Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lots of Meadow Rover news

If you've been up to Paradise recently, then you already know: right now, there are far more people than there are trails! Meadow Roving has been challenging, and I've heard many stories from many rovers about the issues they've encountered on the trail.

First: here's a great article in the Seattle Times about snow conditions in the park, which includes a nice picture by Times photographer Chris Joseph Taylor of new meadow rover Faith Young out on the snow above Sunrise. Faith writes, "I was thinking of hiking up to 2nd Burroughs on Monday to see what the snow conditions are like for myself as I got many questions about it while I was up at Frozen Lake yesterday and had to rely on reports/pictures I had seen on nwhikers.net. I also had many people asking me about the snow on the Wonderland Trail below Frozen Lake on the way to the service road. So I decided to go back to the visitor center that way to see for myself. On the way down, there was a Seattle Times reporter working on an article about hiking, so he was snapping away with his camera as I was helping a family negotiate the snowfield there. As a result, I made it in today's Seattle Times!"

From the Paradise Side, a note from Rover John Walsh:

Pretty awesome at Paradise Saturday ... very busy as is the case fro the summer. The trails and area are as you know in that difficult transition phase from late snow to "summer" conditions. Many, many visitors still meandering around as if there is still enough snow so spent time requesting folks stay on existing trails, many folks "cutting" trails using thawed, snow free areas for traversing rather than snow trails, etc. There were a few "interesting" areas along the lower Alta trail that could cause some concern ... snow trail traverses over a stream with the outcome that folks had "post holed" ...good potential area for ankle injuries. There was nothing available to block off the area to redirect snow trail and it was late in the day but I reported so that someone else might see it and "wand it off". I did try to redirect trail by making an obvious alternative to the trail ... but effort went unrewarded unfortunately ... I
watched a person behind me just start over the stream ... oh well tried anyway ... I am sure you have heard, seen it all. Starting to see some evidence of flowers trying to emerge in various areas ... along Pan Point area and other spots that had become snow free ... probably still a few weeks out at this point. Spent considerable time (more than usual) chatting on this particular "rove" ... seems like there are many novice visitors to the Park with numerous questions about area ... always have to keep in the forefront that while we are "roving" we are ambassadors for the Park Service ... I honestly need to review available info about the Park again ...had many questions about many topics ... anyway great day up at Paradise as usual.
I heard from another Meadow Rover who had made plans to meet a new Rover on Sunday to "teach them the ropes," but the new person never showed up. Please, if you've made an appointment with someone and have to back out or change plans, give us a call and let us know. (Make sure you talk to a live person rather than leaving a message, as many of us don't work on the weekends.) Our experienced Rover hung around for three hours and had some nice chats with park visitors, but with the current cost of gas, it's an expensive trip to Paradise if your appointment never shows up.

Hank and Judy Bernard forwarded me these photos of problem areas at Paradise right now:

The first picture is a trail bridge above Sluiskin Falls on the east side of the Skyline Trail. It's pretty precarious, and people are crossing elsewhere--which puts them at risk of falling through the snow into the stream. This spot could use some shoveling to make it safe. I'm not certain about the location of the second and third photos, but I think at least one of them is right behind the guide house above the upper parking lot at Paradise. It shows just how quickly a social trail can "burn" into the meadows when the snow hides the true trail. In fact, visitors can be forgiven for thinking these are the trail, when they're so well-trodden. Shoveling, roping, and flagging are all necessary in these areas to direct visitors to the correct places.

Next, a note from our Superintendent's office about Mowich Lake, which finally opened (the road, that is) this weekend: "A lot of snow remains in the parking and camp areas. Most camping will be on snow. Porta potties have been placed and the garbage cans are being dug out of the snow. Lake is still snow covered." Mowich is usually open the first of July, so we're still running about three weeks late getting shoveled out.

And finally, don't miss the vigorous discussion going on at turns-all-year.com, initiated by an unidentified Meadow Rover who attempted to explain why skiing can create problems on the lower elevation trails at Paradise this time of year (due to thin snow, large crowds, and the need to establish routes where the trails will be as they melt out). The discussion is lively and wide-ranging; hopefully, it will lead to a better understanding of why we have regulations in place to protect the meadows, and ideas about how we can better convey that message to people visiting the park.

Clearly, our Meadow Rovers are playing a vital role right now--not always an easy one, or even a universally popular one. But you have only to look at Hank and Judy's pictures above to see why it's so important. Thank you all for your hard work on behalf of our Mountain!

1 comment:

Micah Prange said...

Regarding the friction between skiers and meadow rovers at Paradise I would like to say that I think almost all animosity (regarding this particular rough issue) could be avoided if the park management had a clear policy (or even simply suggestions for travel practices) posted on a sign at the visitor center, on the web, on the phone hotline, etc. Assuming the NPS leaves a reasonable, legal way for skiers to travel from Paradise to Pan. Pt. most will oblige (happily or not, even if it means carrying skis over snow). Similarly, if MORA had an interest in cultivating a good relationship with skiers as a user group, it would give us some more information about important issues (e.g. about opening the Sunrise road). There are lots of venues for discussion, but there is very little NPS participation on any of them. Skiers visit the part in all seasons, are not going to go away, and will become an increasing headache for management if they continue to feel mistreated (esp. compared to climbers, who are very well managed).