Thursday, February 19, 2015

Earth Day Week Litter Patrol

It's been three years since Mount Rainier's Volunteers adopted the two-mile stretch of SR 706 from milepost 2 to milepost 4 east of Elbe. You may recognize this as the section of highway which includes the Park's Tahoma Woods Headquarters. During those three years, we have partnered with the Washington State Department of Transportation, and in exchange for keeping the area clean of litter, Volunteers are acknowledged by a state sign at either end of the "beat." This publicity is good for the Park and for the Volunteer Program, and that's why once again, we are turning to you to ask for help.

As part of our contract with the state, we must complete a litter pickup in April, an event which coincides (more or less) with Earth Day. This year's patrol is scheduled for Saturday, April 25th starting at 10 AM. Depending on the number of volunteers we have turn out, we will have the job done between noon and 2 PM. Volunteers who have not already done so will need to watch a short training video which features a very young and goofy Bill Nye ("the Science Guy"). The video can be found on the DoT's website at

Here's your chance to benefit both the Park and the community, and to help increase public awareness of the Volunteer program. We need one dozen volunteers for the job! Bags, gloves, safety vests and long-armed grabbers will be provided. Contact Crow at petrina_vecchio(at) for more information. RSVP no later than April 15. Please join us!

What's Your Five Year Plan? Volunteer for Your National Parks!

Golden Gate National Parks recently worked with student volunteers at a local college to put together a video on the value of volunteering. Millennials, take notice -- this one's for you!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Volunteers: Share Your Story for the Park Service Centennial!

Did you know that the National Park Service will be 100 years young next year? That's 100 years of inspiring people from all over the world with the most extraordinary landscapes and historical events our country has to offer!

In the twelve years I've served with the Volunteer Program at Mount Rainier, I've learned that almost everyone I encounter has a story related to this Mountain. I hear them every time someone calls to ask about volunteering. They tell me about the time they went hiking at Paradise, or the bear they met at Summerland. They have a passion for this place. Sometimes that connection goes back generations. "My family has been camping at Ohanapecosh since my grandfather was a boy," they'll say; or, "My grandmother's ashes are scattered near Round Pass."

My experience is no different. I grew up in love with the natural world, but it was a trip to Crater Lake National Park as a child that sparked in me a sense of awe for wild places. A high school teacher who'd been a seasonal ranger at Crater Lake encouraged me to pursue a job with the National Park Service. When I found my way to Mount Rainier as a seasonal ranger in 1994, I also met my future wife, fell in love hiking to Indian Bar and gazing at stars on Backbone Ridge, and proposed at Ohanapecosh. Countless wilderness adventures have deepened my love for this place and for the National Park Service that protects it, and for the people who help, whether they wear the uniforms of paid employees, volunteers, or park partners.

Now, there's a way to share your story with others! The National Park Service has set up a Google site to capture people's stories. I'd love for them to include the experiences of park volunteers! What inspired you to give back? How has volunteering deepened your love for national parks?

Here's a link to the Share Your Story Google site. I look forward to reading what you have to say!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Snow Rover Handbook (first edition!) published

Good news, Snow Rovers! Just like the summer Meadow Rover program, there is now an official "Snow Rover Handbook," full of all kinds of helpful information for those of you serving in this important volunteer capacity! Learn the answers to common questions... the basics of communicating with park visitors... radio procedures... and much more. Download your copy today!

The Snow Rover Handbook was created by Volunteer Extraordinaire Taryn O'Connell, so give her a big "thank you" when you see her. If you have suggestions for future editions of the Handbook, send those to us as well.

And don't forget, of course, all of the other resources available to you, listed in the links on the right-hand side of this blog page -- including our "Volunteer Handbook," which contains additional valuable information about volunteering in general.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A thank you note from a park visitor

It's always good to hear feedback from the public. The choices we make aren't always popular, and the feedback isn't always positive -- so it's especially gratifying when someone takes the time to send thanks for a good experience. As the Volunteer Program Manager, of course, I'm always looking for comments that refer to volunteers, and I love hearing that they're making a positive difference for park visitors. Here's one we received last week. Thanks, Terry, for the great work you're doing!

