This summer it will be increasingly obvious to Jenny Lake visitors that Inspiring Journeys—the multimillion dollar renewal effort at Jenny Lake for the NPS centennial in 2016—is well underway. The second of four construction seasons started in May and, as with last year, the primary focus is on backcountry trail work. In September, physical changes in the frontcountry will also start to become apparent and will impact late season visitors.
• The lakeshore trail on the southwest segment of the Jenny Lake trail system is now open for public use. Thanks to Grand Teton National Park trail crew members, the trail has improved substantially and was raised by 2 feet, making it easier to maintain and more enjoyable for hikers.
• The trail segment from Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point will be closed all summer while crews reconstruct bridges, rock walls, and trail tread. Inspiration Point will be accessed via the horse trail, a forested route that connects Cascade Canyon to the lakeshore trail. To access Hidden Falls, hikers will follow the classic route from the west boat dock and walk about one half of a mile to the falls. Combining these two destinations into one hike will require more time and distance than usual due to the temporary trail closure. Signs are posted along the trails to notify visitors of reroutes, be sure to check-in at a visitor center for current trail updates.
• After Labor Day, underground infrastructure and utility work will begin in the visitor plaza and campground areas. A temporary visitor center will be moved to the south Jenny parking lot and will be readied to serve the public beginning spring 2016. The parking lot will be restriped to accommodate vehicular traffic and maximize parking efficiency in the condensed parking lots.
This July we’re celebrating 30 years of Park and Recreation Month and the enduring importance of parks and recreation for the world. From the start, parks were created to serve the people—to give them a place to appreciate nature, exercise, socialize and have fun. This mission lives on and will continue to intensify into the future. This July, let’s celebrate the past, present and future of parks and recreation.
Each July since 1985, America has celebrated Park and Recreation Month. A program of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), the goal is to raise awareness of the vital impact that parks, recreation and conservation have on communities across the U.S. This year’s theme is ’80s Style.
This July NRPA is celebrating 30 years of Park and Recreation Month and the enduring importance of parks and recreation for the world. Parks are the cornerstone of nearly every community, serving millions of people as the places anyone can go to be active, live healthier, connect with nature and gather together. Parks and recreation contribute to improved health outcomes, higher property values and environmental sustainability.
Parks and recreation make our lives and communities better. This mission lives on and will continue to intensify into the future. For more information, go to www.nrpa.org/july.
When her marriage ended in divorce after 10 years, Carol Schaffer wasn’t eager for a fresh start. Still shaken up by the split, Schaffer said she held tight to the people and pastimes she loved and only introduced new things into her life (hiking, “Seinfeld” binge-fests) if they helped her heal in some way.
“You can’t change everything about your life right away after a separation,” said Schaffer, who lives in California. “Some people are tempted to make all kinds of changes to themselves and their lives right away, but I took the most comfort in the things that stayed the same like cooking big dinners and having sit-down meals with my kids.”
Schaffer shares five things (some tried-and-true, some new) that made life a little more bearable during her divorce, including these thoughts about hiking:
“There were two things that I could count on feeling after my divorce: exhausted and weak. One day when the kids were with their dad a friend invited me on a group hike. My first reaction was to laugh like a lunatic at the thought of removing myself from the couch when I didn’t have to. But once I realized that accepting the invite meant I wouldn’t be home alone doing laundry, I dug up my old Doc Martens and it was on.”
“Thus began a year-long relationship with hiking. At first I could barely keep up. Eventually I could go for hours straight, traveling many miles, climbing, walking and navigating up and around big and small rocks. I night-hiked. I angry-hiked. I sad-hiked. Mostly I was just silent and focused on each step ahead. I gained toned legs and great cardio stamina walking those hills. What I left behind was my sense of failure and lack of confidence.”
The rescue of a hiker stranded overnight on Alum Cave in the Great Smoky Mountains ended with a helicopter and began when two Knoxville hikers heard her cries for help.
David Roy, 32, and Mat Merten 36, were hiking Saturday evening, June 27, on the Alum Cave Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park when they stopped at the bluffs to eat. At 7 p.m. they heard a voice calling. The cry came from somewhere overhead at the top of the cliff, but because the massive rock formation reflected the sound, they couldn’t pinpoint the source.
Eighteen-year-old Angel Chaffin of Gatlinburg had been hiking the Alum Cave Trail when she went off trail and ended up stuck on the cliff face atop the Alum Cave overhang, 2.5 miles from the trailhead. As darkness fell Chaffin turned on her flashlight to give Roy and Merten a reference point.
“We asked if she was OK,” Roy said. “She said she was safe, but felt unsafe climbing up or down. We were talking with her, but never actually saw her.”
