Friday, September 28, 2007

Mount Rainier Volunteers Work to Reopen Trails, Repair Damages

Complete story at The News Tribune, September 28, 2007:

“If we didn’t have the volunteer assistance, a lot of miles of trail most likely would not have been open or would be opening now,” said Carl Fabiani, the park’s trail supervisor. “If you count all the youth corps and volunteer support we had, it was at least half the work we got done.”

Volunteers Rescue Ravaged Mount Rainier National Park

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 28, 2007:

The Mount Rainier recovery estimate was $36 million, but volunteerism and fiscal management likely will bring costs down, possibly allowing funding to shift to other hard-hit national parks like Olympic or North Cascades, said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Calm before the Storm...

National Public Lands Day is just four days away. More than 120 people have signed up so far, and there's still room for more! Congressman Norm Dicks may join us at Longmire to kick off the day, and other representatives are considering doing so as well. It'll be a great way to end this Season of the Volunteer, adding several hundred more hours to a total, now past 67,000, that has already shattered all previous records. Meanwhile, volunteers and park rangers continue to work hard on trails, campgrounds, and restoration projects, knowing that winter's snows may be less than a month away in some places.

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." - Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral (1655)

Volunteers work in Mount Rainier's rugged backcountry

From The Olympian, September 25, 2007:

The sounds of traffic melt away just as the sounds of the creek burble up the trail. The creek pours through narrow slots in giant, bedrock boulders when it first comes into view. At that moment, you stop thinking about the hike back up to the car — and start thinking about what wonders are ahead. On this day, the biggest wonder was a crew of five Student Conservation Association workers.

Celebrate National Public Lands Day this Saturday

From the Washington Trails Association, September 25, 2007:

Fall is a great time to volunteer on trails. Okay, so it's not completely sunny out, but think how much cooler you'll be as you heft those grub hoes and Pulaskis while you're helping fix our trails.

Special dinner celebrates hard work of volunteers

From The News Tribune, September 25, 2007:

People will have one last chance for the season to do flood recovery work at Mount Rainier National Park on Sept. 29, which is National Public Lands Day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Trail Notes

From John Walsh, Paradise Meadow Rover:

New snow on the mountain - certainly a harbinger of winter. Quite beautiful to see. When arriving at Paradise, clouds parted enough providing spectacular views of the mountain. Trees appeared to be "frocked" -- it was quite beautiful. Snow actually on the ground and slush on the trails as you approached Pebble Creek. Trails above Pebble were interesting, new snow covered normal routes so a little dicey up there. Coming down was rewarded with some cool things; actually sat and watched a pika from about 2 feet away, had not had that opportunity before as they usually are pretty elusive; also watched a falcon hunting the meadow. He apparently had very little concern I was there and swooped fairly low over me. The best was as I was standing above the Golden Gate trail, I heard this very pronounced "swoosh ... swoosh ... swoosh" and turned east just in time to be face to face with a very large bird of prey flying directly at me about 10 feet off the ground. He shot like a fighter plane right over my head and dove down the hill with the switch backs. Very cool ...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rebuilding Mount Rainier

"It's a good workout, and you don't have to pay gym prices," [Derek] Mulvey said as he walked off to a boulder field a few hundred feet away for more rocks. "And I want to make sure that there are trails to hike on Mount Rainier."

Read more of this article by Chester Allen on The Olympian’s website!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Summer cools down, repairs heat up!

The summer is quickly coming to an end, but storm recovery work remains in high gear.

Read more on the Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition's blog!

