Friday, December 19, 2008

No Mountain Bikes

While you can ride bikes on the roads and trails in Mt. Rainier NP, see my guide and map, you can't ride bikes on the trails. This may change with a proposed rule change by the Department of Interior, see Washington Post article. As a longtime hiker and part-time moutain biker I am against this rule change.

Yes, it restricts the trails to hikers only and mountain bikers deserve access to the trails. But I've seen the damage done by bikers and the zealousness some conduct their activity, and it's simply too miuch to tolerate on trails, many of which in Mt. Rainier NP would experience additional and worsening damage and risks to hikers, and eventually addtional resources to fix and maintain.

This rule needs to be reversed, or simply returned to the current practice. What's interesting is that this rule change came after the 60-day cutoff for new rules imposed by the White House to the Departments. A White House spokesperson said it wasn't a significant rule and therefore allowed past the cutoff date.

It seems there are no real rules in the White House and it seems all bets with the Obama transistion team - being cooperative and not implementing changes - are off. So much for trusting our President and staff, political appointments and their hacks, and everyone else associated with him.

The new rule is under a 60 day review and public comment period, so it's likely will come under the new Secretary to decide if it should go forward or be withdrawn. I hope the latter.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Road Closures

The National Weather Service in Seattle has issued a winter storm warning for the Cascade Mountains in Washington and lowland areas of the Puget Sound beginning later today (Friday 12/12/08) and through the weekend. In anticipation of this the State Department of Transportation is closing highway 123 and 410 through Mt. Rainier NP from near the entrances to and over Cayuse and Chinook Passes. In addition, other roads in the NP will be closed accordingly as necessary.

The NWS is predicted this winter storm will bring snow accumulations of a few feet in the mountains and inches in the lowlands away from the water, and will persist into late next week with subfreeziing temperatures throughout the Puget Sound. All appropriate precautions should be taken by travellers as recommended by the Washington DOT, meaning taking clothes, blankets, food and water on any extended trip as a precaution.

In short, it's one of the few storms we get this severe, last noted in 1990, but not an uncommon winter storm (averaging 3 every winter in the Puget Sound). So, be a good northwesterner and Puget Sounder and be prepared. We been here and we'll be ok. And if you're visiting us sometime in the next week or so, we hope you love cold, snow and good hospitality. We understand if you're not from here and will help you while you're here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Taking a Season Break

I realize I haven't posted for awhile, and while I've been working on the photography guide and the projects around the photography guide (expedtion, maps, history, etc.), I've been doing other work, such as the day after Thanksgiving Day Parade photos and Christmas cards (you know some of us still do them).

What does this mean? Well, I will be doing a quick review of the todo list for the photography guide and Mt. Rainier NP projects to see what needs to be done this month, what can be done as part of the on-going work, and what I can postpone to 2009. This means just the minimum will done, such as the access and road status information, monthly report, etc. In short, just enough to keep you up to date. The rest will be the bow on the package, extra as time permits.

As for where I'm at? Well, the expedition guide is still on-going. The timeline of the two week expedition has been determined for dates and approximate locations, better locations will be necessary for the map Web page. I found two letters written by one of the geologist during and after the expedition and need to be transcribed and translated to the narrative and maps. An unpublished manuscript written in 1880 has also been found that needs to be transcribed.

The map project is on waiting Web pages. I have prepared report and map files for the first USGS topographic (1915) map, but the Web pages with maps are still awaiting work. The NPS maps and later USGS topographic maps are still awaiting work for Web pages. I need to summarize the history and changes in the NP boundary and land acreage and proposed and build development. Most of it is there, just finding time is the issue.

The other maps Web pages for the latest USGS 7.5 minute (1:24,000) topographic maps is still awaiting work. I'm looking for a file server to make the map files available. They're currently available on the USGS Website but not without some work to locate and download and I can simplify the process by doing all that work to just download them. That's the goal and the plan is there, time, again, is the issue.

I'm still researching early photographers working in Mt. Rainier NP, 1890-1900. I still have to visit some photo archives to see what was done, or still exists in film, and which are in the 1898 report about the expedition along with determining locations for the photos. On the agenda is still visits to other archives for historic information, files and photos. Most of these are 1-2 day trips, so schedule is key.

And there are the "forthcoming" projects listed in the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide. I want to finish up the history projects first before focusing on the other topics and updating the quadrant Web pages. These are scheduled for 2008 winter-spring work.

So, after that? Well, continued large format photography, Mt. Rainier winter trips, and the always present on-going work with my Website about photography and post-retirement life building a new personal business. And learning the image production (computer system) side of photography is the on-going learning curve. There's always something new along with the current state of producing better images and prints.

And there's always the camera bags who seem sneak to the front door when I'm not looking, sit there quietly until I pass by when the suddenly they begin to sing, "A travelin' we will go...", and when the backpack and hiking boots chime in, it's a lost cause except get the winter gear and go. On that, I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mike's Hikes

This last weekend I stood in line at our local Starbucks behind someone I learned in a short conversation was going to Snoqualmie Pass and hike to Guye Peak and Snoqualmie Mountain. Anyway, in our conversation he told me about his blog and videos about hikes, and in visiting the Website there are several about the trails and hikes in and around Mt. Rainier NP. You can visit his Blog with video links.

For example, his recent visit to Paradise has an excellent description, information and photos. Clearly far better hiker than I could imagine to be (hey, I'm considerably older too), and clearly an excellent resource to see when he been there and what he has said. He easily adds a lot to anyone's resource for hiking in the NP, especially the books.

Thanks Mike for the few minutes of conversation. And I hope you had a good hike.

Road closures

Update.--The road Nisqually Road is now open to Paradise, but may close depending on the weather for snow clearing in the mornings. Everything else for roads and trails, below, still apply.

The Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park has closed the Nisqually Road in the southwest corner of the NP, which leads to the Longmire and Paradise Visitors centers. This decision was made when flows in Kautz Creek flowed over the highway and flooding over highway 706 between Ashford and the Nisqually entrance.

Kautz Creek, along with other creeks and rivers in NP had significant channel changes from the storms and floods of November 2006, but none more dramatic than Kautz Creek, which split into two distinct channels, one creating a whole new channel through the forest east of the old channel and alongside the highway before passing under the highway through twin culverts. Flow excess of the new channel and the culvert overflows over the highway near the Kautz Creek bridge and rest stop.

It's not sure how long the closure will last, it's dependent on the storms in the immediate future but it could very easily be a seasonal situation until the NPS can find a way to allow the flow in the new channel to be containted in the channel and under the road. This, however, is unlikely this winter, so visitors should consider calling ahead if their plans include a trip to the NP through the Nisqually entrance.

In addition hikers wanting to access the Carbon River Trail should use caution as parts of the trail from the NP boundary to the Ipsut campground could be damaged or destroyed by floods as happened in the November 2006 and previous floods. Hikers should be prepared for this possibility along the trail. In addition, they should consider taking digital photos and contacting the NPS staff to show what you experienced. It's likely they are already aware of it but it doesn't hurt to inform and help.

On the east side of the NP highway 410 is open to the passes with some slower areas. Highway 123 at the Highway 706 intersection (Ohanopecosh entrance) is closed to the passes. Highway 706 from the intersection, Stevens Canyon entrance and highway, is closed to the intersection of the Longmire-Nisqually road to Paradise.

I will update this Web page as events change or I see a time when this isn't a problem for visitors. As always, you're welcome to add comments or send e-mail.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MPG V2.5

Click on photo for Photo Guide

I have updated and upgraded the photo guide with a whole new section about the history of the National Park, the 1896 expedition, and various other information about the National Park, such as the laws, early photographers, and topographic maps.

You can get a more complete description of the status of the projects along with immediate and longterm plans for new Web pages. When there is sufficient material, the photo guide will be redesigned to accommodate all of the work, which at this time is just an idea in the back of my mind.

I hope you find the Web pages and material helpful and useful, and as always, you're always welcome to send e-mail with your questions, suggestions or problems.

History of Laws

It might be surprising that the designation, operation and management of Mount Rainier Naitonal Park is governed by laws, some of which in turn define the National Park Service policies, rules and regulations used in the actual work by the NPS in the administration, management and operation by the staff.

