Monday, August 31, 2015

Volunteer Picnics Recap

The volunteer picnics have come and gone, and we would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all who participated in these events.  We saw something falling from the sky for the Longmire Volunteer Picnic (our best guess is that it was...rain) and we were able to shift everything inside next to the roaring fire within the Community Building.  As for the Sunrise Volunteer Picnic, we were much dryer, though it was much colder, with temperatures in the mid 40's for most of the day.  We had great turn-outs at both events, and we thank all of the volunteers that could make it and those of you who could not.
 
 
 
Thank you!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

MRNPA's Trails Project in August


The weather in Paradise was stellar for the Mount Rainier National Park Associates' trail party on August 15th.  The morning started off with temperatures climbing just above freezing, and by the time the group reached their project site high on the Skyline Trail, everyone found themselves in a cloud.  But this did not deter this batch of volunteers from getting the job done.

The project they were tasked with was to straighten out some of the large boulders along this rocky portion of the Skyline Trail, as well as creating some new steps along the path to make it much easier for the thousands of visitors who hike that trail every year. 

Following the day of trail work, the volunteers of the MRNPA retired to the Longmire Stewardship Campground for their annual potluck dinner, with a cornucopia of food and drinks. 

The next MRNPA work party will be their "Reveg" event on September 12.  For more information or to register for the event, visit www.mrnpa.org .

Washington Trail Association's Back Country Response Teams

Continuing the amazing partnership Mount Rainier National Park and the Washington Trails Association share, the WTA had two Back Country Response Teams share their trails maintenance experiencefor a week at a time while hiking deep into the wilderness of Mount Rainier and setting up camp in a cross-country zone on Emerald Ridge.  In addition to having some pretty amazing views of Mount Rainier and some grand sunsets in the western sky, both crews completed a much needed reroute of the Wonderland Trail that will be used for years to come. 






For more information on the Washington Trails Association's projects and how you can participate, visit www.wta.org
 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Washington Trails Association's Youth Volunteer Vacations

Throughout the month of August, the Washington Trails Association has hosted two Volunteer Vacations for youth from all around the West Coast. 
 


The group, before a game following their lunch break.
 

Through this program, the WTA provides an amazing experience for high school students aged 14-18 including camping and trails projects.  This year, both groups have been based out of the White River Campground and have been primarily focused on the Glacier Basin Trail, with other projects mixed in. 
For some, this was their first time ever stepping foot in Mount Rainier National Park, while for others, they grew up under the gaze of the mountain.  But, for all, they now have a special connection to the park through their hard work and determination while volunteering through the WTA.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Meadow Rovers Hard at Work

 
 
The group of volunteers that don the volunteer patch and their radios, known as the Meadow Rovers, have been hard at work throughout this elongated Summer season.  A big thank you goes out to all of you who have donated your time and your talents at protecting the resources around Paradise and Sunrise through Meadow Roving, and another thank you to those of you who are still planning on coming out deep into the late summer months.
 
 
 

Photo credit for both of the pictures featured here goes to our Meadow Rover, Ed Hunds, and were taken while on patrol in mid-July.  If you have pictures you have taken while Meadow Roving, we'd love to see them!  Send them to ian_harvey@partner.nps.gov and you may see them posted on the Volunteer Blog!

 

Friday, August 21, 2015

MRNPA Revegetation Project September 12

The annual Mount Rainier National Park Associates meadow revegetation work party will be Saturday, September 12th.  MRNPA volunteers will again be assisting the Mount Rainier ecological restoration crew in planting wildflower seedlings, working to convert a historic campground area near Sunrise back into alpine meadows.

Be prepared for almost any fall weather.  In the past we have experienced everything from warm and sunny days to a driving blizzard.  In addition to your sun hat, sunscreen, and your rain gear, bring a lunch, plenty of fluids to drink, gardening gloves, and a hand digging tool you like to use.  If you have no gardening tools, the NPS will provide small hand tools.  Most of the day you will be working on your hands and knees to do the planting, so you should bring some kind of protection for your knees. The pads available at your local gardening retailer work for most people.  The work site is about a mile hike from the Sunrise parking lot, so plan on carrying everything you need to and from the work site.

If you plan to join the MRNPA volunteers on Saturday, September 12th, for this meadow revegetation work party, please reply to volunteer(at)mrnpa.org confirming that you are coming and indicating the number of volunteers that you will bringing with you.

