Mountains. His latest film chronicles his hike up Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, and highlights some of the crazy terrain hikers travel over to reach its summit. Hope you enjoy:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Search underway for aggressive bear that bit woman as she hiked near Aspen yesterday morning

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are looking for an aggressive bear that bit a woman on the thigh as she and her husband hiked on the Hunter Creek Trail near Lone Pine Road in Aspen at approximately 9:15 yesterday morning.

The woman reported that she and her husband were walking back to Aspen when they saw a bear walking toward them on the trail. The woman says they tried to give the bear space and stepped off the trail. As the bear walked by, she says it suddenly turned, charged and bit her before it ran off and disappeared from view.

According to investigating officers, the bite wound did not appear serious. CPW is not releasing the identity of the woman.

CPW officers have called in experts with the USDA's Wildlife Services to assist with tracking the bear, described as light brown and weighing approximately 200-300 lb. As of Monday evening, the bear had not been located.

CPW officials say considering the attack occurred near Aspen, it is possible the bear may enter city limits before it is found. They urge all residents to be cautious.

"This is an aggressive bear and by policy, we will put it down if found," said CPW Officer Matt Yamashita." But until we find it, the public should remember what to do if they see any bear. If it appears aggressive or shows no fear of humans, do not approach it. Haze it away by yelling or banging pots and pans, then call CPW or 911 immediately."

Yamashita says bears usually stay away from people but if a bear has been fed or has lost its natural fear of humans, they can be extremely dangerous.

If you see a bear, CPW officials offer these basic tips:

• Do not run from a bear, stand your ground and talk firmly to the animal
• If it continues to approach, throw rocks and sticks, wave your arms and yell loudly
• If the bear attacks, fight back as aggressively as possible and do not stop until the bear runs off

"Fortunately, these incidents remain very rare," said Yamashita. "But when people and bears interact, it can increase the possibility of a dangerous conflict. This woman was lucky that she was not seriously injured."

The section of the Hunter Creek Trail up to the Lani White Trail remains closed until further notice while officers search for the bear. For more information about the closure, contact Pitkin County Open Space.

CPW will conduct a full necropsy on the animal if it is found.

For more information about bears in Colorado, including hiking in bear country, visit

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, May 24, 2019

National Park Visitor Spending Contributed $40 Billion to U.S. Economy

As the summer vacation and travel seasons opens, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2018 resulted in a $40.1 billion benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 329,000 jobs.

According to the annual National Park Service report, 2018 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, more than 318 million visitors spent $20.2 billion in communities within 60 miles of a park in the National Park System. Of the 329,000 jobs supported by visitor spending, more than 268,000 jobs exist in the park gateway communities.

“This report emphasizes the tremendous impact the national parks have on our nation’s economy and underscores the need to fulfill President Trump's plan to rebuild park infrastructure,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “With 419 sites, and at least one in every state, our national parks continue to provide visitors, both local and destination, with innumerous recreational, inspirational, and world-class experiences.”

“National parks with their iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes represent the heart and soul of America,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “They are also a vital part of our nation’s economy, especially for park gateway communities where millions of visitors each year find a place to sleep and eat, hire outfitters and guides and make use of other local services that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”

Economic benefits from visitor spending increased by $2 billion and total output increased by $4.3 billion in comparison to 2017.

As a part of the report, visitor surveys were conducted at 19 parks with the results indicating that people spent more time in the parks, stayed longer in gateway communities and spent more money during their visits.

Visitation varies across the National Park System, from big parks like Rocky Mountain National Park to Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending totaling nearly $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area with visitors spending $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

The peer-reviewed economics report was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by parks and by states on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view annual, trend data.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Trail Ridge Road Opening Delayed

Due to late spring snowfall and continuing winter-like conditions at high elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road’s opening will be delayed and will not open to vehicles over the Memorial Day Holiday.

Park snowplow operators will continue to plow the road; the road will open as soon as it is safe to do so. Due to ongoing snow accumulation, winds and below freezing temperatures at higher elevations, it is too soon to predict when that might be.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are able to travel on the road. When plowing is taking place, for visitor safety, park plow operators will post signs that indicate the point on the road where pedestrian and bicycle travel is not allowed, past that point. It is critical that pedestrians and bicycles adhere to those closures. Depending on the day and conditions the distance that pedestrians and bicycles are allowed to travel on the road will vary.

Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet near the Alpine Visitor Center. Plow operators normally encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet and are accustomed to plowing the same section of road over and over. Trail Ridge Road was completed in 1932. The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943. In 2011, the road opened on June 6.

