Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Poster mailing party tentatively 2/16

We're zeroing in on a date for mailing our commemorative posters, and it looks likely that it'll be February 16, at the park headquarters in Tahoma Woods, between Ashford and Elbe. I'll confirm this in the next day or two and send out an e-mail to everyone who offered to help, but meanwhile you can pencil the date on your calendar, with a start time of around 11am.

Thank you to all of you who answered my queries to confirm your addresses! Tracking them all down has been quite a task!

By the way, I thought you might like to see what Longmire looks like these days:

Welcoming Rebecca Agiewich

From Mike Gauthier, Supervisory Climbing Ranger:

"Two new faces are in and out of the Longmire Administration building these days...

"Our new face is Rebecca Agiewich. Rebecca is a novelist, journalist and blogger who writes for the Seattle PI, Seattle Magazine, and the Lonely Planet. Her novel, BreakupBabe sprang out of a blog (of the same name) and was published in 2006. Rebecca also teaches classes about writing and blogging. In 1991, she hiked the Wonderland Trail and has since climbed, skied and snowshoed many other trails in the park. Formally at Microsoft and Amazon, she'll be writing more about Mount Rainier for the Seattle PI’s 'Getaways' section.

"While VIP-ing at Mount Rainier, Rebecca will help the climbing program expand its on-line content and information services. You can find her on the first floor of the Longmire Administration building in Dave Ashe's old office. For more information on Rebecca, check out her author website at or her personal site where she writes about fashion, music, romance and outdoor activities: ."

Welcome, Rebecca!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SCA Intern positions advertised

Recruitment and hiring for summer internship positions through SCA has begun! So far we've advertised five positions at the park:

  • Natural Resources Planning, dates TBD

  • Visitor Services Intern (Paradise), 5/27-8/19

  • Visitor Services Intern (Sunrise), 5/27-8/19

  • Backcountry Intern, 6/15-9/7

  • Mount Rainier Recovery Corps, 5/15-10/1 (8-12 positions, hiring now!)

We're also recruiting for at least two High School crews lasting two to four weeks each. Discussions are continuing within the park about other SCA positions, including curation, restoration planning, revegetation documentation, education, and exotics/seed collection crews, among others. For a complete list, including opportunities to apply online, search the internship database for the key word "Rainier" on SCA's website.

Note also that the Geological Society of America has advertised two Geologist-in-Parks positions on our behalf. These specialized individuals will work for 12-week terms as interpreters at Sunrise and Paradise. Applications for these positions are due February 1. Details can be found on the Geological Society's website.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Latest trend: "Voluntourism"

From WTA's Signposts Blog:

"Yesterday's Getaways section in the Seattle PI features an interesting article on getting a hotel discount in return for volunteer trail work....
"Not a bad deal--you experienced WTA volunteers should check it out. The article reports it's not just a PR stunt, either. The volunteers do strenuous, meaningful work on the trails."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mount Rainier Recovery Poster is ready to mail!

At long last, the Mount Rainier Recovery poster is complete and has arrived! Along with the park's partners, I am putting the finishing touches on our mailing list of volunteers who contributed to the park in 2007 and late 2006. We're drafting thank you letters to go with the posters, and looking for the most economical source of mailing tubes.

If you volunteered in 2007, you will probably be getting an e-mail or call from me in the near future, confirming your address and checking on your availability to help with a massive poster stuffing and mailing party, most likely in early February.

It's exciting to finally have this poster complete, and to have one more opportunity to thank all of you for your tremendous contributions over the past year, in the wake of 2006's devastating floods! We look forward to continuing the good work in 2008.

The poster, by the way, was produced by Ranger Doug's Enterprises, who donated all of their design work for free and then sold us the posters at a drastically reduced cost. We are deeply grateful for their contribution! The poster measures 18x24 inches... so get those frames ready!

(1/18 update: I've updated the image with an electronic version of the poster. Same image, better quality than my photograph!)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Activity Report, Sunday, January 13, 2008, Green Lake

Flash beat me in and was already greeting the early visitors. After a chat I headed to GL. Several inches of snow at the washout became 5 inches at GLTH. A few visitors have gone as far as RF since the snow, but there were no tracks above. I again needed snowshoes above RF. The snow had a hard crust that you drop through to mid calf or deeper today. I heard Geoff call in a report that the road heading up to Paul Peak was in bad shape.

There is a newly fallen old growth hemlock across the trail midway up to RF. It’s in the same area as numerous other large windfalls. I could duck under it, but in order to do so it’s necessary also to straddle a smaller tree directly underneath. If I can duck under a tree, anyone can; but not everyone could get over the smaller one easily. I expect that Carl will leave the large one in place for now. There also are several small trees across the trail blocking below RF.

At the RF lookout, a tree made a direct hit. The right side rail is broken. It may be useable temporarily if the broken end is trimmed. The tree currently lies across the lookout platform. I could duck under it.

On the second set of switchbacks above RF, there’s another old growth hemlock across the trail completely blocking. No way over and no easy way around especially with the steep hillside and deep snow currently in the area. It’s close to the spot where a similar old growth tree fell a couple of years ago. After scouting above and below trail, I decided to try a route from below. No real problem on snowshoes, but I had to back-step heading down, because of the steepness of the slope.