Free camping for volunteers is available in the White River Campground on the evenings of Friday, September 11th, and/or Saturday, September 12th. To reserve a site, contact ian_harvey(at)partner.nps.gov  NO LATER THAN September 5th, and indicate that you will be participating in the MRNPA Reveg work party, which nights you want to camp, and how many tents sites you will need.

(Condensed from an email from John Titland)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Not just another day at the office

One of the things I love about working in a National Park is that every day is different, and our dynamic landscape is always changing. Thus, when one of my summer interns, Yonit Yogev, a graduate student at The Evergreen State College, turned out to be the first ranger on scene when a debris flow came down Tahoma Creek last week, my first thought was to have her write down her experience for this blog. I hear from volunteers every week about the interesting things that happen to them and the wonderful things they encounter along the trail. But it will take a while to top this one. - Kevin Bacher, Volunteer Program Manager

Mount Rainier is a geologically active area.  Signs of rock fall, past debris flows, braided rivers full of glacial flour, and even the occasional sound of distant rock falling are all clear reminders of just how active the mountain really is.  Volunteering here over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of hearing lectures by and going on guided walks with park scientists and geologists, heard their stories and about their research.  They always emphasize (and so I placed firmly on the back-burner of my mind) the warnings about quickly finding higher ground if I were ever to hear loud rumbling that sounds like an oncoming train.

On August 13, late in the morning I headed out to do an ‘attended listening’ session on the Tahoma Creek Trail for the park’s Soundscape Project.  This research records and confirms background noise levels at strategic places in the park. As I drove up the Westside Road—thought to be the most geologically active and dangerous area of the park at present—I brought the warnings of rumbling trains to the forefront of my thoughts. I was awed and humbled by the signs of recent geologic activity which landed truck-sized boulders onto the road and left many others in precarious positions on the remaining landslide.  Thinking I should not stay in that area for long—though it’s so fascinating one may be compelled to just stare at it for a long while—I continued the drive up the road to the trailhead.  On the way, I ran into and briefly talked with two hiking parties—one of about 5 adults, and the other a couple. 

I arrived at the trailhead, turned the truck around and parked it.  As I got out and prepared to get onto the trail, I heard what sounded like very loud helicopters overhead.  The noise continued for some time.  I had read an email about helicopter traffic, so at first didn’t worry too much, though I thought it sounded awfully loud.  Of course, in the back of my head, the warning signs were waving red flags.  I decided to wait out the noise before beginning the hike.  (That decision turned out to be key to keeping me out of harm’s way!)  After a couple of minutes or so, it became louder and louder and clearly turned into rumbling, accompanied by the sounds of trees being knocked over and the roaring of the river getting louder as well.  At this point, I finally was quite sure we were dealing with a debris flow, so previously having backed the truck further uphill, I got myself to higher ground and watched and waited, heart thumping, and head shaking in disbelief at my mixed luck!

As I watched, a large flash flood of water, mixed with mud, rock and debris washed over the road.  It looked to be about a foot or foot and a half high, and washed away part of the road on the far side where it flowed over into a shallow ravine.  After a few minutes it subsided and I felt safe enough to come back down to the road; I called dispatch on the radio, and took pictures with my phone.  Then I saw the couple coming up (they had been on the way to the trail as well).  I turned them around, explaining what had just happened.  They reported witnessing lots of large trees being washed down-river.  I then realized I should report all the visitors I had seen to dispatch. 

Eventually, two rangers and Scott, the park geologist, came up and there was discussion about closing roads and trails and making sure all the hikers were accounted for.

On the one hand, this was an incredibly rare thing to get to see, and it was unbelievably exciting.  On the other hand, of course it was rather nerve-wracking, though I would have loved to have been allowed to go up in the helicopter to scope out the source—the Tahoma Glacier, where an event of this sort was expected to occur at some point this summer.  I learned that when it happens, there are usually several waves, and indeed we heard another two while we were standing there, though the subsequent ones were not high enough to wash over the road again.  At some point earlier, another volunteer who was higher up the mountain was able to get to the suspension bridge and provided ongoing, real-time information about what the river was doing, and at least twice he mentioned further rumbling and rises in the water level.  Indeed a couple of times we heard increasing noise from the river, up to the level of rumbling, but not as severe as when I initially heard it. 

