Recent comments

  • Plowing Yosemite's Tioga Road For Summer Traffic   5 years 30 weeks ago


    Just a correction to your choice of words on your 4/25 reply to Frank. Those plows in Yosemite do not KEEP the Tioga Road open - they reopen it in the spring. The road closes every fall after the first significant snowfall - usually in early November. The goal is usually to get the road reopened by Memorial Day, but depending on snowfall, it sometimes happens earlier, sometimes later. Yes, it is a vital east-west link across the Sierra, but Mother Nature has a say in the practicality of a year-round highway.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 30 weeks ago

    There is definitely a lot of misunderstanding of what this plan actually calls for and what the existing reality is as far as cell phone service (and it can depend on your carrier, too). The only really annoying thing to me about this remains the restriction of wi-fi to "historic" buildings that are already serviced by cell phone towers.

    What I am interested in, though, is for people to talk more about the many contradictions about the Yellowstone experience. You drive 3,000 miles to Yellowstone (or 100 in my case), and then suddenly you think you can act as though you are in the middle of nowhere when in fact it takes a lot of technology and support to allow your visit to take place. We are creating something of an illusion, aren't we? So, I don't understand or am at least amused by the ways people get upset on both sides of their vision of the illusion. I mean, "Have the cell towers, but hide them into the landscape." How 21st century Frank Lloyd Wright! Great, I'm for it, but there's an absurdity just lurking in all this, in all these discussions, in all our visits, and there always has been since just before Yellowstone was founded (and I say just before because those "discovery" voyages into the park were really - for most of the participants (I wouldn't have called Truman Everts' experience lost and starving for 40 days exactly the typical tourist experience) - were grand tourist trips, cloaking the reality of a pristine wilderness that's not quite what we imagine.

    We bring ourselves into Yellowstone; I think that's all for the best ... but what would be even better is if we acknowledged that and crafted policy acknowledging it (it's not what you see on the nature shows; it's not Disneyland, either -- it's all that and more). Personally, I'd like to see less of almost everything, but if we are going to have more of some things (like communications tools), I don't want to see unnecessary and pointless restrictions in implementing them toward a non-existent, fanciful ideal (like protecting the historical character of the Old Faithful Inn ... give me a break; that's been long and continually compromised and misses the whole point of the place).

    Jim Macdonald
    The Magic of Yellowstone
    Yellowstone Newspaper
    Jim's Eclectic World

  • Upon Further Review: A Cat on a Leash   5 years 30 weeks ago

    We've been owned by cats for many years and have come to understand that getting a cat to walk on a leash is one of the more difficult tasks in life. There are compensations, though. I recall reading an article back in the 1980s about a woman who was walking her cat on a leash when an unleashed dog lunged at the cat. Thinking quickly, the woman swung the cat up into the air by its leash and whirled it around and round, keeping it out of the reach of the dog until help arrived. Cool.

  • Electronic Technology in National Park Backcountry: Good or Bad?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Ah, for the good ole days of just topo maps and a compass. It requires you to be more alert to your surroundings. There is always a sense of uncertainty that adds spice to the trip. I once bought a GPS that mounted to the handlebar of my bike. It showed a realtime display of my position, route, speed, time in route, vertical profile, elevation, etc. I used it for about a year, including a cycling trip in Utah. Then I took it off. It told me more than I really wanted to know. It made it too easy to become mentally lazy and a bit complacent. Becoming overly dependent on high tech electronics comes with a price, and it isn't always money.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 30 weeks ago

    You know what the great thing is? There is no cell phone service or internet connection at Norris Juntion. Nor is there power at the campfire circle. The rangers actually have to engage the visitors without power points or slide shows. It's great. Last summer, one of the seasonal naturalists there was a concert violinist. He brougt his instrument to his talk, one concentrating on the history of the park. Every once in awhile, he would say something like "the military was here. They always had a fiddler." Then he played a fiddle tune. Or, "the park employees put on evening programs. These are the songs they would have played." The people were captivated. I have seen scores of evening programs. This was one of the most unique I have seen.

