View Full Version : Our National Parks

10-09-2009, 10:06
So I watched the last installment of the Ken Burns Nat'l Parks series yesterday. I liked the series better as it went on. Anyway, it got me thinking that it would be nice to share some experiences in the parks that everyone has had, and national parks that people have been to.

I had an excellent time in October 2006 at Mammoth Cave NP in Kentucky. It was raining, pouring, and had been for 24 hours. My boyfriend and I decided to go there on the way back from the Smokies. Anyway, taking a cave tour on a rainy fall afternoon--there is no better place to be, IMHO.

Anyway, what I remember most from the caves were the 2 interp rangers that gave us the tour. One was a very fit, trim, older guy, probably in his seventies. He was a local man which a wonderful Kentucky accent, who had been caving in the area since he was a child. He told us some stories about that. The other ranger was a SIXTH GENERATION cave interpreter! He his ancestry included some that were slaves, and some that were free, and every generation of his family since 1800 had worked in the very cave system in Kentucky. He told us some stories of some of his relatives in earlier times.

I haven't been to too many NP, but the ones I have been to have made a great impression on me. GSMNP, what more can I say? Mammoth Cave. Kenai Fjords. I would like to go to Isle Royale and Voyagers, someday too.

10-09-2009, 10:23
My occured in Grand Canyon this past May. My son and daughter-in-law flew in from the east coast and we did a 3 day 2 nite hike into the lower canyon. NPS recommends hiking in May-June because of intense heat during the summer. We had unseasonal temps and it was 122 at Bright Angel campground! DIL's shoes literally came unglued about half way down and we had to duck tape her shoes and feet so she could get down. I mean alot of duck tape...

Rangers have a great lost and found, and she got a nice pair of mens sandals which with heavy socks were enough to get her up. Rangers reported 9 pair of shoes blown out that day - they believe due to heat. Seems Nike and such are using cheaper glues in their shoes and they cannot tolerate the heat.

10-09-2009, 10:46
I enjoy backcountry, and sometimes front country, backpacking in the national parks so much I make a pt. of hiking at least three every yr. Hiked nine of them so far this yr. They truly are a national treasure that rightly deserve the time and respect that too many tourists only give a cursory visit to.

So many stunningly beautiful hikes and stories I wouldn't know where to begin.

IMO, although I don't see eye to eye with how everything is run in the national parks, the National Park Service is one of those few government groups that do a damn good job managing these areas with what amounts to continually shrinking or inadequate budgets. I'll leave it by giving the people who deserve a great deal of the credit for my wonderful visits, the people on the ground, the dedicated hard working informed national park rangers.

leeki pole
10-09-2009, 10:58
My favorite so far is Yosemite. You talk about big country and great hikes, it has it all. My National Park passport has 11 stamps so far and on my bucket list is to visit every one. So many Americans travel abroad, and don't know what they're missing, just saying.

10-09-2009, 16:47
This summer I hiked the section of the PCT from Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora pass. This goes through Yosemite National Park, but it's a part of the park few people ever see since it's not in the valley.

There had been daily rain/hail/gropple (or whatever other kind of frozen white stuff) falling every day from about noon into the evening for over a week. I really did not want to go hiking in that kind of weather. I got a map from the visitor center of the park and saw that I could take an alternate route off the PCT and go down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. I figured the lower altitude would be warmer and more pleasant and maybe I could avoid some scary creek crossings.

On my way back, I bumped into a friend thru-hiking. He wanted to come with me on my crazy plan because he'd had enough of feeling like he was going to die on the high passes. Then we met another hiker and he joined us.

The three of us set out for the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. It was amazing and breathtaking. We saw the waterwheel falls (well, it was somewhere in that raging torrent of a river and we guessed a few spots might have been it.) We walked through forest primeval. The rain stopped and it was balmy. We felt like we were cheating on the mean old PCT we were having such a nice time.

After much descending we started the climb on some side trails to rejoin the PCT. We saw and camped near a bear who was hanging around a deer carcass, which was really cool to see. We followed the trail right into a huge, placid stream. I thought maybe I could wade. I stepped in and the current swept me away. My bear canister became a kind of bobber keeping me afloat with my pack strapped on. I paddled furiously to the other side and got out laughing my head off. At least I didn't die.

We finally rejoined the PCT only to find more raging streams to swim across. We had to hike upstream along Falls Creek for several miles to find a safe crossing, all the while I'm eyeing it warily thinking, oh god these guys are going to make me cross that creek and I'm going to die.