Mount Rainier was first designating as a Forest Reserve in 1897 and then officially designated as National Park in 1899, and over the years since various laws were passed governing a variety of measures associated with the NP. You can get the complete text of the 1899 law designating Mount Rainier National Park here, along with a listing and links to the full text of all the applicable past and current laws since here.

As can be seen in the list, there's a lot to cover with the NP, from the mundane operation and maintanence to the expansion of the boundary. I present it so people can see the work it takes to create and keep a Natonal Park of this size and beauty. On top of that add all the work by the various special interest groups expressing their issues with the many issues that happen either by nature, eg. November 2006 floods, or people, eg. guns in NP's, and you can see it gets complex.

In addition I will be adding Web pages, hopefully soon, about the predecessor to the NP, the Mount Rainier Forest Reserve, which for most of the area around the NP became the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, with smaller areas for other national forest and wilderness areas, and about the effort to establish the NP from 1893, when the first bill was introduced to 1899 and the law designating it.

In the meantime, I hope you find this informative.

Project update

As I have written I'm working on the 1896 expedition and related projects about Mount Rainier, such as the field work associated with the first USGS topographic map 1915, early photographers (1890-1900) working in and around Mount Rainier, and other historic subjects to expand the knowledge and understanding of the visitor's or photographer's experience.

In addition to this I'm working on additional information Web pages about the NP, such as forests, glaciers, backcountry hikes, snowshoing, winter activities, etc. In short, there's not a loss of ideas for new Web pages for the variety of interests of photographers and visitors to the NP, including detailled help pages on the five different areas, four quadrants and Paradise, and routine news and reports on conditions and photo opportunities.

On top of all that, all of the work requires the Website with all its work, not just the routine operation and maintenance, but the ever on-going learning about my computer, software applications, and so on. We know that cycle. I've added so much stuff to the Website, considering designing and developing version 3.0 is in the future, almost way in the future, or until I find a design or an idea to do the work sooner.

If you add all this up, it's the adage about finding time when I also want to focus on my photography work, especially with the 4x5 camera which I don't get enough time with. Add life itself, you know those errands, problems and issues that find you no matter where you are or what you're doing, and always instantly change your life.

This isn't new to almost everyone (exceptions to those who sit there and say, "I'm bored.", like my father who wasted a retirement into severe health problems, but that's another story), so I'm preaching to the choir. I'm just glad I have found and enjoy interests where the only real problem is time. Everything else is about balance and focus to do the work.

Ok, enough about the effort, what's the result so far?

Well, I've managed to find most the maps, either in their original form or later variants, of Mt. Rainier NP from the first in 1880 to the 1920's and the second generation USGS topographic map in 1935, after the boundary changes. This includes NPS maps and maps published in books or pamphlets. I have all in digital image format, and printed, except the 1935 topo map which is an original edition print.

I've located most of the photographers working in and around Mt. Rainier NP from 1890 to the early 1900's. I haven't researched those before 1890 as there were only a fewl. I used 1890 cutoff as it was the date of the first negative emulsion film made by Kodak and other companies and because the photos in the 1898 report were taken from about 1894 to 1898 by those who worked from about 1890 to after 1900.

I've found original edition books and reports of the pre-NP and early post-NP years. I'm still working on pamphlets for the period 1900-1930 with only a few to date, but it includes visitors guides by the NPS. Some of these had the maps of the NP and various access, trails and facilities. The reports include the 1898 Expedition Report with the Geology chapger and the 1900 report about the Mt. Rainier Forest Reserve, an assessment of the timber resources of the reserve before the designation of the NP, both with photos and maps.

I'm still searching for archives and through archives for material specifically relating to or about the expedition. Found to date are copies of the original field notes by G.O. Smith noting rock samples and geology during the summers of 1895 and 1896. I've managed to find the material by Bailey Willis with letters and unpublished manuscripts. Missing in the search so far are the archives of Israel Russell.

Ok, that said, what's in the future?

Well, for one the table of contents lists a number of "forthcoming" or "in progress" chapters which will be new or updated Web pages of information with maps and on-line material. This includes a number of topics of interest to photographers and visitors and some of interest to me to present (do you think I'd do the homework and not show it?). And some topics on the always full todo list are Web pages for air quality, historic mines (little seeable today), and early photography (1880-1900).

As they said, "If anything changes, I'll keep you posted."

Clean Air

One reason we visit national parks is for the vista, as many have views of extraordinary beauty. I remember visiting Chaco Canyon one December about twenty years ago, and after climbing out of the canyon to one of the remaining building on the top of the canyon, I had a breath-taking 360-degree view of the area, including seeing the distant moutains of southern Colorado.

In that brief period I understood why the building was there, wondering what the native people thought and how they lived more than 500 years ago. I shared their view, unimpeded to the horizon, undeveloped by man, and only changed by time. Because we value clean air.

And now focusing my retirement on Mt. Rainier NP, clean air is of the utmost importance because of proximity of the Puget Sound development and pollutants from the west and southwest, even from over the ocean carried across by the Jet Stream. Our climate is global now and pollution anywhere in each hemisphere disperses and diffuses throughout the hemisphere. No one is immune from the effects, especially the accumulation of pollution.

And so the national parks deserve special consideration. So why is the Environmental Protection Agency trying to loosen the rules on air quality in and around national parks? Only because the political allies in the coal and energy industry have lobbied the Bush administration to loosen the rules to build up to 186 new coal-fired power plants near national parks.

Why is it that political appointees who sell the new rules spin the rhetoric without addressing what they're really doing? Like that's new? Ok, not, but you have to read between and behind their rhetoric before you believe they're working to ensure we have clean air, and our national park are further degraded by pollution.

And how does the new standards work? Simple. Instead of taking air samples during intensive studies, such as every 3-4 hours over several days, noting the extremes and average, they propose to average all the data into an annual sample, and only if that exceeds the limits will penalites be considered. This effectively means the limit will never be exceeded all the while the pollution gets worse.

We and our national parks deserve better, and the Bush administration has shown where they loyalties lie, with the polluters and not the people. Why else would someone from west Texas not undetsand clean air?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Seasonal Changes

Folks visiting Mt. Rainier National Park now through the fall and winter should consider the NPS uses September and October as the transistion months for seasonal operations at visitors centers and roads. In additon, the NPS has scheduled changes to accommodate the new visitors center at Paradise. These will be described below.

Visitors Centers: The Longmire center remains open all year, closing only for extreme weather. The new Jackson center is now open weekends and holiday only (and mostly daylight hours). The Sunrise center is closed for the season. The Ohanopecosh center is also closed for the season.

Lodging: The Paradise Inn closed October 6th and National Park (Longmire) Inn is open year around.

Campgrounds: The White River, Ohanopecosh and Cougar Rock campgrounds are closed. The Sunshine campground is permanently closed. And the Ipsut Creek campground is now a hike-in backcountry campground now (permit required).

Roads: All highways are currently open except the Sunrise road which is closed from the highway and the Stevens Canyon road which is closed at the Paradise and Ohanopecosh entrances. The Westside Road is open to Dry Creek with some section still under construction, and will close at the highway turnoff sometime later this fall, depending on snowfall.

Trails: All trails are open at this time. You can get the latest status from the NPS Web page.

That's it for now. You can get additional information from the current conditions Web page.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Interesting Thought

And we think climate change is a new idea or thought?

"...Clearly the traveler in this region is surrounded by the records of mighty changes. Not only does he inquire how the study of glaciers will do much toward making clear the manner in which the once smooth slopes have been trenched by radiating valleys, leaving mountain like ridges between.

Another line of inquiry which we shall find of interest as we advance is suggested by the recent shrinkage of Carbon Glacier. Are all of the glaciers that flow form the mountain wasting away? If we find this to be the case, what climatic change does it indicate?"

"Glaciers of Mount Rainier", Israel Cook Russell, with additional paper, "The Rocks of Mount Rainier", by George Otis Smith, in US Geological Survey 18th Annual Report, 1896-97, Part II, pages 349-423.

Israel Russell, George Otis Smith and Bailey Willis with a support team were commissioned by the US Geological Survey to conduct the first exploratioin of the glaciers of Mount Rainier, which they did July 15-31, 1896, including an overnight stay on the summit in a steam vent in the crater. The trip began and ended at Carbonado via the Bailey Willis trail (later renamed the Carbon River road and trail).

