Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NP Boundary History

Mt. Rainier, 1896

I've finished the brief history of the boundary of Mt. Rainier NP, see descritption and map. As you can see from the map the original NP was considerably smaller in size, thought to have been square but wasn't due to kinks in the township and range land plat system in use. That was resolved with the 1931 law adding new lands to the NP.

Subsequent changes occurred in 1988 and 2003, but these were mostly smalll additions or inclusions of land for better management of the NP resources, and with one small removal for Crystal Mountain ski resort's ski operations. The 1988 was for inclusion of adjacent USFS land for the NP to completely encompass the Stevens Canyon Road (southeast) and Westside Road (west central) into the NP and NPS management.

The 2003 was the inclusion of land just outside the northwest corner, the Carbon River entrance, for space for visitor facilities (parking, camping, building, etc.) because the land inside the NP was susceptible to flooding, namely 2006 and 2008 which destroyed number NP facilities, and the NP has approved the new Carbon River plan to move all but essential services to this new land, to close the old road, which has been temporarily closed since 2006, and to reroute the trail.

This addition will probably be the last in some time since it took so long to negotiate swapping private timber lands, and expensive. There still is a need to add land to the NP, but much of the land is in the USFS lands and has been logged. But that said, there is land in the northwest and southwest corner, the river corridors, which would benefit the NP for better management.

Anyway, that's the latest update. More is on the way over the next few weeks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Snowplay Area News

The snowplay area is still closed as there still is not 5 feet of snow over the meadows for the snowplay areas at Paradise. No date has been announced for the opening of the snowplay area but hopefully it will be soon, but that depends on the snowfall and snowpack, which presently is just over 4 feet at Paradise Visitors Center.

You can keep updated with the Mt. Rainier NPS Twitter Account. The road status (Longmire to Paradise) and snowplay area with other news, will be posted there. This is a great resource for NP visitors.

Update Topographic Maps

Paradise Park, 1915, click for larger view

I updated the USGS topographic map Web pages, description and map, for the USGS' work producing topographic maps of Mt. Rainier NP from the first in 1915 to the latest with the 1971 NP map and the 15 maps in the series of 7.5-minute maps which covers the NP and some of the topographic map software packages available for Apple computers, tablets and cellphones.

That's it for now. Have a good Christmas holiday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter 2011-12 Update

I have updated, at last, the Mt Rainier NP photo guide for the winter, December 2011 through February 2012, news, conditions and prospects for visitors and photographers. Everything is now winter in the NP and the only part without significant snow is the northwest corners, namely the Carbon River entrance.

You can now get the latest news from the NPS' Mt. Rainier NP Twitter Page about the status of the weather at the Nisqually entrance and the road from Longmire to Paradise controlled at the gate just east of Longmire. Add this to your cellphone (Twitter app free) if you plan trips to Mt. Rainier NP.

The snowplay and winter camping areas aren't open yet but probably will be open mid-late December. You can get more information from the NP's winter recreation Web page. If you like to play in the snow, be patient, it's almost here.

In addition, you must carry chains for your vehicle if you go in the winter. They're rarely required but still necessary if you get to Paradise and the weather changes so the road down the hill to Glacier Bridge requires chains. Many tire stores sell them on a rebuy program if you don't use them through the winter you can sell them back in April.

Go and have fun.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I updated the Webcams Web page with a map and with better links to get the images. But to use these Web pages you need to enable popup windows because the links open a new window with the latest image(s).

Not much else for now. Sorry about the lack of news updates. Those are coming soon for the winter.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Longmire Webcam

I have updated the Web page for the Webcams in the NP with the newest one at Longmire which is in the administration building looking southwest to the highway from the Nisqually entrance. The Museum and former gas station (now the restroom) on the left and the Longmire springs behind the tree across the highway in the distant right in the image.

There are now 8 Webcams in the NP, four in the Jackson Vistors center, one in the staff headquarters southwest of the center, one in the Mountain Guide Center looking at the visitors center, one at Camp Muir looking due south down the Muir Snowfield and now one at Longmore. Attempts to operate one at Sunrise has been intermittent at best and then only seasonally, and hopefully they'll bring it back for the summer season in the future.

That's it for now, except the snow, and lots of it early in the season. Let's hope it doesn't all melt as has happened in recent years causing massive flooding and major damage in the NP. The predictions are suggesting a snowfall and snowpack similar to last year. Well, we and the NP are at the hands of nature.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Topographic Map Software

Update 10/15/11.--I upgraded to OS-X 10.7.2 and surprisingly National Geographic's TOPO! works with no visible problems from the few test I've run, meaning it loads, open and works for a few tests. So my final recommendation still applies, it's the better of three if you want USGS topo maps and other tools

I've used National Geographic's (NG's) TOPO! software for Washington for several years now, even buying new version when they decide to create new versions instead of simple developing upgrades or updates. And now they have said the current version is not compatible with Apple's OS-X 10.7 (Lion) and just now decided to consider to plan an upgrade for it.

Go figure they want to lose all the customers who, like me, have it on their Mac with plans to upgrade to Lion or others who already have Lion and find the software doesn't work. So much for customer service, especially since it's a good software package, and probably the better of all of them. And like which?

I will be upgrading to Lion soon (in a week or two waiting the last updates for Lion for other software and hardware) so I went out and got MacGPS Pro along with the maps for Washington state, and I got Garmin's Topo US 24K West which has software and maps.

Well, after doing some initial work setting them up and using them, I'm not overly impressed with either. This is in part I because I focused on the use for the work I do, which is really using USGS topographic maps for location information (latitude, longitude, elevation, etc.) for sites I use with Google maps, for deteriming routes and for identifying and locating landmarks and geographic features.

Ok, so what's my initial assessment of each of the two new ones?

Let's start with the MacGPS Pro. For one, it uses the full range of USGS topographic maps and you can pick the scale and maps you want for the state(s) you buy. That's cool, but the downside it that is load each quadrant (map) when you start it so it can be excruciatingly slow while it loads.

I use the 20 which include Mt. Rainier NP and the adjacent area. In addition the auto-open folder doesn't have a user selection if you're working in more than one area or working with two different map scales. I have more to learn how it deals with this folder but user-selected folders would be handy.

Also, in selected the maps quadrants is difficult at best and almost impossible at worst as they don't provide an separate or ready index to help you. You have to guess at the quadrant name or the maps identification system which are latitidue-longitude and alphanumeric sequence based files.

But what is really aggrevating is that it doesn't save your last window settings. It always uses a default which is both stupid and irritating as the list window opens along the bottom covers the dock and you have to move and resize it or remove it, but you don't have the choice not to display it at startup. The map window is worse as it uses full window size, and with my 27" LED Apple monitor it's just stupid on their part.