I recently sent an email gushing about how great Ranger Casey was yesterday when a friend and I visited the park. I would be remiss to not mention the wonderful volunteer we met, as well.

Terry [Flower], on just his second day with the park, was a great addition to our experience, as well! Very kind and friendly, he was a joy to have alongside our snowshoe tour. Great volunteers like Terry should not go unappreciated!

Thank you again,

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A personal view of Mount Rainier and climate change

Cleve Pinnix chats with visitors at the
Grove of the Patriarchs in 2008.
Cleve Pinnix has been associated with Mount Rainier for a long time. He's served as a park ranger, a volunteer, and a board member for Washington's National Park Fund. He's hiked and backpacked all over the Mountain.

The Mountain is the thread that runs through the course of our lives. We’ve never lost that sense of awe, looking from tidewater to see the summit shining nearly three vertical miles into the sky.

Recently, he wrote an Op Ed for The Bellingham Herald, responding to the recent special report in The Olympian and The News Tribune called "Losing Paradise." His personal perspective, over half a century of experience with Mount Rainier, is unique and thought-provoking. Among other things, he answers the question "what can I do?"

The question since reading the newspaper’s report has been: “What can we do?” Mourn the loss of access to the most precious place in our lives? Accept that the changes in the park are irreversible? We think not. We believe there are ways to work for positive change.

Read more in The Bellingham Herald at

Friday, February 6, 2015

Get your February wallpaper (and contribute your photos)!

Guess what: you can "volunteer" without leaving your computer keyboard! If you have photos (taken by you, of course) of Mount Rainier, here's how you can contribute in a fun way to spreading the beauty of our Mountain all over the world!

From  Interpretive Media Specialist Patti Wold:

The February computer background photo is now available for download from the park website. The park social media team is sharing a different background photo each month in 2015 through the park's social media pages (currently the park has over 59,000 social media followers) and the park website. This beauty of a photo was taken by former Park Guide Jasmine Davis.

Here’s how you can get in on the fun:

Send me your photos (at Patti_Wold [at] that reflect various seasons (snow, fall foliage, wildflowers, etc.) or just amazing photos. Landscape photos seem to work best and appeal to the broadest audience. If one of your photos is selected you will be credited on the final background photo that will appear on computer screens around the world! Photos must be large enough to use as a background photo, so thumbnails, cropped, or reduced size photos will not work. Send photos any time throughout the year.

Photos are available in eight screen sizes, but please let me know if you don't find your screen size here. Get your February background photo today at!

Edited 2/9/15 to add Patti's e-mail address.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Mount Rainier weather information through our climbing blog

Paradise Wx Telemetry Graph as of 10:50am today
Eagle-eyed observers of this blog may have noticed, about two weeks ago, a new link in the "Helpful Resources" section in the right-hand column. It's the time of year when everyone talks about the weather, and wherever I go, inevitably the question comes up: "how the snow at Mount Rainier?" If your friends and family know that you volunteer on The Mountain (and if they don't, why not?!), they're probably asking you the same thing.

Now, you can talk weather like a pro! The Mount Rainier climbing page has compiled, in one helpful page at, all the information you could dream of wanting:
  • Recreational forecast ("Windy. Rain and Snow." Yeah!)
  • Infrared satellite images (lots of big green clouds!)
  • Temperature, pressure, and wind gradients (low pressure and steady winds)
  • Freezing level trends over the last 72 hours (fairly steady)
  • Avalanche forecast (increasing loose wet snow avalanches)
  • Avalanche danger level at treeline (considerable)
  • Winds aloft forecasts (54 knots at 12,000 feet, with a temperature of -7)
  • A 48-hour "Meteogram" showing forecast trends at Paradise (50 degrees, breezy, cloudy and wet)
  • Snow depth compared to average (60 inches vs 133)
  • The Paradise webcam (parking lot mostly bare, wet, and empty)
  • Paradise and Muir telemetry (39 degrees, 15 mph wind, 0.82" precip and 60" of snow at Paradise)
  • Paradise telemetry graphs (steady temperatures, rising winds, increasing rain and humidity, but little change in snow depth)
  • Links for even more weather and stream flow information
Ladies and gentlemen, start your browsers!