Recent comments

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Earlier this year, my traveling companions and I had an experience reminiscent of the stranding that led to this youngster's tragic death. While driving north out of Trona late in the afternoon we spotted a family car (not an SUV) stuck on a dirt "road" not far off the main highway. A mother had taken her son out for some driving practice, and the youngster had managed to high-center the darn thing in the ruts. There was no way they were going to get that car moving again without help. We stopped and rendered assistance, finally leaving the youngster with the car and driving the mom back to Trona so she could call for a tow (there's no such thing as cell phone service in that bleak area). Everything turned out fine. In fact, the car was back on the main highway by the time we passed it again headed for Death Valley. Six months later, and not more than ten miles away, a mother and her son would have a similar stranding with a very different outcome.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Frank,

    BFC's operation is really small in the summer; I don't think they can arrange a meeting. I'm planning on going and at the very least handing out newsletters and information about what Obama could do when he's here. In any event, I'm going to BFC for a two day workshop this week, and I'm sure we'll come up with a plan of action then. Personally, I don't think Obama is reachable, but the woefully under-informed people here in the valley at least could use a reminder that the federal government plays a key role in this.

    Obama's whirlwind visit to these parks won't possibly give them much insight into anything, especially the raw experience of the place. It is unfortunate that they won't be spending more time; however, maybe the magic will hit he and his family enough that they will itch to come back and then become better informed.

    It's a little silly, though, to go to Yellowstone during a free weekend to encourage more visitation; Yellowstone has record visitation this summer - the July numbers showed an 11% increase! (not that people like us don't know how to beat the crowds - had a very quiet time in the Bechler region this week and into Idaho; too bad it was spoiled by the reminder of the politics by seeing cattle inside the national park boundary!)

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

  • Studies Show Summer Traffic in Yellowstone National Park Not As Polluting As Snowmobiles in Winter   5 years 33 weeks ago

    West Yellowstone in the winter is about as foul as it gets as far as air quality; however, it should be noted that I don't think most of those snowmobiles are going into the park these days.

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

  • Studies Show Summer Traffic in Yellowstone National Park Not As Polluting As Snowmobiles in Winter   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Interesting observations, Frank. Winter calm in Yellowstone is commonly associated with temperature inversions (cold air trapped at surface by warmer layer of air aloft; this is the opposite of the normal). As you've pointed out,
    pollution "hangs like a blanket" and gets more and more concentrated because there's no breeze to promote mixing. Even though sound travels more slowly in the cold air of winter than in warm air of summer, you can often hear noises from further away during the winter calms because there are fewer competing background noises. As for California, air pollution in the LA Basin is usually worst in summer when cooler air moving in from the ocean is trapped beneath warmer air subsiding from aloft, and with the surrounding mountains serving to further trap the witch's brew of chemicals. Winter brings windier weather (and rain), so air pollution is less pronounced. City air pollution (photochemical smog) typically has a high concentration of nitrous oxides and related chemicals that make the air look brown-colored and gives it a recognizable smell. Fuel mixtures are seasonally adjusted because fuels vaporize more readily in hot summer conditions (especially where temps climb above the high 90s and into the 100s). Fall and winter gas is generally cheaper to produce than summer gas. It gets more complicated if you have to take altitude into consideration.

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Blue silence, O lake of silent blue, -
    within your sapphired deeps the gods have fought
    titanic battles. Now an azured peace
    broods over your bestudded, jewelled breasts;
    a peace that only those can know who cease
    to struggle after cataclysmic waves
    engulf their burning, cratered hearts. The rush
    of molten lava filled the fissures where
    the crush of titans wracked your battle-tortured soul.
    Yet here, today, beneath cerulean, nimbused sky,
    you lie so still in torquoised dreams, you lure
    my mind to rest upon your sculptured loveliness
    and see your deep serenity become my constant goal.
    --- Crater Lake, Wesley La Violette, Nature Notes, Vol. 6, No. 4, Sep. 1933

    Regular helicopter flights over Crater Lake National Park would be one more step away from the feelings the author expressed in this poem. Thanks so much for the posting Owen and for your positive outlook, encouragement and hard work.

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Educating people is NEVER a lost cause!

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 33 weeks ago

    It sounds like this is a family vacation. I don't imagine his daughters would be all that happy if they finally have him to themselves, then someone tries to butt in to voice their agenda, whether for or against whatever. This is a strictly non partisan remark here, so don't jump on what I said as being political. This is from a grandmother's perspective on their mini-vacation.

  • Sixteen Boaters Safe After Two Accidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Yes we do have wind warning signs. But we also serve ice cold beer at the Marina.

  • Studies Show Summer Traffic in Yellowstone National Park Not As Polluting As Snowmobiles in Winter   5 years 33 weeks ago

    All I know is that when I snowshoe in the interior of the park in the winter anywhere near roads, I smell exhaust. When a bunch of snow machines go by I hear them long after they have passed, even though they don't seem that loud while they are passing. Maybe it has to do with the fact that everything is so quiet, so clean otherwise. There is something about winter weather that seems to make pollution hang like a blanket, whereby in the summer it seems to dissipate. I have friends in California who tell me that they actually change the fuel mixture in the winter because air pollution tends to be worse at that time of year with fewer pollutants.

