Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Wow! I think you intimidated everybody by your prowess. Way out of my league. My biggest hike to date is S Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch, followed by Bright Angel trail back up (separate days). As an arthritis sufferer, 125 degrees wipes out the arthritis, at least temporarily! I was sad to go back to the rim where it was only 90.
    I want to hike rim to rim, but am not sure I can get family and friends to go for it.
    Also on my list is Sliding Sands trail at Haleakala, going from 10,000 feet to sea level in a few hours.
    But #1 on my list is Macchu Picchu. I know it is not in the US, but it can certainly be epic.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Regarding my earlier comments about bicycles and the Wilderness Act, I should note that IMBA is not engaged in trying to change the current interpretation and management of Wilderness designations. I wanted to point out, as a matter of record, that bikes were not excluded from Wilderness for two decades. Today, they are banned from Wilderness -- which is why IMBA asks for alternative designations (like National Recreation Areas) to be adopted when newly proposed Wilderness conflicts with important mountain bike trails. The Wilderness designation is one tool for protecting the land, but it's not the only one available to land managers.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Kurt, I'd like to compliment you on your article overall. Its tone is fair-minded and it's well-researched. I realize these things take a lot of time to do and I doubt you're getting rich doing it.

    Here's a laugh: one of the captcha words for this post is "Whitney"!

    imtnbke

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    My experience with some hikers on trails is that they are rude. They often go off the trails, disturb the wildlife, litter, ride in on big diesel buses, carve their names into trees, etc.. It's actually quite hard to go off the trail on a bike. Unless you are an exceptional trials rider, most people have difficulty even riding on the trails. I mountain bike quite a lot on more technical trails. I almost never see hikers nor other bikers. When I do, we usually say "hi" as we pass each other.
    Most mountain biking groups support work-days at the parks, where the trails are mended and the litter is cleaned. I have never seen a hiking group do this.
    It's a shame that angery self-rightous hikers insist on creating conflict where there doesn't need to be any. There is not enough support for national parks already, and yet people want to fragment the little support there is for the parks.
    I simply don't not support any anit-biking groups or people with my money or votes. I know other bikers that do the same. Consider this when the NPS budget gets cut.

  • It's Official: Picky Yosemite National Park Bears Prefer Their Meals in Minivans   5 years 28 weeks ago

    We've worked at the Concession for Yosemite & although we know as much as the public & NPS, it still makes me nervous, after having children that our car can be broken into! Any National Park that has bears, you're always taking a risk. This Winter will be our first time back since working there in Yosemite & I'm nervous, since we have a toddler that gets sick easily & will have two carseats!!

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Kurt, your reply to Zebulon makes me think of a question (and this touches on Random Walker's comment as well).

    One thing that rankles me in these access debates is the amount of hypocrisy I detect coming from those who have access via their preferred method of travel (e.g., to Wilderness areas). Few people, if any, ever are willing to give up their preferred travel mode; they want someone else to give up his/hers or not acquire the right to it in the first place.

    So here's my question: do you think horses and packstock should continue to be allowed to travel in Wilderness and recommended Wilderness areas of national parks and national forests while mountain bikers are barred? If so, on what basis? Admittedly bicycles can go faster than hikers, but our environmental impact is about the same as that of hikers. The environmental impact of horses and packstock is huge. They have to be trucked to trailheads in large ungainly vehicles whose carbon footprint is helping to melt the Arctic much faster than my subcompact sedan. Once there, these large mammals, some of which are not native to North America, poop all over the trails, trample campsite vegetation, erode trailbeds massively, muddy streams to the detriment of fish and roe, attract flies, require staggering amounts of food (some of which they strip from the land), and generally debase the environment. So if the politics of exclusion are based on social impact, I can see the need for bicycle regulation (or hiker regulation) on popular trails near trailheads. But if it's based on environmental impact, wouldn't you agree that horses and packstock must be prohibited and that hikers and cyclists should work out a trail-sharing accommodation?

    Alternatively, would you accept, per the argument of Random Walker, that if an area is sufficiently "sensitive" or "pristine" (to invoke commonly used parlance in these discussions) everyone should stay out of it? Doesn't any different regimen amount to hubris, as he argues?

    Thanks,

    imtnbke

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Kurt,

    Now, we're having the right discussion. Sorry for the sarcasm, I just can't help it. It was still a good question though.

