As America’s National Park Service turned 100 years old this year, hundreds of millions of visitors flocked to our public lands, hoping to enjoy wilderness, recreation and outside exploration. Out in the corner of the Pacific Northwest, Olympic National Park had a busy summer, seeing large number of visitors exploring the rainforests, beaches, ridges, lakes and waterfalls in this huge and diverse park. While road closures, forest fires and lack of sunny weather impacted visitation, 2016 will go down as a successful and busy year in Olympic and all National Parks in America.
I consider myself a bit of a recluse, or self-described modern hermit. For as much as I love writing, communications via social media and sharing the gorgeousness of the Pacific Northwest, I also like to remain incognito. I like to focus on the beauty of the area and not on myself. That is why, when asked to take part in the Cascade Hiker Podcast, I was a little hesitant. Sure, I love talking about nature, but does anyone really care what I say? Apparently, they do and Rudy at the Cascade Hiker Podcast was eager to have me on to talk about my love, Olympic National Park.
Happy 102nd Birthday, National Park Service. I am so happy for you.
Those words seem weak, lacking my true feelings in a commonly stated platitude. Sure, I could add an exclamation point, but even that comes up short. “Thank you” means nothing, compared to what you have done for me. You have changed my life; you redirected a lost soul with your majestic beauty and endless adventures. You let a dreamer have a place to dream and gave a kid who felt more at home walking alone in the woods a place to rekindle a relationship with his soul. You have taken away stresses and pain and replaced them with tear-jerking panoramas more stunning than any picture can capture. You saved me from a life of regret and pain and mistakes of my 20’s; you let me blaze a new trail for my life, passing through the purest wilderness in existence. You are my soul mate and it might be fucking cheesy to say it, but I don’t care. I owe you my life, National Park Service, and nothing I can do or say will ever repay you for what you mean to me.
The reports keep pouring in, now on an almost daily basis. In just a few days at Yellowstone National Park, the following happened:
• Some folks put a bison into their SUV because the calf looks cold and could use a cup of hot chocolate.
• Wannabe Youtube brats decide it would be cool to just walk onto the Grand Prismatic Spring.
It’s not even “just American stupidity,” the idiots above are from Canada and last year, asshats from The Netherlands and Germany were fined for dropping their drones into the hot springs and Lake Yellowstone.
The National Park Services found a way to solve their $11 billion maintenance backlog crisis. That is right, a government agency just created a way to save the tax payers of America $11 billion. When was the last time you heard something like that come out of a federal agency?
As most of you are aware, Delaware North, one of the major concessionaires in America’s National Parks, recently invoked a trademark on National Park destinations in Yosemite National Park, forcing the park to change names. Within hours of the press release by Yosemite National Park officials, wilderness lover’s around the world directed their displeasure at the Buffalo, New York Company. My colleague called them Asshats, and Twitter became abuzz with hashtags like #OtherDelawareNorthCopyrights; the normal, peace-loving hiking community became angry. I too was upset, especially when I realized Delaware North is in charge of one of Washington State’s Best Lodges. The good news is that it is the only one in the state they operate. The bad news, it is Olympic National Park’s Kalaloch Lodge.
A personal, emotional response to this week’s news from Yosemite National Park:
Some mega-corp is suing your National Parks and is forcing them to change the names of many of the historic sites within the park, that were named long before the corp had anything to do with the park itself. Yes, Delaware Asshats North™ also trademarked ‘Yosemite National Park’.
Hey, I made it.
Early in January 2015, while contemplating my previous year’s running performance, I felt like it was time to set myself a new goal.
When it comes to my hobbies, I usually am pretty reasonable. Some see me as dreamer, but I’ve grown up a bit. I am beginning to understand how life constantly gets in the way of our plans. I know, oh how I do know, how frustrating it can be when one doesn’t reach their self-described goal. So, I end up making goals that seem mostly attainable.