Park staff expect a busy Memorial Day Weekend throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. The three reservation campgrounds in the park are full for the weekend. Timber Creek Campground on the west side of the park is first-come, first-served. Vehicle restrictions may be in place on the Bear Lake Road corridor and the Wild Basin area if full parking lots and congestion warrants. Visitors planning to recreate in the park’s backcountry, depending on their destination, should prepare for a variety of conditions including snow, ice, slush and mud. Today, the Bear Lake Trailhead, located at 9,475 feet, has 35 inches of snow.

For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206, the Trail Ridge Road status recorded phone line at (970) 586-1222 or check the park’s website at

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Hiker’s How-To: Proper etiquette for your trail adventures

Colorado has a reputation for our outdoorsy ways and adventurous attitudes. We love to raft and kayak in whitewater, such as in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. We water ski at places like Lake Pueblo State Park. We plunge down snowpacked mountainsides on skis. We mountain bike on remote single-tracks. We climb cliffs. We run steep inclines for exercise and fun. We fish and hunt and go wildlife viewing.

But we have one activity that reigns above all others: Hiking. A reader poll on puts Colorado well ahead of Washington, Utah, Oregon and Alaska in the top 5 states for hiking.

We’re talking everything from gentle walks through the meadows and forests of places like Mueller State Park in Teller County, to steep trails with incredible exposures along cliffs like the Dixon Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park, or the hundreds of miles of trails that meander through Rocky Mountain National Park.

And we hike 14ers. That’s shorthand for mountains with summits reaching 14,000 feet above sea level and higher. These are generally difficult trails due to elevation gain, length and oxygen-depleted altitude. We have more than four dozen 14ers in Colorado and it’s a badge of honor to conquer them on foot. Last summer, it’s estimated more than 334,000 people hiked Colorado’s 14ers. I can only imagine how many more people are hiking simple, everyday trails.

That’s a lot of people wandering around our outdoor spaces. And because a lot of them are new to Colorado and the outdoors, it’s a good time to talk about trail etiquette to keep the trip safe for yourself, others and the environment.

First, you need to approach a hike as you would a long vacation. Scope out your route to make sure it is the safest and most effective way of getting where we want to go. Don’t let your new trail adventure turn into a nightmare by getting lost. Research where trails begin and end and be realistic in judging your ability to cover the distance. Then plan to start early enough so you don’t end up hiking at a time of day that makes you feel unsafe. This is especially important if you get lost. Best to have daylight for searchers to have a chance of finding you.

Just as important is knowing the terrain. Anyone who has stepped on different textures of land understands that not all shoes work for all textures and trail grades. Walking shoes may be fine on a hard surfaced, flat trail but lousy if you will be on a dirt-and-gravel trail requiring climbing or a steep descent.

Make sure you have the proper gear to get you to and from, in an enjoyable and safe manner.

Next you need to think about food and water. And don’t tell me you don’t need to pack food because you’ll only be gone an hour or two. Think about what might happen if you get lost. Or if you get tired from exerting yourself at altitude more than you expected. Or you just get hungry. You will start to feel stressed and confused. Food and water are going to help you out.

With food and water you usually produce trash. And that brings me to an important trail etiquette rule: Pack it in, pack it out. It’s part of the “leave no trace” ethic of the outdoors. You’ve heard the expression: Leave only footprints and take only memories. Do not leave anything behind. Trash includes wrappers, bottles, toilet paper, bags with your pet poop, grocery bags and un-eaten food. This is critical because we share our trails with millions of people and other species.

Leaving no trace also means not cutting trees or moving rocks or picking plants. The ecosystem operates in the way it is intended, and we unfortunately don’t know enough to change it safely.

If you are lucky enough to hike a trail in solitude, don’t forget that there is always someone else who wants to enjoy the same scenery. Don’t ruin by leaving your trash - this includes dog waste bags where dogs are permitted on trails.

But more often, you won’t be alone on a route. Just like respecting other people on the highway, we must respect other people, and animals, on the trails. And the others you encounter won’t always be fellow hikers.

We share our trails with bikers and horse riders. While they may not be using the trails quite like you, they deserve just as much recreational freedom. It’s like the old saying, be nice to people and hopefully they will be nice back. If you share the trails with respect and dignity, they probably will, too.

One last request: Please keep your phone in your pocket while you are outdoors. OK, take a photo or two. Even a selfie, if you must. But do everyone a favor and don’t share every step of your journey. We are seeing headlines every day about people who die in the outdoors taking a dangerous selfie or walking off a cliff because they are looking at their phone instead of the trail and scenery.