    The primitive experience is a vague term that does not describe much. Again, plenty of current allowed uses of the wilderness are far from being primitive as you pointed out. The issue would be framed in terms of conservation, which is after all the goal of wilderness and most other public lands. I don't see how allowing cyclists on most trails (not all, more on that later) go against conservation. Most well designed trails don't suffer from cycling, and they certainly are impacted a loss less than they are by horses. Of course many more people ride their bikes than horses (30 to 1 ratio nationwide I believe), but that's not a reason in and of itself to ban bikes. If we were allowing access based on impact, we would have ban horses long ago.

    Why should we allow access to bikes in wilderness? Well, it's a simple issue of fairness. It's human powered, does make much noise and does not impact the land. I won't hike because it bores me to death. How would you like it if we banned hiking and only allowed biking? You should not be allowed to complain because you could always bike on your favorite trail after all. Unlike the bike haters, I'm not trying to tell people how they should enjoy the outdoors. I just want to be able to enjoy it in my favorite way, so long as it does impact the trails.

    Bikes displace hikers: well, that's really only an issue when cyclists are only allowed on a small amount of trails, thereby concentrating every possible cyclist on a few trails and crowding out other users. The more trails are opened, the more dispersion, the less conflict. Again, for the very few trails which are very popular, let's leave them hiking only, and let cyclists go in the rest of the nearly empty backcountry.

    Trail building: one can build sustainable trails by hand. I've done it, it just requires more people and more time.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Zeb,

    Good question, but your sarcasm at the end puts a damper on it.

    That said, I think a big part of the answer is being able to walk into an area where you can have an actual primitive experience with as minimal impact as possible on the setting. Now, there's sentiment out there that if you truly want a "primitive" experience you'll leave your stove, watch, GPS, and other devices at home. Perhaps so, but those don't impact the landscape as does a mountain bike.

    Again, this isn't a movement to ban mountain bikes from all public lands. Rather, there just seems to be a desire out there to have such an "wilderness" experience. I recently was in Yosemite and hiked the John Muir Trail up the Lyell Fork and it was a nice, smooth trail, one that would be perfect for biking. But I can easily see how it could become so popular with bikers that many hikers would move elsewhere. Indeed, in some places bikes have displaced hikers.

    Let's flip your question: Why do mountain bikes belong in wilderness? It's not an access issue. You're more than welcome to walk into any wilderness area you can.

    Beyond the philosophical issues, what about the logistical ones? IMBA has demonstrated a great ability to build trails that reportedly stand up to bike use. But as the images on IMBA's website indicate, some of those construction projects are rather large, requiring Bobcats and, in some cases, a large footprint. How would you go about building such trails X miles into wilderness?

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Such trite hubris to think this is about access, mountain bikers, hikers, horsemen, etc...
    Here in my neck of the woods on federal lands only 45% of the trails are machine free, this by being in National Parks and Wildernesses.
    Narrow this down to the Wenatchee National Forest alone and one will find 2,500 miles of trail to play on with their toy.
    I detest the continuous lobbying for more development in our National Parks and Wildernesses; be it buildings, roads or trails for mountain bikes, horses or boots
    and the belief that nature should conform to the trends of society.

    "Every recreationist whether hiker, biker, horsepacker, or posey sniffer should not begin by asking, 'What's best for ME?' but rather 'What's best for the bears?'" ~Tom Butler~

    "We revere the trail for what it does, not for what it is. We honor the volunteer weed-whackers, but not to the point of wishing to "promote" them to professionals; trail work can be a form of privatization, as it most surely is when undertaken by those who do it to facilitate their wreckreation.” ~Harvey Manning~

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Betty H. Would you mind explaining why in your opinion cyclists do not belong in wilderness? I always find the rationalization highly entertaining. :)

  • Reader Participation Day: What Epic Treks in the National Parks Are on Your To-Do List?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Having done Half Dome, my next Yosemite trek will be from the Tioga Road over to the top of El Capitan and then on to the top of Yosemite Falls and down into Yosemite Village. I also plan to hike the Mist Trail up to the base of Nevada Falls to get a picture of the afternoon 400 ft rainbow that spans the falls. I thought I had it once before, but my shutter jammed on my old film camera.

    I would also like to get back to Glacier NP and hike up to the Ptarmigan tunnel from Many Glacier.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    haunted hiker, maybe you should sit in the lotus position and slow yourself down as you obviously just read the parts of my post that you wanted. I am not against mountain bikers as a whole, just not in Wilderness areas. As stated above, federal lands should have a place for everyone just not all at the same place !

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Thanks for the article and resulting comments, Traveler!