We never knowingly put ourselves in harm’s way, but with a mountain as geologically active as this one, this was a heart-thumping reminder that these things really do occur, really can be dangerous, and that you can never be too careful when you’re out hiking the trails or wilderness.  The beauty is jaw-dropping, but it is rugged and unstable, and it pays to always keep those warnings on the front-burner when venturing out in this region.

- Yonit Yogev, Volunteer and Outreach Intern, The Evergreen State College

Post-script:  As my mind processed this event over the course of the evening, I remembered that the evening before, I had been to see a screening of the documentary “Chasing Ice,” about James Balog’s incredible Extreme Ice Survey.  In this decade-long project, they have set up cameras on over 20 sites on glaciers around the world.  The resulting footage documents in a jaw-dropping, ‘in your face’ manner, the degree and speed of glacier recession around the world.  If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely MUST.  This is a powerful film about the urgency of climate change.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Walk-Up Trails Projects at Paradise

 
Every Friday and Saturday for the remainder of the summer, Kevin Watson of the Paradise Trails Crew will be accepting volunteers to work for a few hours on the trails in the Paradise area.  Trail work may include heavy lifting and strenuous work, so be aware of this before signing up.  You can meet Kevin at the steps behind the Jackson Visitor's Center at 9:00am on Fridays or Saturdays, and he will supply the tools and training needed to make a great impact.  Make sure to bring a lunch with you, as well as plenty of water.  If you have any questions or you want to bring a group out for a days worth of trail work, please contact Kevin_J_Watson@nps.gov for more information.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lantern Bearers Needed!



We are still looking to sign-up volunteers to carry lanterns for the "Shadows of the Past" living history presentation on Saturday, August 22 at Longmire.  Contact Anne_Spillane(at)nps.gov if you want to help with the 8:30 PM, 8:50 PM, 9:10 PM, or 9:30 PM walk (please specify your preference).

Volunteers and staff in costumes will portray important individuals from the park’s past.  The early story of Mount Rainier and the National Park service from 1883 through 1916 will be told. Lead Rangers will guide groups along the Trail of the Shadows in Longmire. Historical figures will emerge from the darkness while volunteers with lanterns illuminate the scenes! Each program lasts about 80 minutes.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Party Big Washington!





Put yourself in this picture and "Party Big Washington!"

Yes!  The Washington State Fair is fast approaching. Last year Park staff and volunteers talked to nearly 13,000 people and thousands more checked out our exhibits. This year the Fair runs from September 11th through September 27th (with Labor Day on the 7th, this is the latest start ever). 

The Park is an important part of the Northwest Outdoors Alliance. Our exhibits will occupy one of the largest spaces in the building. But the most important part is a real live person representing the Park Service, talking with all those enthusiastic fairgoers.

This year you have two opportunities to "Party Big."

#1. Staffing the Mount Rainier Informational Booth:  
Mon-Thur:  first shift 10:00-1:30, second shift 1:30-5:00, third shift 5:00-8:30.
Fri-Sun:  first shift 9:00-1:00, second shift 1:00-5:00, third shift 5:00-9:00.

Details:  We would like to have two park people for each of the three  3 1/2 or 4-hour shifts a day. The Fair has changed the opening times again so we have slightly different schedules for week days compared to Fri-Sun. This will necessitate 4-hour shifts on Fri-Sun. But those are the busiest days so you won't even notice the extra 1/2-hour. At the Information booth you answer questions about the park and the park service. Some resources will be available to help you with answers. You will also be helping with the hands-on activities in the booth.
 
#2. Staff the Snowshoe Walk:  
Fri-Sun:  first shift Noon-3:00, second shift 3:00-6:00

Details: On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 PM the NW Outdoors Building and Mount Rainier National Park will be providing a snowshoe experience (mainly for kids, but adults can try too).  The trail of straw will be an L-shaped loop about 30 yards long and will wander around and through a native plant display.  There will be two 3-hour shifts each day and we need at least two people each shift.  It will be a busy, but quick, three hours. 
   
If you'd like to participate, email Jim_Ross(at)nps.gov with what activity, date, and time shift would work for you.  Also please include your current mailing address so he can mail you instructions, maps, and tickets. Once you are scheduled in a time slot you will receive a letter with instructions, maps and tickets for admission to the Fair and a parking pass (together worth $25). You can experience the Fair before and/or after your shift.

