On the afternoon of May 22nd, 2018, a press release sent out by Mount Rainier National Park reached the inboxes of journalists and Mount Rainier enthusiasts, telling us that cell service would soon be added to the Paradise region of the park. Within minutes, the news spread like a wildfire throughout social media, primarily places frequented by the old guard, Pacific Northwest hiking community. The announcement by the park was met by angry hyperbole, as many outdoor enthusiasts around the region claimed wilderness was now lost for good at Mount Rainier. This is not the case at all. In fact, this is great news for visitors to the park.
Hungry as always Mathias and Douglas continue to dig into their training routine leading up to their next big race: Broken Arrow Skyrace at Lake Tahoe. They discuss diners in middle America, the best use of poles while attacking hills and why trail running is vastly superior to city marathons.
We have all seen the headlines telling us that National Parks are being loved to death. Around the country, this headline is the clickbait of the day for outdoors sections of newspapers and bloggers. Headlined by pictures of crowds on our Public Lands, the articles all read the same; one way or another always blaming the influx of visitors. While these stories do have a slight degree of fact to them, the bottom line is that National Parks are not being loved to death. Plain and simple, our parks have not matched the growing desire and demand for nature experiences with our growing population.
Some summits don’t need to be extreme to be breathtaking. While many of the world’s most stunning peaks stand alone, easily reaching heights of well over 12,000 feet above sea level, the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula are comparatively low-key and mellow. One of the classic mountains to climb, offering unrivaled views of the Puget Sound, Salish Sea and the Olympic Interior is the ever-popular, always beautiful, Mount Townsend.
In this week’s fine installment of our audio experience Douglas and Mathias are in full on nostaglic mood. For the anniversary of their epic run of the fabled R2R2R route at the Grand Canyon they remember the good times, and laugh about the bad ones too. Do you hear that Phantom Ranch, do you, do you?
The mountain goats of the Olympic Mountains have been called everything from inspiring, to infamous and invasive, and each of these terms are correct. Bounding across the scree-fields and jagged peaks of the mountains in and around Olympic National Park and Forest, the mountain goats of Olympic National Park and Forest have become a highlight for hikers in the high country, but that will soon change. If all goes to plan, there will be no mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula in just a few years.
Often, visitors who explore our National Parks and other public lands are hurried and rushed. The sheer size and scale of the gorgeous stretches of wilderness are too much to see in a day, weekend or even a week. That is why, whenever I have an extra afternoon, I try to find a peak to summit or a trail that leads to a lesser known viewpoint. One of those places in Olympic National Park and Forest is the rugged, wild and wonderful summit of Colonel Bob peak, high above the Quinault Rainforest.
Yellowstone National Park officials are reporting that on May 1st, 2018, a woman was butted in the thigh, pushed, and tossed off a trail by a bison in the Old Faithful area. As usual, a quasi-panic ensued by click-hungry newspapers and bloggers around the country. I mean, we are even writing a post. However, we are trying to not get caught up in typical fear mongering, which tends to happen after animal incidents in Yellowstone, we are instead sticking to trying to prevent any more incidents.
The value of Olympic National Park on residents and visitors to Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula is amazing. The 8th most-visited National Park in America, which has rainforests, mountains and wild coastlines, inspires wanderlust and a connection to nature, and fuels an entire regions economy. In the once depressed logging counties around the Olympic Peninsula, where jobs vanished faster than spotted owls, a thriving economy is emerging, fueled by wilderness and tourism. While the tourism industry is showing that it can take root in the region as a major industry, the news isn’t all blooming rhododendrons.
Doug and Mathias, and Trixy (sady not featured on this fine audio experience) climb Mt. St. Helens. On the popular Worm Flows Route they encounter snow, sun, professional glissaders and get sunburned.
The seemingly never-ending wetness from the winter of 2017-18 has finally ended. We welcome warm temperatures, clear skies and the strange yellow orb glowing in the sky. With the change in the weather, signs of life are returning to the Pacific Northwest. While above average snow still sits on the mountains, spring has sprung in full force in the lower elevations. All along trails in majestic river valleys, trillium are popping up and wildflower seasons seems to be just around the corner. The warmer days also mean that larger animals who hibernate and/or become lethargic in the winter are starting to wake up. Black bears were reported to be active around Olympic National Park and Forest, letting us know that winter is officially over. It is starting to be bear season out on the trails of Olympic National Park, so hikers need to start being loud on the trails and making sure they continue to follow Leave No Trace and Wildlife Watching rules and regulations.
Once the final, heavy snows of spring fall on Yellowstone, the desolate, tundra-like terrain of America’s first National Park starts to transform into a visual wonderland of awesomeness. If you haven’t yet seen this majestic park during the spring months, you are missing out on one of the most unique experiences in America.
I usually write about Olympic National Park for my #NatureWritingChallenge, but sometimes I need to bring it all back to the wilderness around America’s first National Park and celebrate the public lands that help bring the conservation revolution to the forefront of America. Yellowstone has always had a special place in my heart, captivating my imagination since my first trip there as a seven year old. I have seen the park in every month of the year, one winter, I witnessed something I had never seen before.
It was probably the 1990s. I recall being full of teen angst at the world, my “pain” encapsulated by the melodic mumbles of fellow harborite Kurt Cobain. It was summer and I was visiting my grandparents yet again, exploring everything interesting that the lavender-filled fields of Sequim had to offer. I had visited them every weekend for months, exhausting the wonders that this small Olympic Peninsula town had to offer. We went to the game farm a few times. We went out to Dungeness Spit. We drove to Port Angeles. It was the 90s, the Peninsula was a much different place.
In case you missed the news, Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior WILL NOT be upping entrance fees to $70 per visit to our National Parks. With hundreds of thousands of comments, 99% of which were against the ridiculous fee increase, Interior backed away from the proposal. While we should celebrate the fact that our voices mattered in this, I regret to let you know that I am the bearer of bad news.
In late March, hundreds of runners gathered in Richland, Washington to run the mighty early-season Badger Mountain Challenge race.
With “just” 17,000 ft. of elevation change over a 100M distance on a seemingly reasonable course and with an affordable entry fee, this race is a perfect introduction to 100M races. The six UTMB points also make it a very tempting proposition for folks drawn to the iconic race in Chamonix. For many, southeastern Washington is off the beaten path and an early season race can be difficult to train for in the rough, winter months. An injury prevented me from consistent training and the dream of six UTMB points and a first 100M under my belt were out the window. But others went and did amazing.
There are places on America’s public lands that are often overlooked, skipped over for the more popular and well-known destinations. Each year, as millions explore the must-see spots around our National Parks, a handful of adventurers find themselves satiating their wanderlust on trails that are off the beaten path. For me, one of those favorite, underrated regions is the Bogachiel Rainforest region of the Olympic Peninsula. Here, where dense forests meet stunning river scenes, the wildness of the Olympics is impossible to ignore. While many overlooked areas are far from cities or roads, the Bogachiel is right off of Highway 101 by Forks, making it a perfect “secret” spot to explore for all who pass through the region.