The outdoors is a great chance to escape from the noise of your busy life. Immerse yourself in the serenity of Colorado’s great outdoor spaces. Put your phone away so that you aren’t distracted from the wonders around you.

Apply the right etiquette to your outdoor adventures, and you are sure to have no problems.

Just like everything else in life, we can enjoy the moments in what we do, while still managing to be safe doing it. Keep calm, and adventure on!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, May 20, 2019

Keep your distance from young or injured wildlife

Though this article is from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, this information applies to anyone and everyone who ventures into the wild:

Each spring, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks receives several calls from people who have picked up deer fawns or other wildlife.

FWP advises against this practice for several reasons. The agency does not accept, hold or rehabilitate deer and elk because the animals rarely survive the stress of captivity, and because of concerns with the spread of disease. So FWP’s likely response would be to tell people to leave the animals alone or return them to where they were found.

While people mean well, they may not understand that their intervention could possibly kill the animal or cause injury to it or to themselves. Good intentions can lead to dire consequences.

Every spring, FWP receives calls from good-intentioned people who pick up great horned owls that have bailed out of the nest before they can fly. This is a natural part of their life cycle. The adult owls monitor these young, providing them with food until they can fly — usually just a couple of days. People can help best by not touching the owls and by keeping pets restrained.

In a high-profile case in Yellowstone National Park last summer, a bison calf was picked up and transported by tourists who believed it had been abandoned. The calf ultimately had to be euthanized because it couldn’t be reunited with the herd and continued to approach people and vehicles.

If You Care, Leave Them There

To prevent outcomes like this, FWP emphasizes that all wildlife species and their young should be left in the wild. If you see a young animal alone or injured, whether a goose or a grizzly, keep your distance. It is illegal to possess and care for a live animal taken from the wild.

Animals often thrive without human intervention, and their odds of surviving in the wild are much greater if they are left alone. Once young animals are picked up by people, they usually can’t be rehabilitated. People handling wildlife also may injure themselves or the animal, or habituate it to humans, potentially causing problems if the animal is released back into the wild.

Understanding Nature

It’s natural for deer, elk and other animals to leave their young alone for extended periods of time. What appears to be an orphaned animal may not be, but chances are the mother will not return while humans are present. Fawns are seldom orphaned, but if they are, another doe may add them to the group. In 8 to 10 days, a fawn will have the appropriate gut flora and can survive on its own by nibbling grass. Young fawns have no body odor, which lessens their appeal to predators. Their spots also help to camouflage them while their mothers stash them to feed.

If you take dogs into the field, be sure to keep your dog under control, especially in the spring when newborn wildlife is most vulnerable. Pet owners can be cited, and dogs that harass or kill wildlife may, by law, have to be destroyed.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Gear Review: Kuhl Renegade Cargo Short

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to test my new pair of Renegade Cargo Shorts during a hike in our local park. The Renegade is made by Kühl, an outdoor clothing company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Kuhl website states that "Going off the grid takes more organization than you might think." The Renegade Cargo Short "features pockets inside other pockets to ensure your important items are secure. And the DURALUX™ fabric feels soft while giving you enough stretch to go anywhere you want to go. Get organized for the adventure ahead with men's cargo shorts made with innovative features." The product description continues by stating that "DURALUX™ feels like cotton, superior anti-abrasion, stronger, softer, more breathable than standard nylon."

By all appearances the Renegade Cargo Short is a very well-made pair of shorts. Despite being made with durable fabric, the Renegade feels fairly soft, and more importantly, is extremely comfortable. I also appreciate the ample pocket space. I own a well-known brand of hiking shorts that doesn't even have back pockets. In another well-known brand of hiking shorts that I own the pockets are extremely shallow, with barely enough room to fit my normal-sized wallet. The back pockets on the Renegade are the perfect size. Additionally, the Renegade sports side and front pockets as well.

At first I thought the shorts felt a little tight when I first put them on. However, after wearing them around the house for awhile they seemed to fit my form more naturally. Not only will I be wearing them on hikes, but the design looks so great that I'll also be wearing them around town as well.

My only real complaint with the Renegade Cargo Short is their length, which comes just over my knee-caps. Style-wise, I'm more of a fan of shorter shorts. This is just a personal preference, however.