Appropriate Use of the Volunteer Campground

I have been asked to remind our volunteers that the privilege of camping in the Longmire Stewardship Campground is limited to those persons who are registered with the volunteer program and are actively engaged in volunteer activities. The only exception to this rule is if a spouse accompanies a volunteer who is serving. If volunteers wish to bring extended family or friends to the Mountain, they should make arrangements to stay in one of the public campgrounds.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Starbucks' Weekend at Mount Rainier

The trails crew at Paradise was lucky to have another eager and energetic group coming out to volunteer this past weekend.  Team members from a variety of Starbucks location across the state came out for a weekend of volunteering here at Mount Rainier National Park. 
 
After a brief round of introductions of everyone in attendance, the crew was led to the front porch of the ranger station at Paradise where they received an overview of the two projects that will be occuring, and given the option of choosing one or the other to start their day with. 



The first project was to work on widening a section of the Avalanche Lily trail back to its original width. A goal of the trails crew is to repave this trail in the near future, and in order to do this, the trail must be cleared of any debris and duff that has grown over the trail since it was last paved over fifty years ago.

_________________________________________________


The second portion of the project this weekend involved working on creating stone edges for the recently paved portion of the Skyline trail.  Without this work, the newly laid asphault would crumble from the outside, in, and this ever popular trail would not be able to be traveled until repaving occured. 




With thanks to the volunteers of Starbucks, as well as the hundreds of other volunteers that come through Mount Rainier every month, we are able to protect such an awe-inspiring resource that we have right in our backyard.

Monday, August 10, 2015

MRNPA Work Party, August 15th

From John Titland:

The August 15th Mount Rainier National Park Associates volunteer work party will be this coming Saturday.  We will be doing maintenance work on the Skyline Trail above Paradise.  We will meet between 8:30 and 9:00 AM in the upper parking lot at Paradise, near the entrance to the Paradise Valley Road.  Look for Scotty's big white pickup truck and all the people wearing blue hard hats.

If you will be attending this work party and have not already contacted me, please respond to volunteer (at) mrnpa.org to indicate you are coming and also tell me the number of volunteers you are bringing with you.

John Titland
Volunteer Coordinator
Mount Rainier National Park Associates

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Story About You

“This is a story about you,” read the words written on the screen of your laptop computer, and you were pleased.  You have always wanted to read about yourself on your favorite blog. 

You live in a medium sized home in a very small town.  It’s a short drive to the closest gas station where you regularly buy the essentials, like milk, eggs, bread, and occasionally a newspaper, but it is a longer drive to be able to fill your cupboards.  You usually only make that trip every few weeks.  You don’t know your new next door neighbor’s name yet.  Occasionally, she will wave to you on her way out to check the mail.  Occasionally, you will wave back. 

As the sun sets, you can see the colors changing on the peak of the volcano in the distance.  You always try to make it out around sunset to watch this show, but you sometimes forget until it is already too dark outside.  But when you do make it out to watch the spectacular show, you are elated.  After the magic is complete, you think to yourself, “I haven’t been there in years; I wonder if it has changed much since I was last there.” 

Your spouse looks at you, asking “what did you say?”  You quickly reply with “oh, nothing.”  You didn’t realize you mumbled that out loud.    

You hadn’t always lived in Washington.  In fact, your childhood home is rather far away.  “It was dryer there,” you remembered.  “And the trees were different too.”  But then you recall why you moved out here in the first place.  Sure, it may have been partially due to the job you were offered, but you really just wanted to be closer to this beautiful mountain that is nestled on the horizon.  And yet, you haven’t been there in many years. 

“This weekend, we’re going!” you shout, but in looking around, you realize that your spouse had gone inside already.  “Why didn’t I notice that?” you wonder, but not for too long. 

Once you return inside, you make sure your calendar is clear for the weekend, and you start packing your bags.  After such a dazzling display of color on the mountain, you just knew you had to go there, as soon as possible.  Today is Wednesday.  Friday, after work, you would just start to head straight to your destination for the weekend.   