In an effort to reach Chaffin, Roy and Merten went up the Alum Cave Trail a short distance and then began bushwhacking toward the top of the cliff face. The terrain was rough, and it was getting dark. The two got separated, and when Roy found his way back to the Alum Cave Trail, he met two male, college-age hikers at the bluffs who agreed to go down the mountain and notify park rangers.
The average American boy or girl spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day. Only 6% of children nine to 13 play outside on their own in a typical week.
But if you’re reading this, you probably already know that outdoor play is essential for children’s health and well-being. Here are several science-backed reasons that prove you’re right.
As a U.S. Marine tank commander, Sean Gobin endured many harrowing experiences: the invasion of Iraq, counterinsurgency missions in Fallujah and the training of Afghan army recruits. But he never had a chance to process any of it.
In 2012, Gobin left the military and convinced a war buddy to hike the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail with him. They used their journey to raise money for disabled veterans, but along the way, Gobin realized that the experience was also helping him.
“Hiking eight hours a day, I was processing all of these experiences that I had put away,” he said. “And I knew that there were other combat veterans that needed to do that.”
Helping veterans transition from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has become an important issue in recent years. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 11% to 20% of those who served now struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Today, Gobin’s nonprofit, Warrior Hike, provides combat veterans with all the equipment and supplies they need to complete long-distance hikes throughout the country. Ranging from two to six months, these journeys give veterans a chance to connect with nature and work through their issues while enjoying the camaraderie and support of other war veterans.
Hiking author Mickey Eisenberg still treks eight to 10 miles on weekends at age 69, often with his buddy Gene Yore, a young 76. Their knees aren’t that creaky, and they still can tread some serious miles, so why not, Eisenberg said.
“When people think of Mount Rainier National Park, they typically think of Mount Rainier itself,” said Eisenberg, a physician. Most don’t realize that in addition to “The Big One,” there are 100 peaks located in or adjacent to the park, often with fewer visitors, and many with summits reachable by hiking trails requiring no specialized mountaineering equipment.
The authors have chosen their five favorite summer day-hikes in the park. The best time to go is mid-July to mid-September, Eisenberg said.
Outdoor enthusiasts have several new trails that the Tennessee Valley Authority has opened in North Alabama this summer, including one that brings hikers to an old saltpeter mine.
And while explaining the new trails and playgrounds near Guntersville Dam, Athens and Muscle Shoals, David Brewster, TVA’s natural resources manager for west operations, also listed the most popular locations for the most common summer time activities.
Three new trails opened this summer, including Cave Mountain Trail on the south side of Guntersville Dam. Hikers and mountain bikers (no ATVs) can travel along an easy, one-mile loop path, until the reaching the saltpeter cave along a bluff. It passes through a Tupelo gum swamp and limestone bluffs, and hikers can see the dam from the cave and the lake from much of the trail, Brewster said.
For more rugged hikers, there a new 7.5-mile long (one way) moderate trail from Guntersville Dam to Cooley Cemetery. It’s getting lots of use already from hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, Brewster said.
The trail terrain varies, but most of it runs adjacent to the lake, and there are views of the lake from most parts of the trail. It pretty much follows an old logging road.
In its ninth summer, the Idaho Conservation League Adventure Series in North Idaho features day hikes of varying difficulty, paddle trips on both Lake Pend Oreille and Lake Coeur d’Alene and campsite and trail maintenance volunteer opportunities. Whether you are new or native to the Panhandle, this adventure series is a great way to explore and gain new appreciation for Idaho’s spectacular peaks, lakes, streams and wildlife.
The hiking series kicks off Saturday, June 27, 2015 with a hike up Lookout Mountain in the Selkirks. This scenic, one-way seven-mile hike near the north end of Priest Lake features phenomenal views of Priest Lake, Lions Head and the Selkirk Mountain range.
The other 14 outings offered this summer and fall include easy family hikes to alpine lakes, more strenuous hikes to peaks in the Selkirk Crest, as well as a birding hike to Harrison Lake. ICL is also offering three paddle trips this year – one through the stunning Clark Fork River Delta with Kathy Cousins from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The outings are free and open to all but space is limited and registration is required. To sign up for a hike, kayak trip or volunteer opportunity, or for more information, visit www.idahoconservation.org or contact the Idaho Conservation League’s Sandpoint office at (208) 265-9565.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the temporary closure of the Cosby entrance road due to flood damage. On June 22, 2015 at approximately 4 p.m., flash flooding along Rock Creek spilled over the banks, damaging road shoulders along 1,500 linear feet of the Cosby entrance road. Underground electric and phone lines were exposed along most of the road where the shoulder area was washed out up to 6 feet deep. All electric power and water service to the campground and picnic area has been shut off.
