Saturday, March 28, 2009

Recent backcountry news

A federal judge granted an injunction against the new regulations allowing concealed carry of loaded weapons in National Parks (story). The NRA has already filed to remove the injunction. I discussed this previously and I hope the injunction stands and that ready to use weapons continue to be forbidden in Parks. I am in favor of the gun restriction primarily for resource protection. Poaching of Park animals occurs despite the laws against killing them; I know some people will continue to bring loaded weapons into Parks and I see the restrictive gun rule as some protection.

I'm very much in favor of wild wolves living in backcountry areas of Washington state. Like many, I was happy to hear Canadian wolves had colonized areas of the Methow River area. Now it appears that at least one of the wolves was killed by locals. I know anti-wolf sentiment is strong among some people but I hope not the majority of people in the US.

More positively for wolf recovery, the Pt. Defiance Zoo is expanding its captive breeding program for red wolves. This should allow more animals to re-introduce into native habitat in the southeastern US.

A bill sponsored by several members of the Washington Congressional delegation proposes to expand the wilderness area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area and designate two rivers as 'wild and scenic'. The Alpine Lakes is an extremely popular area for backcountry recreation and since it is close to the Seattle Metropolitan area, is heavily used. Expanding the Wilderness area will hopefully protect more of this very scenic area from overuse and development.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TR - Lower Big Quilcene

I finally got out on my first hike of the season on the Lower Big Quilcene trail on the Olympic Peninsula. I don't hike much in the Olympics, it isn't as convenient to where I live as the Cascades and the ferry fees to get there are enough to make me look for other areas. It is too bad, there are a lot of nice trails both in Olympic National Park and the surrounding National Forest to explore.

The trail was quite nice, mild elevation gain, wide trail with light snow. We didn't go far or long, about 4 hours total with a lunch stop, because not all of my group were in shape for a long hike nor were all of us well shod for a muddy, slippery trail. The area was nicely forested with mature second growth trees and attractive. I would have liked to see the Big Quilcene River more, we could hear it but rarely saw it. I forgot my camera so no pictures. We didn't see anyone else on the trail but could see tracks from previous hikers, snowshoes, and skis. At the Forest Service office I grabbed a photo copied trail guide and was surprised to see that this trail was open to all users, including motor bikes. I would think this trail would be too wet for motor bikes at least in spring and winter. I'm glad we didn't meet any.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Most accessed posts

By far my most accessed blog post was this one and most people came to it by searching for "cotton kills". I don't know what people think about it, no one has commented or sent me email. So many people have gone to this post that I've re-read it a few times to be sure I didn't write anything I wanted to change or that was dangerous. I wrote the post because I was tired of the sound bite mentality of just telling people that "cotton kills". I realize that it can be a shortcut to thinking reasonably about what to wear in the backcountry just as the "10 essentials" is a shortcut to deciding what gear to take. I continue to believe that people need to think about what to wear or take to the backcountry and be aware of the advantages and disadvantages.

The other popular post is the one I wrote about poisonous snakes ( I wrote that one primarily because I don't encounter poisonous snakes very often, they are exciting and unusual to me. I really hope that people looking for information about snakes in the western U.S. continue to more informative sites.

Several of my Yellowstone National Park posts are accessed fairly frequently especially those in which I mention specific trails. I hope I'm informative and interesting about these trails, but I'm not writing a trail guide and there are much better resources on the web than my blog.