Recent comments

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Whoa, Anon. Referring to an entire mountain as a peak is a practice as common as dirt. If you really want to avoid confusion when referring to the very top of the mountain, use the word summit.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    "Two of the kids stopped to take a rest, the slide occurred. One of the kids died on the peak, another little girl was injured. And then the last child was fine.”
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Kudo's to park Superintendent Darlene Koontz for adding confusion to a story that should be pretty straightforward. How in the blazes could the little boy have died of a rock slide if he was "on the peak"? He was obviously somewhere on the trail between the peak and the parking lot for that to have happened.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    One sentence is essential in your article: the mountain is barren and there is no vegetation to stabilize the flanks. I climbed Lassen Peak last year and I noticed some huge breadcrust bombs above the trail to the summit. Heavy rains or a slight earthquake may destabilize them. One should not forget Lassen is an active volcano (The last eruption occurred between 1914 and 1917). Besides, park authorities are right to ask hikers to keep to the footpath. Taking short cuts contributes to cause landslides that can become tragic.

  • 9-Year-Old Killed By Rock Slide at Lassen Volcanic National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    i am very saddened to hear this news. my brother in law and i just hiked this trail about five days ago. there were two snow fields we crossed which looked a touch treacherous, but otherwise, it was smooth sailing for us. i am very sorry for the family.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    This dosen't have much to due with the terrible idea of scenic flights at any Park, but I have to agree with Frank C. about monopoly concessions. In addition to the tiny fees paid to the government, often the facilities are property of the NPS, which picks up most of the maintenance tab. The infrequent renewals tend to breed overly cosy concession managers and Park managers, a very powerful bloc in planning & policy affecting both the visitor experience and the economy of rural gateway communities.

    A couple examples from Mount Rainier: The Paradise mass transit system leaves from one concessionaire and delivers you to another, while bypassing most local businesses. Clients of lodging and climbing concessions had access during the six-month 'flood' closure of 2007, while the public was totally excluded, even from hiking across the boundary.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    How in the hell can we relegate illegal mountain biking in the national parks when we can't even curtail illegal wildlife poaching, or stop drug pushers from instilling meth labs and from growing marijuana. We need more crises intervention across the board to stop this illegal activity. Were ----ing the parks big time folks. Say, Ray and Random Walker...your my pack backing buddies in spirit. Love your mountain zest for life.

    [This comment was edited to remove an offensive remark]

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Frank and Anonymous,

    Did you guys miss the memo on condescension?

    Kurt, I did not get a memo on condescension, but I did get the one on personal attacks and have been avoiding those. I assure you that any condescension readers might take from my words are read into them by the reader, and I am endeavoring to write in neutral tones.

    As for putting concession contracts up for bid, that introduces the appearance of competition, but the government remains a middleman, and for periods as long as decades, all other competition is excluded by law from entering the market.

  • Are Our National Parks No Longer for the People?   5 years 26 weeks ago


    "does the level of national park visitation even matter? Shouldn't it suffice that we protect these unique places"

    I couldn't agree more.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Frank and Anonymous,

    Did you guys miss the memo on condescension?

    Beyond that, Frank, I'd disagree with your perception of Xanterra as a government-granted monopoly. As your own source notes, such a monopoly is created when "a government grants exclusive privilege to a private individual or firm to be the sole provider of a good or service; potential competitors are excluded from the market by law, regulation, or other mechanisms of government enforcement.(my emphasis)."

    As the recent post out of Bryce Canyon clearly illustrates, concession contracts are put up for competitive bid. In that most recent case, Xanterra lost its contract to Forever Resorts, a development that runs counter to your contention.

  • Sections of Pacific Crest Trail Poached by Mountain Bikers; Could Problems Arise in National Parks?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Reading all the posts prior to mine, the PCT was established for hikers and equestrians. If mountainbike people and dirtbike people want to ride a trail, go through the process and channels and get one established. The existing PCT does see bike and off-road vehicle traffic, mostly dirtbikes that tear up the trail. Living near the trail I see them all the time. The BLM, forest service and PCT association do not have the manpower to patrol or police the usage, nor do they have enough volunteers to repair the damage done by illegal users. So buying a special permit to allow mountainbikers to ride it will not cover that deficit for manpower and repairs. It just does not exist. The mentality of mtnbike riders in some of these posts is childish, you're going to ride it anyway since you haven't been caught and are aware there is little to no enforcement. If I rode in your front yard against your wishes and clearly against the law without your permission I would get a citatioin by the local police, there are plenty of those around in cities. Get some sense.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Xanterra: the private sector at work.