    Regarding the paragraph cited below, please note that for more than two decades the Wilderness Act was not interpreted to ban bicycles. Nowhere in the Act does it say that bicycles are prohibited from Wilderness areas.

    “Any time you go back and modify the parent law, or parent legislation, you better do it with some good public debate, and I think that’s what needs to happen if we do need to go back and look at those things that were legislated in 1964," said the Park Service's Mr. Oye. "It’s not our intent to change the Wilderness Act to allow for mountain bikes, and it’s not our intent to compromise future wilderness designations by promoting mountain bike use in areas that” have potential to be designated wilderness.

    And regarding Mr. Carroll's comments, IMBA and its members are in full agreement that pristine lands should be protected from extraction and development. We do not believe that they need to be protected from bicycles! Fortunately, Wilderness is just one of the tools that land managers can use to afford lasting protections to backcountry areas -- bike-friendly designations like National Recreation Areas offer a good alternative.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I need to comment on Mr. Carroll and his complete lack of understanding of Mountain Biking. The Pugsley is a very specific mountain bike, and is mostly used as a snow bike. In all my years of biking, I've only seen 1 on the trails, so using that bike as the prototypical bike on the trails shows a complete lack of understanding and knowledge about mountain biking. Furthermore, with tires that big, it's very hard for anybody to go very fast (you do have to pedal the darn thing, it's still a human powered machine). And finally, the very wide tires of that bike mean that the bike is less likely to impact the trail (less pressure per square inch of contact).

    As for mountain bikes getting bigger and bigger, that does not mean anything. If he refers to downhill specific machines, he would be right, except that those bikes are not meant to be pedaled up the hill, and can only be used at ski resorts in the summer, hardly the wilderness heaven. The typical bike that can be pedaled cross country has not changed much in weight over the last 15 years, it's still somewhere between 25 and 31#. The only difference is that there is more suspension travel that makes them easier to pedal all day. Meanwhile, 1000# horses tear up the trails and defecate all over, and Mr. Carroll does not seem to have much to say about this.

    Frankly, the hypocrisy is disgusting.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Bikes are mechanized, but carbon fiber walking sticks, wheelchairs, and kayaks are not. Go explain that one!

    Kafka would be proud of the nonsensical regulations we have today. BTW, for the "pure" wilderness worshippers out there, Congress intended to have bikes be authorized in wilderness areas in 1964. All of this has little to do with any kind of rational argumentation and a lot to do with the desire of a few not to share their taxpayer funded piece of haven. Heck, if wilderness was off limits to hikers, I'd probably drum up the fear mongering as well just so I would not have to share. That being said, it does not make it right.

    In the backcountry, there is PLENTY of room for everybody to share, except on a few heavily traveled trails, since it's mostly empty.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I've seen the operating guides for designated wilderness areas, and wheelchairs or other medical devices are specifically exempted from being considered "mechanical transport". Strictly speaking, if there wasn't such a distinction, someone with an artificial leg/foot (with several moving parts) might be considered to be using mechanical "transport".

  • Rare Motion Pictures Show Civil War Veterans at the 75th Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reunion   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I have a picture of a veteran at the 1938 reunion which I attended at Gettysburg, I was 8 years old and would like to see if there is a list of veterans that attended, to see if the name on the picture is right. How could I get copy of the veterans that were there?

  • It's Official: Picky Yosemite National Park Bears Prefer Their Meals in Minivans   5 years 28 weeks ago

    And yes we tried to haze the bear but it didn't get phased. Only the park ranger - with threats of rubber bullets or paintballs - got it to take off.

  • It's Official: Picky Yosemite National Park Bears Prefer Their Meals in Minivans   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Tagging the "repeat offenders" is already something that's done. Check out the photo with the bear with two ear tags. Last summer I saw a bear manage to break into a malfunctioning bear box. That bear had ear tags and a transmitter collar. The campgrounds have antennas/receivers to determine when collared bears are visiting campgrounds and rangers on bear patrol get alerted. We had a park ranger there in less than 3 minutes although that was enough time for the bear to have munched quite a bit of food.

    My favorite story from Yosemite is of "Camaro Bear". Just take a wild guess what his favorite vehicle was.

    One of the main problems (and possibly the hardest to solve) is that there isn't a vehicle parked in Yosemite that hasn't at one time transported food. There might be food spills in the car or maybe some crumbs. There are some concerns that maybe just maybe some bears breaking into cars may be doing so more or less randomly after scoring food once or twice. Of course particularly odiferous food stored in a car might send off the jackpot meter for a bear to break into a particular car.