I thought it was unfortunate that the PCTA is always soliciting money from me to save the trail from logging. I thought to myself, cut down all the dang trees and build a GD bridge for crying out loud. It's a national scenic trail in a national park. Much smaller creeks have bridges, why not have them here where it's life-threatening and a world-class destination?

Anyway, it was beautiful and I survived and as soon as I got to Sonora Pass (after getting lost at the very end) I decided I'd seen plenty of the High Sierra and it wouldn't bother me if I didn't return for a very long time. It's beautiful, but way too exciting for me.

That's my national park story for the day.

10-09-2009, 17:06
I feel very lucky that a national park (Rocky Mountain) is perhaps an hour's drive from where I live.

The memories I've had there over the years are too many to count.

Feral Bill
10-09-2009, 17:12
Lots of great NP memories here. Proposing to my wife in Glacier tops the list.

10-09-2009, 17:36
I feel very lucky that a national park (Rocky Mountain) is perhaps an hour's drive from where I live.

Well I don't have a NP too close to me, but I do have a Nat'l Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes. Actually, it was proposed to be a NP in 1916 by Mather but it was rejected. Luckily in the 60's it got turned into NL. It is fragmented, loud (interstate and commuter rail line nearby, and has a certain historical aspect for those that are into that, and there's towns w/in the park, but I'm still grateful. I like the lakes. At least it's not all all lost.

I wish the parks got more funding than they do. I know that people object to taxation for projects, but I always think, we ALL get to use parks, rec. areas, etc. It's like interstate highways, in a way. We can all see and use these areas forever. And it really doesn't cost so much compared to other things...

Blue Jay
10-10-2009, 10:31
I wish the parks got more funding than they do. I know that people object to taxation for projects, but I always think, we ALL get to use parks, rec. areas, etc. It's like interstate highways, in a way. We can all see and use these areas forever. And it really doesn't cost so much compared to other things...

WHAT, and spend less money killing people and giving fewer millions to multinational corporations (sarcastic). We really should not be talking about national parks as they are 100% political institutions.

10-10-2009, 11:28
Had a great time climbing Lassen in the snow this June. See my link to the left for pics and description (under myjournals then page down).

10-10-2009, 16:13
Dont get me started.

47 years ago, at age eight, I got my first exposure to national parks, and it's been in my blood ever since. It may seem odd to say that, at that age, I had looked forward to seeing the Grand Canyon "all my life," but that's the only way to describe it. I still remember the thrill I got as I looked over Mather Point that first time -- and have felt that same thrill on each of my subsequent five visits to the park. I still insist that The Canyon is one of the most under-rated national parks around, simply because no words or pictures can possibly due it justice.

10-10-2009, 20:09
Golden Bear, you are tugging at my heart strings. You understand "it." You get "it." I also feel that "thrill", that sense of splendid appreciation, that feeling that I'm in the exact right place at the exact right time in eternity each and every time I visit any National Park. I know it's a bit melodramatic sounding, even for the most beautiful National Park, but if you are open to "it" and letting "it" happen "it" can lead you to a higher state of existence. And, no words or pictures can give the dynamic Grand Canyon its due justice. It's like that for for me too whenever I can't take in the whole experience with pictures or descriptions. It makes me slow down. It has taught me to somehow live on a higher level.

10-11-2009, 00:11
I feel very lucky that a national park (Rocky Mountain) is perhaps an hour's drive from where I live.

The memories I've had there over the years are too many to count.

Are you trying to rub it in? I don't hear much about the Cascades but I'm really intrested in going there. Anybody been there?

10-11-2009, 05:07
I've been to all the parks on the East coast and some in the west, but I have to say my favorite so far is Zion Natl Park. I was there for a little over 3 days in late March of this year. We did Angels landing, hidden canyon, and another unnamed slot canyon hike, and I have to say, I was amazed! It was not only the canyon hikes, and the outstanding view from angels landing, but the streams and variety of life in the bottom of the canyon. Watching the sun blast off the bright red walls of the canyon in the early morning hours made for one of the most memorable sunrises ever.

Smoky Mountain Natl Park and Acadia are my favorite on the East Coast, though I do spend most of my time in Shenandoah Park. The Shennys are only a few hours away from Central PA and I make it a point to get there at least 3 or 4 times a year.

10-11-2009, 09:08
I somehow missed being exposed to the national parks until I started hiking in my mid 40s. I am thankful that I have taken the time to start visiting them every summer for vacation. I have been taking my kids too (If I can get them to go)

The parks truly are our national treasures. :D