Any good application will have save user settings for starting and they have none. And it only displays the map(s) in the window and navigate outside the window requires it to reload the maps in the new display. They're in cache but they can't seem to get it to scroll or resize quickly. On the plus side, better than the NG maps, they will display well at scale less than 1:24K to see details.

This is something the NG software does automatically, quickly and easily. I don't like the NG not remember you last location and scale to fill the window, but all the maps are there and resizing and scrolling is almost invisible. The MacGPS could and should do that with initial user settings.

When I use it for location, which I like they use USGS maps, you have to click a location to show a window of information than simply using the mouse over. Both the NG and Garmin Basecamp software does that. The MacGPS does display a higher resolution of the location information (latitude and longitude, elevation, etc.) than the Garmin software and similar to NG's.

Accuracy is something that hard to assess because of the map scale isn't good enough to be even close to exact, but it's within acceptable accuracy as most of them are accurate. Elevation, however is easier to be faulty as it's not what the map reads but what the software calculates from the point data in the digital file. I'm only interested it that it's in reasonably correct between the contour lines.

Ok, the Garmin Basecamp software? Well, Initially it has some good features, like remember user settings for the window and map. But the maps are Garmin's version of USGS-like topographic maps and there is no way to remove some display features, like shading, and lacks improved contour lines, which are more straight lines at some scales.

And they fill the maps with a lot of distracting markers you can remove most but not all. The maps are more for hikers and show and tell than real use for landscape and geographic features which USGS maps excel at. They should have the option to use or import USGS maps instead of theirs.

What bothers, and somewhat angers, me is that the software recognized my hard drives (Mac's Time Machine and Apple's iDisk) as "GPS devices" and there is no way to remove them. So every few minutes a popup window interfers with your work to remind you the device is busy. Neither are a GPS device and the software should recognize that or allow the user to remove it. Really dumb on their part.

Another point is the hand for location information. It's a hand you don't exactly know where it's at because it covers the point inofmation of the mouse over. The mouse over is good and click to get more information. But I found the elevation data often to be inaccurate as it shows differences with the contour lines.

Again the road and trail features are more lines than reality. It's obviously the point data for the maps but at some scales it's obvious, something scanned and digitized USGS topo maps don't have the problem. In addition the labels aren't representatives as they make a point represent a feature, like a ridge or a valley.

Anyway, that's my initial impression. The Garmin Basecamp for the West is $160+ with tax and shipping and the MacGPS Pro for one state is $130+ with tax and shipping. The NG by comparison is $80 per state. In the end, if NG's produces a Lion-compatible version of the topographic map software, it's the better buy and the better of the three.

The other software packages have some advantages over the NG software, such as the MacGPS Pro will allow you to import raster maps and convert images of maps if you have some information about it (have maps to test). But for the most part for my use, needing accurate USGS maps and basic location tools, the NG is still the better choice. It's more user intuitive and friendly, but I'll get better at the other two.

Now if NG will get their head out of their ass to produce a Lion-compatible version. I'd buy it and park the other two except on occasion for some of their features and tools not in the NG software.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mental Vacation

I have to apologize to all the visitors of this blog and my Mt. Rainier photo guide. I've been on a free fall mental vacation for much of this year and especially since August, barely keeping anything updated and especially not the monthly guides and maps.

At this point in time, the September updates have been ready to upload for weeks and the October ones in preparation, but I just haven't done the final work to get them on-line, and that is my failure of late. After working on the photo guide for five years and the monthly reports for over three years now, I've kinda' run out of steam for a short while.

I expect it will come back soon and everything updated to current status and information, once I get over the depression I'm in right now, see a description. This has happened a number of times in my life going back to my teens.

It's called genetic, or lifelong, Dysthymia, and double depression when normal depression is added to the current one. It's the old feeling we often get being overwhelmed with life and everything we're doing and being. Sometimes it tires me out mentally and physically, which is what has happened this last year.

That said, I thank for your patronize to the Website and photo guide, and everything will be current soon, probably this month for the start of winter in Mt. Rainier NP.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reasons and Apologies

Well, I don't have any real or good reasons for not updating the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide for September and the fall season and work on some other projects with the history and guide. I only have excuses that I haven't done much else on anything for most of this year.

In the end I simply have to apologize for the lateness and delays. I've written about some of them on my life blog, meaning physical problems which started last October and specialists can't identify beyond blaming my imagination for a real health problem. And this last summer another one started and hasn't gone away which specialist say there aren't treatments which work and surgery is iffy at best.

On top of that my Dysthymia has worsened for periods of weeks to months leaving me more a less a walking couch potato, except I don't watch much TV. In short, the energy and enthusiasm has waned like a quarter moon becomes a new moon, and whatever is left has vanished.

Simply vanished. Everything will return sometime. When I don't know. All the effort to help isn't working. So far. But I know from past episosdes, it will return and I will feel better mentally and emotionally, but to feel better physically, maybe. It's the big question if my physician can't find a specialist willing to spend the time to listen, conduct the necessary tests and find what's wrong.

I know something is wrong, my body is telling me, but the test are coming back normal. The problem is that the tests are looking for the obvious and not the less obvious or that normal is abnormal, which has been my argument and anger at specialists, and the medical community. They decided nothing was wrong without going any farther.

And so my health insurance company is and will be reluctant to pay for further tests if there isn't a diagnosis to confirm the need. I'm chasing a physical ghost I can feel but doctors can't see. So I mentally fall down the well, and where bottom is I don't know, except when I hit it, and can then change for the better.

So that's my excuse and my apology to all of you who have gratefully visited my Website and photo guide. I greatly appreciate it and will get the September/October updates done soon and trudge on with life. Thank you for the ear.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Little Soup

I would like a little soup in my valley please. The view this morning looking southeast from the visitors area at Paradise in Mt. Rainier NP.

And when the sun came up.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mt. Rainier on Twitter

The NPS at Mt. Rainier NP now has a Mt. Rainier NP Twitter account. It seems to be updated in a timely manner, or what I've seen so far. So you can take this with you. I also have my own WSR Photo Twitter account, but I can't promise it's updated timely or often. You're better off just going to the photo guide since they are the most recent and updated pages.

A Wee bit late

Webcam photo from Camp Muir (8/31/11)

Ok, a lot late, but the August reports are on-line at the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide, but they'll be replaced soon with the September reports at the same place. The news for August is two words, snow and wildflowers.

First, the snow. The snowpack was unusually high this year, the second highest in recorded history (since 1981) and the snowmelt was considerably later and slower to the point it will be the longest and latest snowmelt on record, the point where the highest snow site recorded zero on the Paradise gage, southeast of Jackson vistors center. The snowmelt lasted 98 days from May 23rd to August 29th.