Field Notes

  • Registration for National Public Lands Day is up to around 80 people--not bad for still being 10 days out! There's lots of room for more, so remember to sign up here, either for a work project, or for the evening barbecue and celebration, or both.
  • Thank you to all of our sponsors! Numerous local businesses are helping us make National Public Lands Day exceptional. Partners so far include the Student Conservation Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Washington's National Park Fund, Washington Trails Association, Mountaineers, REI, Mount Rainier Guest Services, International Mountain Guides, Ranger Doug's Enterprises, Starbucks, HSBC Bank, Nature Valley, Glacier Water Company, PCC Natural Markets, and Columbia Crest School.
  • Documented volunteers numbers are now up to 1,529 individuals who have contributed 56,773 hours of service. (Why do I keep saying "documented hours?" Many volunteers are still working, and won't turn in their hours till next month. Some have yet to turn in their records for August. Some turn in their hours in one lump sum at the end of the year. A few have to be reminded a time or two before their numbers come in. So, the total will definitely be higher... but we're already more than 600 individuals, and almost 13,000 hours, over last year's totals through September 30!)
  • Statistics quantifying the work we've done are hard to track. For instance, I asked Trails Foreman Carl Fabiani a few days ago, "how many miles of trail have we repaired this year?" He looked at me quizically and said, "260?" Every trail in the park has had work this year, though obviously, some more than others. SCA's Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative, alone, has documented 31,970 feet of brushing... 59,560 feet of raking... 2,410 feet of tread repaired... 7,328 feet of side ditches cleared... 1,127 drains cleared... 8 retaining walls constructed... more than 104 stumps pulled... 23,157 invasive plants pulled... and 222 road culverts cleared. What do these numbers really mean? I have no idea. But they certainly sound impressive.
  • Speaking of accomplishments, here's a (very) preliminary summary of our volunteer program's highlights this year.
  • In the larger context, here's a PowerPoint presentation about Mount Rainier's flood recovery efforts, including the work completed by both park staff and volunteers. (Warning: It's 26.2 megabytes in size.)
  • And finally, for those of you planning to join our end-of-season projects on National Public Lands Day, here's a little teaser of something you might see on the trail that day... it's just one of many surprises that we have planned throughout the day for those who participate. See you there!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Diagnosis--Mount Rainier Addiction

Now that I have returned to the material comforts of my home, I find myself craving all those things that I left on the omnipotent Mt. Rainier. Yes, the walk to go #2 in the actual toilets was way too long, my enormous fear of bees kept me on my toes, and cleaning the sump screen was positively disgusting, yet I have an indescribable desire in my stomach to be sitting in Longmire watching Mt. Rainier go in and out of the clouds. My temporary remedy? Be outside as much as possible, but the urban "outdoors" of my deck, tainted with city lights can’t hold a candle to the sense of tranquility that I felt while just soaking in Mt. Rainier.

Read more from one of SCA's youth corps volunteers on SCA's Mount Rainier News blog.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This Just In...

Issue number six of this summer's volunteer newsletter is now available, hot off the press! Read about plans for National Public Lands Day, and some amazing statistics that are starting to come in to Volunteer Command Central... Plus, some of your last chances to volunteer on flood recovery efforts this year.

Photo by John Chao
Help us celebrate National Public Lands Day--and a summer of rebuilding Mount Rainier--on September 29!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


When: Saturday, September 29, 2007
Service projects 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
End of Season Celebration and Dinner 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Meet for the End of Season Celebration at Columbia Crest Elementary School (9 miles west of Mount Rainier National Park's Nisqually Entrance; three miles west of Ashford on SR 706). Check-in for service projects will be at Longmire, 6 miles east of the Nisqually Entrance. Further details will be provided with your online registration.

Who: Friends of the Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative -- Volunteers, sponsors, staff, media, and anyone who contributed in any way to the recovery effort are all invited to attend!

What: A variety of service projects will cap off a very successful first season for the Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative. Teams of volunteers will work on trail repair, campground restoration, habitat rehab, and other projects throughout the park. In the evening, we will host an informal dinner and celebration, with hamburgers, hot dogs, presentations, and lots of pictures from the summer's work. Come for the service project, or just for the dinner, or sign up for both!

How: To confirm your attendance, sign up at SCA's online events calendar. Click on the calendar link at September 29. You may register for a service project, to attend the dinner, or both. If you do not have Internet access, please call Jill Baum at 360-569-2211 ext. 3414.

Why: Following the devastating floods of last November, hundreds of individuals volunteered to help clean up campgrounds and rebuild trails all over the park. Much work remains, but a lot was accomplished, too. More than half of Mount Rainier's trail repairs this summer were completed by volunteers! Behind the scenes, concerned citizens who weren't able to volunteer in the park wrote letters and contributed financially to the recovery program. These efforts have literally rebuilt our park. On National Public Lands Day, we will come together to celebrate these many acts of stewardship, and to thank those who have given their time and effort so we may all enjoy this special place.