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    This story makes me sad, but at the same time I need to comment on this "abject ignorance of the natural world." We search for all sorts of ways to prevent people from hurting themselves and others, when the ultimate problem boils down to a single word: "ignorance." That is a perpetual part of the human existence; it's just a matter of how many humans fall into that category in any particular era.

    We live in a society and a time when common sense and intelligence is not as highly prized as it used to be, and there is a corresponding casualty rate. This includes many of the stories that I read here and surely covers other situations like drinking and driving, taking drugs, playing with guns, ridiculous risks in the name of fun, what have you. Rules, laws, procedures, precautions, well, those things are for nerds. Media has taught "me" that "I" know everything, that bad stuff happens to other people, that I'm a loser if I don't have the ultimate experiences with the least amount of effort.

    Hmmm. I would have said to her, "You don't drive into the desert without notifying somebody where you are going and without taking along what's necessary to survive should something bad happen." Perhaps she would have responded, "Ah, don't be such a nerd. What's gonna happen?"

    Unfortunate incidents like this will always happen, no matter how great our GPS devices become, should those even be remembered to be taken along for the ride.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 33 weeks ago

    It would be nice if President Obama could take some time while here to educate himself about the trajedy that has befallen our last truly wild and genetically pure bison herd. I wonder if the BFC has any plans to attempt to meet with him either in Bozeman or Yellowstone?

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    tragic, indeed. But, i do have lots of questions. As should the authorities.
    A gps is satelite, correct? why didn't she start to walk out using that very high tech device? One child, 11, dies before the dog? um, who got the water first the dog?
    It just seems a little unusual, to me. I've been out there and yes it is XTREME! and yes, education is the key! But, in 5 days i think i would have ben able to save my son!!!!

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Media reports have it that the 28-year old mother is a nurse. It's kind of perplexing to think that an experienced health care professional would be unable to recognize the lethal risks she was taking with the three lives in that car. Now this poor woman will be haunted every day for the rest of her life.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Welcome Mr. President Obama: Enjoy the spectacular view of the Grand Canyon in it's entire glory from sunrise till sunset. It is truly god spell in all it's glory and color. Enjoy with peace and solitude!

  • Sixteen Boaters Safe After Two Accidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area   5 years 33 weeks ago

    These people were a little on the stupid side being out there in that kind of wind.
    Don't the marinas have wind warning flags the same as we do in Maine ??????

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    My sincere condolences to the mother on her terrible loss. If everyone will recall, Traveler ran the following story on June 9, 2008:
    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/06/gps-unit-leads-couple-trouble-near-glen-canyon-national-recreation-area.
    At that time, I commented that I almost had the same situation happen to me, except I did look over my route to make sure I was not going to get into trouble.

    One of the ways this can be fixed is for the GPS manufacturers and programmers to stop letting their programs use primitive roads as a viable option. As an example, in order to go from Escalante to Big Water, both my GPS and Microsoft's Streets and Trips wanted to send us down the Missing Canyon Road (Smoky Mountain Rd), BLM road 300. On the BLM map, this road is marked as a ATV road. I did research the road, as well as look at it on Google Maps, and saw that it was not a road we wanted to go down. And this was just one of serveral examples.

    The routing programmers need to classify these kinds of roads as primitive/4wd roads and not use them in routing unless the user has specifically requested primitve roads as an option.

    I did contact Garmin, my GPS company, about the problem, but so far, nothing has happened. GPS's are wonderful devices; My wife and I have traveled all over the US with one, but I never follow it blindly, especially in rugged areas.

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Kirby -

    Worthy questions, and ones that concern park personnel everywhere. It's clear there are no easy answers.

    I run these stories on the Traveler in hopes someone will read about such incidents and learn from the experience on a future trip of their own. I realize most of our readers are experienced in outdoor safety, but some are not.

    Another story posted today mentions a group of boaters that survived an accident at Lake Mead because they were wearing life jackets. Sometimes, people do act prudently.

  • Heat Claims the Life of Boy Stranded for Five Days in Isolated Area of Death Valley National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Well, we can call this a tragedy, and it certainly is. We can call this woman woefully ignorant of the consequences of her actions, and she certainly is. Rather than wasting time belaboring those facts, I will question how we fix this. How do we educate a public about the perils of wandering ill-prepared into nature? Riding an inflatable swimming pool raft down the snake river. Back-roading in Death Valley in the summer without maps or adequate provisions. Strolling up to a bison for a photo op. Pick your incident, the root cause is the same: abject ignorance of the natural world.

    I don't have an answer. I just feel that the energy spent tapping the sympathy well over incidents like this would be better spent preventing the next one. But then I walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke in front of every public building and figure educating people about safety and consequences is a lost cause.

  • Sixteen Boaters Safe After Two Accidents at Lake Mead National Recreation Area   5 years 33 weeks ago

    We all need to thank God that we have people like these rescue teams that put their lives on the line to help save others. Is sure is a wonderful thing they do and may God and His angels be with them, always!

