Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Who You Gonna Call?

If there’s something strange, going on with your car,

Who you gonna call?


If you turn your key, and your battery doesn’t start,

Who you gonna call?


If you’ve got a flat, and you need some help,

Who you gonna call?



If you are enjoying your day of hiking at Paradise and you are just about to leave, when you realize that there is something wrong with your car, such as a flat tire or a dead battery, the RAVENS are there to help!  You may have seen Gary or Les in the bright orange vests helping to direct traffic, but whenever something happens, they are the first on the scene to assist in any way they can.  Our RAVENS (Roadside Assistance Volunteers, but we think RAVEN sounds cooler) are volunteers that are here throughout the week to assist those in need around the Paradise area.  These trained professionals are here to help us when we are at our lowest point.  Locked your keys in your car?  Need a bandage?  Who you gonna call?  THE RAVENS!

Star Party

Late one night last week, it appeared that the stars had aligned, and hundreds of lucky visitors were treated to a view of the heavens above with all of our volunteer astronomers on hand to share their knowledge of the night sky. 
Over 300 night owls arrived at the Jackson Visitor’s Center in Paradise just after sunset to be greeted by Ranger Curt Jacquot as he introduced all of the astronomers.  From there, there was a brief introduction to the night sky to the entire group, followed by all of the Astro-Volunteers manning their telescopes, each showing different features above as the evening progressed.  We were all very fortunate for a perfectly clear sky well into the night.  For many people in attendance, this was their first clear view of a night sky, and what better backdrop for the event than Mount Rainier?
Weather permitting, every evening from now until Labor Day, there will be an Astro-Volunteer outside the JVC starting at 9:45pm and staying until at least 11:45pm, but often going deeper into the night.  All astronomy events in the park are free to the public.  For updates on sky viewing or to check for any cancellations, please call (360) 569 – 6230. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

REI Sumner's Volunteer Day

The Logistics Team from the REI Distribution Center in Sumner, WA dropped in for a day of service and trail work in Mount Rainier National Park recently.  Normally having a narrow view of Salmon Creek off in the distance through an office window, this was a welcome change of scenery for everyone.  The crew was eleven strong and ready to get their hands dirty the moment they arrived.  After a short and scenic “mile long hike” along the Wonderland Trail leading up to Summerland just inside the White River Entrance, the group was met by their trail crew lead, Jen, from the Washington Trails Association.  She gave an introduction to the tools the group would be using for the project of drainage trench clearing and then everyone spread out over the trail to begin. 

WTA's Jen Haas giving the rundown of today's project.

After a few hours of work, the crew found a breathtaking spot to rest for lunch, and almost immediately was back to work, showing how much they really wanted to complete this project.   Covering approximately a mile of trail, clearing and creating any needed drainage trenches, the group worked determinedly throughout the afternoon.   

Following their work, they burned up more of their energy by going out on a hike, led by none other than the world renowned Ranger Kevin.  At the end of the day, their green REI Co-Op t-shirts were filthy, sweaty, and covered in dust, but the group couldn’t have been any happier.

REI is a Premier Partner of the National Park Foundation’s Find Your Park campaign.  For more information about REI and their continued efforts to improve Mount Rainier and other National Parks around the country, visit .  For more information about the partnership between the National Park Foundation and REI, please visit .

Friday, July 24, 2015

Yet Another Beautiful Day in Paradise

Rising over 5,000 feet above sea level, Paradise is one of the most visited areas of Mount Rainier, with thousands of guests hiking the trails every day.  With such heavy traffic on the trails in this area, there is much work that needs to be done to keep the trails open to the public.  If you have explored the Paradise area, you know that many of the trails that spider-web out of from the Jackson Visitor’s Center are paved, though many haven’t been repaired in over 40 years.   
The section of trail the Volunteers called home
during their day of trail work.
That’s where a group of volunteers from the Washington’s National Park Fund comes into play.  This crew of nine eager individuals wanted to help this iconic location in any way they could.  Meeting their trail crew leader, Kevin, at the steps behind the visitor’s center at 9:00am, they were ready to get to work.  After an introduction to the project, a safety discussion, and a tutorial on how to use the tools provided, everyone was off to the races, ready to clear a section of trail that will be repaved later this year. 