Park maintenance crews cleared rocks and debris from the roadway and coned off washed-out road areas to allow one-lane traffic to escort campers from the campground this morning. The campground, picnic area and all roadways will remain closed until power and water services can be restored and the repairs are complete. Park crews are further assessing the condition of the road today and will begin making repairs immediately.
Trails remain open at this time, but there is no trailhead access. Hikers are advised to use caution throughout the area. Crews are currently assessing the area for any damage to trails and footlogs. Roads are closed to all pedestrian traffic in the area throughout the closure.
For more information on road and trail closures, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.
If you’re going to fake it as a paid-up member of the jet set, then Monterosso, at the northern end of the Cinque Terre, is the perfect place.
Pinned to the cliffs above the Gulf of Genoa on the shin of the Italian boot, the Cinque Terre – the five lands – is the sort of landscape that causes hearts to beat a little faster. This is one of the scenic miracles of the Mediterranean: five small villages hewn from solid rock, huddled facades and pantiled roofs overlooked by churches and fortifications that date back to the Middle Ages.
The sites for these villages were dictated by the freshwater streams that tumble down from the mountain heights. Tiny, dense enclaves arose, crowded around a scoop of harbour, and so the villagers existed, scratching a living from fishing and the olives, grapes, tomatoes and basil they cultivated on tiny terraces hacked from the cliffs.
There are several ways to explore the Cinque Terre. A boat is perfect, but available only to yachtsmen and fishermen. The train is a practical proposition if you’re pressed for time, but this is no place to rush. The best option is a hike from one village to the next along the sentieri, the narrow footpaths used by the villagers since time immemorial.
While you could trek the steep 12-kilometre sentieri from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the towns, in a day, that would be like jogging through the Louvre.
CDT Montana, a branch of the Montana Wilderness Association that focuses on maintaining and supporting the Continental Divide Trail, had no problem filling most of its volunteer slots for this summer’s trail projects. That was until a longtime partner had to cancel leaving an entire project without any volunteers.
The trail maintenance project runs July 5-10, 2015 in the Benchmark area of the Rocky Mountain Front. CDT Montana is looking for four folks to help on the project but could take up to eight volunteers.
The group will car camp at the Benchmark Administration Site and will hike 2 to 4 miles a day to work sites on the trail.
The focus for the week will including clearing bushes that have crept into the trail corridor, maintaining erosion control structures and clearing out culverts.
The Benchmark trailhead is the Bob Marshall Wilderness’ most-used access points and is in need of some TLC.
The project is rated easy to moderate, and food is supplied to volunteers for the week. For information on volunteering, contact Shannon Freix at 406-499-2309 or [email protected]
In just a mile on level ground, you can reach a spot that can change the way you feel about things for a long time.
From the trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail near Tuolumne Meadows, you can amble north for 20 minutes or so to a pristine meadow sprinkled with lodgepole pine, where a high mountain rim frames your moment in time. Unicorn Peak (10,910 feet), Cathedral Peak (10,940) and Fairview Dome (9,731) poke holes in the sky. Nearby, the Tuolumne River runs clear, cold and pure.
The only sounds are often meadowlarks, nutcrackers and other mountain songbirds singing their love tunes, or the flow of water pouring over rocks. The air tastes light and sweet. It’s enough to make you want to see more.
The Tuolumne Meadows area, perched at an elevation of 8,600 feet on Tioga Road in the high country of Yosemite National Park, features 10 trailheads from Tenaya Lake to Tioga Pass. It is perhaps the best trailhead site in America.
Some lead to places that can feel like they’re yours alone.
If you can surround yourself with anyone, surround yourself with hikers. They are the most down to earth, adventurous folks you’ll ever meet. They are the definition of pure, good vibes.
They’re all different, but they all have similar characteristics that make them simply irresistible. If you don’t hike, you should strongly reconsider. Here’s why:
Surround yourself with those who care more about fulfilling their souls than they do about keeping up with the latest trends and drama. Surround yourself with hikers.
The Palomar Mountain Observatory Trail is one of only four National Recreation Trails in San Diego County, California. From the tree-shaded, well-maintained trail there are bucolic vistas of grassy meadows with grazing cattle.
It also provides a chance to visit the Hale Telescope and the world-class Palomar Observatory. It is easily accessible and is a rewarding hike year-round. Palomar Mountain rises steeply from the Pauma Valley in the west and the Temecula Creek valley in the east, but the mountain itself consists of gentle rolling hills blanketed by a lush mixed forest of conifers and oaks with scattered patches of chaparral.