  • Building with Notorious History in Death Valley National Park Burns in Mysterious Fire   5 years 33 weeks ago

    The Barker Ranch should be preserved for its historical value.

    It was originally built in the late 1930's by a retired police office, whose goal
    of finding gold never really worked out.

    It sure seems like a great little vacation home for those who owned the
    property afterwards.

    The Barker Ranch, like the Geologist Cabin, and a few other buildings in the
    Southwest Corner of Death Valley National Park have existed for decades as
    shelters for visitors to use. They have been places where in an emergency,
    one could find water, shelter, and non-perishable food that has been donated
    by previous visitors.

    This is the culture of "desert people."

    This is a culture where people do look out for one another. If one's vehicle is broken down,
    you help them.

    If people don't live like that...guess what might happen if your vehicle breaks down.

    As for Manson, he hated what he called "desert people." He hated people in nearby towns.

    He was a thief, troublemaker, and did everything he could to stand out like a sore thumb.
    (guess who he was caught)

    The Barker Ranch should be preserved.

    The Barker Ranch is a historical place connected with the most vile crimes in US history, but
    one with an interest in history, I believe historical sites should be preserved for future generations.

    I believe the preservation of the Barker Ranch makes a statement.

    This statement is that despite the evil of Manson and his goons, this is still a beautiful place.
    The Barker Ranch is located in a beautiful little canyon, one that is full of life.

    Preservation of the Barker Ranch, and its reclaiming by "Desert People," (prospectors, 4wd enthusiasts,
    gutsy backpackers for example) is one way to punish Manson who once whined that "I'm not fit to live
    in your desert!"

    Right, "Charlie." I don't think Manson is fit to live anywhere, but when I camped out where his
    buggys once roared, the only noise I heard was birds chirping.

  • Judge Mulling Request To Address Yellowstone National Park's Wandering Bison   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Two bits of news ... I was away in the Bechler region of Yellowstone the last couple days and am only now just seeing this ...

    Buffalo Field Campaign has reported a buffalo from Yellowstone killed in Idaho this week by an APHIS employee.

    Secondly, as I said, I was in the SW corner of the park, and on my way to a hike along the Western Boundary Trail in Idaho - which begins at the Bechler Ranger Station, I saw three cows (cattle) inside the park boundaries between the boundary and the ranger station. I don't recall any news about them, how they were hazed out of the park, or shipped to slaughter. I doubt a lot of tourists realize that cows can wander into Yellowstone National Park, but buffalo cannot go to cowless areas of Montana (or anywhere in Idaho).

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

  • Reader Participation Day: Do You Believe There Should Be Overflight Tours of National Parks?   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Noise from the helicopters would shatter the peaceful beauty of Oregon's only national park

    Owen, you worked at Crater Lake, right? Did we work at the same park? Do you honestly believe the Waragonian's line about "peaceful" beauty? Did you miss my last post with the pictures of noisy road and Rim Village construction? How about the photos of the noisy boat tours?

    I don't want any extra noise at Crater Lake any more than the next person, but for Pete's sake, can we please stop repeating the myth that Crater Lake is pristine and serene? That's a big, warm load of BS.

    The "peaceful beauty" is shattered everyday by thousands of cars, several boats, dump trucks, submarines, research boats, tour boats; my god I don't have the energy to repeat the HUGE list of things that have been shattering Crater Lake's mythical peace for the last century.

    The myth must stop.

  • The First Family Plans to Visit Two Western National Parks Next Weekend   5 years 33 weeks ago

    Mr. President, I hope you and your family have a great visit. It would be nice if you could be accompanied by your nominee, Jon Jarvis, for the office of the NPS director.

  • Free Weekends AND Free Tours At Mammoth Cave National Park   5 years 33 weeks ago

    The cave is a great attraction, but the park itself is an awesome and magnificent little gem. I of course have been on more than one cave tour, but its the park I love so dearly.

  • Snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Environmental Extremists in the Obama Administration   5 years 33 weeks ago

    I am a die hard environmentalist, a Life member of the Sierra Club, and a generous contributor to environmental causes. I also own snowmobiles. I have snowmobiled in Yellowstone and it is an incredible experience. It should be on everyone's "bucket list". I can tell you that I did not see any indication that anyone was going off into the back country and everyone was very respectful any wildlife they encountered. There are park rangers on snowmobiles with radar guns strictly enforcing the speed limits and ticketing anyone who drove outside of the lines. I was given a stern warning for parking with one of my front skis on top of the berm.
    We rode the entire loop from West Yellowstone, where 10 of us rented machines, in one long
    8+ hour day. It was great to be able to stop where and when we wanted to, as opposed to being in a snow coach.
    I would not want to deny this experience to anyone who wished to enjoy it. I am for limiting the number of
    snowmobiles that can enter per day, and requiring that they be four stroke rather than two stroke machines.
    They are much quieter and way less polluting.
    There are limits on the number of permits to raft the Colorado River, another thing that should be on your bucket list, and limits to the number of back country permits issued in many parks. I think that with sensible regulation we can all enjoy and preserve our National Treasures for many years to come.