  • An Unusual View of the Arnica Fire That Burned in Yellowstone National Park This Past Summer   5 years 28 weeks ago

    WOW My girlfriend and I entered Yellowstone on Sept. 15, and hiked the Natural Bridge trail on the 21st. I'm having a hard time understanding how a fire that turned so big could have been 8 days old already during our hike. We left the Teton area the morning after this pic was taken. We could see the smoke from the Bearpaw fire from our cabin at Signal Mountain, but never any smoke from the Arnica fire. We consider ourselfs very lucky that this didn't cause us to have to change any of our plans.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I am a hiker first and foremost, but like K Dostal, I am disappointed by the irrational rhetoric of mountain biking haters. Still, I have no problem with bikes being kept out of designated "Wilderness with a Capital W" areas as long as the NPS and the USFS recognize mountain biking as a use they should allow in other management zones.

    Anon and Betty H need to take some deep breaths, sit in a lotus position for a few minutes, and find a little more "loving kindness" for other recreational users.

  • It's Official: Picky Yosemite National Park Bears Prefer Their Meals in Minivans   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Naw, the most interesting statistic was "most of the break-ins resulted from a maximum of 5 bears and possibly as few as 2 individuals." If true, this proves that the "criminal mind" exists in the bear kingdom, just as it does in human. They could tag the repeat violators with a tracking device so a warning system can be developed.

  • It's Official: Picky Yosemite National Park Bears Prefer Their Meals in Minivans   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I think the most interesting statistic that should be pointed out, if I understood their report, is that only 7% of vehicles present were mini vans but the break ins of mini vans accounted for 26% of all break ins. Also the sedan represented about 28% of vehicles present but only 13.7% of break ins. So in conclusion, a sedan might be a good choice to go to the park for the night.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I find mountain bikers to be a polite crowd and have had few conflicts. I think this is a generational issue and also a little bit of ignorance on the realities of mountain bikes and it tends to be the older, politically savvy crowd who hate mountain bikes, while the majority of us have few problems with them.
    Let's 'fess up here folks. Hikers are more invasive to wilderness or recommended wilderness than mountain bikes. There are bigger groups of hikers going into remote areas. Hikers are able to spend multiple nights deep in the backcountry. Hikers are the first to wander off trail, tromping on fragile wildflowers or sensitive tundra. Hikers trash trails just like all user groups do. Hikers widen trails because they don't want to step in the mud, or walk through a creek. Personally, when I hike, I love to go off trail and explore areas that see little human use - unlike bikes, I will travel across tundra, bushwack through the forest. My best chance of seeing wildlife is off a trail, on foot. Bikes can't do that.
    This argument that mountain bikes can go farther (Mr. Bull) is true, but also not true. If a trail is steep or technical they travel about the same distance as a hiker. And if a bike is going to ride deeper into the backcountry it is usually limited to a single day unlike hikers who can spend multiple days deep in the backcountry. A very long ride for your average mountain biker is about ten miles in one direction and that means ten miles back to the car. Hikers can travel fifteen miles in one direction, easily in one day and then spend the night, and go further the next.
    The bottom line is the older hiking crowd controls the voice of the lobbyists in this argument. It is truly sad. Mountain Bikers are conservationists as much, if not more, than hikers, at least where I live this is the case. For hikers to keep kicking mountain bikes off of their trails is extremely selfish. Mountain Bikers are now relegated to share trails with the motorized crowd and yet we're kicked off of those trails as well because they are too trashed to ride without a motor.
    Lastly, most of the trails in these wild areas are off limits to bikes because they are too technical to ride. Mountain Bikers are not asking for much. If these areas were left open to bikes, hikers would still enjoy the majority of all trails in the west to themselves.

  • Forest Service Drawing Line On Mountain Bikers in Potential Wilderness, National Park Service Agrees   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Mountain bikes should stay off Wilderness Areas but they certainly have a place in the NPS. The wording of "mechanical" in 1964 likely went beyond "motorized", contrary to IMBA's assertion. Perhaps this was not a direct exclusion of bikes, which was likely unforeseen. But other mechanical uses are possible, such as horse & buggy and sleds. However, I'd be interested to know if wheel chairs are also disallowed.

    In any event, mountain biking is a wonderful and healthy way to enjoy the back-country. Their inclusion within appropriate places within the NPS only enriches the overall support of NPS initiatives.