Winter snows have finally arrived at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, and local snow-sports enthusiasts couldn’t be happier. For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, enough powdery goodness fell on the ridge, allowing for snowboarders, skiers and snowshoers a chance to frolic in one of the greatest winter playgrounds in America. High above the Lillian River Valley, giving panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hurricane Ridge is one of the crown jewels of Olympic National Park. Hurricane Ridge is one of just three ski areas in the National Park Service, and with no real snow in the winter of 2014-15, the recent snowfall was met with excitement and giddiness by the local snowboarding community.
Join us for our first annual The Outdoor Society LIVE Holiday Party! If you haven’t been to one of our LIVE events, make this your first!
On December 8th, 2015 at Three Magnets Brewery in Olympia we will be hosting one of our amazing monthly events. Like previous events, attending our holiday party will let you experience our outdoor magazine live, as well as a chance to hear our stories and to share yours. For this event, we’ll be sharing great family trips, from beginner strolls to challenging adventures in and around the entire Pacific Northwest.
“I want to ride, down the mountain-side and I want to ski dance, ski dance with you.”
There are many things that get the staff and crew at The Outdoor Society excited about, but nothing quite matches the surge of energy we all feel the minute we see snow in the forecast. As if under a spell, the first dusting of snow makes us giddy, reverting us back to our childhood excitement. Fondly recalling snow days and trips to the mountains, we anxiously and neurotically check forecasts and mountain webcams in hopes for a chance to play in a wintery wonderland. While we wait to get stoked on winter, lusting for a trip to Hurricane Ridge or Mount Rainier, there is one tradition that has lived on for years.
October 21st, 2015.
Back to the Future Day.
Honestly, I couldn’t be more excited to be alive on this date. Growing up, I loved the Back to the Future movies, as many of us did. Nearly everyone who has seen the trilogy looks at DeLoreans fondly, is a secret fan of the music of Huey Lewis and The News, and knows that where we are going, we don’t need roads. The movies have captured the imagination of generations, and many of us still love watching them to this day. While the main plot always seemed to be looking back, BTTF2 took us into the future, to late October, 2015.
It was early October in Glacier National Park. Fall colors were erupting in the valleys below the staggeringly huge mountains, and the leaves were beginning to thin on the trees, mirroring cars on the roads through this rocky mountain wonderland. The park, which had seen one of its busiest summers in history, was now mostly dead. The lodges and visitor centers were boarded up, ranger stations closed, and the beaches along the lakes were silent, except for the wind whipping down from the snowy summits above. Tourists were long gone, leaving only the hearty and/or foolish to roam the park before winter snow restricts access. Families and millennials were noticeably absent, with most guests in the park born during or before the Truman Administration. October was supposed to be a time to visit the National Parks when everyone followed the rules, and everyone behaved. Sadly, it was not.
When you leave, we will have officially been together for 93 days, 15 hours, and 42 minutes. We made it official on June 21st, but everyone knew we were an item long before that. Our relationship had grown hotter and hotter since Valentines Day, when we enjoyed 80+ degree days at Smith Rock and Crater Lake in Oregon. Even when I was not expecting to see you, there you were. We had been flirting all winter, and by spring, were seeing each other the majority of the week. Up on the summit Mt St Helens, or on the snowless, rocky peak of Mount Washington, we would meet, as if by accident.
Guest Post by Ranger Kaiti May
From a young age, we are taught that forest fires are dangerous, destructive, and horrible. As we grow older, we hear about the destruction on the news. Homes are destroyed and lives are taken; while we struggle to make a dent in keeping the fires at bay. Growing up in Southwest Michigan I experienced severe thunderstorms, blizzards, and a couple tornados; all of these may have startled me, but not terrified me.
The Olympic Peninsula is isolated, far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Made up of six wilderness areas, including Olympic National Park, this remote peninsula in Washington State is the scene of millions of vacations each year. Olympic is the 6th most visited National Park in America, with 3 million+ visitors coming from around the world to see the rainforests, mountains, rivers, lakes and beaches of the nearly one million acre park. Highlighted by solitude, ancient forests and stunning displays of nature, the Olympic Peninsula is one of the last places in the world to experience a true timeless wonderland. Surrounding the park is wilderness and National Forest Service land, full of wildlife, amazing hiking and camping, and quite possibly soon, the sound of Navy jets screaming overhead.