The End-of-Season Celebration is hosted by the Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition, including Mount Rainier National Park, the Student Conservation Association, the Washington Trails Association, Washington's National Park Fund, the National Parks Conservation Association, and The Mountaineers. Sponsors so far include REI, Starbucks, HSBC Bank, Mount Rainier Guest Services, International Mountain Guides, Ranger Doug's Enterprises, and Columbia Crest School.

If you have questions about this event or about Mount Rainier's volunteer program, please contact Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager, at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385; or Jill Baum, Project Director for the Mount Rainier Recovery Initiative, at 360-569-2211 ext. 3414.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Road closures and volunteer celebrations at Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park will begin repairs to the flood-damaged Stevens Canyon Road in the southeast corner of the park beginning Sept. 20. The road, which connects Paradise with the Grove of the Patriarchs and Ohanapecosh Campground, will be closed during repairs from Sept. 20 through Oct. 26. Plan accordingly.

Read more on WTA's blog, The Signpost...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Backcountry Horsemen work to save trails for next generation

Climbing high on a trail at dizzying heights, four hooves move steadily on a narrow path across a steep wall of shale rock. At the top of the ridge, the horses and mules are reined to a stop, and the scenery explodes. On one side, Mount Rainier appears like the top of a giant ice-cream cone. To the east, cliffs of craggy rock plunge into a bowl of green meadows and trees.... This moment, the feeling of being completely removed from everything, is what defines the Backcountry Horsemen. A national service club with some of its most active chapters in Southeast King County, the Backcountry Horsemen maintain hundreds of miles of local trails and work to protect open space.

Read more about the Backcountry Horsemen, a local group that has contributed more than 2,000 hours of service in Mount Rainier National Park, in this article by Lauren Vane on the website of the Seattle Times.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Park operations shift to winter hours; Going green

Representatives the park, students from Waseda University in Tokyo and the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association dedicated a new "bio toilet" at Cougar Rock Campground a week ago.

Read more, including a report on winter hours at Mount Rainier National Park, in a reportby Jeffrey P. Mayor on the News Tribune Website.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Field Notes

  • National Public Lands Day schedule confirmed! Mark your calendars for September 29. We'll be hosting a variety of volunteer projects from 9am to 3pm, followed by a grand end-of-season celebration at Columbia Crest Elementary School at 4pm. There will be food, presentations, awards... A formal announcement and invitation will go out in the next day or two. Meanwhile, you can already sign up on the Mount Rainier Recovery calendar.
  • Doing the Puyallup: Jim Ross reports that you've answered the call to represent Mount Rainier at the Puyallup Fair! "The response has been great. 13 volunteers, two administrative assistants, and one ranger from Olympic have filled 30 shifts. Thanks for helping me make this a success. See you at The Fair."
  • From my e-mail in-box: "I recently spent a week helping repair and create trails on Mt. Rainier. I had a great time. I was with the Sierra Club group and we enjoyed the relative luxury of car-camping at Cougar Rock campground. We worked under the auspices of the SCA. I am writing to let you know that I was impressed by the enthusiasm of all the volunteers I met. I was also impressed by the park staff with whom we worked. Their dedication, perseverance, and focus was a terrific example to all volunteers. I hope to have the honor of working alongside them again in the future. Yours truly, A.S., Port Orchard, Washington." It's great to get such positive feedback!
  • Cool Summer Job: Finally, I was browsing YouTube last week and came across another volunteer-related video! This is an amazing clip of rangers working to clear an immense boulder from the Wonderland Trail above Cougar Rock Campground. As I recall, they were assisted with this by volunteers from the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC). The video, unfortunately, labels us as the "Rainier Forest Service" (wince), but the effort and energy of the rangers and volunteers in the video speaks for itself.
  • Your Stories: I'd love to see your own photos and videos, and hear your stories. Send them to me, or send me a link, and I'll post them here!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Japan Volunteers-in-Parks

Students from the Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association (J-VIPA) pose in traditional dress with park superintendent Dave Uberuaga.