Fast-forward to Friday at 4:54pm.  You are staring at your computer’s clock, waiting for the next six minutes to pass.  And then, they do.  It is 5:00pm, and you sprint out of your office and into your car.  You drop by your house to pick up your spouse, who was already waiting in the driveway.  What seem to be just a few short minutes later, you arrive at the entrance station of Mount Rainier National Park.  You purchased your annual pass at the beginning of the year, so you are waved into the park.  You drive the remaining twenty miles on the new, smooth road to get to your destination.  Paradise. 

You are surprised by how easily you found a parking space, but you are grateful.  Once you park, you immediately head over the stairs immediately behind the Jackson Visitor’s Center and you are off.  You are so excited to hike these trails again, that you don’t even pay attention to where you are going, and eventually, you admit that you are lost.  Boy, has it been too long since you have hiked these trails. 

Luckily, you find one of the Meadow Rovers out on patrol.  You recognize the familiar logo on their sleeves.  One arm has the NPS Arrowhead with the word “Volunteer” written above it, while the other is the “Meadow Rover” insignia.  Equipped with their hiking backpack full of Meadow Stomper pins and flower identification guides, this Meadow Rover was well prepared.  With their extensive knowledge, they were able to guide you back to the parking lot, where you were very easily able to find your car.   

You travel down the hill again, ready to set up camp at your spot in Cougar Rock.  You check in with the campground host, who is also wearing that same “Volunteer” patch you saw not too long ago.  You pitch your tent and your spouse starts a meal over the campstove.  You are hungry.  You haven’t eaten since Tuesday.  No.  You ate lunch today.  You just feel like you haven’t eaten since Tuesday.  The meal is your favorite one, and so is the drink you chase it down with.  You retire early to your tent, and your spouse is close to follow.   

The sun rises early the next morning, and you already have your day planned out.  After choking down a cup of cowboy coffee and eating a delicious breakfast, you are off to your first hike of the day: Comet Falls.  It was one of your favorites years ago, and you learn quickly that it still holds true today.  You notice a section of trail that appeared to have washed away when it rained a few weeks ago.  You carefully step along the trail, making sure not to slip.  Just around the corner, you notice a trails crew, all wearing blue shirts and yellow hard hats.  They are working hard on this trail, installing new check steps.  You ask about their project, and they tell you that they are working with the SCA as part of one of their Community Crews.  They have been out here for eleven days already, and they are working to repair portions of the washed out trail.  You thank them for their volunteerism, and you are on your way.

You make a few more stops while you are exploring the mountain, and along the way, you encounter more people that you assume work for the park, but are all volunteers.  You are amazed by this, and you want to learn more.  You are given the contact name some someone in the Volunteer Office at the park from yet another volunteer you meet, this time at the Longmire Museum. 

The weekend is over just as quickly as it started, and you start the drive home.  You are trying to find a radio station that comes in clearly, but to no avail.  Instead, you turn off the radio and talk about the amazing weekend you had with your spouse.  They are as equally excited as you are, and you both are very glad you made this trip.   

Tuesday morning, while in the office, you begin to daydream.  You rarely daydream, but today is an exception.  You think back to all of those people who had helped you while you were having the time of your life at Mount Rainier.  Then you remember that you have someone’s e-mail in the Volunteer Office at the park.  You hurriedly dig through your pockets to find that slip of paper (for some reason, you have it in your pocket of your work pants) and you immediately send out an e-mail. 

That afternoon, you get a response, and after a chain of e-mails sent back and forth, you will be volunteering this weekend in the park.  You sign your spouse up too, though they do not know it yet.  You are sure they will be excited.   

You were right.
 
(to be continued)

Friday, August 7, 2015

N2P Road Construction to Cease in August and September

Construction on the Nisqually to Paradise Road will cease on August 6, 2015 and will not begin again until October 1, 2015. Visitors can enjoy Mount Rainier National Park as normal throughout August and September.

It is still important to remember to drive safely when traveling along the park’s roads. The roads are narrow and winding. Roads throughout the park can be rough and uneven.

Construction along the road from Nisqually Entrance to Paradise began in May. Delays of up to 15 minutes at each stop and no more than 30 minutes total through the project can be expected when the construction begins again in October.

The road construction project is needed to address deteriorating road conditions that are due to many factors including abundant precipitation, structural and design deficiencies, large traffic volumes, and normal wear. These improvements will preserve the road’s integrity as a popular scenic drive, and provide continued safe access for years to come.

