Hiking News

DWR suggests hikers leave rattlesnakes alone

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 @ 11:03 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Summer is prime time to encounter rattlesnakes, when you’re hiking or even working in the yard. Most people who have hiked in the mountains were probably closer to a rattlesnake than they knew, thanks to the snake’s camouflage.

Jason Jones, a wildlife biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources, said an encounter with the slithering, venomous reptiles can be frightening, but doesn’t have to be. Jones noted that if you can find a safe place to observe the snake, “you’ll have a chance to observe the behavior of one of the most unique critters in the world.”

“Typically the problem is the person sees (the rattlesnake) and then harasses or tries to kill it, and they are typically the ones who end up with a snake bite,” Jones said.

Most snakes are camouflaged to their surroundings, and when rattlesnakes are out, they are generally trying to find a mate or food. Jones said if a person does encounter a rattlesnake, the best way to avoid being bitten is to give the snake its space.

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Hiker awaiting help for broken leg ends up rescuing his rescuer

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 @ 10:55 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

A hiker stranded by a broken leg in a remote part of California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest acted as a doctor first, and a patient second, when the paramedic who flew in to rescue him last week was struck in the head by a helicopter blade.

Dr. Jeremy Kilburn, an Air Force pulmonologist from Las Vegas, was hiking with a friend in a rugged section of the park near Big Bear Lake, in San Bernardino County, when he broke his leg and injured his ankle, according to the California Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol sent two officers in a medevac to the area.

But when Officer Brian Henderson and paramedic Officer Tony Stanley arrived, the mission took an unexpected turn, one that would require Kilburn – who had served as a trauma surgeon in Afghanistan – to draw on his medical training.

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Girl Scouts team up to tackle the Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 @ 7:19 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

The Girl Scouts of America is marking their 100th year by hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections, making sure that every mile of the more than 2,100-mile trail is covered by at least one Girl Scout.

According to the trip leaders, getting Girl Scouts outdoors has become more of a challenge in recent years – not because of a lack of interest, but because young girls are already overcommitted and adult volunteers are too busy to lead hiking or camping expeditions.

Jennifer Pfister, communications director for Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline, said the idea for a Great Girl Scout Hike started with Roanoke troop leader Barbara Duerk. Duerk had heard about the legendary Mary Sands, or “Mama Boots,” a troop leader who, beginning in 1965, spent 16 years section hiking with 135 different Girl Scouts to complete the entire Appalachian Trail.

Girl Scouts from 25 states have signed up online with their families, friends or troops to hike a portion of the trail, and according to the sign-ups, the entire trail will be hiked – several times.

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Official Launch of New Hiking-Blogs Directory and Resource Site

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 @ 2:33 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Official Launch of New Hiking-Blogs Directory and Resource Site

This week marks the official launch of http://Hiking-Blogs.net, a new Hiking Web Site Directory that contains links to international hiking-blogs, trail associations, gear manufacturers, trail guides, and hiking reference sites.

The basic premise of the Hiking-Blogs Directory is simple – to provide an up-to-date list of hiking-blogs and related hiking sites so readers can easily discover new blogs and know that they are still active.

There’s a very real need for this kind of resource – unfortunately too many blogroll link lists are outdated, containing dead links or links to abandoned hiking blogs that haven’t been updated in years. The problem is rampant in the blog-o-sphere and makes it difficult for readers to discover new hiking blogs that coincide with their interests.

Hiking-Blogs.net takes a very different approach to keeping its links up-to-date. Built on WordPress, it automatically detects when hiking blogs have been abandoned or taken down and flags them for removal from the directory. The Hiking-Blogs.net directory also dynamically updates the home page screenshot of listed blogs or sites whenever they publish a new post or change their site design.

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Now Find a Hike for You by Photo Gallery

Posted by on Jul 8, 2012 @ 2:20 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Now Find a Hike for You by Photo Gallery

In recent weeks I have endeavored to improve the ability for you to find a hike on Meanderthals that is suited to your desires and abilities. It started by creating new categories to differentiate hikes, and let you choose from the results. I separated the hikes by easy, moderate and difficult. Combine that with the tag and category lists down the right sidebar, and locating that special hike is easier than ever. And don’t forget, there’s always keyword search available on the navigation menu at top right.

Today I am announcing another enhancement to the classification and search criteria for the catalog of trail reports found here on Meanderthals. With the Hiking Gallery option on the navigation menu above, you will now be able to choose a hike that appeals to you based on photographs taken at that location. Nothing describes an adventure better than a picture from the scene.