All in all I think the Renegade is a great pair of shorts, and look forward to wearing them in the mountains this upcoming season. For more information on the Kuhl Renegade Cargo Shorts, please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, May 17, 2019

Trail Ridge Road Update

If you were expecting Trail Ridge Road to open up anytime soon, you may want to read this statement from the Rocky Mountain National Park Facebook page:
Every year, Rocky Mountain National Park snowplow operators begin plowing Trail Ridge Road in mid-April. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States - reaching 12,183 feet in elevation. Crews from the west side of the park and crews from the east side of the park move along the road and eventually meet near the Alpine Visitor Center. Park plow operators normally encounter drifts from 18 to 22 feet and are accustomed to plowing the same section of road over and over. Trail Ridge Road was completed in 1932. The earliest the road has opened was on May 7, 2002; the latest June 26, 1943. In 2011, the road opened on June 6.

Due to recent spring snowstorms park plow operators are experiencing significant drifts and snowpack at high elevations along the road. More snow is forecast for next week.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Science Behind The Scenery Presentation Post-Fire Vegetation Response At Chickaree Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park invites you to a special program at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Join recent Kansas State University graduate Barrie Chileen as she shares her research on vegetation response to wildfires over the past 2,500 years at Chickaree Lake on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

While it is easy to see the modern impacts of wildfire on forests in the Rocky Mountains, less is known about how fire has impacted forests in the past, but how are we able to see the impacts of wildfire thousands of years ago?

In this Science Behind the Scenery presentation, Ms. Chileen will share her master’s thesis work that reconstructs past wildfire and vegetation through materials deposited in lake mud to better understand what future fire regimes and climate scenarios may hold for Colorado Rocky Mountain forests. This presentation will unveil the hidden treasures within lake mud and show how pollen is more than just the source of spring sniffles. Ms. Chileen is a recent graduate from Kansas State University where she received her master’s degree in geography. She is extremely passionate about studying plants and wildfire and is excited to share her research with you.

This presentation is the first in a five-part Science Behind the Scenery speaker series, brought to you by the Continental Divide Research Learning Center at Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Join us each month this summer to learn more about park research, and what it tells us about the park and its resources. All programs are free and open to the public.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please visit or call the park’s Information Office at (970) 586-1206.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Annual Endangered Species Day Special Program Rocky Mountain National Park Celebrates Commitment To Wildlife Protection

Rocky Mountain National Park invites you to a special program at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. On this special day, America will celebrate endangered species success stories, including the protection and recovery of the American bald eagle and Rocky’s own peregrine falcon. Are you concerned about threatened or endangered species, and their preservation as part of our natural world? How do species come to be at the brink of extinction, and how can they be recovered? The answers are at the heart of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This program traces the history of that landmark legislation and the successful actions, including little-known “backstories,” of scientists and citizens to recover or preserve such species as peregrine falcons, Canada lynx, boreal toads, and our native greenback cutthroat trout.

Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places. The goal of Endangered Species Day is simple, to highlight the importance of protecting and recovering our rare, threatened, and endangered animal and plant species. In Colorado, the peregrine falcon is making a remarkable recovery thanks to efforts to protect these animals and their homes. Without these efforts, we might have lost these special falcons forever. Our commitment to protecting rare wildlife ensures that Coloradoans can enjoy living side-by-side with all plant and wildlife for generations to come.

One reason for the nation’s success in protecting wildlife is the passage, over 45 years ago, of the federal Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act has successfully prevented the extinction of hundreds of species, including the humpback whale, Kirtland’s warbler, and bull trout. Many of our nation’s signature species, such as the Florida panther, Hawaiian monk seal, and Alabama red-bellied turtle, owe their continued existence to the protections of the Act. The resounding success of the Act is found in the fact that just nine animals out of the more than 1,800 species listed as endangered under the Act have been declared extinct. This is in part thanks to the everyday actions that individuals can take to help protect our nation’s wildlife, fish and plants. Join us to learn how you can help!

This program is free and open to the public.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Friday, May 10, 2019

Flash Sale: half-off on "Ramble On: A History of Hiking" today

As you're likely already aware, I published my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, last fall. Today, I wanted to announce that for a very limited time the eBook version of the book will be on sale. Beginning at 8:00 am MST today you will be able purchase the eBook version for only $4.99 on Amazon - a 50% discount off the regular price of $9.95. You can take advantage of this limited time offer until 12;00 pm today. For more information on the book, and to purchase, please click here.

Additionally, if you like the book, I would really appreciate if you could write a short review on my Amazon page.

Thank you very much!