This is only four days longer than I predicted but my guess was more an estimate based on the shape of the graph in July.

This in turn delayed the wildflowers, see map to the latest time in a long time, where they're blooming from about the 20th of August and likely through the Labor Day weekend in places where the last snow melted in the open and alpine meadows. This means you have about a week left.

After the Labor Day weekend, everything begins to change in the NP as several changes start the week after the holiday into the fall, which will be described in the September reports.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Car Break-ins in NP

Update.--The NPS reported they arrested two suspects in the string of car break-ins, see news article using a sting operation Sunday August 23rd.

Original post.--This from the NPS in Mt. Rainier NP:

Over the past 2 weeks, the park has experienced nearly 10 car break-ins at trailheads and parking lots at the following locations:
Hwy 410 at the Gravel pile,
trailheads at Crystal Lakes,
Frying Pan Creek,
Comet Falls, Carter Falls, and
Owyhigh Lakes trailhead along the Sunrise Road.

The break-ins have been occurring both on weekends and weekdays, and all have occurred during daytime hours.

Most of the break-ins have involved thieves breaking out car windows to snatch bags, backpacks or valuables visible by looking into the vehicle. Wallets, cash, credit cards, purses, electronics, cell phones, I-pods, and other valuables have been taken. In one case, a visitor hid her purse under her car seat after she parked her car, only to find it stolen after returning from her hike. There is some indication that she may have been watched as she hid her purse.

One of the vehicles broken into today was a government SUV (with government plates) operated by a visiting USDA researcher. They lost phones, an I-pod, and other valuables.

Rangers are actively investigating these break-ins, but are requesting the following of all employees:

· Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle, both personal or government vehicles.

· Do not leave bags or packs, laptop cases, camera cases or any other containers that look like they may hold valuables in your work or personal vehicles. If you must leave anything in the vehicle, lock it in the trunk or place it well out of sight before you arrive at the parking area.

· Immediately report suspicious activity you might observe throughout the park to Park Dispatch. Activity to watch for may include individuals who look out of place looking into vehicles or sitting in a parked car in a parking lot; a car driving back and forth past a parking area multiple times without clear direction; broken window glass; discarded packs, purses, handbags thrown out on the side of the road.

· Spread the word to other visitors you have contact with about the warnings above.

· Do not intervene if you happen upon a break-in in progress unless you are trained and equipped to do so (ie: Law Enforcement commissioned). Immediately notify dispatch and report your observations, record vehicle color, make, model, and license #, detailed description of the subjects, direction of travel if they flee.

Please contact my office or one of the other rangers if you have any further questions or have some observations to pass on. A version of this message will be posted on the park public website.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July and News reports

Well, yes, late, very late for July, but the news and access and conditions Web pages along with the monthly report are on-line on the photo guide. All the roads, facilities and campgrounds are open for the summer.

So, what's the news for July? Well, two things. First, snow, lots and lots of it still there, now at and above 5,000 foot elevation. The snow will melt through the rest of July and into August with the last of the snow being gone between 5-6,000 feet around mid-August, earlier in the open areas.

The second is wildflowers. If you're interested in wildflowers, they're only just starting to bloom in the lower elevation meadows (under 4-5,000 feet) and along side the roads above 5,000 feet. The majority of the alpine meadows will bloom early-mid August until mid-late August.

The Burke Museum has published a book, Alpine Flowers of Mount Rainier, see news story. I haven't found a copy yet to review, so I'll keep you posted but it's more than likely a must buy for visitors and photographers.

Other news? Well, the NPS at Mt. Rainier NP has a Twitter Account where you can get the latest information.

And the NPS has installed a new Webcam at Camp Muir. It was installed in May and operational this month.

That's it for now. Enjoy the summer in the NP.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

News Updates

This post is present some recent changes and news about Mt. Rainier NP or access to the NP from the surrounding highways. Since the snowpack was unusually higher and the snowmelt unusually later than normal, snow is the biggest issue about the NP and getting there. So, the news.

First, the NPS begins the summer shuttle service from Ashford to Longmire and Paradise and various points in between. The parking at Paradise becomes crowded on Fridays and weekends so this helps alleviate the traffic. If you don't plan to get there early, especially on good weather days, then consider it as you might find yourself driving back down the hill from Paradise.

Second, the snow has delayed the opening of the White River campground to July 1st or later, and the opening of the road to Sunrise until after the July 4th weekend, now scheduled for July8th. The facilities at Sunrise are still scheduled to be opened after that but no date has been announced. In the past it's usually a week later than the road opening.

Third, highway 410 over Chinook Pass (Vancouver Columbian photo above) is scheduled to open Thursday June 23rd, if all goes well. The highway (410) from the northeast entrance over Cayuse Pass to highway 123 to the southeast (Ohanopecosh) entrance and the Stevens Canyon Road opened May 26th (Memorial Day weekend).

So this coming weekend all the major highways around and in the NP will be open. Only the Paradise Valley road and the road from the White River campground to Sunrise are still closed and likely to be so until early July. There's a lot of snow there this year and it will be around through July into August.

Lastly, you can get updates and news about the NP with the NPS Mt. Rainier NP Twitter account.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Firefox Users

Update.--June 22, 2011, Firefox has released version 5 but my test show the problem with some extentions and add-ons still persist.

I've discovered that some extensions with Firefox (FF) 4.0.1 has problems with both javascript and shockwave player, javascript not working with the maps where the page displays a blank space instead of the map, and not recognized updates to your plug-ins, shockwave in my case with FF.

There is no easy way to report this to Mozilla with the user submission form, so please realize the problem isn't on my end because I've tested it without extensions, with FF 3.6.7 and with Safari, my standard browser, along with Chromium, Google Chrome, OmniWeb and Sea Monkey browsers and they all work fine with both javascripts for the maps and shockwave player.

I don't know what to tell you to fix this. I simply created a new user with basic verisons of the four extension files in the library for FF, found with Mac's at 'Users'/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/..., see the gobbly-gook folder name dot default. There you'll find the four extention.'something' filename. Just close FF, move those file, open FF - it recreates empty ones, and roll on.

Good luck.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Reports

Well, sorry for being so late, as I was in May and several months before, but that's life sometimes - and the perfunctory excuse I've used and still works, for me at least, is that the health issues continue and after spending the month of May with the H1N1 flu, I'm still not up to par. Anyway, the June reports are on-line now for the news, access, and reports.

And whats' the summary? Well, two things. First, the roads, campgrounds, and facilities will continue to open through June and into early July, hopefully by the July 4th holiday. All will likely to be open despite the second factor. And that is snow. Lots and lots of snow. The snowpack was and is quite significantly above normal (near 150%) and the snowmelt started two-plus weeks late.