You will be presented with a list of all the trail reports available on Meanderthals sorted from most recent to oldest. Each list item has a photo thumbnail and a brief trail description. If you click on the thumbnail you will see more thumbnails of all the photos in the gallery for that trail. Click each individual thumbnail to see full-size images. If you decide from the photos that this is the hike for you, simply click the trail description link to be taken to the complete trail report. There you will find length, time and elevation info, maps, and my best efforts at describing what you will encounter on the trek.

Coming soon, I further intend to classify trails by the type of scenery you can expect. Do you wish to find hikes with high mountain vistas? Perhaps you are interested in trails with water features, or a quiet stroll through a hardwood or evergreen forest. Maybe you enjoy the seclusion of our country’s designated wilderness areas. Look for that in coming weeks.

I always want your suggestions to help make Meanderthals easier to use, and easier for you to find the hike that is just right for you. So please, use the comments feature below or on the Hiking Gallery pages, or click the Contact option on the navigation menu above.


Historic bridges of Yosemite Valley under siege

Posted by on Jul 7, 2012 @ 5:53 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Perhaps no river crossing in Yosemite Valley has been more photographed than the historic Stoneman Bridge: a single, arching span faced with rough-hewn granite that provides a dramatic foreground to Half Dome, the park’s most iconic natural marvel.

Yet the 205-foot bridge is slated for possible removal under proposed plans for restoring the natural flow of the Merced River. As a federally designated “Wild and Scenic River,” some say its course should be shaped only by nature as it meanders through the valley — and bridge abutments alter that course.

The future of the roughly 80-year-old Stoneman and two other spandrel arch bridges has pitted environmentalists, who want the river to flow freely, against historic preservationists who say these early examples of the rustic park architectural style are too culturally important to destroy.

Called the “Voice of Yosemite” by famed naturalist John Muir, the Merced River flows for 81 miles in the park, from its source 13,000 feet high in the Sierra-Nevada wilderness to its 317-foot drop into the tourist mecca and through it.

For more than 15 years, the park has been pressured by the courts and environmental groups to write a plan balancing public access against the strict protections that come with the river’s 1987 federal wild and scenic designation. As the process winds down, options have included everything from limiting the number of daily park visitors, to slowing riverbank erosion by restricting access, to removing lodging and some camping areas in the valley and backcountry.

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Smokies shift focus from rescue to reopening

Posted by on Jul 7, 2012 @ 5:27 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Smokies shift focus from rescue to reopening

Rangers shifted their focus Saturday, July 7th from rescue efforts to reopening a popular section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after violent storms led to two deaths and several injuries.

Chief Ranger Clayton Jordan said a concentrated effort to clear hundreds of fallen trees could allow public access to the park to resume by Saturday afternoon in the most optimistic scenario.

The storms hit Thursday evening at the west end of the 500,000-acre reserve on the Tennessee-North Carolina line. A swimmer and a motorcyclist were killed, and several others were injured.

Much of the damage was in the popular Cades Cove area of the park and in communities just outside the park boundaries. A steady stream of visitors was turned back from the park entrance on Friday as workers cleared an emergency path. A crew of 44 was working Saturday to clear the roadway, shoulders and overhangs in order to make the passage safe for visitors.

Jordan said that section of the park could be open by Saturday afternoon, but that work is complicated by the need to remove thick root balls of downed trees.

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Update: Cades Cove is expected to reopen at 6:00PM on Saturday, July 7th.


How to avoid animal attacks in a national park

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 @ 6:39 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Violent encounters with animals at national parks are rare, but the danger of severe injury, illness and possibly death make prevention all the more important.

Many of the national parks in the U.S. are teeming with wildlife. People are often motivated to visit these parks to see impressive representatives of the animal kingdom for themselves. For the most part, human-animal interactions take place at a distance. Park-goers might get out the telephoto lens for a photo of a bison or pronghorn or use a pair of binoculars to better see an especially colorful flock of birds. On rare occasion, encounters are a little more “face-to-face” than a park visitor might expect. Though startling, these up-close meetings between human and animal are generally not violent. However, it only takes a few snakebite stories or headline-grabbing bear attacks to put nature lovers on edge.

The good news is that violent and deadly animal encounters are extremely rare. Millions of people visit national parks every year, and there are only a handful of snakebites and bear encounters. A majority of negative animal encounters in national parks actually come from some of the parks’ smallest residents — like ticks or mosquitoes. Unlike larger reptiles and mammals, these tiny creatures actively seek out humans.

Whether you’re worried about small or large predators, there is a lot you can do to lower your odds of being harmed by an animal while visiting a national park.

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Crews search Smoky Mountain wilderness after deadly storm

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 @ 3:05 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Search crews fanned out across the vast backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park today after severe thunderstorms the night before killed two people and injured eight, park officials said. Most of the dead and injured were struck by falling trees.