The Washington’s National Park Fund, or “The Fund” for short, was formed in Seattle in the early 1990s by three individuals who understood the need for volunteer and financial support for the most iconic National Parks in the state: Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades.  To this day, they are the official nonprofit partner supporting Mount Rainier National Park, and the passion for the parks can be seen in the volunteers that joined us on Saturday, July 18th. 

The Fund crew posing with thier tools below
the magnificent view of Mount Rainier.
After a morning spent under the hot sun, removing duff from the sides of the trail, and widening the path to the original size when it was first paved years ago, the volunteers from The Fund returned to their campgrounds to remove the freshest layer of dirt from their bodies and then explored some of what Mount Rainier has to offer. 

If you are interested in working with the Washington National Park Fund in continuing their mission of deepening the public’s love for, understanding of, and experiences in Mount Rainier or other iconic parks in the state, please visit their website at for more information on how you can get involved or make charitable donations today!

N2P Road Construction Update July 24-31

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Meadow Rovers Rock

Wow, what a weekend this past one has been.  Paradise and Sunrise were both swamped with visitors.  Paradise had 4 giant size tour buses, 4 full-sized school buses each full of eager trail hikers along with 6-10 smaller tour buses.  Add to this the continual parade of cars even past 5:00 p.m!  Sunrise may not have had all the buses, but it did have the busiest day yet this summer.  Fortunately, we had the largest group ever of rovers on the trails at Paradise talking with guests and maintaining the security of the Meadows.  Thank you to all who were there - it was a crazy day!  I know from an earlier blog, Sunrise did not have as many, but to those of you who braved the 500+ contacts, kudos - you are awesome.

The crowds will continue to grow as the weather stays hot and we will need all the help we can get.  While it helps both Lynn and I with planning when you let us know ahead of time, feel free to just will be welcome. 

For the early birds, there is a radio in the Climbing Information Center at Paradise available from 7:00 a.m.  Let me know if you are going to be an early bird so I can reserve that radio for you.  Also, if you are late returning to the Visitor Center, you may leave your radio at the Paradise Inn registration desk. 

A big thanks to all the new rovers who are recruiting new rovers!  Orientations have been ongoing since the June training sessions and the newbies are hitting the trails daily.

Again, thanks for all the work you are doing.  The Mountain is grateful.

Maureen McLean
Coordinator MORA Meadow Rovers

Monday, July 20, 2015

MRNPA Work Party and Annual Gathering

From John Titland:

The August Mount Rainier National Park Associates trails work party will be on Saturday, August 15th.  That's a little over 4 weeks away.  Following every August work party MRNPA volunteers are invited to assemble in a nearby campground for some relaxed time together, a potluck dinner, and an evening spent sitting around the campfire. (This year we may need to forego the campfire because the forest fire danger is so high.)

The August trails work party will be somewhere in the Ohana/Paradise area.  I don't know the project or the location yet.  After work party we will retire to the VIP campground at Longmire (not the Cougar Rock campground). The Longmire VIP campground, as those of us that have been there will tell you, is a wonderful place.  It is not open to the public; only to park volunteers.  Thus it is quiet and without the constant activity of a public campground.  The restroom even has showers, with hot water, if you want to clean up after the work party.

For the late afternoon socializing there is also always a supply of soft drinks, wine, and beer.  Dinner usually takes place about 6 PM.  The potluck dinner selections are always great.  We make no attempt to organize the menu.  People contribute whatever they want.  Not yet has everyone brought only desserts, but I can still hope.  After dinner, it gets pretty mellow.