This means snow will be prevalent well into July and maybe even August, see NRCS graph for Paradise site (actually about a few miles southeast of the visitors center). There will be snow throughout the NP at the higher elevations (> 4-5,000 feet), especially in the backcountry.

You should always check the status of trails either from the NPS Website or with NPS rangers before you go to know the extent and depth of snow and any problems on the trail(s).

Other news? The NPS has said the wildflower season will likely won't occur until August since the depth of the snow at the elevations of the meadows is significantly deeper than normal for this time year and will continue to be of some depth until well into July. So if you're planning trips for wildflowers, check the information sources before going.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll try to do better as the summer goes on, updating the Web pages with long overdue, newer seasonal information and new Web pages. That's it unless life doesn't keep sneaking in the way as it has since last October.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NP Map Resources

The National Park Service has some terrific maps of Mt. Rainier NP, and while some of them are easily available on their Website, see Web page of map resources, some of them are not so readily apparent and take time to find where the respective Web pages are buried in the NP Website.

You can use the NPS search tool on the Mt. Rainier NP Website to find maps, but what you get is a list of the individual maps with some other links, but not the other maps available for different uses. The sad reality is that I found many of the Web pages for maps of Mt. Rainier to be incomplete or development pages with minimal information.

But that said, some map resources are listed below.

The first is a really cool one, their NP Map Viewer for Mt. Rainier NP. I can't find the Web page for any description or the traditional "wrapper" page which embeds this viewer. I'd appreciate help there if you know it or come across it.

The second is the NPS Harper's Ferry map server for other formats and maps.

The third are the NPS trail maps for 50 trials based on 2009 information. These are useful but don't provide downloadable or printable maps or print version of the Web page. They'd be really cool in a PDF file to put on tablets or cellphones.

The last aren't NPS resources but other Websites. One is the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory Web page for Mt Rainier with maps and other resources.

Another is mine which offers the latest USGS 1:24,000 topographic maps as PDF files to download. I've loaded mine on to an iPad using GoodReader for the iPad.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hwy 410 & WR Entrance

This photo was taken by the NPS of the White River entrance May 18th. They are expecting to open the White River entrance the week of May 23rd before the Memorial Day holiday. The White River campground, however, may take longer as they have to clear the snow, inspect and repair any facilities and get the water running. The access will stop there as they won't clear the road to Sunrise until later in June.

The Washington State DOT is reporting they expect to get highway 410 open over Cayuse Pass to Highway 123 by May 26th, also just before the Memorial Day weekend. No word yet if the highway will open over Chinook Pass to Yakima, but likely not long after the opening to Cayuse Pass.

So, the spring openings continue, and while access is there for visitors, you can expect a lot of snow from the higher than normal snowpack and delayed snowmelt this season. Be prepared and plan accordingly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paradise Advisory

This is more a personal advisory but will likely be a public one later as the snow melts in June. Last year a visitor was hurt when a snowbridge over the power transformer south of the road across from the new visitors center collapsed and she had to be airlifted to a hospital. The NPS staff hadn't marked the areas with poles and flagging since they tested the snowbridge earlier to think it was strong and stable.

The heat of the day(s) weakened it. You can see the location of it in the indentations and poles. So a word of warning to stay clear of it. The NPS will likely mark it when the snow melts more but for now all there are to identify it are the two poles. Since there is over 16 feet of snow, it's not a hazard yet, but it only pays to be safe as the snow is softer from the warmth of the transformer under the snow.

Nothing else, just stay alert for warnings and advisories around the Paradise areas. With the higher snowpack and delayed snowmelt, soft snow is now and will be a problem as the weather warms and the snows melts. Enjoy and take care.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Maps Revisited

Well, all the Web pages using Google maps to display information about Mt. Rainier NP are updated with the NP boundary identified as a blue line. The boundary incorporates the original 1899 designation, the 1933, 1987 and 2003 additions, the last being the small exclave of land outside the Carbon River entrance in the northwest corner.

This land was approved by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003 but took years to get the agreements for the exchange of land between the land owners and the NPS. The intervening land between the Carbon River entrance and the new NP land is under the USFS ownership so it will be protected for visitors to the NP.

So, if you encounter a map without the NP boundary, a boundary that looks obviously wrong, or just have questions about the NP boundary, please ask or let me know via e-mail.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Snow Anyone

It seems the snow just keeps on coming, or falling, this year in Mt. Rainier NP. Above is the snow water equivalent (SWE) for May 9th, 2011 (link goes to NRCS Web page for the SWE for the site), and as you can see even in early May when snowmelt normally starts, it's just keep adding to the snowpack, shown on the road at Paradise below.

Those are about 18 foot poles in the photo. When the snow is usually considerably less and melting, the snow this year is melting and refreezing, compacting each cycle so the snow to water equivalent decreases, from a normal of 2.5 to 3 inches of snow for an inch of water, meaning 4 to 5 inches of water per foot of snow, it's down to just over 2 inches of snow per inch of water.

That's not only a lot of snow but a lot of water. And from soon when the temperatures consistently get warmer and the seasonal snowmelt actually starts, the water will go into the streams and the rivers, and eventually to the reservoirs and the Puget Sound (White, Puyallup and Nisqually Rivers) and Columbia River (Cowlitz River). We will have higher than normal summer streamflows later this summer and likely into fall.

Until then, it's snow in Mt. Rainier and will be into July, meaning, after the lower elevation snow melts in the NP, the mid and upper elevations will still have snow on the trails and in the backcountry. Take heart if you like snow and prepare if you don't.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paradise News

This reported from the NPS:

"As of tonight, the road between Longmire and Paradise will be kept open at night, unless there is imminent foul weather that causes poor driving conditions.

All hikers, climbers, and employees needing overnight parking need to be directed to the lower lot only. The overnight hiker/climber parking near the Paradise Inn is closed while the Park and GSI work on snow removal around the Inn and work is underway to open the Inn.

Please continue to use caution when driving between Longmire and Paradise. Melting snow is sloughing off the slopes and onto the roadway and is bringing with it lots of rocks. Also, icy conditions may still be present during morning/evening commutes."

This means you can drive to Paradise anytime now, only be careful on the road where the snowbanks line the road.

In addition do not park in the upper (visitors center and Paradise Inn) parking lot if you plan to camp overnight. Use the lower parking lot. This is to allow any road and lot clearning to be done in the mornings and the preparation for opening of the Paradise Inn May 20th.