They were the first travelers to traverse the north side of Mount Rainier above tree line across the Carbon and Winthrop Glacier to the summit up Emmons Glacier, descending to Paradise Park, and then traversing Emmons, Ingraham, Emmons and Carbon Glaciers on the return trip to the base camp and later Carbonado.

They discussed the idea in the above quote during their expedition and Isreal Russell writing this observation and questions while camping along the Carbon Glacier in the early days of the expedition after seeing extensive glacier recession features in the Carbon River valley and along the Carbon Glacier.

Just a thought by three geologists camped in the wilderness of Mount Rainier in 1896.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Visitors Center

It's now real and open. The old visitors center, built in 1966, is in the distance just off the right corner of the new building. It opened 10:00 am yesterday, October 10th, with the opening dedication at 3:00 pm with Superintendent Uberuaga introducing all the guests. The ceremony lasted about an hour with opening a prayer and story by two Native Americans followed by speeches by five other guests including the Secretary of Interior Kempthorne and US Representative Norm Dicks.

The place is simply awesome. It's spacious with many information booths, a cafe and a theater, and a big open space with 60-foot ceilings. It's not only enviromental, with many features to allow it to easily survive the worst winter weather and snow depth (roof shape and design and shutters) and energy efficient, with heating/cooling system, materials, etc. In short it's way cool and easily blends into the new reburbished Paradise Inn (May 2008) and Guide Services building (last year).

The old building will be removed over the next two years and the land refurbished into additional parking for peak days and hours during the summer tourist season and landscaping. This will give the whole space at Paradise ready for decades. What can't you say against the wise use of taxpayers' money in a beautiful place.

A gift to ourselves and our nation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Personal Update

Sorry, I've been away on work around and with the Mt. Rainier NP photography guide, working on the 1896 expedition, but mostly around the expedition, such as the USGS topographic maps of Mt. Rainier, 1915-1971 and NPS maps, 1907 to 1925 along with some additional information about the expedition.

Along with that I've been under the weather with the flu or something similar. So, that's slowed things down a bit, but not enough to get some progress. And that's the problem I've discovered. Which is? Well, between the expedition and the extraneous interests around the expedition, there's a lot of information and materials, but mostly it's about finding it, much of which is in university, government or private archives.

So, what else is new?

For one, the new visitors center opens this Friday October 10th through the weekend. After that it will only be opened weekends and holiday through the winter to late spring. Paradise Inn is now closed for the season. So, if you plan to go to Mt. Rainier, especially on weekdays, you're on your own for food, etc. Be prepared for your trip, stay and hiking.

In additon, I'm working on the 1896 expedition along with the early maps (1907-1925) of the NP, along with updates, winter activties and other Web pages for photographers working in the NP. So, there is more to come. And if you go to the NP, be prepared for inclement weather and follow the guidelines for hiking there, even visiting. It always helps and never hurts.

And this is today's photos from Paradise, including a dusting of snow with temps in the 30's and 40's. Get the idea?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seasonal Changes

Folks visiting Mt. Rainier National Park after the Labor Day holiday should consider the NPS uses September as the transistion month for seasonal operations at visitors centers and roads. In additon, the NPS has scheduled changes to accommodate the new visitors center at Paradise. These will be described below.

Visitors Centers: The Sunrise Visitors Center is closed (9/8/08). The old Jackson Visitors Center closed this coming Monday (9/29/08) and the new one opens October 10-11th, see Web page ). The Ohanopecosh Visitors Center closes Monday October 13th. The Longmire Visitors Center is open all year except for inclement weather.

Lodging: The Paradise Inn closes October 6th and National Park (Longmire) Inn is open year around.

Campgrounds: The White River campground closes September 29th. The Ohanopecosh and Cougar Rock campgrounds close October 6th. The Sunshine campground is permanently closed and the Ipsut Creek campground is now a hike-in backcountry campground now (permit required).

Roads: All highways are currently open except the Sunrise road which closes October 14th. The Westside Road is open to Dry Creek with some section still under construction, and will close at the highway turnoff sometime later this fall, depending on snowfall.

Trails: All trails are open at this time. You can get the latest status from the NPS Web page.

That's it for now. You can get additional information from the current conditions Web page.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old, new and free

This is the last weekend the Jackson Visitors Center built in 1966 will be open. Monday it will closed in preparation for the opening of the new visitors center October 10-11th, see the NPS press release. It was forward thinking when it was designed and built, to expand the visitor's experience with 360 view of the area with a central auditorium for shows. I can't count the number of times I've walked in and around it. It's kinda' cool and will be missed.

To honor this, the NPS at Mt. Rainier NP is waving the entry fee for everyone this weekend, the 27-28th. And after the opening of Paradise Inn in May this year, Paradise will a new visitors center October 10th, nearing completion (photo below) the weekend I was there recently.

This is a longtime in coming and well worth the investment in our National Parks and especially Mt. Rainier NP. We should consider ourselves in the Northwest and Washington State blessed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

MPG V2.4

Click on photo for Photo Guide

I have walked through and updated the entire photo guide along with redesigning the table of contents, added some new Web pages with maps for wildflowers, updated the sun/moon Web page for months through December this year, added other on-line trail and hike guides, and made some cosmetic changes to the whole suite Web pages with the photo guide.

On the horizon are updates to the 1896 expedition project and adding new Web pages for other subjects, some with maps. After that are the preparation of the Web pages for the winter season and snow conditions. And whatever else crosses my mind to do with the guide.

September is a transistion month from summer to fall into winter. Everything changes, but it's also the best time to visit and photograph in Mt. Rainier NP. There are far fewer people, often good weather - albeit cooler and more unpredictable, and the fall season for wildflowers, trees, wildlife, etc. So, it's a good time to think about being there.

Otherwise that's it and keep check this blog and the three different news Web pages (see table of contents) for new and updated information.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

1896 expedition project

In July I wrote about the first scientific expedtion in and around Mt. Rainier in 1896, including a summit by the team of geologists and support team. Since the initial finding of the report of the expedtion, I've been researching the available reports, photos and maps from 1880 to 1920. And what have I found?

Well, for one I've found a number of maps showing the different natural features and development by settlers and the government, and some more descriptions of other trips in and around Mt. Rainier. So far, it's fair to say most of the reports deal summit trips or vacation trips, the former to explore the different routes to the top of Mt. Rainier, and the latter people who visited Longmire, the first settlement, and Paradise, the first visitor destination.

It's simply looking at the early history of Mt. Rainier National Park, and I know some have done more extensive research into the early history of the NP and I'm focusing specifically on the 1896 expedtion, but it's been an excellent history lesson for me to see and try to understand what people when through and did on their visit to Mt. Rainier NP. It's a far cry from what we have and do today.

In addition, I've discovered one interesting idea. The photos in the 1898 report about the 1896 expedition weren't necessarily taken during the expedtion. Some of them I've found in some of the photo archives of photographers working around Mt. Rainier 1890 to 1900. To date I've found the negatives used with the original report, and two other photo archives of photographers. I suspect there are more, and they will be found, eventually, as I progress.

And the maps? I found and have paper or digital copies of the first USGS map of the National Park (1915 from surveys 1910-11 and 1913) and the update in 1938. I've found some other smaller maps, most in pamphlets, books or reports, from the early 1900's to the mid-1920's. It's very interesting to see the early history of the development in the NP.

And other stuff? Well, I found and have copies of some of the original notes taken by the expedition members, and I am transcribing some of it. Some of the notes haven't been found, either because the archives for the member doesn't have them or they're somewhere else, or institutions or universities have returned my inquiries yet. Looking for field note(book)s for one 2-week expedtion in the career of scientist is the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Beside the 1896 report, I plan to produce digital files of relevant information and maps so others can see the early history of the NP. Any material I provide through the photo guide will adhere to the laws governing copyrights.