Palomar Mountain also is the home of the 200-inch Hale Telescope, only two miles from the campground and the trailhead. The Palomar Mountain Observatory, operated by Caltech and open to the public, has made fundamental discoveries about some of the most distant points of the universe and continues to be an important contributor to astronomy. The telescope and a small nearby museum are open to visitors daily.
Canyoneers are San Diego Natural History Museum volunteers trained to lead interpretive nature walks that teach appreciation for the great outdoors. For a schedule of free public hikes, refer to the San Diego Natural History Museum website.
More than 100 years after legislation was introduced to build a bridge over the Winooski River, hikers on the Long Trail will have a safe place to cross the river and head north.
The Green Mountain Club opened a new 224-foot Long Trail suspension bridge as part of the Winooski Valley Long Trail relocation.
The bridge, located just off of U.S. 2 in Bolton, Vermont saves hikers from a 3 mile walk down the highway from the woods of Camels Hump State Forest to the Jonesville Bridge and back onto the trail, said Mike DeBonis, executive director of the Green Mountain Club.
The Green Mountain Club, established in 1910, is the founder, sponsor, defender and protector of the Long Trail System. The trail is made up of 272 miles of footpath, 175 miles of side trails and nearly 70 primitive overnight sites and shelters.
The Winooski Valley long Trail relocation includes 300 acres of land acquisition, 6 miles of new trail and the suspension bridge.
The Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States.
Thanks to a new partnership between Albemarle County and the Kids in Parks program, there’s a new family hiking trail in Crozet, Virginia.
Kids in Parks is a national program designed to get kids outside and exploring. The new trailhead at Mint Springs Park is open with a kiosk stocked with interactive maps. Kids in Parks calls it a track trail, it has free guides that teach kids about birds, nature, safe hiking and more.
As families work their way along the path, kids can check off what they find and see. When they get home, they can register their hike on the track trail website to earn prizes. One track trail completed earns a nature journal, nine track trails completed earns a magnifying glass.
Kids in Parks has about 100 track trails across the country.
Mint Springs Park is open during daylight hours throughout the summer, the track trails hike is one mile long.
The mental game is huge when you’re in the woods. Alone, the ante is upped considerably. You’re more alert. More cautious. More in tune with what’s going on around you and inside of you.
These are all good things, but there’s a downside: There’s no one to commiserate with about aches and pains, no one to consult the map with, or share a difficult passage, or speculate about the weather. No one to laugh or joke or share the beauty and joy with.
It’s the first rule of the woods — never go alone. But people do it, and there’s even beauty in it.
“Hiking solo can be more rewarding,” said Elizabeth Thomas, a Trail Information Specialist with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition in Golden, CO. “You get to make your own decisions. You can go where you want when you want. Eat what you want. Get up when you want. Make camp when you want. And you’re far better off hiking alone than hiking with someone you’re incompatible with.”
Thomas holds the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail — 2,186 miles in 80.5 days. She has walked over 13,000 miles on the long trails, many of them alone. “I never cease to be amazed how empowering hiking is,” she said. “How exhilarating it is to do the seemingly impossible on nothing but my own two feet.”
But even if you’re healthy and strong, walking long trails is still a head game.
Never been hiking with your kids? Great Smoky Mountains National Park is presenting a series of programs this summer to help introduce families to hiking in the park.
These ranger led programs will give parents advice on how to prepare for a hike, what to take, what to watch out for, and some fun activities that you can do with children while hiking.
Not sure about bringing your toddler or your 5 year old on a hike? There will be some suggestions for bringing along these young ones too.
The park is kicking off these family programs on June 20, 2015 with a guest speaker and an opportunity to try out some family friendly camping and hiking equipment.
Here’s another powerful benefit to walking. When your brain is completely overloaded and you need to take a life time-out and hit the reset button, nothing will accomplish that better than logging some cleansing miles on foot, solo. No phone, no headphones, just you and your feet. The long walk is a therapeutic tool to not only power up your mind but also to recharge its battery. Which, in turn, leads to much greater creativity once you’ve rebooted.
One day, when Marc Andreessen, the money man behind such tech giants as Facebook, Twitter, and Zynga, was out driving around his home in Palo Alto, California, he nearly hit a crazy old man crossing the street.
Looking back at the fool he had nearly run over he noticed the trademark blue jeans and black turtle neck. “Oh my god! I almost hit Steve Jobs!” he thought to himself.
It was Jobs that day, out on one of his many walks around the Palo Alto area, where Apple are based. Steve Jobs was famous in the area for his long walks, which he used for exercise, contemplation, problem solving, and even meetings. And Jobs was not alone. Through history the best minds have found that walking, whether a quick five minute jaunt, or a long four hour trek, has helped them compose, write, paint, and create.