While the rest of Washington seemed to be consumed with news of the return of the Seahawk’s Kam Chancellor, the Chinese President’s visit, and his impact on traffic, a group of 65 people met quietly in a small parking lot in Olympia, Washington. Surrounded by fir trees and the crisp fall sun, one of the biggest issues facing the wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula was being met head on. As the rest of the state and country talked about the news of today, concerned citizens from around the Pacific Northwest met at the offices of Olympic National Forest with a single mission, protecting the future.
Every hiker knows about the Appalachian Trail, and millions across the nation know of the Pacific Crest Trail. The north/south trails running along the mountains of each coast have been featured in movies, written about in books, and have been responsible for millions of dollars of endorsement deals from outdoor companies around the world. Everyone and their dog wants to hike the AT or the PCT, but there is now a contender to make those two trails look pedestrian, and their scenery look average. There is a new Thru-hike coming, and it is amazing.
Good News Update!!!
Park officials announced Thursday morning they have found a hiker missing near Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. David Galbraith, missing since Tuesday evening, was found alive, cold, tired and hungry, by an Olympic National Park search team at about 11:15 this morning.
Original Post: The man, David Galbraith of Victoria, British Columbia is 51 years old and was hiking near Mount Storm King in the northern section of the park. Currently, there are over 20 people searching for him, including 14 ground searchers, searchers in a helicopter and two search dog teams are scouring the Mount Storm King area. A description of the event was sent out as a press release by Olympic National Park.
As the temperatures drop and rain returns, Olympic National Park and National Forest kick off their fall tourist season with some great news. After 76 days (June 25th to September 9th) with no fires allowed in the backcountry, along the beaches or outside of established fire pits, campers around one of America’s most popular wilderness destinations can now have fires. With twenty fires burning in the park and forest during the summer of 2015, the burn ban was needed, and helped prevent making this fire season even worse. Now, if you are heading out into the back country, or to a campground along the coast or in the woods, fires are now allowed.
Pikas are adorably cute, and nearly everyone who sees these tiny animals is taken aback by their adorableness. The American Pika is one of the toughest animals in the contiguous United States, living high above the tree line, thriving in cold temperatures, small spaces and some of the most unfriendly terrain around. Yet, despite their ability to survive in ridiculous climates, the American Pika is disappearing in the mountains of the west, with sightings becoming less and less common around America and Canada.
I refrain from writing weather posts, as they tend to lose their usefulness quickly. However, this week’s forecast is something I can’t skip over. During the first week of September, 2015, there is a chance of snow for the mountains around the Pacific Northwest, something drastically needed during the driest, hottest summer in recorded history. From September 2nd to the 4th, snow could fall on mountain peaks as low as 5,500 feet, with accumulations up to a few inches.
Update- As of 5pm September 1st, 2015, Olympic National Park is reopen. A few trails might be closed, but the park and campgrounds are open!
The 29th of August will long be remembered around the Pacific Northwest. After a record long drought and more 70, 80 and 90 degree days than in any year on record, most thought the summer would never end. Instead, as August was winding down, a strong storm slammed into Cascadia. Knocking down trees, causing power outages, dumping rain, taking lives and closing highways and parks, the August storm of 2015 was powerful. While the entire region felt the impact of the detrimental weather, the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park felt it strongest, causing America’s sixth most-visted National Park to closed and evacuated. Twenty-four hours later, the park slowly started to reopen, with images of the fast moving destruction trickling in over social media.
8/29/2015 Updated 12:16PM
In a press release just sent out by Olympic National Park officials, Olympic National Park entry roads and campgrounds have been closed. Wind speeds up to 30+ MPH and gusts up to 70+ MPH have been reported, and numerous downed trees are rumored to be blocking major roads in and around Olympic National Park. With the weather looking to get worse throughout the day, Park officials have closed nearly every aspect of the park. The National Park says they are currently evacuating ALL campgrounds and no new campers will be allowed.
According to officials, Olympic National Park is experiencing high winds across the park. Trees are falling across park roads and Highway 101. Roads and campgrounds may be closed today and tomorrow. Travel to the park is not recommended at this time.
You’d think the huge fires burning around the state would stop people from having illegal backcountry fires. You’d assume that the fire ban covering all of Washington State would be a deterrent for a fire at your camp during the night. You’d assume that people would be responsible in nature and be good stewards. Sadly, you’d be wrong.
As with the entire universe, the hiking population of Washington State has good elements and bad elements. On August 25th, a local hiker became the positive yin to someone’s negative yang in a remote section of the Olympic Peninsula wilderness. Located near the eastern base of Mount Cruiser in the Olympic Mountain Range, Mildred Lakes is a hiking destination that few hike, thanks largely to the tough terrain and remote location. Situated in the heart of the Mount Skokomish Wilderness of Olympic National Forest, Mildred Lakes is an ideal spot for solitude, excellent fishing and stunning views. It is not a location where you would want a forest fire to burn.
OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK SEES 6.35% Increase through July, 2015
Olympic National Park is still ahead of last year’s visitors attendance through the first seven months of 2015, despite seeing a 2.9% decrease in visitors from July of 2014. The hot weather, smokey skies, and fire ban are said to be a partial explanation for the dip in park popularity from last July. Others say that the reason is we have already had two months of summer this year, when most years we don’t get warm until July 5th.
“The west, the west, the west is on fire. We don’t have no water, so our precious forests burn. “
Whether we like them or not, fires are a natural phenomenon, vital to the health of the forests and even our grasslands. Over the last ten to twenty thousand years, forest fires have consumed nearly every inch of America, helping transform the lands into what we know and love today. While that is all good in the woods, forest fires today are becoming behemoths, quickly burning hillsides, cities, and even the rainforest. With the climate changing, it seems like we are seeing more fires than ever before. Right now, there are over 120 fires burning in the western states alone, many of which probably won’t go out until substantial rain or snow finally falls. The numbers are staggering: 30 fires raging in Washington State, another 30+ in Idaho, nearly 15 in Oregon, 20 in California and over 25 in Montana…and we are only halfway through August.
People love Yellowstone National Park in the summer. July of 2015 is now officially the busiest month in Yellowstone National Park’s history, according to the newest visitation numbers released online. In the 31 days of July, 980,702 entered the park, exploring the geysers, mountains and valleys, while seeing herds of wildlife spread throughout the world’s first National Park. The numbers for July are up 14.19% from last year, and so far in 2015 Yellowstone National Park has seen a 17% increase in visitation. Yellowstone National Park averaged 31,635 people a day in July, which is nearly the same as the population of nearby Butte, Montana.
This year has been a rough year for Yellowstone National Park and wildlife encounters. Last week, a man was attacked while running alone off trail, mauled, killed and eaten. The bear, a mother of two cubs, was executed by park officials, and her two cubs were sent to a zoo in Ohio. Signs all around the park warn of the dangers of approaching wildlife, and yet, people ignore all warnings. Since the year began, five tourists have been gored by bison, a record number and something we have been covering quite a bit. Park Rangers warn the masses entering the park, and each visitor is handed a bright yellow pamphlet to warm them of bison dangers… yet, people still continue to suck, as the picture below shows.
Officials at Mount Rainier National Park have closed access to the Westside Road and the area surrounding Tahoma Creek after a glacial outburst half an acre is size broke off from the South Tahoma Glacier. On Thursday, August 13th, 2015 at 9:40 a volunteer researcher was working near Tahoma Creek when they heard a loud roar, followed by the sounds of quickly moving water, snapping trees and car sized boulders being tossed. Debris washed over the Westside Road approximately 30 minutes after the glacier had started its flood. There were four similar events throughout the day, each causing torrents of water and debris to be pushed down the narrow creek. The glacial outburst flood has closed the Westside Road through the weekend, and anyone who witnessed the event is asked to contact Mount Rainier officials.
In the past seven days, minors in Yosemite National Park have had some terrible luck. It started last week, when health officials confirmed a child who visited Yosemite had somehow contracted the plague, quite possibly while camping at the Crane Flat Campground in July. Now, one week after the conformation of the plague, another tragedy has hit Yosemite. On the morning of August 14th, 2015, park officials released a statement saying that a falling branch has killed two children as they slept in their tent at the Upper Pines Campground.
The world knows Crater Lake National Park for many reasons. From the stunning views around the crater rim, to the geological wonder that this old volcano has become, North America’s second deepest lake is loved by all who see it. Created as a National Park on May 22nd, 1902, Crater Lake has seen millions of awe-struck visitors to the southern Oregon destination. For all but a few, the trips to Crater Lake have been either above or on the water. Now, thanks to the United States Geological Survey, you can finally see what the bottom of the world’s seventh deepest lake looks like, all 1,943 feet!
You wouldn’t think by looking at them, but the often giggle inducing geoducks in the waters of the Pacific Northwest are a hot commodity, so much so that there is now a huge international black market for the area’s most phallic creatures. The mollusks, which are a native species to the region, are currently being poached in unprecedented numbers in and around Washington State’s Puget Sound. Considered a delicacy in many Asian countries, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is now attempting to shut down a major black market that ships these giant, phallic looking clams internationally.
War training exercises are coming to your favorite wilderness areas. First, the Navy came for the wilderness regions around Olympic National Park. Now, it appears the US Army is taking a page from the Navy’s book and are looking to conduct helicopter missions 365 days a year, day and night over the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, popular hiking trails and even the always popular and gorgeous Pacific Crest Trail. The missions wouldn’t just be flights over these areas. Instead, the US Army hopes to get out into the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in the North Cascades and turn the area into a training area that would include seven helicopter landing sites, including one within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary.
If you have been thinking Olympic National Park is a bit more crowded this year, you are absolutely right. With some of the best natural scenery in the world, visitors from across the globe flock to our little corner of the world in hopes to see the sites of what many consider to be the best National Park in America. The popularity of Olympic National Park continues to increase, with June yet again setting records for visitation. On average, each day in June, 2015 had 18,344 people exploring the beauty of Olympic National Park.