And that's the story so far. I'm still researching maps and photo archives while reading the 1896 expediton narrative in sufficient detail to map their route. It's still months to maybe a few years from anything more than an idea of their route and locate the photos, and then to return there with my 4x5 camera, but hey, what could be a better project?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Table of Contents

I'm doing a walk-through of my Mt. Rainier NP photograpy guide, checking a variety of small things like typos, grammer, spelling, links, phtos, etc. and doing updates, new information, news, links, etc. along with some tinkering with the design. To this end I started with a new table of contents. And before ya'll ask, as some have, why not a fancier design using pulldown menus, flash, etc, you know all that neat Web design tricks available now, I'll explain.

Well, I only intend to use new applications in selected places through out the guide and Website, for good reasons. The main design philosophy of my guide is simplicity, not just for the user/reader in terms of keeping pages within more conventional size for reading and printing, but also for me. You see, I'm not a highly technicallly knowledgeable Web designer-developer, and the simplier the pages are, especially using a template and consistent style, the easier the pages are to add and new update.

I only plan to use new Web design technology and applications as appropriate to the content, need and interest. This is shown with the addition of subject specific Web pages in the photo guide with Google maps. You gotta remember, I'm retired, older and a little, ok a lot, slower these days. And I have time. I'm not into deadlines because I've learned it adds unnecessary stress, especially when I'm learning something new.

So I develop new ideas with the design or content in small increments until I can imagine a major design idear or change, and then see the process to implement and test it, which I can do by tinkering with one Web page and the part is the beauty of the structure and organization of my Website. Every page is individual within a common template design, and can be changed without effecting the rest of the Web pages.

I realize this isn't necessarily efficient or productive from a Website perspective, but then it gives me tremendous flexibility with the content. While the pages are all designed around a specifc browser window and within a specific size content display, closer to paper publications, it allows me to vary the content within the Web page frame for the whole array of information, with text, maps, photos, etc. and even with newer Web technologies, such as Google maps, flash, etc., as I learn.

In addition, the difference between my Website and photo guide and others' is significant. While most photographers use a static Website, meaning what you see won't change very often over time, partly due to the design and partly due to less new content, mine is a very dynamic Website being updated routinely during the month. It wouldn't pay me to design a Website I have to completely rebuild every time I update it or write one using a script I have to keep rewritiing, testing and debugging.

This doesn't mean I'm a curmudgeon about Web designs. I actually look at a lot of Websites and pages to get new ideas, and I often look at the source code to see how it was designed and developed. I don't have the resources to use a professional Web designer, nor try to learn how to keep the Website updated if I did. It has to do with a small character flaw in that I like to understand everything about my Web pages.

To that end, I don't use wysiwyg packages to develop the Web pages, you know the ones you write text in blocks, move boxes around, and fill in gui boxes about features. I use source code writers, namely Adobe's GoLive and Bare Bone's BBEdit. It has a lot neat features for a code writer, but it's still about knowing what html, css, xml, java/javascript, etc. is and does. You write and it works or not.

Anyway, that's it and that's me. I hope you enjoy the photo guide, and yes, it will evolve, currently at WSR 2.4 and MPG 2.4. The rest will just happen as it does and I do.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Highway 123 closures

Highway 123 between the Stevens Canyon entrance and Cayuse Pass, see my access and conditions Web page, and the NPS press release for more information. This means there will be no traffic through the construction work.

This a continuation of the work for repairing the damage from the November 2006 storms and floods where landslides wiped out some section of this highway. It was repaired temporarily this last spring and now paving will be done to return the road to a highway before the winter season. And hopefully, we won't have storms and floods like those that caused the damage.

If you are coming from the south or east via Highway 12 you can make plans to get to the same places by either using highway 706 to Paradise and Ashford and onward to highway 7 and Interstate 5 or use highway 12 and Interstate 5 to get to highway 165 for the roads to the Carbon River or Mowich Lake entrances in the northwest or highway 410 to get to the White River entrance and Sunrise area, see travel overview, or a state highway map.

Otherwise, have a good trip and visit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Westside Road Closure

This is just a reminder the Westside Road, just inside the Nisqually entrance in the southwest quadrant of Mt. Rainier NP will be closed at the highway from August 18th to September 5th, see NPS News Release (PDF). The road will be open to hikers and bikers on weekends and over the Labor Day Holiday, and people should be aware of and use caution around the construction zones.

You can get an idea of the location of the Westside Road on the Mt.Rainier access guide and map. The road goes for 3.2 miles to Dry Creek trailhead (normally used for parking) before being a rough trail through the Kautz Creek bed to reconnect to the Old Puyallup Road which goes over Round Pass to Klapatche Park.

For photographers, this hike isn't much to see for Mt. Rainier, it's starts at about 2,400 feet and only increases about 400 feet to the Dry Creek trailhead and is on the west side of Kautz Creek the whole distance surrounded by forest with only an occasional glimpse of Mt. Rainier. Once past the Dry Creek trailhead the road quckly rise along the south side of Emerald Ridge to Round Pass where the trail to Lake George and Gobbler's Knob starts before the road descends into South Puyallup River basin.

There is one vista on the road up to Round Pass but since the road was closed to cars years ago the trees have grown to reduce the view significantly. There isn't any real views of Mt. Rainier on this route until you get to Gobbler's Knob lookoout. You can get an idea of the hike from the dayhike map.

That said, the Westside Road is one my favorite hikes for the easy hike to Dry Creek and the many photo ops along the way for small things people all too often overlook. It's just a matter of keeping your eyes open to look and see.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Updated Resources Guide

I've updated the resources and information guide for Mt. Rainier NP, which is more of a site map where you can see the various Web pages with the guide and links to other Web pages. It provides a one-shop Web page in a different format than the table of contents which is intended to eventually be chapters in a book with maps.

Or that's the plan and goal anyway. And as always, you can send me e-mail with your questions, suggestions, comments and problems.

Updated map pages

I updated the various map Web pages for hikes, bike roads and trails, lookouts, lakes, wildflowers and meadows, and waterfalls with popup information windows so you can see the map and information without scrolling up and down. The popup windows have the same information as the page below the map for the access to the different types of photography interests (listed above).

Some of the popup windows are information about the Google maps and problems with the display. This information was moved to the popup to make the map Web page easier to read and use. This means you will need to enable popup windows with your browser. While it's not critical information, it is useful, so you might want to view them.

Please let me know if you have any questions, problems, suggestions or comments.

Sun and Moon Information

I've updated the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide with information about the Sun and Moon, see introduction Web page, on the rise, set, azimuth, and altitude so you can know when are the best times to photograph in the NP, namely near and after sunrise, before and near sunset, and full moons. The Web pages has specific information and links to Websites to calculate your own tables.

I've posted the information for July through December 2008 so you can get an idea of what available before visiting the Website. In addition some GPS units, such as Garmin's, have built-in software to calculate sunrise and sunset, but not the full suite of sun position or moon information. Or at least those that I've researched so far. But if you find any or know of any, please let me know to post the information to the Web page.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any problems, questions, comments or suggesations.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wildflowers and meadows

Note.--This blog has been superseded with the recently updated Web pages for wildflowers with a map of the area. Please link to these than here.

I have updated the Photo Guide with a Web page for wildflowers & meadows with a map of areas. This is a preliminary version as I refine the information.

All of the wildflower areas and meadows should be snow-free and the flowers either starting or well into the beginning of their seasonal life cycle. This year the bloom is late from the excess snowpack and late snowmelt. It's not known how long the wildflower season will last this year but it's likely to be a shorter period this year.

There are three types wildflower areas and meadows. The first are the areas near the visitor centers at Paradise and Sunrise, where they're accessible by easy dayhikes of a 1-3 miles. The second are dayhikes from trailheads accessible within a few hours' hike, and the third are backcountry hikes accessible over weekend requiring experience and permits.

One last comment about the hikes and trails in these areas. These are very sensitive environmental areas, so please follow the rules (signs) and do not go off the designated trails. The plants don't recover quickly and the NPS staff and volunteers have gone through a lot of work restoring these areas.

You're welcome to send me you comments, suggestions and questions to improve these Web pages.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bike roads and trails

I've added a new set of Web pages for information on riding road and mountain bikes in Mt. Rainier NP, which you can find here. There is a Web page with an overview, description and list of roads and trails, and another Web page with a map to locate the mountain bike roads and trails.