Additional information on this important project is available on Mount Rainier National Park’s website: http://www.nps.gov/mora/getinvolved/nisqually-paradise-road.htm. Also, follow MountRainierNPS https://twitter.com/MountRainierNPS on Twitter for updates on road construction status.

Newsletter fail: Multiple mailings

It has come to my attention that our recent newsletter was delivered multiple times to some e-mail addresses -- as of this writing, as many as 23 times to some recipients! Please accept my sincere apologies for this inconvenience. We only include a single copy of any given e-mail address in our mailing list, and I have confirmed that this was the case for our August mailing, which means that the problem was with our e-mail server. I am investigating in an attempt to determine what caused the problem and how to prevent it from happening again.

It is our intention to keep you informed and engaged, not to fill your in box with spam. Thank you for your service, and your patience as we address this technological glitch.

Kevin Bacher
Volunteer and Outreach Program Manager

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Volunteer Newsletter – August 2015


You’re invited to a picnic!

Before we get into the newsletter… this is just a reminder that the volunteer picnics are coming up very quickly at Mount Rainier, and you are invited!  This is the social semi-potluck to celebrate all of the hard work our volunteers put in throughout the year.  We will have two picnics, one on each side of the mountain.  The first will be on August 14th at the Longmire Community Building while the second is August 15th at the Sunrise Picnic Area.  Both events will start at 4:00pm and will go until 6:00pm, so come out and share some of your volunteer stories and a side dish or dessert with us!

Now, on with the newsletter:


July Highlights

The month of July was a hot one, yet we still had large numbers of volunteers coming through the entrance gates all over the park.  This just shows how dedicated all of our volunteers are!  Here is a recap of some of the projects that volunteers worked on throughout the month of July.

SCA Community Crew #1 – July 6th to July 20th
The first SCA community crew of the season came to Mount Rainier just after Independence Day this year, and spent half of their time in the park at the far end of the Westside Road at Klapatche Point.  Here they were doing some brushing and trail work on some of the backcountry trails in the area.  The remainder of their time was based out of the Longmire Stewardship Campground and traveling around the Longmire and Paradise areas, working on trails along the way.  Featuring two crew leaders from the Seattle area and 6 high school students (or recent graduates), the first community crew had an amazing experience while here at Mount Rainier.  The SCA has many opportunities for youth across the country, and even right here in the park!  For more information, visit www.thesca.org .

REI Sumner working with the Washington Trails Association – July 10th
We were visited by the Logistics Team at the REI Distribution Center in Sumner early in the month, and they were excited to get out of the office and get their hands dirty.  They worked on a section of the Wonderland Trail heading towards Summerland in the northeastern corner of the park.  After clearing many of the drainages and making a few new ones along the trail, the crew then went on a hike led by Ranger Kevin around Sunrise and by 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, visit http://findyourpark.com/partners#rei.

Mount Rainier National Park Associates “Deveg” – July 11th
The brave volunteers of MRNPA answered a panicked call for help and began their assault on the alien species found around the new Carbon River Ranger Station in the Northwest corner of the park.  The day was spent pulling a variety of non-native species including stinky bob and foxglove destroying the alien invaders.  Are you interested in saving the world?  Then sign up for the next work party with the Mount Rainier National Park Associates at www.mrnpa.org .

Washington’s National Park Fund – July 18th
Nine representatives from Washington’s National Park Fund joined us for a day of trail work in Paradise (literally) in mid-July.  Their project involved widening a portion of trail immediately behind the Jackson Visitor Center to its original width.  This work was crucial because this trail will be repaved later in the season, and the group was excited to help.  Following a hot day in the sun, the group retreated to their campground to clean up before going on a hike.  That night, some members of the group joined our astro-volunteers for a detailed view of the cosmos in a way they may have never seen before.  “The Fund” is the official nonprofit partner of Mount Rainier National Park, as well as North Cascades and Olympic National Parks.  For more information on how you can help with “The Fund” visit www.wnpf.org .