In addition the visitors center opens every day beginning this Friday (May 6th) until this fall, hours are 10 am to 5 pm.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May Reports

The latest news, access and conditions, and monthly report are now available and you can find more at the photo guide for the NP. May is a strange month because the weather can be very dynamic from cool and cold to warm, with a variety of clear, cloudy, rain and yes snow at the upper elevations, especially this year with the late April snowfall and higher than normal snowpack.

The snowmelt normally starts around May 5-7th, but with the 125% and higher snowpack, it's expected to a be a long snowmelt with snow well through June and into July, with significant snow at the mid-to-upper elevations throughout the NP. This is especially important since many trailheads will be snow-free but you'll will encounter snow at the higher elevations.

So May is the month to be prepared for the full range of conditions. As of May 1st (photo above) there was about 20 feet of snow at Paradise, so that snow isn't going away very fast this year. This has also created hazardous conditions along roads and near snowbanks where the NPS is warning folks to be aware that the bank can easily collapse.

Otherwise, it's a great month to go. Visitors are increasing but not much outside the visitors centers, so opportunities are still there to get away from crowds, find a lot of snow, and see some really beautiful country. I will be working on the additional Web pages which need updates for the spring, and the improvement in the maps. This will take place through May.

Friday, April 29, 2011

More on Maps

Update.-- I have also added the approximately 800 acres added to the NP in 2003, but as I understand or can find information, hasn't been completed pending funds and legal issues, just outside the Carbon River entrance in the northwest quadrant of the NP. This is an exclave surrounded by private timber and USFS land, the latter making up the land between the eastern boundary and the NP to put the Carbon River in federal jurisdiction, map below.

The boundary is approximate from the one map I could find, again, and like the 1987 additions, I can't find a legal description, and everything is in Washington D.C. and not on-line (that I could find). Gee, that's being useful for here.

Original Post.--Well, I learn more each day, which considering my age and getting older some days faster than I would like. I noticed the NP boundary I was using from the USGS NP maps of 1971 didn't account for the changes from the 1987 boundary changes, see map, above and about halfway down the Web page.

Well, through all the searches I couldn't find the legal description of the land so translated the changes to an approximate boundary I use on the map Web pages and the only maps. As you can see the map above (a copy) is terrible at best, so the boundary isn't exactly accurate, unlike the other boundary determined from USGS maps and legal descriptions.

I was able to add the additional land on the southern boundary, which put the entire Stevens Canyon road in the NP and not under joint responsibility of the NPS and USFS, the latter I assume was happy to give the NPS, and the western boundary for the old road over Round Pass, and now a trial, and again for the same reason of responsibility.

What I wasn't able to determine was the change on the eastern boundary which I think transferred land from the NPS to the company who owns and operates the Crystal Mountain Resort. I don't know this but it appears the NPS ceded the top of the ridge for ski lifts. But until I can confirm what land was transferred to whom, I didn't change the boundary.

If anyone has information or a source to determine the deal with the eastern boundary or knows where I can view a map of the other changes, beside the obvious "On file with the office in Washington D.C." - like I'm going to go there just for that - I'd appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lame Duck Congress

We all argue how stupid they are, or most before the recent one where a lot of good and some bad bills passed Congress and signed by the President. That's not what I want to present here, but a lame duck session in 1891. In those years the Congress didn't begin their two-year session of Congress until later in the spring so the lame duck session lasted through the winter and into the spring.

Ok, but what does that have to do with events in Mt. Rainier NP. Well, the forests of the east have already been devasted with timber cutting and lack of reforestation. Everyone relied on there being more forest west and letting nature reforest any eastern forests. And by the 1980's and more so in the 1890's many worried the beauty and treasures of the western lands would be gobbled up for forest and commerical development.

So, in researching the 1890's for the work to get Mt. Rainier into a forest reserve and later a national park, I found his explanation of how the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 go passed over the opposition. According to the National Park Service history, there was this explanation.

"Meanwhile, a threatened shortage of natural resources only enhanced the prestige of the park idea's competing philosophy, utilitarian conservation. The Census Report of 1890 added a special note of immediacy to such fears by calling attention to dwindling supplies of timber and arable lands on the public domain. Congress responded in May 1891 with passage of the Forest Reserve Act, which slipped past opponents from the West in the confusion surrounding the close of the lame-duck session. But although the legislation was largely unpublicized, it was far-reaching. Under the act Congress gave the president unilateral authority to proclaim appropriate areas of the public domain forest reservations. President Benjamin Harrison acted promptly by designating 13,000,000 acres of the mountain West in this category by 1893. Subsequent additions by presidents Grover Cleveland and William McKinley swelled the system to approximately 46,000,000 acres. Here the figure stood in September 1901, when Theodore Roosevelt entered the White House in the wake of McKinley's assassination."

It was President Harrison who created Mt. Rainier NP, first as a forest reserve (1893), just before leaving office, and second President McKinley as a national park (1899). In researching the early pre-NP and immediate post-NP history I found that politics in the US and Congress hasn't changed. Politicians have been and are the same, whatever flavor you want to call them.

So, in light of the fact that millions of acres of western forest lands were preserved and quite a few national parks and wilderness areas subsequently created from this act, I'm not so much against them if they're productive, and a little sneaky for good of and for America and the American people, which we enjoy today.

USGS and Google Maps

Well, I finally got the NP boundary onto Google maps (it's on the terrain version in some areas of the NP). It's currently on the access Web page. But in reviewing that Web page I discovered some problems with the locations of the markers. I have updated them on this Web page but in doing so realized a small problem.

For one when you blow up the scale of the Google map you will encounter some markers appear to be misplaced or mislocated on the map. Ok, there are two reasons for this. First, user error. I did miss identify the latitude and longitude on some and I'm reviewing all the markers for location. To do this I'm using National Geographic TOPO software which are scanned USGS topographic maps.

And here's where some problems arise. First, their scanning and location algorithm isn't 100% accurate. That's expected as you can only get so good. I will say NG's is the best topographic software, but it doesn't mean the location algorithm is perfectly accurate. It's quite good but leads to the other problem.

The USGS has always used the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD 1927) for horizontal control of location and maps. It's the standard for all their topographic maps. However, a new standard, the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83) was developed and in use for many applications. The differences are small but significant for accurate locations on maps.

This is why markers may appear off, while I use NAD27 consistently throughout my photo guide, Google and others will use NAD83. If you're using the coordinates from my maps or Web pages, just switch your application back to NAD27 and you'll find the locations are accurate as reasonable possible from 1:24,000 USGS maps.

The second issue and sometimes problem is elevation. Again I use the USGS standard, National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD29), formerly Mean Sea Level (MSL). The newer standard, North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88), uses a different algorithm of the earth shape.