For the most part, riding a bike in Mt. Rainier is an activity few people come to the NP for, partly because of the lack of places and prohibition on bikes on the trails, and partly because of the number of better mountain bike rides in the US Forest Service lands around the NP where there are few restrictions and longer rides. Many of those, however, are shared with cars, motorcycle, ATV's, and hikers, so you have to use caution and exercise care when riding to avoid accidents and hikers.

Riding a road bike takes being a good rider in excellent condition as all the roads have significant elevation gain, easily 3,000-3,500 feet elevation gain over 15-20 miles. In addtion the highways are narrow two lane highways without true bike lanes but with wider shoulders and turnouts in many areas. You can also ride them around the visitors areas, like Sunrise, Paradise (espcially the Paradise Valley loop road), and Ohanopecosh, and around the camgrounds, such as Cougar Rock and Ohanopecosh.

Riding a mountain bike is pretty much restricted to three areas, the Westside road in the southwest, a near 9 mile one-way ride, Mowich Lake road in the northwest, a 5+ mile ride from the NP entrance to the lake and campground, and the Carbon River road, a 5 miles road and trail to the Ipsut campground. The Web page above provides more information about these places.

I hope this helps, and you're welcome to send e-mail with your suggestions, questions and problems.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

MPG V2.3

Click on photo for Photo Guide

I've updated the navigation and design on the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide with better map Web pages and improved navigation between the information, map and list Web pages on a particular subject, listed in the table of contents (above guide) in addition to adding popup windows for the advisories than text in the Web page. This means you need to enable popup windows with your browser.

Scheduled for this month is a Web page for backcountry hikes. It's still in the research and development stage to compile the information and resources. It will focus on the longer weekend and longer hikes and the Wonderland trail. These are the least accessed areas of the NP by photographers but has some of the photography opportunities.

After that are guides for wildflowers, wildlife and climbing, Web pages for an NP overview and history and completing the Web pages for the northeast and southeast quadrants. The goal is to have the framework for the guide done by this fall or winter to work on the next generation design and production of a print version (PDF) for photographers and NP visitors sometime in the next year.

In addition I'm working on an off-shoot project of the 1896 expedition by Bailey Willis, Israel C. Russell and George O. Smith, all geologist, who made the first scientific exploration of the area around Mt. Rainier for the glaciers and geology. They were the first to navigate around the north side from Paradise across several eastern side glaciers. Willis also took numerous 4x5 photographs (black and white negatives) which I've found in federal archives.

This is a longer term project which will be added to the photo guide more as information with the longer term goal and plan to locate sites of the photographs to take new ones with a 4x5 camera (b&w and color). I'll keep you posted over the months and likely years as it unfolds.

I hope you enjoy the improvements and please let me know if you have any problems, suggestions or questions.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quick weather forecast

While I have Web pages for weather resources with a map of weather sites, and there are a lot of on-line resources for weather in and around Mt. Rainier NP, the best Web page for the immediate forecoast from Longmire to the Summit is available from the University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences program, and is available here.

The forecast changes every day and often during the day as the models predict changes in the weather patterns, but it gives you the best information and forecast for your immediate visit. It doesn't include other three quadrants, and when I find Web pages for these areas and sites in those areas, I'll post them here.

Have a good visit and the best advice for visiting and especially hiking Mt. Rainier NP, "Stay warm and dry."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Updated news and access

I have updated the recent news, access and conditions, and monthly report, along with adding a Web page on information about photography permits in the NP.

The news is that the snowpack is on its last patches below 6,000 feet elevation and only in protected or shaded areas or on north sides of ridges, and so the wildflowers are out along with the bugs. Sorry, you can't have one without the other in Mt. Rainier NP, and with the high snowpack and late snowmelt, both are later than normal, and depending on the weather, which has been cooler than normal, will last until mid-late August, or the first freeze.

There still is considerable snow above 6,000 feet elevation, meaning many trails including Spray Park, a popular wildflower area. And Sunrise still has snow in areas and above, but it's also melting, so sometime in early-mid August the trails should be in shape for hiking and photography almost everywhere in the NP.

On the horizon are the last two quadrants and a backcountry hiking and photography guide, which are listed in the table of contents. I did find these cool map view of Mt. Rainier NP. I hope they work on enhancements to make it even better.

And so that's it for now. I hope the photo guide helps, and you're always welcome to send me comments, suggestions, questions or problems.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fire Lookouts

View of Grand Park from Mount Freemont

I have added a new set of Web pages for a guide to the fire lookouts in the NP and outside with views of Mt. Rainier. The pages include an overview and sites and map of sites. These lookouts offer excellent vista of the whole area, especially Mt. Rainier as well as offer an interesting history lesson since they were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1932 through 1934.

In addtiion there are two US Forest Service fire lookouts, one north and one south of the NP which also provided excellent views of Mt Rainier. This are more popular destinations as the access is easier and not requiring a NP pass. All of the rest of the lookouts in the area, two in the NP and about half a dozen USFS lookouts have been discontinued due to being destroyed or removed.

One last word. Two of the NP lookouts, Gobblers Knob and Mount Freemont were heavily damaged in the storms of November 2006 and the unusually high snowpack of the winter 2007-08, and haven't been fully rebuilt, so access may be limited, especially if you want to stay overnight (and remember a backcountry permit is required for this).

I hope you enjoy the information and it's useful, and please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions or problems with the Web pages.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Carbon River Rd II

I wrote about the National Park Service plans for the Carbon River road, and how people can submit their comments. Well, Jeffery Mayer, with the Tacoma News Tribune has published an interesting point of view, which kinda' shows there is no real answer here because the road is between the river and the rocks.

It's the proverbial between a rock and a hard place and history isn't on your side. The road was intentionally built along the river in the 1920's, decided by NPS Director Stephen Mather over the objections of the federal Bureau of Public Roads. The Bureau knew it was a disaster always waiting to happen every year of floods. And after the road had national historical landmark signifiance, the NPS was now stuck in a perpetual repair mode, until in November 2006 when nature destroyed 40% of it beyond repair.

So, now the NPS is trying to find an answer where there is no optimum solution. If you want the road, you'll spend a money every year to maintain it and a lot of money every few years after floods to rebuild it. And in many locations along the route the river is the road or will be at point in the future, the road is the path of least resistance rivers like to follow, the idea of least expended energy.

The problem is that road is 5 miles to the Ipsut Campground which is very popular with picnic areas along it. This shortens the high to the Carbon River glacier to 6-7 miles roundtrip, easily doable by many people. But now it's an extra 10 mile hike from the Carbon River entrance roundtrip just to get to the Ipsut campground, and then hike to the glacier. In short it's an overnight hike, and with the Ipsut campground severly damaged from the flood and now a backcountry campground (no facilities), it's not a family outing.

And now the NPS is following up on the General Management Plan (GMP) which opted to eventually remove the road in favor of a hike and bike trail to the Ipsut campground. But the floods moved that up to reality and one of the options is to repair the first 3 miles or so which were the least damaged section and convert the rest to the hike and bike trail. Except that's only a short-term alternative until better longterm solutions can be found.

This is because it doesn't really matter if you have a Carbon River road or hike and bike trail, the river is still the problem and the danger to it. It will washout on occasion from floods, it's back to the river and rocks situation where you can't win. But if you remove the road for the trail, the NPS will now be depriving many visitors from their rightful experience. Mt. Rainier NP was built as a drive-in National Park, to be experienced by car and walking.

And the reality doesn't match anymore, at any price. And so the choices are really the lessor of evils but also depriving many people of coming and enjoying the National Park. And my view since I haven't said? I wouldn't want to be the Superintendent who has to make the final decision alternative to propose to the National Parks Chief. You'll be standing in the spotlight with no protection from the public and Congressonal criticism.

So I haven't said, but I would opt for the intermediate, meaning maintain the first 3 miles until it's clearly not financially feasible in light of the river. And then maintain whatever road you can until the river controls the situation, be it only one to two miles, and the keep converting it to a minimal hiking trail. I am in favor of rebuilding the Ipsut campground, somewhere safer, to make it a destination with facilities.

But it's not my decision, only my opinion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Collecting seeds

As reported in the Tacoma News Tribune:

"Volunteers will be needed in August and September to help collect plant seeds at Mount Rainier National Park. The seeds are needed to help with restoration work in flood-damaged areas of the park, said Anine Smith, who is coordinating the collection. Volunteers will be collecting seeds at Sunshine Point, the Nisqually to Christine Falls section of the road to Paradise, West Side Road, Paradise and if all goes well at the White River Campground.

Due to the heavy snowpack, the flowering season is delayed, shortened and for some species this year, maybe even nonexistent, Smith said. She said the work will need to be done quickly to collect as many seeds as possible before the snow starts falling again.

If you are interested in participating, contact Smith at"

I'll post a update when I get word from the NPS with more details and schedules.

Debris flows

On August 15-16, 2006 a small debris flow in the upper Van Trump Creek basin raced down the steep slopes over Comet, Van Trump and Christine Falls into and down the Nisqually river (Seattle PI article). The debris flow started after a period of warm weather caused a portion of the Kautz Creek glacier to calve off over Wapowety Cleaver into the steep wall upper basin, and took ice and debris downstream.

It proceeded to inundate the falls and creek with mud and debris with much of it going into the Nisqually River and carried downstream by the main flow of the river. By the time is reached the USGS streamflow gage at National, the river rose just under 3 inches in minutes, partly from the silt and sediment and partly the increased flow of the melted ice and water from the Van Trump basin.

While this debris flow raised alarms, it was just a small one in the history of mud and debris flows off Mount Rainier, in fact a figurative sneeze of one. But it raised concerns and scientist have renewed their research this year in part from the significantly higher than normal snowpack and late snowmelt (Olympian article).

What does this mean to you the visitor?

It means when you're hiking the trails you should be alert to the signs of upstream debris flows. This is important especially if you're on a trail near a stream, where mud and debris flows can be high and wide through the valley along the stream or creek.

This is especially important this year with the snowpack and in July and August, the warm weather months where the chances of sudden glacier activity and subsequent mud and debris flows increase. And it's important at night if you're in one of the backcountry campground alongside a creek or river. Often the temperature diurnal at night from the warm weather creates the possiblity of glacial activity resulting in mud and debris flows.

It's not something to be in constant anxiety about, but it's worth noting when you hear loud, unusual sounds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seeking information

You can help my project. While developing the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide I ran across some historical reports on expeditions around Mt. Rainier before it became a National Park in 1899. I posted an entry about the first scientific expedition by Israel Cook Russel, Otis Smith and Bailey Willis, and others.

I've managed to find the set of 4x5 negatives Bailey Willis took on the expedition, currently in the archives of the USGS in Denver. They have scanned some of the collection but don't plan to scan the bulk for some time yet, so I'm discussing some options to help, or at least see the negatives and any prints (without going to Denver).

I've also managed to find locate and get a copy of George Otis Smith's field notes on the geology of Mt. Rainier on the expedition. I've found archives of some of Bailey Willis and Israel C. Russell's materials but very little of the expedition, and I have inquiries with university libraries and departments where they were professors, but considering it's the summer, answers will take awhile.

And so, I'm asking if you know of any materials or information about the expedition, I would be grateful. I realize it's an off-shoot from the photo guide, but it's an intriguing adventure into this group and their expedition. The initial goal is to find enough information to retrace the expedition and see if I can locate where the photos were taken, and if possible to take new 4x5 photos (yes, I shoot 4x5).

If it works out, probably a few years from now, and enough material is useful to retrace the expedition and locate the sites of the photos, the plan would be to produce an on-line paper or pamphlet for people to learn from the history of the NP, including a portfolio of photos then and recent.

And so it's just an expedition into an expedition. And like the first, who knows where it will lead and what it finds. But what's not to like about it? A snapshot of history meets the modern world. So you can help by sending me e-mail.

Monday, July 21, 2008

News and access

I have updated the Mt. Rainier NP news and access Web pages, at table of contents for the photography guide (see top section on news, access and monthly report).

To summarize, all the roads are now open including the road to Sunrise. There will be occasionally delays on highway 123 to Cayuse Pass as the State Department of Transportation fixes the highway from the landslides and this last winter high snowpack. In addition, the Carbon River road is still closed at the entrance, and is undergoing review where you can submit your comments on the various options.

The snowpack is still there, including some at Paradise and covering the Mowich Lake area where the road is cleared to the campground, but the campground, surrounding lakes and trials have snow. It will be another 2-3 weeks before the Mowich Lake area is snow free at the lake, but snow will persists in the trails above the lake, which includes Spray Park, where the wildflowers are usually out this time of year.

This limits the number of photo opportunities with wildflowers to the lower elevations for now and the next few weeks, but it means August looks good for all the areas this year. For July this also limits the number of snow-free trails and access the backcountry and all above 5-6,000 feet, including extensive lengths of the Wonderland trail, are still snowbound and may be for weeks to come, but things will improve into August.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No Guns in NP's

Despite an overwhelming outcry from Department of Interior senior career managers within the National Park Service (NPS) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and from retired NPS Park Superintendents, the Secretary of the Interior is continuing his effort at the behest and on behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to allow concealed and loaded firearms in National Parks (NP) an Wildlife Refuges (WR).

The Secretary and his staff are doing this in the disguise of a perceived but imaginary threat on people in NP's and WR's and the percieved but imaginary infringement on the freedoms of citizens' "right to bear arms" anywhere in federally owned lands, with the only exception as identified by specific regulations, which are rare. It's a sham on the public to be safe in NP's and WR's, and would very easily make it worse.

The rule change, published in the Federal Register, written as to appear innocuous unless one reads through it. It states,

"A person may possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded, and operable firearms within a national park area in the same manner, and to the same extent, that a person may lawfully possess, carry, and transport concealed, loaded and operable firearms in any state park, or any similar unit of state land, in the state in which the federal park, or that portion thereof, is located, provided that such possession, carrying and transporting otherwise complies with applicable federal and state law."

In additon some gunowner groups are pushing its membership through the public comments to revise the rule removing the word "concealed", allowing everyone to have and carry a weapon in a NP and WR, in public view (not concealed). The public comments are infected with the same response no common person would right let alone many writing the exact same comment. Clearly the public comment section just got spammed.

That's it, wrapped in nearly two pages of political rhetoric about allowing state laws for gun ownership to govern managment and use of federal lands. And while it argues this applies to US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands and is only consolidating federal rules with those adhering to state laws, it's a ruse to equate those lands with NP's and WR's, which are managed under different policies and for different purposes.

And this proposal has the backing of a small number of Senators who favor the NRA's position on the total freedom of individuals to own firearms and take them anywhere for their personal safety without regard for the safety of everyone else. They're arguing individual rights trump the rights of all of us as a society, country and nation. It's not about the right to carry guns, but the right of everyone to be safe from guns.

This would create the risk of anyone visiting a NP or WR to realize that there will be people anywhere they go that may, and likely will, have a firearm on their person or in the backpack. And for what purpose would anyone do that except to show they can? The risk of needing a firearm in a NP or WR is lower than being hit by lightning, and where the risk is assessed to need a firearms, NP and WR rangers are trained and licenses to carry and use one.

We don't need vigilantism in NP and WR. We don't need to generate fear of other people in NP's and WR's of someone having a loaded firearm. We don't need to put NP and WR rangers at risk for that reason too, not knowing if they stop and inquire with visitors they can, and maybe will, have a loaded firearm ready at hand. Do we want the rangers treating every visitor as a suspect for carrying a loaded firearm? Or worse, treating everyone as suspects instead of visitors? Or starting conversations with, "First, do you have a gun in your possession or are you carrying a weapon right now?"

This is what it boils down to, your safety to visit and enjoy our NP's and WR's and the rights of those who feel the guns belong everywhere and are willing to risk everyone else's life for that behavior. I make no bones about the fact I want to visit, hike and photograph in Mt. Rainier NP without the fear someone else on the trails and especially in the backcountry will have a gun, and the fear they could, and likely will, use it.

It's a very simple argument that federal lands, especially National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, shouldn't be the province or under the jurisdiction of individual states. It's our land for the benefit of all of us and all the visitors to enjoy their visit without the fear of people with guns.

The window for public comment has been extended to August 8, 2008, see the Web page for additional information for additional information and the Web page for your comment.

So, for the sake of the visitors' and their families and ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable visit to NP's and for the sake of the National Park employees, concessionaire employees and volunteers who work in the Parks.

Let's keep National Parks Firearm Free Places

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Northwest Area

I've updated the photo guide for the northwest area in the National Park (NP) which is accessible via Highway 165 through Wilkerson where the road splits into the two entrances, the Carbon River Valley and the Mowich Lake area. You can get an overview of the separate quadrants and Paradise areas. The goal is to provide more detail information for each area to help you with your visit and photography.

Over the next month or so, the other areas will have the Web pages updated similar to the other on-line areas. Everyone is welcome to send e-mail with suggestions or questions they have about the areas and would like to see more information. Over time, each of these areas will be more fully expanded with more information, references and photos. For now I want to get an initial framework up to see what direction I need to go with the Web pages.

In addtion, work will continue on the other Web pages, labelled "forthcoming", meaning overviews and guides to other aspects of Mt. Rainier NP which should help your visit and photography. Some of these areas are beyond my experience, and I will be using help from friends and available resources to develop the Web pages, so your help would be appreciated. You can see where I'm at from the table of contents.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Carbon River Road Plans

The National Park Service at Mt. Rainier NP have updated their Website with the proposals for the Carbon River, see alternatives. This includes images of the maps they displayed at the two public meeting forums in late June and early July, along with a more complete description of the alternatives.

I hope you review alternatives and send the NPS you comments and suggestions via e-mail, see the link in Web pages (above) or use the form (MS .doc, see link) to mail your comments and suggestions. This is your chance to be heard about the Carbon River, and while there is a wide view on the issue of what to do with the Carbon River road, everyone's view counts.

The plan is to review all the public comments to develop a draft final proposal this fall for another round of public review and meetings to be revised and submitted later in the fall or early winter, so any funds for fiscal year 2009 and 2010 can be identified in NPS and DOI appropriations bills by Congress.

If this sounds like a long process, think of the diligent NPS folks who have worked on this for years already after the November 2006 floods, and all the public meetings they and the Superintendent of Mt. Rainier NP has overseen along with the many management meetings within the NPS. They've worked hard and deserve the recognition for their work, as well you deserve the chance to voice your view.

So, there it is, and it's your turn now.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Trail Overview

I've added a new Web page to the photo guide giving an overview of Trail Overview. The trails in Mt. Rainier NP have been around for centuries from the various Indian Tribes who visited the region for the meadows, resources, and wildlife. Almost all of these trails were for going through the NP area and to the meadows where Tribes established temporary camps for ceremonies, seasonal hunting and simply vacations.

After the Indians came the settlers looking for food and timber, and eventuall minerals. Along with them came the explorers, adventurers and climbers and then the surveyers and scientists. The first of the trails were in the southwest quadrant from Ashford to Longmire and eventually to Paradise and in the northwest quadrant, the Grindstone Trail to the upper elevations of Mt. Rainier which is now the Mowich Lake road and Spray Park trail.

From there surveyers and scientists established more extensives trails and the miners who filed claims to mineral and coal, namely in the White River and Carbon Rivers valleys. During the 1910's into the 1930's some of the trails become roads and new areas were opened with roads and later trails. During this time the Wonderland trail was fully established and improved over the decades.

Anyway, that's the Web page, which you can find on the Photo Guide.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Carbon River Road

View more images of Carbon River flood damage, courtesy of NPS.

The Carbon River road in Mount Rainier National Park (NP) is the least visited entrance, mostly because the access is via rural highway 165 through Wilkerson. It's also one of the unique areas on the NP, a temperature rainforest which has some of the oldest climax Hemlock forests in western Washington and the Cascade Mountains, and has one of the lowest elevation glacier, the (Carbon Glacier).

The Carbon River entrance has the five-plus mile drive along an historic, often flood damaged and repaired, road to the Ipsut Creek campground. The road once extended another two-plus mile to the toe of Carbon Glacier, but was abandoned ago due to frequent washout from floods. The Carbon River road was a road until the November 2006 which destroyed about 40% of the 5 miles, see trail damage map (PDF).

Since then the Carbon River road has been closed to cars at the NP entrance and open to hikers and bikers only. This may have been the way it would be and the National Park Service (NPS) simply improve and maintain the trail from damage, but the management of the Carbon River valley is regulated by the General Management Plan (GMP) and the road, built, repaired and improved throughout the 1900's, is part of the National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) registry.

And so the NPS is currently reviewing options, with public meetings and through July 31st, gathering public comments on the options. These options, described below, will not necessarily be the only choices, and elements of some may be incorporated into the final proposal to be ready for public release and comment this fall.

The NPS have developed three preliminary alternatives, two with short and long term alternatives, and were presented to the public at the meetings with public comment sessions. I personally am grateful for the hard work of the NPS folks and especially the team that did the work and conducted the meetings. They presented overviews of the flood damage to the Carbon River valley, the history of the area and some geomorphic work that will continue to effect the river for decades and beyond.

And so here is the alternatives for public comment.

Carbon River Road Public Scoping
June 30 - July 31, 2008
Preliminary Conceptual Alternatives

Alternative 1: No action (continue current management): Minor road stabilization to reduce further deterioration of historic Carbon River road. Maintain and Informal Multiuse (hiking / bicycling) trail within or adjacent to historic road corridor. This includes:

Informal hike and bike trail in historic road corridor,
Parking at entrance,
Patrol Cabin relocated to entrance or Ipsut Creek,
Continued picnikding at Chenuis and Ipsut,
Add picnic area at entrance,
Eventually remove or relocated facilities to boundary expansion area,
Ipsut Creek hike and bike camp.

Alternative 2: 2a (short term) Construct and maintain a formal multiuse (hiking / bicycling) trail within or adjacent to historic road corridor. 2b (longterm) Over time construct additional sections of the trail to link sectios of the former roadway. This includes:

Formal hike and bike trail in historic road corridor,
Parking at entrance,
Patrol cabin at Ipsut Creek,
Ipsut Creek hike and bike camp,
Continued picnicking at Chenuis and Ipsut,
Temporary access to decommission Ipsut Creek area.

Same as alternative 2a except
More sections of trail link intact sections of former roadway,
Remove entrance station and maintenance facilities,
Relocate bunk house and expand parking,
Maintain hiking and bicycling access to Ipsut Creek campground.

Alternative 3: 3a (short term) Maintain a sustainable one lane road with turnouts to Chenuis area and construct and maintain a hiking / bicycling trail beyond Chenuis within and adjacent to the historic orad corridor. 3b (long term) Over time construct a new sustainable hiking only trail outside the Carbon River road corridor to replace the Carbon River road. This includes:

Similar to alternative 2a except reconstruction to near Chenuis,
One lane road with turnouts,
Parking at entrance, Old Mine trail and Green Lake trail,
Expanded parking and turnout at Chenuis,
Construct hike and biking trail to Ipsut Creek Campground,
Patrol cabin relocated near Green Lake trail.

Same as alternative 3a except,
Parking at entrance,
Remove entrance station and maintenance facility and relocate bunkhouse,
Construct new hiking only trail on high terrace outside historic road corridor,
Construct loop trails to historic road corridor,
Replace Ipsut Creek hike and bike campground with backcountry camp.

Public comment open until July 31, 2008, and to add your voice, follow the link to open for public comment.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MPG V2.2

Click on photo for Photo Guide

I've updated the guide with two Web pages. The first is a Monthly Report Web page. This page is for general information for each month, currently for July 2008. It's not meant to be specifically or completely accurate or complete, but for something the news and information the news and information won't or doesn't normally provide.

The second is the updated Paradise areaWeb page and the new Southwest area via the Nisqually Entrance, both updated for July conditions. The key here is the addtion of the NPS shuttle service from Ashford to Longmire and to Paradise. Parking at Paradise is still restricted by the snowpack, Paradise Inn construction, and still closed Paradise Valley Road. The message is get there early or use the shuttle.

So what are the prospects for July? Well, for one, the snowpack is gone below 4,000 feet in most areas except shaded and shelter areas and north slopes, and melting quickly between 4,000 and 5,000 feet. This means the lower elevations trais are clear with only patches of snow, and the mid-elevation trails clearing. The road to Sunrise from White River campground is still open daily depending on road work, but should open continuously by early July.

Two other things.

Bugs. They should be late this year, good thing, but lots more as there is more meltwater and warming temperatures, bad thing. Be prepared for bugs through mid-to-late August or the first freezing temperatures.

Wildflowers, Same thing with bugs, lots of them but later than usual. You should begin finding them in the lower elevations, and eventually at mid and higher elevations through July. Bring your camera.

That's it for version 2.2 for July.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Southwest Area

I've updated the photo guide for the southwest area in the National Park (NP) which is accessible through the Nisqually Entrance on highway 706, which goes through the NP past Longmire and Paradise to highway 123 which goes north to highway 410 over Cayuse and Chinook Passes and south to the Ohanopacosh Entrance. You can get an overview of the separate quadrants and Paradise areas. The goal is to provide more detail information for each area to help you with your visit and photography.

Over the next month or so, the other areas will have the Web pages updated similar to the Paradise area Web page. Everyone is welcome to send e-mail with suggestions or questions they have about the areas and would like to see more information. Over time, each of these areas will be more fully expanded with more information, references and photos. For now I want to get an initial framework up to see what direction I need to go with the Web pages.

In addtion, work will continue on the other Web pages, labelled "forthcoming", meaning overviews and guides to other aspects of Mt. Rainier NP which should help your visit and photography. Some of these areas are beyond my experience, and I will be using help from friends and available resources to develop the Web pages, so your help would be appreciated. You can see where I'm at from the table of contents.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting Involved

This post isn't about photography or related to my photography guide to Mt. Rainier National Park. I was noticing that there are a lot of ways people get involved in the National Park (NP). These organizations do many things in the NP and for the National Park Service (NPS) in and for Mt. Rainier NP.

The reason for these groups and organizations to ask for volunteers, help and money is simple. Under the last succession of President, the National Park Service has been seriously underfunded to just keep up with the routine maintenance in the National Parks in addition to new work and repairs from major events, such as the floods of November 2006 in Mt. Rainier NP.

And some of these are as follows.

NPS Volunteer Program

This Web page list all the programs you can consider if you want or plan to volunteer to work in the NP. You have lots of opportunities to help.

Washington Trail Association

The WTA focuses on the trails in the National Parks and Forest Service Forest in Washington State, from lobbying for additional funds through Congress to schedule trail development and maintenance.


The Mountaineers, the oldest outdoor recreation organization in Washington, works on the public access and improvement of National Parks, Forest Service and Bureau Land Management lands in Washington State. They have branches in several cities, but most of the work done in Mt. Rainier NP is done through the Tacoma branch.

Mount Rainier Volunteers

The volunteers works on a range of work and projects about Mt. Rainier NP.

Students Conservation Association

This SCA sponsors work parties for high school students for the National Park.

Some of these organizations have member program or will take donations if you can't volunteer your time. You can get a longer list of organizations on the Mt. Rainier Volunteers Web blog (see partners in right column).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Geology Web page

I've put up the initial Geology Web page. It's not a comprehensive Web page, there's far too much information to do that in a page or two. Nor is it an overview of the geology of Mt. Rainier, there's too many available on-line and in books. It's more just information I find interesting and usually not mentioned in the overviews and detalied to death in the scientific studies and reports.

The Web page is more to give you an idea of the complexity and dynamics of Mt. Rainier. It's the result of the history of mountain range (batholith) building, volcanism (plate tectonics), continental and mountain glaciation (Puget Sound glaciation stages), and mass wasting events (landslides, debris and mudflows and lahars). And its story isn't often what people think about volcanoes and mountains.

In addition, I've listed some geology books and reports, see bibliography and some Websites, see bottom of geology Web page, if you want to learn more. Some of the link to on-line material goes back to the first geologic explorations of Mt. Rainier in the 1890's, which includes a short trip to and overnight stay in the summit crater. And that's without all the technology of modern outdoor clothes and climbing tools.

Mt. Rainier is not a static volcano as many visitors think. Things happen every minute, mostly small, and out of sight and mind of people, but a few become news, such as rockslides on climbing routes, glacial outburt floods, and debris/mud flows down creek(s) into the rivers draining Mt. Rainier. So while climbers know the hazards and risks, most hikers and visitors don't. It's rare anything will happen but it doesn't hurt to stay alert.

Anyway, that's it for the initial version which will be updated occasionally.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Contact Web page

Ok, at the request of a friend who didn't like that I have used a direct link for e-mail (a "mailto" in html code) because she didn't use MS Outlook, and wanted me to develop a standard contact form Web page, I've done this and it should be consistent throughout the Website and the navigation bars, as now linked to this Web page.

It will be improved as I learn more about php to add some choices and spam protection. And if you know of some cool tools or things you'd like to see on it, you can use it to send the links to me. And all you real Web designers and programmers can stop laughing at my simplistic effort with this Web page. Remember we all have to begin somewhere learning something new. I don't expect to learn that much more php, just enough to get this script better. I have more interest in other things on my Website than learning programming.

So have a good summer. I'm planning some hiking-photography and working on the photo guide to Mt. Rainier NP.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Paradise Area

I updated the Web page for the Paradise area (Jackson Visitors Center) in Mt. Rainier NP. You can get an overview of the separate quadrants and Paradise areas. The goal is to provide more detail information for each area to help you with your visit and photography.

Over the next month or so, the other areas will have the Web pages updated similar to the Paradise area Web page. Everyone is welcome to send e-mail with suggestions or questions they have about the areas and would like to see more information. Over time, each of these areas will be more fully expanded with more information, references and photos. For now I want to get an initial framework up to see what direction I need to go with the Web pages.

In addtion, work will continue on the other Web pages, labelled "forthcoming", meaning overviews and guides to other aspects of Mt. Rainier NP which should help your visit and photography. Some of these areas are beyond my experience, and I will be using help from friends and available resources to develop the Web pages, so your help would be appreciated. You can see where I'm at from the table of contents.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Updated news and access

I updated the table of contents with new and updated information in the news Web page, access and conditions Web page and seasonal conditions. What does this mean to the visitor?

For one, with the unusually high snowpack and late snowmelt, some roads are either closed or open daily depending on snow removal. For another, the Washington State Highway Department will start repairs to highways 123 and 410 beween the Stevens Canyon entrance and Cayuse and Chinook passes from the storms and landslide of recent years. And lastly, many trails are still snowbound about 4-5,000 feet as there is still over 8 feet of snow at Paradise.

For the visitor going to the Nisqually entrance, to alleviate the parking congestion at Paradise from the snow and construction, the NPS will be operaing a shuttle service between Whittakers Mountaineering Services parking lot to Longmire and Paradise Friday through Sundays to Labor Day. The parking is free but the park entrance is $5 if you don't have an annual pass.

Lastly, I've added a bibliography of books I've collected over the years which can be useful to visitors and photographers. Many of the books are still in print and available from local or on-line bookstores. The exception is the older USGS reports which are available from the USGS on-line publication library or can be copied at your USGS district (state) office.

Over this summer I will be updating the individual area information Web pages, starting with the Paradise area, which should be done in the next week or so. The other four areas will be update through July. I hope to have some basic information on each by early August.

I hope this helps. The next schedule update will be in early July or earlier if I see new information about roads and trails.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Books on Mt. Rainier NP

I've updated the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide with a page for books on Mt. Rainier NP I've collected over the years which I use to write the other Web pages. Most of the books are available from local or on-line bookstores. In addition I've added some personal notes about some I've found useful, interesting or simply "the" book you should have you want or need that information about Mt. Rainier NP.

I hope you find it useful and you can always send me e-mail with suggestions, questions or problems.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sun and Moon Information

I've updated the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide with information about the Sun and Moon, see introduction Web page, on the rise, set, azimuth, and altitude so you can know when are the best times to photograph in the NP, namely near and after sunrise, before and near sunset, and full moons. The Web pages has specific information and links to Websites to calculate your own tables.

I've posted the first three months of information so you can get an idea of what available before visiting the Website. In addition some GPS units, such as Garmin's,. have built-in software to calculate sunrise and sunset, but not the full suite of sun position or moon information. Or at least those that I've researched so far. But if you find any or know of any, please let me know to post the information to the Web page.

So, that's it for now. More to come as indicated on the photo guide as "forthcoming" or "under construction."