    Anonymous, you missed the part where I described Xanterra as a government-granted monopoly. Xanterra is in no, way, shape or form part of the "private sector". Your entire response after that false assertion is ridden with logical fallacies, so I will not address it other than what I've already mentioned.

    Thank you, and have a good day.

  • Jon Jarvis Questioned During His Confirmation Hearing On Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago


    When this topic comes up, the argument that I hear most often is that according to our mission statement we are to also provide recreational opportunities. I always remind people that this was written in 1916 when recreational opportunities meant hiking, skiing, swimming, etc. Motorized recreation was not even a thought and even cars were believed to be a passing craze.

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Captured in Stone   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Or, _very_ similar artwork can be found in Devil's Lane in the Needles District. Again, bring lots of water: its 5-6 miles from the end of the "road" at Elephant Hill. I rode past Elephant Hill once in an NPS Bronco driven by a _very_ skilled 4'10" technician: I know I'll never attempt to drive that hill.

    Or, near sunset, grab a good beer, drive 279 toward Potash from the tailings pile across from the entrance to Arches, pull over along the river, and you can see some not quite as nice art (plus recent "additions").

    Craig Childs knows where even better art is located, but he's not saying...

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Xanterra: the private sector at work. If it were up to Libertarians there would either be 5000 tour operators at Crater Lake or it would be a private reserve for the hyper-rich. But being the "best idea America ever had" it naturally follows that Libertarians don't like parks.

    I suppose I can quit reading these threads since the majority of them end up as soapboxes for proselytizers of the demonstrably false Libertarian quasi-religion. Whether it's the fault of the True BeLIEvers or of the moderators (who should know by now that said True Believers have no self-control) I won't presume to say. Just had to get it off my chest.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park Trail?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Mountain biking on the Collier Ridge Loop in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area!

    Trail Description from the park's website:

    Beginning from the Bandy Creek Visitor Center the trail starts and finishes on the West Bandy Creek Road.
    1.1 miles after leaving the Visitor Center the single track begins, turning left off West Bandy Creek Road. Look for and follow the marker posts.
    The single track section features creek crossings, jumps, sandstone climbs and drops, short slalom sections through trees and fast downhill runs.
    1.8 miles after leaving West Bandy Creek Road the trail splits offering riders the choice of a novice or advanced section.
    If you are not an advanced rider continue straight to Hwy 297, turn right and ride single file near the white line. Look for the marker to turn right back onto the single track.
    The advanced ride turns right coming immediately to a sandstone ledge with a steep drop. Beyond this the trail features numerous steep climbs and drops with some sharp turns and log crossings.
    Once the two sections rejoin either continue west along Hwy 297 and take the West Bandy Trail (see below) or remain on the Collier Ridge Trail for another 2.3 miles back to the West Bandy Creek Road. Turn right and return to the Visitor Center.

    Total novice ride is 8.0 miles with 3.6 miles of gravel/paved road and 4.4 miles of single track.

    Total advanced ride is 7.7 miles with 2.2 miles of gravel road and 5.5 miles of single track.

  • By the Numbers: Death Valley Weather   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Your assumptions are right on the mark, Kirby. Annual physioclimatic stress (total annual mount of heat stress plus cold stress) can be calculated for any location if you've got the requisite weather data (daily temperature, humidity, windspeed, and sunshine conditions). Once you've done the calculations for hundreds of weather stations, it's a simple matter to create maps showing the distribution of physioclimatic stress. Geographer Werner Terjung was doing this back in the 1960s. I can dredge up some of his "comfort climates" maps of the U.S. if you're really interested.

    BTW, I wrote my masters thesis in human physiological climatology (a domain of biometeorology) using Terjung's nomograms. It was entitled "The Comfort Climates of Grand Rapids, Michigan: A Dynamic Approach." It's available on microfilm, though I can't imagine why anyone would want to read the damn thing.

  • By the Numbers: Death Valley Weather   5 years 26 weeks ago

    @ RangerLady: The Korean visitor you mentioned, a 52-year old woman, was one of six South Korean nationals who ran afoul of heat stress problems last Sunday afternoon while walking in Death Valley's Mesquite Dunes (near Stove Pipe Wells). It was 123 degrees at the time, and ground temperatures were closer to 140 degrees.