I think this August event always turns out to be a great day.  I am personally inviting you to come.  Spend part of the day volunteering and then join other MRNPA volunteers in a "non-work party" gathering.  This is the only event each year where we take off the blue helmets and the work gloves, and really get a chance to meet and talk with our fellow volunteers.  If you have other commitments and can't stay for the whole evening, then stay as long as you can.  It's up to you.  But if you don't need to leave, plan on camping overnight.  The group campsite at the Longmire VIP campground is reserved for MRNPA volunteers for both Friday night (dinner is up to you) and Saturday night.  So bring your tent and sleeping bag and spend the weekend.  On Sunday morning people tend to go in different directions, but we are usually able to organize a short group hike somewhere close by.  Everyone is invited to come along.

As I said, I invite you to come on August 15th, do some volunteer work, and then join the MRNPA volunteers at the Longmire VIP Campground to spend some time with a great group of folks who really care about Mount Rainier National Park.

If you plan to attend this August 15th trails work party, please reply to this email indicating that you are coming and give me the number of volunteers you expect to accompany you.  I need an estimate of the number of volunteers so that Park staff can be sure to have enough tools for us all.  If you plan to camp, I also need to know if you will be there for one night (Friday or Saturday) or both nights.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Calling All Rovers! Calling All Rovers!

With our latest round of summer weather, visitors are flocking to the Mountain in the hopes of escaping the heat. Lynn Kittridge reported a record number of contacts for the Sunrise area on Saturday. She spoke with 331 people, and David Howerton contacted another 580. Rovers are urgently needed for weekend duty! Lynn has eight radios available at Sunrise.

Paradise is also seeing heavy visitation, so wherever you prefer to rove, please come!

Friday, July 17, 2015

N2P Road Construction, July 17-24

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Frozen? Barely!

Visitors continue to ignore the signs advising them to stay on trail at Frozen Lake, so last Saturday, Art McIrvin and Tom Kittridge spent the entire day in the rain, restringing the wires surrounding the diminishing tarn. These two volunteers not only contributed their time, but also purchased the supplies needed to protect Sunrise's water supply. Thank you, gentlemen!

Frozen? Barely! The snow patch normally seen on the back side of the lake is going fast!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Star Party July 18th at Paradise

Star Party at Paradise: Saturday July 18, 9:45 PM to at least 11:45 PM (Weather Permitting)

Families and individuals of all ages are invited to the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park for a special “star viewing party” on Saturday July 18.  The event starts at 9:45 PM at the plaza in front of the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise. If the sky remains clear, the event will last until at least 11:45 PM.  The outdoor star gazing will be led by the 2015 Mount Rainier Astro-Volunteer team. These volunteers donate the use of their personal telescopes for the public and educate about the night skies.

Weather permitting, nightly star viewing with at least one of the Mount Rainier astronomers will take place outside the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center through Labor Day this season.  This Saturday, all six of the Mount Rainier Astro-Volunteer team will be present with telescopes for this special event. If weather makes star gazing difficult, the star party will be cancelled.  Call the Mount Rainier Astronomy hotline at 360-569-6230 for updates on sky viewing and cancellations.

The National Park Service has come to embrace night skies as one of the many scenic vistas the agency is a steward of. It is essential to keeping a park whole and touches on almost every aspect that is important to us - from sustainability to stargazers, and animals to ancient ruins.

This event is free and open to all.  The entry fee to the park is $20 per private vehicle.

Information about the National Park Service Natural Lightscapes program is available at

General park information is available at or by calling 360-569-2211.

A Heroic Tale of Conquering Aliens

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt your regularly scheduled blog-scrolling to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Blog News Agency.  At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory of Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars.  The spectroscope indicated the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity.  Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell’s observation, and describes the phenomenon as “like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun.”

I don’t mean to alarm you, but Mount Rainier is under attack from alien invaders.  Massive groves of what scientists are calling Geranium robertianum, or “Stinky Bob” for short, could be found encroaching upon the Carbon River Ranger Station as recent as just last weekend.  Now, this may seem like something out of a certain book that has entered the public domain as it was written in the late 1800’s and may have been loosely quoted above, BUT this is real life.  Much of the newly acquired land around the Carbon River entrance was once used for agriculture, featuring plants that are not native to Mount Rainier’s lush forests.  Luckily help had arrived, right on time.