Unfortunately, unlike horizontal datum differences, vertical datum differences between the two are really different, sometimes in the 10's of feet. If you're using a GPS, you're likely using NAD83 and NAVD88, so you will need to translate if you use a USGS topographic map or the maps on this photo guide.

You see, I'm a long time user of NAD27 and NGVD29 and have no real interest or intent to swich. This is because I still use USGS topographic maps which uses them. And after 28 years in the USGS, I'm used to it and comfortable with it, long before topographic software was available and long before NAD83 and NAVD88 was accepted by the USGS (still isn't completely).

Anyway, that's the entry to date. Lots more work ahead adding the NP boundary to all the 25+ maps in the photo guide and checking the location of all the markers with each map. But you can know what standard I use and switch if you're using the newer one and want to use the locations for your use.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Coming soon

Paradise this morning

Yeah, I know, lots of promises to be here and on the Website soon. And in reality, most will be there by the end of this week for May 1st when pretty much everything changes in the operations of Mt. Rainier NP. May is the start of spring, and in spite of the still late winter-like weather with cold temperatures and snow in the mid and higher elevations, things will change.

This is already happening at the lower (<3-4,000 feet) elevations and higher as the month progresses and the snow melts, opening the forests and lower meadows to spring. Yes, real spring in the NP is not far away now, but with the extensive and higher than normal snowpack, it will be awhile before most of the NP is snow-free this year.

But that's beside the point of this post. Which is? Well, for one I finally got Google's map to display the NP boundary, something they don't do. Ok, one weekend spent playing with the topographic software and Google's map code to get both the original boundary and the 1971 boundary on the map.

At this point I need to resolve the differences in the boundary where it hasn't changed (the lines don't overlap, yet anyway). And then find a way to get the block of code - some more testing to find a short cut - into the map Web pages. If I can't get this done by the end of the week I'll use the method I know works for at least one map.

So, if you're like me and a spring-summer hiker, get the boots and gear out and ready. It's not far away in time and place, and we'll just have to put up with a little snow for awhile this year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Google Maps

Update III (4/26/11).-- Well, I have the NP boundary on the Google maps now, both the original one in 1899 and the latest, revised in the 1920's for the additional lands. I will be adding them to the individual maps over time as it's a cut and paste block of code starting with the updated maps and then the other maps.

Update II (4/19/11).-- Google has introduced Google Mapmaker to allow users to update, edit or correct maps, and upon review make the changes permanent to Google's map set. Well, I will try this after I try adding the NP boundary they refused (below) to add to their maps, despite it being just a closed point line dataset defining the boundary. If the that works, I'll look to add it permanently.

Update (4/7/11).--I found in Google's documentation for their maps a way to add (overlay) a line on a map. So, with some testing on one map, I add the NP boundary where they have decided it's not worth the effort. If it works, I'll replicate the code to all the map and the template.

Sometime last year Google replaced their maps provided from other sources with their own in-house mapping service. Except, while wanting to control the production and quality of their maps, they screwed up the quality for national parks. They have simply not added the political boundary defining the major national parks, Mt. Rainier NP among them, so you can't easily see where the NP ends and the surrounding Forest Service lands begin.

I reported this a short time after the change and only got an answer today, stating,

"We apologize. It appears you submitted a Google Maps problem a while ago, and we failed to update you. We've reviewed the problem and cannot confirm that a change is needed. If you still see a problem, please tell us more about the issue.

Thanks for your help,
The Google Maps team"

Well, that's a rather late, "Gee, I'm sorry but we don't really care." reply. Yes, I'm angry. Not just being a geographer, but more so for not improving the maps. The old one had the boundary to Mt. Rainier NP, and other NP's clearly marked, along with the surrounding lands, in this case the USFS different forest (Snoqualmie-Baker, Gifford, etc.) and wilderness areas around Mt. Rainier NP.

Apparently good customer service and improving their product isn't in their agenda? Well, I rely on Google's map, but now I'll explore to see if there is a better on-line interactive map available which is better and fits my maps, such as mapquest. I'll keep you posted if or when any change is made.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Monthly News & Reports

Like the snow at Paradise, about 17 feet (4/17/11), I've been inundated with other things this years, chief among them health issues - yeah, it sucks getting old but that's another story for elsewhere, and I haven't had time to get the monthly updates, news and reports out on the first of the month and now it's past the middle of April without that report.

So, I've decided to merge April and May news into May since it's the start of the winter to spring transistion. This means the next report will be on-line around May 1st, or thereabouts, and hopefully a few days before so folks will be ready for May when the NPS transistions the NP to spring. This will be difficult as there is still snow throughout the NP except for the northwest corner so all the roads are closed except the road to Paradise.

In addition, we're waiting for the signs of the onset of snowmelt. Since we're running about 120% of normal snowpack and it's been increasing abnormally later into this month, it will be awhile before the snowmelt is actually seen beyond the data. Normally April is when the snowfall decreases to zero and the snowpack levels off to the onset of snowmelt season the first week of May.

And that's the rub this year, as you can see from the snow water equivalent graph for this year to date (below).

This is where the next 2-3 weeks of spring will determine if the snow lingers longer near the normal peak, as some are predicting a cooler spring into June, or starts some measure of snowmelt. Already the snowpack has melted and compressed, the thawing and refreezing diurnal which happens, dropping from 18 feet to 17 feet in a few days, but still the same amount of water and thus snowmelt hasn't practically started.

That said, I'll keep you posted when the latest news, updates and reports are available.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

DNR Book and Other News

Several problems have been found with the Web pages for the Washington Department of Natural Resources book on the geology of Mt. Rainier National Park, found here. I think all of the problems have been resolved on my end, but there seems to be problems with the State's Website so you can use the alternate site to get the book or individual parts of the book.

I will be adding some more stuff on these when I resolve the problems or find new sources along with review other Web pages where I serve material from my (Apple) Mobile Me account. I hope to copy everything off that account to keep it as a backup than a primary source. Apple keeps changing things to access the folders and files, something I don't want to chase frequently.

In other news, the April and May updates will be on-line soon. I've been late all year with these but it's less important in the winter and nothing really changes, or at least this year, where updates are critical until June. So, in the next two weeks both months will be on-line (yeah, those promises are always easy to say). I'll keep you posted.

For now, there's still lots (about 18+ feet) of snow at Paradise and only the northwest corner is snow free. And it keeps snowing in the mid to upper elevations while melting in the lower elevations.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Shutdown

Update.--Apparently there won't be a shudown, yet anyway. So the NP should be open as usual this weekend. The two future fights in Congress will be raising the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget, but the first doesn't effect the government operation and the second will only if they can't get one by October 1, 2011, the start of the 2012 fiscal year. As Rusty Wallace said, "Stay tuned hotrod, we're just getting started."