I cleared 14 inches of snow from GLFB. Not all that difficult, since no one had crossed the FB since the snow. I doubt there will be many visitors until the snow melts. It’s a bit of work even with snowshoes and the blocking tree makes for an adventure.

Over two feet of snow with a hard crust at GL.

There were 6 trees across the road from the washout to GLTH, 3 large and 3 small. All but one of the trees was blocking. I met Eva on the way out. She was returning from a hike to Chenuis. She advised that Flash, Geoff and Matt were clearing the trees in the road ahead. They cleared most of them and were wrapping up when I arrived.

Lots of families on the road, overflow parking in our tiny CRE lot, and a steady stream of Lookie Lou’s out for a drive on a nice day.

George Coulbourn

Monday, January 7, 2008

Current events and planning

It's been a busy couple of weeks here on the Mountain over the holidays, with heavy snowfall and high visitation on many days. We now have 40 inches of snow on the ground outside my window at Longmire, though the monstrous seven foot icicle has fallen. The depth at Paradise is 130 inches, 28 inches above average, though still 46 inches below the record for this date set in 1997. Two to three feet more are forecast for tomorrow!

Remember: Rapidly accumulating snow leads to high avalanche danger! The danger has been "extreme" several days already, the highest it can get. Under those conditions we can't even open the road to Paradise due to the risk of cars being pushed over the cliffs by falling snow. This has already been the deadliest winter for snow avalanches on record (details in the Seattle Times). If you go out, check the conditions first--here at Rainier, you can do so at the Longmire Museum, open seven days a week from 9 to 4, phone number 360-569-2211 ext. 3314. You can get general forecasts online from the Northwest Avalanche Center, but we supplement with our own testing to provide a more detailed local report. Know what the reports mean and how to adjust your plans accordingly. If the risk of avalanches is elevated, avoid any kind of steep terrain. Wear an avalanche beacon under your clothes, carry probe poles and collapsable shovels, and know how to use them if a buddy gets buried. If you don't know, don't go.

This is a good time to mention that we have a very active partner at Mount Rainier in the Washington Ski Touring Club, which patrols and marks winter trails and assists visitors. Thanks for all your help, guys!!

In addition to the ski patrol, we've had lots of volunteer help at Paradise this winter, for which our interpretive staff are extremely grateful. Deep snow means we need a lot of help breaking trails and keeping them marked; and large groups such as we've had in the past weeks are better served when we have volunteers helping to keep the groups together and tend to any needs.

Here are a couple of other links to recent news stories:

In The News Tribune: "Mount Rainier revives after a year of recovery." "To have all that behind us will be a real big accomplishment. To be able to concentrate on visitor services will be nice,” said park superintendent Dave Uberuaga. "But we need to help re-engage people," he said. "When you break a habit, people maybe move on to other things. I really want to re-energize people about the incredible opportunities here and experience the grand place that it is."

And in the Penninsula Daily News, "Olympic National Park taps temporary chief," which notes that Acting Superintendent Sue McGill began her career in 1976 as--you guessed it--a volunteer at Mount Rainier!

While all you great volunteers are out there snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, serving visitors, and running national parks, behind the scenes planning are continues for the upcoming summer season. I met on Friday with the members of the Northwest Parks and Public Lands Storm Recovery Coalition, which will continue into the coming years with an expanded mission (and a new name yet to be determined) of supporting public lands throughout the state. Those efforts will include supporting flood recovery at Olympic National Park this year, and continuing volunteer recruitment and coordination at Rainier, and will be funded in part by a $93,000 grant from ______ (major NW company to be announced later this week or next!).

Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll be meeting in Seattle with SCA and the volunteer program managers from Olympic and North Cascades National Parks. We'll be talking about strategies for coordinating our efforts for recruiting volunteers and interns in the Puget Sound area, as well as training, communicating, and fundraising more effectively. Then next week SCA's representative and I will sit down with Superintendent Uberuaga to formalize our partnership for the 2008 season.

The most exciting thing coming up is that our Mount Rainier Recovery posters are finally finished and in the mail to us from the printers! Woohoo! And they look great, too. We're polishing up our mailing lists and will be putting out a call in the near future for a grand poster-tube-stuffing party, details yet to be determined, but it'll definitely be a lot of fun. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, enjoy the snow... safely!

Things at Rainier looking up!

From the Northwest Storm Recovery Coalition's blog:

After massive storms last winter, the National Park Service (NPS) reports things are returning to normal at Mount Rainier, Washington's icon national park. This summer, the Park Service expects hikers to be able to complete the entire wonderland route around the mountain. The historic trail had been damaged in approximately 16 places, so some reroutes were required. Also, the NPS believes damage to state route 123 on the park's east side will be repaired by the start of the summer season, allowing visitors to enter on one side of the park and exit at another. Finally, the NPS will soon take public comments on what to do with the carbon river road in the park's northwest corner. The Carbon river road has washed out repeatedly and the NPS is looking for suggestions on a sustainable long term public access solution.