    Rick Smith

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 30 weeks ago

    This is not a ban. They simply are not going to go out of their way to make cell phone service available. Such as it should be. How is it that millions of people have safely visited Yellowstone over the past 130 years without cell phone service? The last thing Yellowstone needs is cell towers all over the place and people yaking on phones. My nephew visited from California a couple of years ago, and all I remember was him on his phone constantly talking to work. Supposed to be on vacation! People like that should be happy that there are still a few places where they have an excuse: "Hey, I didn't have any service!!"
    As it is (and will apparently continue to be) cell service IS available in a lot of areas: I get service in Mammoth, from Mammath to Blacktail, Tower Junction to Slough Creek, Pepple Creek to Cook City; Mammoth about half way to Norris, about halfway to Canyon to Canyon; parts of Hayden Valley, quite a bit around the Lake, all around Old Faithful, Grant Villiage to the Tetons (with some dropouts and dead areas, and the entire West Entrance road. I have called my wife while hiking in Pelican Valley, Hayden Valley, Snow Pass, The Yellowstone River Trail, Avalanche Peak, Trout Lake and a few other back country spots. All of this using a six year old TracPhone. The Park Service has absolutely made the right decision here.

  • Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi   5 years 30 weeks ago

    There are a lot of comments that imply the cell phone is a recreational device; however, I see them as communications devices. They allow you to reach someone, and be reached, whenever necessary. For example, if my car breaks down somewhere in the park I would like to be able to call for help. If I have a heart attack I'd like my wife to be able to call 911 right then. If my daughter has to go to the hospital at home I'd like to know about it then, not when I get back to civilization.

    When we first stated having cell phones there was a problem with people talking in movie theaters but I don't remember that problem in quite a while.

    I would like to see cell phones work everywhere possible, but, maybe, have signs requesting they be used for emergencies only. It might take some time, like it did in the movie theaters, but eventually most people would get the message. If people had to talk on their cell phone they could do it in their hotel room or the more commercial areas.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    No, the chains don't make it dangerous but i see what you mean. I also did the hike without the chains and had no problem, but it does help

  • Electronic Technology in National Park Backcountry: Good or Bad?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I recently got a Spot and love it. I took a trip to the canyons of Utah and used a combination of both OK messages and the tracking feature to plot my journeys through the different areas. My friends and family enjoyed being able to see where we were at any given time and I was able to look at it later and see exactly where I camped and stopped. I also like knowing the 911 feature is there, although luckily I haven't had a chance to test it out yet :-)

  • Electronic Technology in National Park Backcountry: Good or Bad?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I think the use of electronics is a great idea if it will cut down on the SAR responses. With more and more people getting out in the backcountry it's inevietable many will become lost if required to rely on a map and comapss. Most younger folks are tech savy and can easily learn the use of GPS units. I doubt many of them will take the time to become competent with a map and compass. When I studied math in school I used a slide rule, I think we would all prefer a calculator. The times thay are a changin.........

  • Big Rock Candy Mountain?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Great pic, Kurt. It puts to shame the one I took at this same spot back in January.

  • Should Anything Be Done With Angel's Landing?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I didn't find the hike that scary. This is one of those things that if you feel uncomfortable then stop and don't go any further. Why do you think half of the people stop at Scouts Lookout? It is because they know their own limitations. Some activities have more risk than others. Frankly, this is one of my all time favorite hikes. And yes, The Narrows right around the corner are just as great and just as risky. The risk of flash flooding is certainly a possiblity.

  • Might The Obama Administration be More Invested in Everglades Restoration Than Its Predecessor?   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I'm with you Chris. What a pleasure to see officials actually attempting to fulfill the missions for which their agencies were created, rather than thwarting them for the sake of business interests. What a pleasure to see an administration focused on the future of this world, rather than on the profits of today.

  • NRA Appeals Ruling Blocking Concealed Carry in National Parks   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I believe that our National parks are the greatest resource in America. I am also a gun owner and support concealed carry in general. But with regard to this issue, it is important to look at the MISSION of the parks and the initial and longstanding reason for the the ban on LOADED guns in parks.
    The mission of the Park Service is:
    "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the WILDLIFE therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
    The point of the loaded gun ban was to protect wildlife, and just because you and I wouldn't take pot shots at critters doesn't mean that it won't happen. It already happens all the time. Crime rates against park visitors are exceptionally low, and violence in National Parks is generally very low except along our southern border. However, NPS rangers are frequently assaulted because they are outnumbered. There is also the fact that many people like to use National Parks as their own peaceful place to kill themselves.
    So while I can see the value in the strategic victroy for the NRA, and I can see why people think they should be able to carry "in the woods", I think that the longstanding law works quite well the way it is.
    p.s. I wish my fellow second amendment supporters would be as supportive of conservation of wildlife and protection of public lands... TRoosevelt would be ashamed.

  • Plowing Yosemite's Tioga Road For Summer Traffic   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Thanks for the links!
    Have a planned backpack for a week or so along the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne beginning June 21st.
    The North Cascades Highway (access to the national park) here in Washington is now open!
    Here is a link with the pictures.
    Time to give the snowshoes a spring workout!