Sad as it may be, if the government shuts down tonight at midnight, Mt. Rainier NP will be closed. The Nisqually entrance in the southwest entrance will be closed at the Nisqually entrance gate and the Carbon River entrance in the nothwest will be closed at the NP boundary. The other entrances are already closed for the winter, but those entrances will be closed to all winter travellers, either cross-country skiers, snowshoers or snowmobilers.

Nothing will be open and only a basic staff will be there as "essential" employees to keep the basic services working, such as facilities, roads and other activities. You won't be allowed to park outside the NP and walk inside. It will be officially and totally closed to all visitors. If caught, you'll be escorted out (ticket optional).

That's what a government shutdown does, shutdown all "non-essential" services and laying off all "non-essential" employees. I was a USGS employee during the 1995 shutdown, except I worked as a critical, essential employee without pay for the entire 4 weeks (one week then another three weeks).

If it happens, I personally expect this one to last awhile until Mr. Boehner gets his head out of his ass and become a human being to agree with the Democrats and the President to the budget proposal. I won't touch that issue here, only he's the holdup and holdout causing this shutdown, if it happens.

We'll see. I hoping but I'm not holding my breath. As the old adage goes, been there, done that.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I found a problem with the USGS maps in PDF for Mt. Rainier NP, at this Web page. Apple changed the structure of public folder on the me accounts (iDisk) where you can't go directly to an individual file but must go through the folders. That sucks, so I moved all the maps to my Website where they will be served there.

You can download them through or view them in your browser. If you're using an iPhone or iPad, there is a Topo Map application which allows you to download the same USGS topographic maps into your iPhone or iPad and view them seemlessly. I use this app when away from my Mac with National Geographic's Topo applications.

This iPhone/iPad app is handy, especially since you can get the whole NP in one seemless map. The drawback with the app is that it's not accurate for location or elevation, which I assume is due to the algorithm from the point data used to make the map. It's significantly off, something I learned and had to redo a lot of point data for a Google map Web page I'm working on.

Otherwise, it's cool or you can download the individual PDF maps onto your iPhone or iPad. I apologize for not see this problem earlier, and I hope it didn't cause any inconveniences.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Avalanche Dangers

The NPS is closing the road between Longmire and Paradise some days now due to the risk of avalanches along the road in places noted on the map (above), mostly the road west of Christine Falls at the hairpin turn to Christine Falls and the road from the Nisqually Bridge to Ricksecker Point, both where the road hugs the slope along Rampart Ridge and the ridge along Canyon Rim view point, respectively.

The closures will be easier during the week when there are the fewest visitors. If you go, be prepared for delays or closures and follow the NPS instructions when the road is often for your safety. Their job is to ensure your safety during your visit, so please listen and follow the instructions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Old Books

I like searching and finding, and often buying, old publications, eg. documents, reports, books, maps, pamphlets, etc., on Mt. Rainier NP. I love finding good or better original print publications, and I now have a small collecton of them for my work and research on the early years (1890-1915) before and just after the NP designation and later years (1916 to 1940) after the creation of the National Park Service and incorporation of all then existing NP's into the NPS to World War II.

Of late though I'm finding a number of on-line used book resellers offering "Print on Demand" books, or so called books. There is one, paperbackshop-US out of Elk Grove, Illnois which is offering a number of old US government publications in this format, some of which I have or have later original print versions. This company is a US subsidiary of a UK company which sells books, etc. wholesale.

While I won't argue against them, as it's not illegal to resell copies of public doman documents, either as copier copies or digital file print copies, I would argue why buy one unless that's all you want, a copy for some basic purpose and don't mind if it's original or not or even say the quality of the reproduction.

But if it's not what you want, then consider other sources to find an original print copy. Almost all the publications they're offering are still available through used bookststores. Also, I have scanned a number of my original print copies into PDF's for my iPad and Acrobat Pro application, and I offer some of those for free through my Website to share with people. More will be if they're not already available free elsewhere.

Anyway, my point here, is the usual stuff, "Buyer beware."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Highway 123

The NPS is reporting that highway 123, currently closed at mile post 0.4 from the highway 12 intersection just before the Summit Creek Bridge, has 11 trees (12" to 30" diameter) over the highway along the length of it to the NP boundary and in the NP. The highway currently has over 12" at the intersection with highway 12 to the NP entrance and over 36" at the Ohanapecosh Ranger Station.

This means that the highway won't open in the spring for sometime, until the seasonal snowmelt allows clearing the highway, the trees can be removed and the road can be checked to Cayuse Pass with highway 410 for avalanches and landslides and for any winter damage. This mean sometime mid-to-late April at the earliest and probably May.

You can get the latest information for the access and conditions in Mt. Rainier NP and at the Washington Department of Transportation Websites for Mountain Passes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March News

The March reports for the news, access and conditions, and prospects has been on-line (from earlier this week). I apologize for being late, too much other things in life getting and keeping my attention. Life is like that whether we like it, plan for it or even want it. It happens.

That said, March is still winter with increasing snowpack and still cold temperatures and snow. Lots of snow still happening this year. Snow persists in all areas except the northwest quadrant (Carbon River and Mowich Lake). There is no or little snow until you're well into the NP. Otherwise, it's still snow and winter rules, and closed roads.

The only change is the snowplay area will close for the season Monday March 27th, leaving two weekends to enjoy it. Take care, the roads are still snowcovered with some days of ice, so drive carefully.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Carbon River Road Decison

From the NPS about the final decision for the Carbon River Road.

February 11, 2011

National Park Service Announces Decision on Access to the Carbon River Area Karen Thompson, Environmental Specialist, 360-569-2211 x3376

Chris Lehnertz, Pacific West Region Director, National Park Service, has issued a decision and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Carbon River Area Access Management Environmental Assessment (EA). Lehnertz’s decision sets the future direction for management of public access to this spectacular area of Mount Rainier National Park.

The Carbon River Area Access Management Environmental Assessment, consistent with direction provided in the Mount Rainier National Park General Management Plan, presented a description and analysis of several alternatives for the management of the Carbon River Road. The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) authorizes implementation of Alternative 2, which includes the conversion of the road to a hiking and bicycling trail. Effort will be made to retain intact sections of the historic road and the trails connecting these sections will be improved to better accommodate bicycle use. The Ipsut Creek Campground will be converted for use by backcountry campers. When funding becomes available, a new auto campground is planned on properties in the expanded park boundary area, away from the threat of flooding.

Superintendent Dave Uberuaga acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, but emphasized the opportunity it presents, Carbon River is an incredibly special area of the park for me and many others. We think it will become a destination for bicyclists and hikers when they learn what the area has to offer. Using a bicycle to get to Ipsut Creek Campground still makes a day-trip into Carbon Glacier feasible, and provides an enjoyable way to experience the area and park.”