Citizen Science Projects throughout the Park – All Summer Long
Hundreds of volunteers spend their time in the park working on a variety of Citizen Science Projects offered throughout the 230,000+ acres of Mount Rainier National Park.  Some of these include MeadoWatch, which studies the wide range of stages of development for many subalpine flowers and where they are found on the mountain.  With this data gathered by many volunteers, scientists at the University of Washington will be able to compare it to previous years’ data to help determine the role of global climate change in the Mount Rainier area.  Other projects around the mountain include the Cascades Butterfly Project, the Amphibian Survey, and the Cascades Carnivore Survey (a survey that tracks some of the carnivores throughout the park through careful examination of their scat).  All of these projects will be continuing throughout the summer months.

RAVENS – Around Paradise All Summer Long
If you have had any issues with your car or maybe a fall on the trail in Paradise, chances are you have met one of our RAVENS (Roadside Assistance Volunteers).  Gary and Les have been working long hours all summer to provide the safest environment possible at Paradise, and if you see them around, feel free to thank them and even give them a high five!

Meadow Rovers – All Summer Long at Paradise and Sunrise
The Meadow Rovers have been out in full force this summer, as both Paradise and Sunrise have been swamped with visitors all summer long.  Recently, Maureen had the largest group of Rovers out on the trails she has ever had, and that was lucky, because on the same day there were seemingly countless tour busses and large groups all along the trails.  Sunrise has also been quite busy, having some of their highest amounts of visitors to date, and at both locations, some Rovers have been reporting over 500 contacts in one shift.  That is amazing everyone!  It seems as though the crowds will continue to grow as long as this beautiful weather sticks around, so keep up the amazing attitudes and know that you are always welcome to come and Meadow Rove, and even bring a friend if you’d like!  Lynn and Maureen have been having new Rover orientations all summer long, and don’t want to stop!

We also want to give a special shout out to Puget Sound Energy, whose donation through Washington’s National Park Fund allowed us to purchase additional radios for our volunteers to use this summer, enhancing their effectiveness and helping to keep both them and visitors safer on the trails!

Washington Trails Association – Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the Summer
The WTA has been working hard on a section of the Wonderland Trail in the northeastern corner of the park, leading to Summerland.  Every weekend, many volunteers come for a day or the entire weekend to work alongside the coordinators on projects to improve sections of the trails that have been washed out.  Much of the work has involved putting in new check steps and clearing drainages, and the trail looks beautiful now!  Additionally, the WTA has just completed their first Back Country Response Team trip to Emerald Ridge.  This small group of four volunteers spent five days in the backcountry, miles away from the Westside Road, and a two hour roundtrip walk away from the closest water source to begin work on a new section of the Wonderland Trail that was slowly falling over the edge of a cliff.  The WTA will continue work throughout the summer.  Do you want to get your hands dirty?  Then sign up for a single day, or a full weekend of trails work at www.wta.org .

And more…
These are just some of the volunteers working all over the park this summer. Interns are helping out in the visitor centers and surveying our streams and glaciers. Youth crews are repairing trails at Paradise and above Reflection Lake. Volunteer campground hosts assist visitors to our campgrounds, and other volunteers patrol backcountry trails and assist with park maintenance. If you come across our volunteers, or if you’re a volunteer yourself, send us your pictures and stories and we’ll publish them on our blog or Facebook page. Look for the volunteer patch wherever you go, and say thanks!

Looking Ahead to August

The weather is showing no signs of letting up anytime soon, which means there will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer throughout the month of August!  Here is a glimpse of some of the projects that will be going on all month and some of the groups coming in to join us.

Volunteer Picnics – August 14th and 15th, at Longmire and Sunrise, respectively
I think it is worth mentioning again that our volunteer picnics are just around the corner!  See the details at the top of this newsletter, and please join us!

Mount Rainier National Park Associates – August 15th
The MRNPA will be back in action on August 15th to help with the trail crew on a project around the Paradise area.  Following their day of hard work, they will be having their annual potluck in the Longmire Campground, and all participants in the work party that morning are invited.  Free camping will also be provided at the Longmire Stewardship Campground for anyone interested in joining for the night.  For more information, visit www.mrnpa.org .

Back Country Crews Hard at Work – Throughout the Month
The second SCA Community Crew has been in the field for a week now, and their third Crew will be coming later in the month.  In addition to the SCA, the Washington Trails Association’s Back Country Response Team number two will be out in the field at the end of the month, so if you see any of these groups deep in the woods, make sure to thank them for their great work!

Washington Trails Association – Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 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 part is in the park and how YOU can join them, visit www.wta.org.