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Big Bend National Park

After leaving White Sands National Monument, Kathy and I headed southeast towards Alpine, Texas. Along the way we were scheduled to stop at the McDonald Observatory, located in the Davis Mountains just northwest of Alpine, to take part in their Tuesday night "Star Party". If you saw my post from White Sands, you'll likely notice large billowy clouds in my photos. Those clouds proceeded to develop into major thunderstorms. Fortunately our route took us completely around these storms. However, as got to Van Horn and beyond, more clouds began to develop. We thought for sure the Star Party would be canceled. However, once we arrived at the observatory, which sits atop a relatively low mountain, we enjoyed clear skies above us - though heavy clouds and storms threatened in all directions. As the sun set, and darkness enveloped the mountain, our luck continued as the Star Party went-off as scheduled, and we were able to view the stars through several telescopes. To be honest though, we were both pretty disappointed in the "party". We thought we would be looking at supernovas and planets in great detail, but the telescopes simply did not provide that amount of power. The best part of the party was watching the lightning that seemed to spark all around us in the far-off distance.

After getting to our hotel around midnight, we were awakened early the next morning by a raging storm that looked like a hurricane from our third floor window. Just south of town we passed several mounds of hail that had accumulated from the storm. Fortunately we weren't impacted by any severe weather as we drove south towards Big Bend National Park. By the time we reached the outskirts of the park we could see a massive storm raging over the east side of the park. Our primary destination, Santa Elena Canyon, was on the west side of the park, and appeared to be under blue skies. So far so good! However, once we arrived at the trailhead we found out that Terlingua Creek was impassable due to heavy rains. We were only able to see the mouth of this spectacular canyon:

After hiking a couple of other trails on the west side of the park, we began making our way towards the east. As we progressed we could see massive storm clouds brooding towards the north. By this time it was late afternoon and we were essentially done with our visit, and were really hoping that we would be able to avoid severe storms as we headed north towards Fort Stockton. Before heading out of the park we stopped at the visitor center in Panther Junction, located near the north-central portion of the park. Here we saw a car totally destroyed by hail. There were large pock marks on the hood and trunk, and their windshield was completely destroyed. They had been waiting for several hours for a tow truck. Fortunately for us, our route took us around the storm as we headed towards the northeast.

Here are a few other photos from our time in the park:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

White Sands National Monument

After leaving the Santa Fe area we drove down to White Sands National Monument in south-central New Mexico. It was truly another world. The sand is pure white, and looks like snow in many places. Driving in certain places, or pulling into some parking lots you would've thought that you would need snow tires.

White Sands is the world's largest gypsum dunefield, which encompasses roughly 275 square miles of desert below the San Andres Mountains. The national monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield. Because the park is surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range and the Holloman Air Force Base, the park is closed for short periods due to missile testing. Therefore, it's always important to call or check the park website on the day of your visit to make sure the park is open.

White Sands National Monument has been featured in several films, including Four Faces West (1948), Hang 'Em High (1968), The Hired Hand (1971), My Name Is Nobody (1973), Bite the Bullett (1975), Young Guns II (1990), White Sands (1992), King Solomon's Mines (1950), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), and Transformers (2007).

White Sands is also the site of the detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb, located roughly 60 miles north of the monument. Now known as the Trinity Site, the bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945.

Here are a few photos from our visit:

Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, May 6, 2019

Tent Rocks in Black and White

Last week Kathy and I returned home from a two-week tour of New Mexico and Texas. Along the way we did several hikes in Big Bend National Park and Enchanted Rock State Park in Texas, as well as Bandelier, White Sands and Tent Rocks national monuments in New Mexico. During the New Mexico leg of our trip we had the opportunity to do a few hikes with our niece and nephew. The following are a few photos from Tent Rocks, captured in black and white (Kathy and I have hiked in this area in the past):

The odd cone-shaped formations that give the area its name are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago which left pumice, ash and volcanic tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Over time, wind and water slowly eroded the tuff, which formed the canyons and tent rocks we see today. Some of these hoodoos, or tent rocks, reach up to 90 feet in height. The only other place in the world where you can find these unusual rock formations is in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mazamas Review "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Earlier this week the Mazamas, one of the oldest mountain clubs in America, published a review of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. I want to sincerely thank Brian Goldman for publishing his detailed review of the book in the latest edition of Mazama Bulletin, the monthly magazine of the Mazamas.

Mr. Goldman concluded his extensive review by stating: "Overall, this book is a very comprehensive, all-encompassing overview for anyone interested in the history of hiking."

To read the entire review (on page 24), please click here.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking