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.