An unknown number of hikers and campers may have weathered the July 5th evening storm on the dozens of trails and isolated primitive camping sites in the most hard-hit western portion of the park, spokesman Carey Jones said Friday morning.

“We have no idea how many people are in the backcountry,” he said. “We’re just now getting people onto trails.”

Officials have no indication that anyone was hurt or is in distress in the most isolated portions of the park, which straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. But the park’s backcountry has no cellular telephone service, and the storm hit during a busy time, noted Chief Ranger Clayton Jordan.

The area near Cades Cove, an isolated valley that offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the park, was one of the hardest hit by the storm, Jones said. The area, which is accessible by only one road, remains closed to visitors at this time. Several other park roads and campgrounds also remained closed.

Park officials have been too busy with rescue efforts to assess damage to park facilities, Jordan said.

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For updated information about storm aftermath in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, check out the always informative Smoky Mountains Hiking Blog, or the Facebook page for the Great Smoky Mountains Association.


Colorado National Monument national park status on hold, for now

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 @ 6:01 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Colorado National Monument won’t be up for consideration as a new national park in the near future. Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Scott Tipton won’t bring a bill to Congress this year to change the designation for the 20,000-acre monument in western Colorado.

A community group appointed to study the change concluded that they couldn’t recommend the designation because of neighbors’ division over the idea.

Udall, who started talk about park status in February 2011, said the designation discussion isn’t over and that even people opposed to the change have seemed open to keep talking about it. “I think it’s significant that nobody is saying a flat-out no,” Udall said.

Colorado National Monument is a park of breathtaking purple-gray cliffs and mesas in the Colorado River’s Grand Valley. It is part of the greater Colorado Plateau, which also includes the Grand Canyon. It was made a national monument in 1905 by President William Howard Taft.

Warren Gore, a rancher and a co-chairman of the study committee, said he believed Colorado National Monument could become a national park – but that concerns of nearby residents needed more consideration. Concerns include keeping the monument its current size and preserving access to Rim Rock Drive, a scenic route that is choked with tourists and also used by cattle trucks.

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NoCo50 Challenge 26: Hike Pawnee Buttes

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 @ 5:46 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

The NoCo50 Challenge has seen hiking around the fun festivals and events that make summertime in Northern Colorado so entertaining. With the next challenge, it is time to get back to NoCo’s great outdoors and do some hiking as nature intended.

When we think of hiking in NoCo, we instinctively look to the west and the amazing trails of the Rocky Mountains. For this week’s challenge, we are asked to affix our gaze 180 degrees away from the Rockies to Colorado’s great Eastern Plains. It is there that we find the Pawnee National Grasslands in the heart of Weld County and NoCo50 Challenge No. 26: Hike the Pawnee Buttes.

The Pawnee Buttes are two prominent buttes located within the Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Colorado. Rising approximately 300 feet above the eastern Colorado plains, the buttes are erosional remnants left standing in isolation as the surrounding plains’ surface has gradually worn away.

The Pawnee Buttes Trail is noted for its scenery and bird-watching potential. The Overlook, the Lipps Bluff trail, and the area within 200 yards of the cliffs are closed to hikers from March 1 to June 30 to protect nesting falcons, eagles and hawks. Since it is now summer, these trails will be open, and it’s time to tackle the buttes. The Pawnee Buttes Trail is 4.1 miles in length, has little elevation gain and is considered easy.

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Weather extremes, climate change alter landscape at Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted by on Jul 4, 2012 @ 1:03 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Amid a year of weather extremes, Northern Colorado’s mountains could be at a tipping point.

Whether it’s because of extreme drought or climate change or both, those changes — the kind hikers and sightseers can see and touch — are on display this year like no other at Rocky Mountain National Park.

There, Trail Ridge Road over the Continental Divide opened two weeks earlier than normal in May because of a significant lack of snow. The usual profusion of wildflowers? Not so profuse this year — at least not yet. The typical snowfields adorning the couloirs, tundra and high alpine talus slopes? Mostly gone. Views across Trail Ridge were obscured by smoke from a wildfire in Mesa County 200 miles away.

Those things are mainly drought related, but other changes go a bit deeper. Judy Visty, director of the park’s Research Learning Center, examined dead limbs on a clump of subalpine fir trees on Trail Ridge Road just below timberline.

The branches on the scrubby little trees are dying from the top down, creating what looks like a broad ring of brown at the edge of the tundra in places, especially below the popular Alpine Visitor Center.