  • Jon Jarvis Questioned During His Confirmation Hearing On Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Lucia,

    I totally agree ! There are literally millions of acres of "piblic" land where these activities are allowed...........can't we and our beloved wildlife have a few places without snowmobiles, off road vehicles, watercraft, armed visitors, etc ?

  • National Park Quiz 65: Dunes   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I haven't tried that trail yet, Kevin, but I'll sure put it on my to-list for my next visit.

  • First Greenpeace, Now Motorcyclists Drawing A Bead On Mount Rushmore National Memorial   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Motorcycles are loud and disrupting but I mostly fear for the lives of the bikers. Motorcycles are dangerous even if you happen to be an excellent driver. If there is some other person who can't drive out there and they happen to hit a biker, there is nothing between that person and the front end of a SUV or other vehicle. Although I really hate motorcycles, I do hope that all the bikers come out of this ok as with all the law enforcement. I know every year there happen to be some major issues between biker gangs.

    I do want to say one redeeming thing about the Hell's Angels. When the DC Sniper attacks were occuring, the HA volunteered to pump gas for people who were too scared to get out of their cars.

    Ranger Holly
    http://web.me.com/hollyberry

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    The multinational, government-granted monopoly Xanterra charges up to $37 a person for a trip to Wizard Island. Of that $37, maybe $2 goes to support the national park.

    More like $1.11

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    "I can't predict the final outcome on this, but I do believe it would be our responsibility to ensure that the visitor experience and ultimate quiet that you find at Crater Lake is preserved," said Mr. Jarvis.

    The "ultimate quiet" at Crater Lake? Either Jarvis has never visited the park in summer or he is delusional.

    Preservationists lost the battle to preserve Crater Lake's silence a century ago. Joaquin Miller in 1904 wrote in Sunset magazine:

    The plan is now to build, have the government build, a drive around the lake, so that all these points may be considered in a single day from a carriage. And a great hotel is planned! And a railroad must be made to whisk you through the life-and-vigor-giving evergreen forests of Arden. Well, so be it, if you must so mock nature and break this hush and silence of a thousand centuries, but I shall not be here. No hotel or house or road of any sort should ever be built near this Sea of Silence. All our other parks have been surrendered to hotels and railroads. Let us keep this last and best sacred to silence and nature. That which is not worth climbing to see is not worth seeing.

    When I lived and worked at Crater Lake, I found little silence but constantly heard car horns and alarms, boats buzzing around the lake, the drone of fixed-wing aircraft, heavy machinery, snowplows, snowmobiles, Harleys, and the howls and screams of invasive primates echoing through the forest and around the Rim.

    Helicopters are just the latest machine proposed to join the Crater Lake cacophony. The desecration began a century ago after government-granted monopolies lobbied the federal government to build roads and lodges and ushered in the Age of Industrial Tourism that would benefit a select few while irreparably impairing the serenity.

    The Sea of Silence disappeared a century ago. Where has the outrage been?

    Image: Noisy road construction at Crater Lake.
    Image: Noisy construction at Rim Village.
    Image: Noisy boat tours on Crater Lake. The National Park Service allows loud, smelly, boats on Crater Lake; there have been several fuel spills on or around the lake. The multinational, government-granted monopoly Xanterra charges up to $37 a person for a trip to Wizard Island. Of that $37, maybe $2 goes to support the national park.

  • Tour Company Wants to Offer Helicopter Overflights of Crater Lake National Park, But Likely Won't See A Decision Soon   5 years 26 weeks ago

    No! Helicopter noise can be very loud if directly under it. The last think our family wanted to see is a chopper overhead when we had just hiked to the top of Wizard Island.
    1500 feet above the rim road is about the same amount as the top of nearby Mt. Scott is above the rim road. When we got there, we wanted to see the view of the state quarter, not a helicopter at our eye level.
    Crater Lake has the clearest water in the world. I am sure flyovers will do nothing to preserve that status.

  • Park History: Arches National Park   5 years 26 weeks ago

    We were driving through Colorado, took 128 out of 50 and there, few miles down the Colorado river was Arches National Park. Frankly, If we didn't have a mobile internet and google with open panoramino we would have passed but checking the images it was a must see. It took us about another 10-15min from the entrance to reach the parking area, our car overheated the during the steep curly road, but then the arches revealed, it was amazing. It is a must see place, be sure to put it on your adventure map!

  • Reader Participation Day: What's Your Favorite National Park Trail?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    The Congress Trail at Sequoia. Wonderland exists!