  • Plowing Yosemite's Tioga Road For Summer Traffic   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Wish I had the RAM & connection speed to watch the video. The machine in the still photo is a rotary snowplow, probably made by Idaho-Norland and not Caterpillar. Frank C's point about pollution is doubly valid, however. Most rotaries have two large diesels, one to spin the auger and one to move the truck. They're also very costly to maintain in these budgetary hard times. Blown and leaking hydraulic lines are common and the expensive auger blade can be easily damaged by hidden rocks in the snow. I recall crossing the just opened gravel one-lane Tioga road on a family vacation one August back in the 50's. I'll bet they let most of it just melt out then and Yosemite Park somehow survived.

    Here at Mt. Rainier, the NPS is busily clearing the Paradise Valley Road, with snowbanks almost twice as high as those shown in the Yosemite photo. Bulldozers working in tandem with the rotaries push much of the snow over the downhill side, resulting in hundreds of snapped off trees. This expense and damage is to establish a three-mile loop from the already accessible Paradise area.

  • Recovery Funds for National Parks Address Everything From Wastewater Plants to Monuments   5 years 31 weeks ago

    That looks like an impressive amount of funding! I hope that it works out and we can see the good that it can do.

  • What Not to Do with an Old Cannonball   5 years 31 weeks ago

    That is a good time to follow the better safe than sorry rule. There is no way that I'd be that curious!

  • National Parks Provided Dramatic Backdrops for a Famous Marine Corps Commercial   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Hmmm. Good point. I am chastened. I have bookmarked this page and look forward to the complete solution of this puzzle!

  • National Parks Provided Dramatic Backdrops for a Famous Marine Corps Commercial   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Bruce: By "cheating," I assume you mean that you can use the info provided at the Marine Corps website where you can view the extended commercial. Go ahead and use that info all you like. The question is whether you can use it wisely. :o)

  • National Parks Provided Dramatic Backdrops for a Famous Marine Corps Commercial   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Well, you got four of the six NPS units correct, Omar, and that's not too bad. Want to take a crack at the "nearly visible" one?

  • National Parks Provided Dramatic Backdrops for a Famous Marine Corps Commercial   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Ha! Signed on as a new member, and likely to confuse things by posting this ahead of my comment on this story posted as a non-member. No matter. This is much easier and I am glad that I joined this community.

    [Here is the other comment Bruce referenced]

    That is an incredible video. I am not a Marine, but I am proud of them.

    By the way, I will not reveal the possibility of easy cheating in your little contest. Nope, not me!

  • National Parks Provided Dramatic Backdrops for a Famous Marine Corps Commercial   5 years 31 weeks ago

    I count 6 parks:
    ---Jefferson National Expansion Park (ARCH)
    ---Golden Gate National Recreation Area
    ---Grand Canyon National Park
    ---Rocky Mountains National Park
    ---Independence National Historic Park
    ---Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Hoover Dam)
    Also some of it was filmed at:
    ---New York City Broadway and Times Square
    --- Point Judith Light, Narragansett, RI
    ---National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, VA
    Semper Fi

  • Plowing Yosemite's Tioga Road For Summer Traffic   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Frank, you make some valid points here about the exhaust end of the process, but it amounts to implying that, since park maintenance and repair activities cannot be accomplished without adversely impacting the environment, they ought not be done. Or do you consider keeping Tioga Road open a non-essential activity? If that's the case, you need to consider the outrage that would result if the NPS were to fail to keep open the only east-west road through the park. I'm sitting here trying to image a horde of laborers hand-shoveling that snow off the road. I can't quite get my mind wrapped around that one.

  • Plowing Yosemite's Tioga Road For Summer Traffic   5 years 31 weeks ago

    How much CO2 and other noxious pollutants does this Caterpillar and those like it belch into the pristine park air of Yosemite, Glacier, and Crater Lake? How many decibels assail the parks' solitude? (I'm sure it's more than a tourist talking on a cell phone at the Grant Tree.) How much oil does a Caterpillar consume and leak? How can the NPS warn about melting glaciers while using CATs to clear the roads in the same park as the melting glaciers?

    And NPT readers want to ban cell phones in national parks.

    NPT readers believe WalMart and Verison are the devil incarnate.

    How about Caterpillar, Inc.?

    Caterpillar, Inc. obbied on bill S.148, a bill to establish the Paterson Great Falls National Park in the State of New Jersey.

    Caterpilliar, Inc. also lobbied on the Iraq Supplemental Spending bill and the Defense Appropriations Bill, which provides for construction equipment and civil engineering support equipment.

    Where's the outrage?