Land Scam: Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments

We spent a few days tooling around Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Canyon country is so beautiful.  After our explorations, we learned that Trump had ordered to drastically shrink the size of not only Grand Staircase, but also Bears Ears National Monument. It’s unfortunate that Trump wants to diminish the land by opening it to commercial use.

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Devil’s Garden – Grand Staircase Escalante

Trump claims past administrations have abused the Antiquities Act, stating, “this law requires that only the smallest necessary area be set aside for special protection as national monuments. Unfortunately previous administrations have ignored the standard and used the law to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.” Continue reading

Ancient Survivors: Redwood State and National Parks

The massive and ancient Coast Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are master survivors from a prehistoric time. They are built to withstand fire, to ward off insects, and, most impressively, to regenerate themselves through burl sprouts.  When a redwood is distressed from, say, fire, the cells or burl sprouts within it react by shooting out sprouts which can become new trees!  It is not uncommon to see a redwood, dead or alive, with a younger cloned tree shooting up from beside it or even from within it!  Is there any other species on this planet that has the ability to clone itself in such a way?  While looking up a massive trunk to the tree branches and the reiterated trees sprouting from it, I said “This…this is higher power.”  These trees have survived thousands of years because of their design. I am not a religious person, but being out here, I don’t doubt that there is a creator. Here, in nature, is where my church lies. Come out here yourself, and maybe you will be reminded that it is by honoring nature that we honor our maker.

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The thickness and dampness of Redwood bark protects the trees from wildfire

Aside: I feel blessed to have spent a full month in the Canadian Rockies.  I still have more to write about the area, as well as the amazing Olympic Peninsula, but for now I just wanted to skip ahead to Redwood National Park due to the level of influence it has on me.

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Let’s Talk About Bears: Banff National Park

Our first hike in the Canadian Rockies was to Egypt Lake near Sunshine Village Ski Area.  At Healy Creek camp on the last morning of our three-day journey, we met three young Banff residents who were coming in while we were headed out.  As hikers do, they asked us how our trip was, and we told them the scenery had been great, but some of our fellow campers at Egypt Lake had been utterly negligent about bear safety.  They were as horrified as we had been when we told them that we witnessed a group of kids eating in their campsite.

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Hiking Healy Pass to Egypt Lake – Banff National Park

The hikers then told us that they had just heard that Bear 148 was currently located in the Sunshine Village Ski area. “They dropped her off in Yoho, but she came right back to Sunshine,” the man claimed. We had heard of Bear 148 before.  She apparently had grown a little too accustomed to being around humans, having had chased a few humans and even strolled onto a rugby field full of adolescents.  We were uneasy about the presence of such a conditioned griz, but they told us not to worry as we at least didn’t have a dog.  Bear 148 has a particular aversion to dogs.  They told us also about the legend they called “The Master Bear”, also known as “The Boss”. The Boss had been seen on the side of the road eating a black bear.  He is the biggest bear in the park, and has fathered many of the bears in the Canadian Rockies. Our hike out was a bit scary that day, what with the thought of the bear-eating bear and the presences of Bear 148. As always, we practiced bear safety measures, and made it out without a sighting.

Though it would be tremendous to see a brown bear, we have no desire to. Certainly, our own personal safety is a concern. But the truth is that humans are much more of a threat to bears than bears are to humans. In the United States in particular, if a bear is food conditioned or shows any interest in humans, the bear is viewed as a threat and is killed. Canada seems to give bears more of a chance, which is why Bear 148 still roams. Sadly, her fate is questionable too. Continue reading

Wilderness for the People, by the People: Grand Tetons

Grand Teton National Park, established in 1929, is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  While Yellowstone was the first National Park, Teton is special in that its establishment was influenced by many different locals who truly appreciated the area and wanted to preserve the wildness of the Tetons.

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String Lake – Grand Teton National Park

In the early 1920’s, residents began noticing that development around Jenny Lake was starting to invade the Tetons.  In 1923, locals met with then superintendent of Yellowstone at Maud cabin to start a conversation about preservation in the Teton Range, eventually leading to Grand Teton National Park being established in 1929. Continue reading