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Aggressive goats force Mount Ellinor trail closure

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 @ 11:12 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

A popular trail on Mount Ellinor will be closed for at least two weeks after several reports of aggressive goats along the path, Olympic National Forest officials say. An emergency order closes both the upper and lower portions of Mount Ellinor Trail No. 812. The Upper Big Creek and Mount Rose trails remain open.

Violation of the order could bring a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail.

“Mountain goats are powerful, inquisitive, wild animals, but they are not generally aggressive by nature,” said Wildlife Biologist Kurt Aluzas. “We believe their recent behavior is because this year’s deep snowpack has confined the goats to trailside areas in combination with a seasonally high demand for minerals (salts) and their habituation to people. There is also the potential that the nanny goats are being protective of their young.”

The Mount Ellinor Trail rises above timberline, providing sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, making it a popular destination for many summer visitors. “But public safety must remain our utmost concern and the public’s cooperation will be appreciated for the duration of this closure.”

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Hiking in Hot Weather

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 @ 8:57 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

Hot and bothered after a mid-day hike?

Well, it’s no wonder.

Recent studies have shown that optimum temperature for long-distance walks or hikes is 50 to 55 degrees F. Above this range a hiker’s performance degrades as much as two percent for every five-degree increase in temperature.

As temperatures rise, hikers must adjust their routine. Too much sun, too much hiking and too little fluid intake can make even a strong hiker an accident waiting to happen. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can result. A hike near home can be just as deadly as a trek across Death Valley, but heat illnesses and deaths are preventable by taking the right precautions.

The main environmental factors contributing heat-related illnesses are temperatures above 90 degrees F., humidity above 80 percent and sunlight exposure (partial to full) and dehydration.

Of course, “Wait ‘til it cools off” is always the best advice for the hiker contemplating a hike in the heat. But some hikers like it hot and, if you’re determined to hit the trail in the heat, you must take the right precautions.

Tips to beat the heat…


82-year-old hiker to seek climbing milestone

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 @ 7:14 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Jerry Levine grew up as a city kid who never owned a pair of sneakers during most of his childhood. Thanks to an anxious and protective mother, he could barely catch a ball and only learned to ride a bike as a teenager.

Now the 82-year-old advertising executive from Cortlandt, NY is a sportsman with a passion and a major commitment. He’s made up for a sedentary youth in his adulthood with a vengeance, setting his sights on climbing the highest peaks in New York state. On Aug. 18, Levine is poised to join a select group of outdoor enthusiasts, having made it to the top of all 46 of the tallest mountains in the Adirondacks, earning the right to slap an ADK-46 patch on his hiking gear.

It has been a long journey for Levine, one that many older Americans are now embracing as aging itself opens new possibilities instead of closing them.

It’s a sport that certainly has its hazardous side. Hiking over wet rocks on one climb, Levine recalled, he fell headfirst, smashing his glasses and leaving a gash over his eye.

During a hike last year on the Adirondacks’ Dix Range, Levine spent 13 to 14 hours on the trail, from sunrise to sunset, and when it was done, he recalled with a shudder, “I was beat.”

But the rewards, he said, are well worth it, both mentally and physically.

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Los Angeles High School Students Explore Their Wild Backyard, Virtually and Firsthand

Posted by on Jul 1, 2012 @ 1:36 pm in Hiking News | 0 comments

As the bus climbed through the cloud layer, the dramatic views of the steep granitic slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains came into focus and the eager excitement of the 26 students from Los Angeles River High School embarking on an adventure into the Angeles National Forest became clear. The charred remains of the large trees and shrubs from the 2009 wildfire were still evident, but the vibrant green from the resurgent new growth was everywhere.

Just the day before, the class acted as the test pilots for a new “virtual hike and species challenge” computer program to get to know their wild neighbors by virtually exploring the headwaters of the Los Angeles River in the classroom.

The National Forest Foundation partnered with the Angeles National Forest to launch the virtual hike and species challenge, which was developed by the Get-to-Know organization. The virtual hike for the Angeles National Forest includes narrated tutorials, stories, educational segments about the forest, scavenger hunt style challenges, and a printable, customizable field guide.

The students started their real forest hike high above Los Angeles at Charlton Flats picnic area. After a brief introduction about the National Forest and what to watch for in the woods, they were off on their adventure. The kids enjoyed the deep breaths of clean air, learning about plants and trees, and the opportunity to listen to the calming sounds of the stream next to the trail.

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10 Recipes for a Day of Hiking

Posted by on Jun 30, 2012 @ 10:16 am in Hiking News | 0 comments

Thinking of heading off into the wilderness this weekend? Whether you’re planning an all-day hike to see waterfalls or a stroll to the park for some fresh air, here are some great recipes for keeping happy and energized. It’s even more fun when you make it yourself.