The Mount Rainier National Park Associates arrived in full battle gear, thick leather gloves on hand and plastic trash bags nearby, to ensure the alien invaders could not escape once more.  With the help of the Revegetation Crew’s extensive training on exotic and invasive species removal, the MRNPA were able to corral mountains of the invaders until no more could be seen. 

With special thanks to this crew, we can rest easy knowing the park is safe once more.

Are you interested in saving the planet from alien invaders?  How about helping to repopulate Mount Rainier with native species?  Maybe you just want to come out and volunteer?  Then check out the Mount Rainier National Park Associates’ website at and sign up for one of their upcoming work projects.  No prior training in eradication of aliens is required. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Greenhouse Needs Volunteers!

This is the busiest time of the year at the Park's greenhouse. If you are interested in assisting the Park Horticulturist in the propagation and maintenance of native plants, this is the place for you. Duties include the collection and preparation of cutting material; transplanting seedlings and rooted cuttings; and general plant maintenance. For more information, visit our listing on or contact Josh_Drown (at) There is an immediate need for volunteers. Those little seedlings can't wait!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Longmire Campground Improvements

What's new in the Longmire Stewardship Campground? For starters, we've refurbished a number of campsites by gravelling tent pads and pull-ins and adding picnic tables built in the old CCC style. New fire pits have been installed at selected locations, including one specifically designed to be ADA-accessible. The group site has also been improved, with benches arranged so that volunteers can gather and socialize around a common fire. The rocks lining many pathways have been reset to better define the routes to the comfort stations, and much of the debris has been removed.

What plans do we have for the future? The middle comfort station will be restored and a picnic shelter will be built just north of the group site. Both projects should be completed by the end of the season and will be ready for use by volunteers next year.

Sites are available to volunteers who are actively working in the Park and should be reserved at least two weeks in advance of your anticipated tour of duty. You may specify which site you'd prefer, but remember that the best ones fill up fast! Platform tents are also available if you would prefer to camp off the ground. Contact Kevin_Bacher (at) for more information.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Volunteer Newsletter: July 2015

June Highlights

The start of our volunteer season was a strong one in June, with many different events culminating in hours of hard work put in around the mountain.  Here are some highlights from the past month:

Tribal Use Dedication – June 10th
At the junction of the Nisqually River and the Longmire Stewardship Campground lies a recently dedicated piece of land.  This land was dedicated as a Tribal Use Area, as members of the Nisqually Tribe participated in the dedication, showcasing traditional dance and grilling salmon over a fire.

Geocacher’s CITO Event – June 13th
The 8th Annual CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) event was a very productive one, as geocachers and others worked hard in and around the Longmire Stewardship Campground.  They were able to help prepare the campground for the fast approaching summer season by cleaning the campsites, removing debris, erecting platform tents, filling potholes, and giving a much needed coat of paint to an adjacent firebox.  Thanks to their dedication year after year, we are able to provide a spectacular campground for all of our volunteers to enjoy.

Girl Scouts of Tacoma, Washington – June 25th to June 28th
Seven members of Girl Scout Troop 40216 of Tacoma, Washington stayed with us in the Longmire Stewardship Campground and had a blast.  When they arrived, they had a lesson with volunteer coordinator Crow on different forms of photography and lessons on various organisms from a “Penny’s Perspective.”  The second day they spent with members of our Education team and learned all about habitats around Mount Rainier and spent much of their additional time hiking to Carter Falls, cooling off in the Nisqually River, and constructing a small rock dam in the ultimate show of teamwork (they later destroyed it, as it was not to be a permanent structure).  On their final day, they tied all this new knowledge together to participate in our MeadoWatch program.  They walked along portions of trail in the Paradise area, taking pictures of flowers they saw, making note of their exact location, and entered it into an Internet database once they returned home.  The intrepid group of girls pressed on bravely through the sweltering sun in the name of science, and with the promise from their leaders of ice cream at the end.  Work with a Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troop in your hometown and are looking for service projects?  We can help! 

Citizen Science Trainings – Throughout the Month of June
Many citizen science projects kicked off this month with higher numbers of volunteers than ever before.  The MeadoWatch program is designed to allow volunteers of all kinds to help monitor and track the impacts of global climate change at Mount Rainier.  Participants will be collecting information throughout the summer and over many years in the form of noting the stage of development of different species of flowers along a set trail.  Scientists will then study this data and compare it from year to year.  The Cascades Butterfly Project is taking the same approach as the MeadoWatch crew in that they are enlisting the help of dozens of volunteers to help track and identify sensitive indicator species, such as butterflies, in five different locations throughout the park.  They too will be continuing on with this project over many years and tracking the effects of global climate change.  Love science and want to participate in these or similar studies?  There are still spots available!

Meadow Rovers – Throughout the Month of June
This year is on track to be one of the most popular years for visitors in Mount Rainier’s history.  With thousands upon thousands of visitors rambling through the trails, many questions may go unanswered, many flowers may be picked from our pristine subalpine fields, many dogs may chase down those loveable marmots, and many meadows may become stomped.  This is where the Meadow Rover crew comes into play.  Showing in record numbers this year, the Meadow Rovers have one goal: to improve protection of the meadows at Paradise and Sunrise through visitor education.  This devoted group of volunteers spends their time on patrol around the meadows of Paradise and Sunrise, sharing stories with visitors on a wide range of topics, educating guests on a variety of ecological concepts and programming within the park, and assisting those in need while on the trails.  We’d love to have you out roving the meadows at either Paradise or Sunrise!

Looking Ahead to July

July is looking to be a hot month, but that won’t stop our volunteer crews!  Here are some events coming up in the month of July (and beyond).

Eatonville 4th of July Parade – July 4th
This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wonderland trail, the 90+ mile loop trail that encircles the mountain.  Come cheer us on, or if you’d like, join us walking the parade route!  For more information, contact Jim Ross at, or just show up at 11:30 on Penn Avenue in Eatonville and look for the ranger vehicle. Wear your trail maintenance helmets and show your support for the Wonderland Trail!

SCA Community Crew #1 – July 6th
On July 6th, we welcome our first of three youth crews from the Seattle area as part of the Student Conservation Association’s Community Crew program.  These volunteers will spend two weeks working in the backcountry alongside trail crews, improving many miles of trails.  If you hike past them, make sure to express your support for them and all of their hard work! The second crew will then be arriving on July 27th and staying through August 10th.

Mount Rainier National Parks Associates “Deveg” – July 11th
The next MRNPA volunteer work party will be on Saturday, July 11th.  The primary focus of this work party will be exotic plant removal, or “deveg,” at the site of the new Carbon River Ranger Station, just west of the Carbon River Entrance.  They are meeting between 8:30am and 9:00am in front of the ranger station and no prior experience is needed; all training necessary will be provided on site.  If interested, please contact MRNPA at with information of how many volunteers you are expecting to accompany you.

Washington Trails Association Trail Work – Every Weekend of the Summer
The WTA is a longstanding partner of Mount Rainier National Park, and every weekend they are having volunteer work parties that are designed to improve sections of trail that are commonly traveled.  For information on where their next work project is in the park and how YOU can join them, visit

Volunteer Picnics – August 14th and 15th
Remember that our annual Volunteer Picnics (Longmire on the 14th and Sunrise on the 15th) will be held in August.  Food will be provided at both events, and more information will be posted on the volunteer blog ( soon!

Wow, These Trails Look Beautiful!

There are many miles of trails surrounding the namesake volcano in the center of Mount Rainier National Park, and they constantly need some love.  BUT!  Don’t you fret, because the Washington Trails Association is out there every weekend this summer leading groups of volunteers on projects that keep those trails as stunning as can be!  There is always room on our trails for YOU to come out and help!

