Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hiking and Map Apps

I've added a new Web page for the hiking and map applications on desktop and laptop computers and on smartphones and tablets, along with some Websites with hiking, trail and trailhead information, some with maps.

The new Web page is available here. Please let me know if you know of, have or use applications you feel would be useful for hiking in Mt Rainier NP or has maps of Mt Rainier NP. I'm always open to research them and add them to the list.

Snow and Snowpack

I've updated the Web page for snow data and information and added a new Web page for snowpack data and information. The former is about the general nature of snow data  collected, produced and disseminated for Mt. Rainier NP, but which applies anywhere.

The new Web page on snowpack focuses on snow water equivalent, with the SWE acronym, which is the depth of the water equivalent in a snow column. This data is key for water resources managers for river basin or watershed management for reservoirs, water supply, irrigation, floods, etc. to know the potential amount of runoff from the snowpack.

The Natural Conservation Service, Water Climate Center is responsible for the operation of the network of SNOTEL sites thoughout the western US. They operate three sites in and nearby Mt. Rainier NP and another 3 around the NP (five of the six available on a map of the NP).

In addition I looked at the period of record (1981-2015) for the Paradise site, southeast of the Jackson Visitors Center, for the variation of seasonal snowpack along with the date of the onset of permanent seasonal snow, peak of snowpack, onset and end of the snowmelt.

While a lot has been, and is being, made of the drought year (2015), nine of the last 10 years have been above 95% of the normal snowpack, seven of those years above normal, from 111% to 144%. This year (2015) is the anamoly from the recent trend.

In comparison, only eight of the previous twenty-three years were above normal, with the two record years occurring within a three year period and the intervening year almost normal. In short, low and extreme low snowpack years are the rarity in the last twenty-five years.

The results showed the obvious, that the variation of snow and snowpack is related to the general winter seasonal weather for any given year, meaning the patterns of rain and more so snow storms, and temperature from early fall to last spring into early summer.

The snowmelt season is related to the late spring (late May through June) weather and the early summer (late June into early July). Generally the snowmelt seasons runs from mid-May to mid-July, which in turn defines the wildflower season in the lower to upper elevations in the NP.

Anyway, the pages are up and I'm working on some new Web pages for the photo guide.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I have updated the Web pages for the weather in Mt. Rainier NP, all of which are links on the table of contents for the photo guide, see second section in list of contents. This includes several revisions to make the information current to this year.

In addition I've added two NRCS SNOTEL snow course sites to the map Web page, the Corral Pass since northeast of the northeast (White River) area of the NP, and the Skate Creek site south of the southwest (Nisqually) area.

The Skate Creek site is a popular road connecting Ashford (highway 706) to Packwood (highway 12) with lots of trails overlooking Mt. Rainier, including the High Rock lookout. The Corral pass is near the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort.

I'll be doing a more thorough walk through and review of the Web pages and working on updating the snowpack data through the 2015 water year. I hope to have add this to the Web pages. Please let me know if you have problems or suggestions with the Web pages.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Current Reports

I've clearly been remiss with the bimonthy (two months) reports on the current conditions and prospects in Mt. Rainier NP, like for the last two years or so. I had the May-June reports ready but not until recently, so I posted the July-August reports are in progress but maybe will be the September-October reports to restart the trend again.

There are excuses and reasons for this absence but really just not wanting to spend the time with the medical and financial issues I've faced the last two years. Anyway, I did add the pages for July-August to let folks know it's a work in progress.

What I have done is to turn my attention to other projects, as seen with the recent work on the USGS maps of Mt. Rainier NP, along with looking at projects for the 100 peaks, trailheads, snowpack, wildflowers (season in peak and will be for this month), etc.

This work changes my thinking from the immediate to the bigger picture of the NP, and removes a lot of personal pressure, and much guilt, I've been putting on myself for not getting the reports out. This helps releases the stress and helps refocus what I've love, the NP.

This is in part because the medical (back, infections, etc.) and financial (it's $50 in gas round trip for my VW van) issues have not allowed me to get to the NP in a few years, hence the guilt. I can see Mt. Rainier from my home office, but just haven't gone.

