National Trails Day 2016, June 4

June 4, 2016

First Saturday in June is National Trails Day.

It’s a life-changing celebration, if you get out on a trail, and then keep going.

Check with the American Hiking Society to see if there’s an event near you. Take a hike in any case.

Maybe take a photo. There’s an annual photo contest.

2015 National Trails Day photograph winner, from Alexandra Novitske, taken at the great Sand Dunes National Preserve. American Hiking Society

2015 National Trails Day photograph winner, from Alexandra Novitske, taken at the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, Colorado. American Hiking Society


Park Avenue Trail, Arches National Park – splendidly divine

April 6, 2016

Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park, Bud Walley photo, Department of Interior image

From Interior’s Facebook feed: The massive sandstone monoliths along Park Avenue Trail at Arches National Park in Utah have imaginative and descriptive names. You won’t regret this easy one-mile hike. Where else can you walk in the shadows of the Tower of Babel, the Organ, the Three Gossips and Sheep Rock? Photo by Bud Walley (www.sharetheexperience.org). — at Arches National Park.

And a reminder that Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee and Texas’s Sen. Ted Cruz think this land should be developed. Want a condo on that cliff?

I’d prefer to hike it. I’d prefer to know it’s there, available for hiking without development, even when I can’t hike it.

It’s your public land. You get to use it, undeveloped, or you don’t get to use it if the land is developed. We still have a voice, and time to speak.


Identifying poison ivy

May 22, 2014

This may become a series.

Found a good infographic today, on how to identify poison ivy — the bane of every Boy Scout and Scouter west of the Mississippi, and east of the Mississippi, too.

From TreksInTheWild.com, via Daily Infographic

From TreksInTheWild.com, via Daily Infographic

Poison ivy leaves turn a beautiful scarlet in the fall.  This beauty prompted English ship captains dropping off colonists in New England to take the potted vines back to England.

It is my experience that, while everyone can become allergic and react to poison ivy, no one reacts on first serious exposure. If you’re in the woods, it’s good to know what this stuff is, and avoid it.

If you’re exposed, wash it off.  Wash your clothes with some sort of oxidant (oxygen bleach for colors, or chlorine bleach if you don’t care); I use a 3:1 solution, water to chlorine bleach, to shower with after serious exposure.  The active chemical, urushiol, remains active until it is reacted chemically or by ultraviolet light — and so a young Scout who gets some ivy sap under his fingernails can continue to spread the exposure everywhere he scratches, until his hands are really washed clean.

Study the poster, learn to identify the stuff.  There’s a lot more to say.


Moon and Mobius Arch, Alabama Hills, California

May 18, 2014

U.S. Department of Interior, Twitter feed: Beautiful view of the moon over Mabius Arch in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. #California @BLMca pic.twitter.com/u0KYyJ6p0S

U.S. Department of Interior, Twitter feed: Beautiful view of the Moon over Mabius Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills Recreation Area. #California @BLMca pic.twitter.com/u0KYyJ6p0S

Interesting points, reasons to like this image:

  1. No, that’s not the Sun.  It’s the Moon.
  2. Who knew California had natural arches?  I mean, it makes sense — but there’s one in Virginia, and a bunch of them at Arches National Park, and . . .
  3. An arch that should be in Utah, in the Alabama Hills, but not in Alabama, in California.
  4. Stars!
  5. Great photograph, obviously a long exposure.  Let’s see if we can find the name of the photographer.  Pox on Interior for failing to fit that into the caption. Photographer is Steve Perry, and you should check out his site (and buy some photos!). (Thanks, J. A. Higginbotham, for tracking that down.)
  6. America’s public lands, showing how they are unexcelled at astonishing us.
  7. What? Interior called the “Mabius Arch?” No, it’s the Mobius Arch!
  8. This place was named after the Confederate warship C.S.S. Alabama. Sympathetic miners making claims on minerals, it appears. “The unusual name Alabama Hills came about during the Civil War. In 1864 Southern sympathizers in Lone Pine discovered gold ‘in them thar hills.’ When they heard that a Confederate cruiser named the Alabama had burned, sunk or captured more than 60 Federal ships in less than two years they named their mining claims after the cruiser to celebrate. Before long the name applied to the whole area. Coincidentally, while Southerners were prospecting around Lone Pine, there were Union sympathizers 15 miles north near Independence. And when the Alabama was sunk off the coast of France by the U.S.S. Kearsarge in 1864, the Independence people struck back. They not only named their mining claims ‘Kearsarge’ but a mountain peak, a mountain pass, and a whole town as well.”
  9. More than 400 movies were shot using Alabama Hills for a backdrop, including How the West Was Won, Gunga Din (standing in for the hills of northern India) and the 1960 Audie Murphy classic, Hell Bent for Leather.
  10. Geologists will love that this area is a prime example of chemical erosion — rocks made out of the same stuff as the craggy Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance, but eroded differently.
  11. Lichens by moonlight!  (Or is that just desert varnish?)

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Sundown on the trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, #2

February 6, 2014

Hiking Bryce Canyon at sundown, one may see rocks in a new way, spotlighted from 93 million miles away.  Photo from 2008, by Ed Darrell

Hiking Bryce Canyon at sundown, one may see rocks in a new way, spotlighted from 93 million miles away. Photo from 2008, by Ed Darrell


Sundown on a trail in Bryce Canyon

February 5, 2014

Sundown shadows of hoodoos on pinnacles, Bryce Canyon National Park, 2008. Photo by Ed Darrell

Sundown shadows of hoodoos on pinnacles, Bryce Canyon National Park, 2008. Photo by Ed Darrell


Top o’ the world to you

September 3, 2013

Top of Colorado, anyway.

View from Longs Peak, yesterday:

View from Long's Peak, September 2, 2013; 14,259 ft.  Photo by Xiang Li.

View from Longs Peak, September 2, 2013; 14,259 ft. Photo by Xiang Li.

Xiang Li and James Darrell summited the mountain yesterday, a bit tougher climb than they had expected.  No view like that comes without some great effort somewhere.  They topped Grays Peak a couple of weeks ago — a slightly higher mountain (20 feet), but an easier climb.

Long’s Peak is the highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Longs Peak is one of the 54 mountains with summits over 14,000 feet in Colorado.[3] It can be prominently seen from Longmont, Colorado, as well as from the rest of the Colorado Front Range. It is named after Major Stephen Long, who explored the area in the 1820s. Longs Peak is one of the most prominent mountains in Colorado, rising nearly 10,000 feet above the western edge of the Great Plains.

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