The historic Carbon River Road was heavily damaged during a November 2006 storm event and has been closed to vehicle use since then. Aggrading rocks and gravel from prior flood events have raised the bed of the Carbon River as much as 31 feet since the Carbon River Road was constructed next to the river in the 1920s. Several sections of the historic road are now lower than the adjacent river and increasingly vulnerable to flood damage.

Implementation of the preferred alternative will occur over the next several years as funding is available. Funding priorities include protection of the entrance and intact sections of the historic road from additional flood damage, improvement of the trail sections, and transition of some visitor services and operations out of the flood plain to nearby facilities on new lands added to the park by Congress in 2004.

The FONSI, EA, Errata and associated documents are available for viewing on-line via the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: For a printed copy of the FONSI, please call Mount Rainier National Park at (360) 569-2211, extension 2301.


I've added two Web pages on snowmobiles, with a map of the roads and areas. Snowmobiles are permitted in three of the four quadrants of the NP, the northeast from the northern boundary to the White River Campground, the southeast on highway 706 from the junction with highway 123 to the Box Canyon tunnel, and the southwest, the Westside Road to Dry Creek trailhead or to Round Pass when open and the Cougar Rock campground.

As with everything in the NP, remember you're sharing the road with cross-country skiers and snowshoers, so remember they slower and less nimble than you. And above all, obey the rules for the NP and folllow good safety habits with snowmobiles. Everyone can enjoy the winter in the NP if we all use common sense and respect the rights of others in the NP.

February Reports

Ok, the February reports are now available, see photo guide for the news, access and conditions and the latest monthly report, see complete list. February is a continuation of January, only with more snow, about 8' at Paradise (about 10% below normal for this season).

Most of snow now is above 3,000 feet elevation, only a few inches in parts of the NP below 3,000 feet. This is due to warmer, above freezing, weather in mid-to-late January which melted most of the snow that fell before that. There will be more snow as we're still in the middle of the winter season in the NP with another ~3 months of weather and snow left.

Otherwise, that's it. Go and enjoy.

Carbon River Road

This was reported by the Tacoma News Tribune.

"Folks who are planning to travel to the Carbon River corner of Mount Rainier National Park should be aware of a road closure next week. Fairfax Forest Reserve Road East that leads to the Carbon River entrance will be closed to through traffic for two days to repair a sinkhole.

The closure will begin at 6 a.m. on Monday. The road is scheduled to reopen at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. The closure will occur at milepost 2.5 near the old town site of Fairfax. Local and emergency vehicle access will be maintained. Drivers can expect one- to four-hour delays with one lane alternating traffic around the work zone, according to the news release. Advanced warning message signs have been posted to alert motorists of the pending closure."

The photo above is the approximate place of the repair according to the description (47.0085 Deg. N and 122.0112 Deg. W). The Carbon River is on the right. The river takes a bend from going west at the road to north along and then away from the road. It's easily found on topo maps if you look for "Fairfax".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Being Late Again

Yeah, I'm late again. Like the winter news changes from January to February enough to warrant immediate updates? Well, not really but some small news and stuff. I'm working on the news, access and condition Web pages for February, and I'll be adding a snowmobiles Web page with a description and map. There's only four places to use snowmobiles in Mt. Rainier NP, two highways, one road and a campground. There's far more access and roads for snowmobiles in the area around the NP than in the NP.

That's it for now. I'll update this blog when things are on-line.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A thankless job

Every morning in the winter a NPS worker drives the road from Longmire to Paradise (no one lives at Paradise in the winter). From there NPS workers plow the parking lot and the road to Longmore. Someone at Longmire plows the road up the hill from there to Paradise. And once done, they open the gate just east of Longmire to let everyone drive to Paradise.

Sometimes vehicles are checked at the Nisqually Bridge just before the long hill up to Ricksecker Point and on to Paradise and occasionally restrictions are imposed for non four-wheel drive vehicles to use chains or further restrictions are imposed on all vehicles. If the roads or weather conditions warrant it, they will close the road at the bridge.

But that's not the point here. It's about the driver who has the task of driving to Paradise and after warming up the snowplow has the job of clearing the parking lot and then the road down the hill. It's a thankless job but next time you're there when it's been snowing and the road and parking lot are clear, thank the staff in the visitors center (weekends and holidays) or the NPS ranger you meet.

Having worked in the public sector for 28 years, small thanks from the public are very much appreciated. It doesn't hurt to thank them for their dedication and service for making life easier for you and your visit.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Updated Weather Sites

I have added four NPS weather sites to the weather map Web page. These are the Carbon River Ranger Station, the White River Ranger Station, the Paradise Visitors Center station (above the center off the Glacier Vista trail, and the Sunrise Ranger Station. This last site is a seasonal station, operated from the opening in the spring to the closing in the fall, and only in the winter when the phone line works.

There are now 10 weather stations in the NP for people to get some idea of the weather in the NP. And while the stations are operated by different federal government agencies for different purposes collecting different data, they're still useful for planning and preparing for your trip and visit to the NP.

Please let me know if you have any questions, problems or suggestions for the weather Web pages.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January stuff and more

I forgot to write I posted the January news, access and conditions Web pages. In addition I added the sun/moon times for 2011 (all months). There is still a lot small things, let alone the larger and really big tasks, to do, see list of them.

Outside of that, there's not much to add that isn't on the news, access and conditions Web pages. It's January and it's snow. If you're a winter person, then go and enjoy. As you can see in the Webcam photo above, thar's snow in those parts, about 8 feet at Paradise and still another 3 months of winter.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Being Late

Yes, I know the January updates and reports are late. I got waylaid by other events and situations. Handy excuse and reason but don't change the fact I'm late. So, I hope to have this work on-line by the end of the week and get back to the other overdue work on the glaciers, NP brochures and maps (1914-1940), placenames, and so on down the list of current projects in need of attention to finish.

But all that said, with the Christmas and New Year's holidays now past, January is simply a continuation of normal winter operations in the NP. The snow play area has been open for two-plus weeks now. The Jackson Visitors Center goes back to weekend and holiday hours (open the whole two weeks of the holidays). And the road from Longmire to Paradise is managed at th gate just east of Longmire (opens daily 9-10 am, weather permitting) and at the Nisqually Bridge (chain up area when enforced).

Otherwise, it's winter in the NP. Only the lower elevations (below about 2,000 feet is consistently with little or no snow (only during storms and colder weather). All the rest is snow bound, and closed except to snow travellers and snowmobiles (restricted to selected roads) with 8' at Paradise.