The Washington Trails Association is the largest nonprofit, state based organization in the United States, and is doing work right in our backyard.  With a core mission looking to preserve, enhance, and promote hiking opportunities in Washington State, the organization has a strong focus towards volunteerism.  Beginning in 1966 with a single magazine, WTA is now a large community of hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts looking to maintain those beautiful trails and pathways to awe inspiring wilderness for generations to come. 

                Acting not only as a voice for hikers, the Washington Trails Association also heavily relies on volunteers to continue the legacy that the founders started nearly 50 years ago.  In 2010, volunteers donated over 100,000 hours of their own time working on the trails, making this the largest program of its kind in the nation. 

                Throughout the summer here at Mount Rainier National Park, you may run into volunteer trail crews, sporting their forest green WTA hardhats, working hard to keep the trails that you are hiking on in immaculate condition, but there is always more to be done.  The WTA has partnered with Mount Rainier in an effort to maintain and improve sections of our almost 300 miles of trail, and they do this by having volunteer weekends every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the summer.  Those volunteering are eligible to receive free camping in the park for the duration of their service, if requested at least one week prior to volunteering.

You can help for one, two, or all three days, or for every weekend this summer, and any work done is appreciated by not only the trail crew, but the nearly 2,000,000 visitors Mount Rainier receives every year.  For more information on the Washington Trails Association or how to get involved, check out their website at .

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Face in the Volunteer Office

Hello!  My name is Ian Harvey and I am a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the National Park Service for this upcoming year, and you’ll hopefully be seeing a lot of me!

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I have always had a strong interest in the outdoors.  This ranges from sitting under my great-grandmother’s blue spruce, listening to the birds singing above in her backyard when I was only a few years old, to pursuing a degree in Conservation Ecology from California University of Pennsylvania.  While a student at CalU, I was involved in many volunteer projects and eventually became the President of their branch of Habitat for Humanity.

Upon graduation, I began teaching outdoor education all over the north east, including Yellow Springs, OH, Freedom, NH, Silver Bay, NY, Charlton, MA, Andover, CT, and many other locations.  I have found that by working with thousands of students over the past few years that there is a strong interest in the outdoors in many people, and an even stronger urge to want to do something to help.  That is where I am today.

As the SCA’s Centennial Volunteer Ambassador, I will be working closely with the volunteers, communities, and surrounding areas of Mt. Rainier National Park to encourage people of all backgrounds, ages, and experiences to get out and enjoy the parks through hands-on service.  I believe that it is through these types of projects that people are able to form those much more personal connections to the lands around them and pass those feelings on to future generations!

I would love to hear from you, the volunteers, about your personal connections to the park, why you volunteer, and even your favorite memories at Mt. Rainier.  I can be reached via e-mail at and can’t wait to hear from you and work with you out in the field soon!

N2P Road Update, July 2-9

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Have Experience with Surveying or GIS?

The Longmire Stewardship Campground was a favorite of park visitors from the mid-1920s until the 1980s.  Now, it is “home-base” for hundreds of volunteers and park partners each year, exclusively.  Many projects recently have involved work in and around the campground area, and now we are seeking an outstanding volunteer with a very special set of skills.  We are looking to upgrade our maps of the campground from the current hand drawn version to a much more accurate and aesthetically pleasing version.   
Brief Job Description:  Survey the features of the Longmire Stewardship Campground and create a map to be used by the general public and Park Service Employees.
  • Plot key points around the campground, including campsites, fire pits, electrical hook-ups, etc.
  • Include adjoining trails and roads
  • Map the perimeter of the campground
  • Create a user-friendly map to be used by volunteers, partners, coordinators, and the National
Park Service
Anticipated Results:  The end product will be a more practical and useable map of the Stewardship Campground.
  • Experience with mapping and surveying programs and processes
  • Ability to work independently or in a small group
  • Physical ability to hike the entire campground area
  • Free park entry for the entire duration of the project
  • Availability of Longmire Campground for the length of the surveying, including night prior to beginning and day following completion
For more information, please contact Kevin Bacher at 360-569-6567 or via email at