Anyway, the point is I'm getting back to the work, albeit in increments, but enough to feel a lot better about the progress and the future. There's lots to do (see plans at end of table of contents), and I'm making progress again.


I have completely reworked the Web pages for maps on Mt. Rainier NP, starting with the introduction and adding both the latest generation of the USGS 7 1/2 minute (1:24,000) topographic maps along with their entire collection of historical maps.

I have removed the Web page for the DRG maps which are 2 versions old and rarely used anymore and created the Web page of historical maps which the USGS put on-line in 2014 along with the latest generation of topographic maps.

The last two versions (2011 and 2014) of the topographic maps were produced in multi-layer PDF files, which requires a PDF applications with the capability and tools to work with multiple layers, currently only available for laptop and desktop computers.

This means these files won't display correctly with any PDF application for smart phones or tablets as the PDF application are limited to single layer files. For mobile devices you limited to the last version of single layer PDF files, meaning any released before 2011.

Please let me know if you have problems with the Web pages or downloading maps, or have suggestions to improve the Web pages.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


I've done considerable research into finding publications on Mount Rainier and Mount Rainier National Park, with an on-line bibilography, which includes many historical books, pamphlets, maps, brochures, articles, etc., almost all of which are in my library having found and purchased original edition versions, or copies articles from journals at local or university libraries.

Most of my research started before there were on-line used bookstores or used book service (Abebooks, Alibris, etc.) - now my main source - or on-line library catalogs, either through world catalog services or the university's own on-line catalog.

What I've learned is a lot about researching and identifying good buys, or at least sources which offer original edition versions for a reasonable or market value. What I've also learned is where not to buy from on-line sources, which is my point here, again.

DO NOT BUY "Print on Demand" books.

I say this because almost all of them are public domain publications, easily available for free with a little research, namely looking up the publisher, usually a government agency, a research or affiliate organization, or similar sources.

This is where Google, or your favorite seach engine, comes in handy where you can search for the source, and through their Website look for "publications", and likely find the same reports, articles, etc. to download for free.

In many of the cases of print on demand, the people at the source have done their research, downloaded and compiled the material into a single document, if it isn't already a single document, and the put it on the Web, usually for inflated prices.

In some case, such as historical documents which are available on-line, they're scanned them and the produced them into a single document. I've done this for many government documents for my own research to put on my iPad instead of carrying around lots of historical documents.

The only historical documents I've found that can't be found on-line are few, such a organization newsletters or publications not worth scanning for on-line access, but are available from their library, sadly always in person.

I've found this with the Mountaineers and their publications. I have a list of articles I want to make copies but are only available from copying the original volumes in the library in Seattle, which has limited days and hours for public (always with a person present).

It's on my to go list for Seattle some day to stop by and make copies along with their bookstore (am a member too). Outside of that there isn't anything I can't find through various resouces to purchase a real, original edition or find a free resource to download.

And yes, if you have some publications I don't have or have some you want to find, I'm always interested in finding new material or helping people find material.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sun & Moon

I've updated the monthly Sun and Moon rise and set for 2015 (yeah, a wee bit late), which you can find here with additional information about sources of on-line data for the sunrise/set and moon rise/set times.

In addition there are some good iPhone and iPad apps (don't know Android or other smart phones or tablets) which I use regularly. There's Sun Seeker and Moon Seeker which are companions apps to display sun and moon information separately.

LightTrac is a good one for showing direction of the sun and moon at locations, either where you're at or other places stored in the list of places along with some information. A good app for the moon I found recently is Moon Calendar. 

And lastly there is the complete suite of tools and function with The Photographer's Ephemeris (TPE) which to me has become a lot in a small package, too much for the smaller iPhones (mine's a 5s), but works better with an iPad (mine's and iPad Air but a iPad mini would work).

There's the Web version of TPE which I stopped using. I found it too much and cumbersome for a Web application over the iPad version, and still am slightly upset he dropped the stand-alone Adobe Air version when he didn't have to by embedding a sunset date into the app. Cheap shot.

Another app is Helios which is also good with lots of tools and functions, but is made for the iPhone, not any of the iPads. That's what I keep on my iPhone and iPad. There are lots of them in the iTunes app store.