Starbucks Trail Crew – August 8th
Over fifty members of the Starbucks crew will be coming this weekend and will be working alongside the trails crew at Paradise for the weekend. Follow the smell of coffee and sweat!

Shadows of the Past – August 22nd
The annual Shadows of the Past living history program will commence at dusk on the night of August 22nd. Join us at Longmire for a one-of-a-kind tour of the Trail of the Shadows by lantern light, and meet James and Virinda Longmire, John Muir, Fay Fuller, and many other real-life characters from Mount Rainier’s past!

REI – August 24th to 26th
Quite possibly the largest volunteer group ever to stay in the Longmire Stewardship Campground, over 150 people representing all of REI within 250 miles of the mountain will be here for three days of stewardship. Volunteers take note, if you need camping during these three days, we will be assigning you to overflow sites in the Cougar Rock Campground.

JVIPA (Japan Volunteers-in-Parks Association) – August 22nd through September 5th  
Our international volunteers will be back again later this month, working on a wide array of projects throughout the park.  In recent history they have built many of the picnic tables you have eaten lunch on and worked on a section of the boardwalk at the Kautz Creek trail.  Make sure you say hello and konichiwa to this group of volunteers that keep coming back year after year!

Looking ahead to September
Mark your calendars! September will include a public revegetation day at Sunrise on September 12, and National Public Lands Day on September 26. Watch our volunteer blog and this newsletter for more details!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It's Volunteer Picnic Time!

You are invited to either or both of Mount Rainier's annual Volunteer Picnics! These are a great opportunity to celebrate the work that volunteers are doing in the park, to thank the volunteers that work with you, to get to know your fellow volunteers, and to catch up on everything that's going on. Please spread the word!


WHO: You, of course!
WHAT: A social semi-potluck to celebrate volunteers
WHEN and WHERE #1: 4:00-6:00 p.m. Friday, August 14 at the Longmire Community Building and
WHEN and WHERE #2: 4:00-6:00 p.m. Saturday, August 15 at the Sunrise Picnic Area
WHAT TO BRING: We will provide pizza at Longmire and burgers at Sunrise. If you plan to attend the Sunrise picnic and have a small portable grill we could use, please bring it along. In either case, bring your own table service and a side dish or desert to share -- and your favorite volunteer story or words of thanks!
RSVP: Not essential, but email Kevin_Bacher@nps.gov if you think you might attend so that we know how much food to bring.
 
 

UPDATE: "Shadows of the Past" in Need of Volunteers


For those of you that do not know, Shadows of the Past is a living history program where volunteers and staff portray important individuals from throughout the history of the park.  Through this program, the primary focus is centered on the early story of Mount Rainier and the National Park Service from 1883 through 1916.  Lead Rangers will be guiding groups along the Trail of the Shadows at Longmire, six miles past the Nisqually Entrance.  Historical figures emerge out of the darkness while illuminate the path with lanterns. 
 
 

That’s where you come in!  We are in need of volunteers to participate in this ever popular event by being a lantern carrier.  This year, the Shadows of the Past will be on August 22nd and will meet in front of the National Park Inn in Longmire.  Volunteers will carry a lantern along the trail for up to 90 minutes, starting at 8:30, 8:50, 9:10, and 9:30.

As always, volunteers who are working a specific event are eligible for free entry to the park for the length of their service and free camping at the Longmire Stewardship Campground.  For more information or if you are interested in volunteering for this event, please contact Ann Spillane at ann_spillane@nps.gov

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Remembering Judy Scavone

Photo courtesy of Nisqually Land Trust
Judy Scavone, fee collector at the Nisqually Entrance Station booth and volunteer at JVC, died peacefully at home in Ashford on Tuesday, July 28. She was surrounded by love and cherished friends and family. Lucid to near the end, she wanted to pass on “thank you” to her many friends, volunteers and family.

Judy played a huge role in many peoples lives, especially through her interests in outdoor recreation and conservation. Involved not only with Mount Rainier National Park, she  worked fervently with the Mount Tahoma Trails association and served on the board of the Nisqually Land Trust as well.

A get-together honoring Judy is planned for next Saturday, August 8th, 7 P.M at Whittakers in Ashford.  There will be no formal program. It will be a pot-luck event hosted by MTTA. Park employees and volunteers will gather with others to remember Judy and share stories with each other.