David Restivo's Blog - July 2008
July 21, 2008
I spent all day Saturday hiking with family and friends in St. Mary. It was a picture perfect day – a cobalt blue sky, a gentle breeze, and lots of wildflowers in the meadows and along the trails.
The meadows of Two Dog Flats are filled with wildflowers right now. I might have to retract my statement from my Cedar Breaks entry; the flowers in St. Mary were awesome. I’m having a great wildflower year.
The waterfalls were also spectacular. Our hike took us past Baring, St. Mary, and Virginia Falls. All 3 of them were flowing heavily with water from snow melt off. The sound was mesmerizing and peaceful. You wanted to get closer, but the water was frigid and moving fast. One accidental slip would have turned into a serious situation.
If you’re coming to the park this week, expect to see an incredible display of color in the meadows. Try not to step on any of them. And the waterfalls will be a nice treat too. Just be careful around those slippery rocks and steep edges!
July 18, 2008
I’ve been back for about a week now from my visit to southwest Utah helping some parks down there, and have been reflecting on Zion. It is one of my favorite parks for many reasons, but what I find fascinating, is its name.
Early Mormon settlers traveled to Utah to escape religious persecution and are said to be the first European descendants to settle in Zion. One of those settlers, Isaac Behunin, finding security within the steep canyon walls, named the canyon, Zion, a Biblical reference to a place of quiet sanctuary. Years later, other inspirational names were given to some of Zion’s prominent landmarks; Angels Landing, the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, The Alter of Sacrifice, and The Great White Throne. Walking through Zion Canyon, one can appreciate Behunin’s first impressions. Before Zion became a national park, it was Mukuntuweap National Monument. Mukuntuweap (pronounced moo-koon-ta-weap) was thought be a Southern Paiute Indian name for the canyon.
When I first came to Glacier National Park, I thought Glacier received its name because of the number of glaciers in the park. I was quickly taught that the park received its name because the landscape was formed and sculpted by the powerful glaciers that covered this area and receded over time. This reinforces the notion that even though the last of the glaciers are expected to melt in 2030, one shouldn’t speculate that there will be a name change. Although many people played a role in Glacier’s establishment, the park was named by Senator Carter (that is the official account). But the Blackfeet Indians, who were here long before European descendents arrived, referred to this area as the, “Backbone of the World.”
It certainly makes you wonder the meanings and origins of not only other national parks, but other places around the globe. What places have you been to that you find the names fascinating?
David Restivo, NPS
July 12, 2008
I'm still in southwest Utah assisting other parks within the Intermountain Region of the NPS with their media projects. Cedar Breaks National Monument lies between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. I stopped by for a visit before heading to Zion.
The amphitheater at Cedar Breaks is a product of the same forces that created landscapes like Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion Canyon. What I found most impressive however, were the wildflowers.
As luck would have it, I was visiting during Cedar Break’s annual wildflower festival. Just driving to the Visitor Center I could see colorful blankets of red, yellow, purple, and white wildflowers in the subalpine meadows. I took a short walk to Alpine Pond in search of wildflowers the Ranger told me I would find. Was he ever right.
Other than Logan Pass in July, I have never seen so many wildflowers in bloom in the highcountry. Indian paintbrush, Bluebells, Blue columbine, Penstemon, and my favorite, Lupine, were on display. The fragrance of these delicate flowers, driven by the cool breezes at 10,000 ft, was intoxicating. I stopped next to a field of Lupine for about 10 minutes so I could keep inhaling the sweet smells.
Like the flowers at Logan Pass in Glacier, the flowers at Cedar Breaks have a short growing season. One careless, Godzilla-like step on these fragile plants will result in years of self-repair.
I was able to capture some of the magnificent displays on video (mostly Lupine). I only regret that I can’t share the aroma!
Star Date 071008
Our Night Skies
Last night I videotaped Bryce’s Park Rangers (they call themselves Dark Rangers) giving evening programs on our night skies. This cadre of Rangers is dedicated to protecting our night skies.
Why is protecting our night skies so important?
“Stars made humanity wonder, wander, and wise. We need them to guide our science and society forward – as they always have,” according to Kevin Poe, Bryce’s lead Dark Ranger.
In Glacier National Park, the stars are visible and beautiful, but certainly not as magnificent as they are in Bryce. In remote sections of Glacier such as Kintla Lake, you can see the glow of light from the city of Kalispell. The glow is even more prominent from Granite Park Chalet in the middle of the park.
Some may ask, why is this problematic, especially if visitors to Glacier are coming from cities where you can’t even see the stars? The obvious answer may be that you can’t see as many of the stars. But consider something else.
A lot of visitors come to national parks to escape. They come to escape the chaos of life, stress, crowds, noise, and to feel alone. For some, seeing the glow of a nearby city diminishes the wilderness experience. No longer do they feel the solitude they were seeking. The glow is often a reminder of what they were trying to escape from.
For those wishing to join what Poe calls “The Dark Wars”, he offers several alternatives of varying intensities for individuals interested in helping halt the spread of light pollution.
“Light is not evil, in fact it’s a good thing, but like all good things it needs to be used in moderation. So it’s all about seeking win – win solutions. Celebrate natural darkness when and where you find it – this means when the proprietors that sell you breakfast, lunch, dinner, motel rooms or campgrounds ask, 'So why did you come here?' tell them that one of the reasons you came was to see the stars.”
“If you want to do more in your own neighborhood, just closing your blinds at night makes all the difference in the world. If you want to get just a little be more intense about it, change your existing outdoor light fixtures to motion sensor lights so they only pop-on when you need them. Solar powered walkway lights are the absolute best because they don’t require anymore electrical wiring know-how than what is required to put a AA rechargeable battery into something. Last, but not least, get your neighbors involved! Share with them how much you are saving on your electric bill. And then when the next time the town fathers come around planning to put in new street lights make sure they use full-cut-off light fixtures that allow the light to only point downward and to put them on short poles so it doesn’t take as much energy (your precious tax dollars) to provide your neighborhood with the best of both worlds -- safe and responsible lighting with beautiful stars overhead.”
Check out Bryce Canyon’s night sky programs.
I’ll close with some pictures of Earth and the United States at night, taken by NASA. Can you identify where you live?
What can you do to protect the night skies?
David Restivo, NPS
Hoodoo you do?
Hello from Hoodoo land. Hoo-what? Yes, I’m in Bryce Canyon National Park. No, I haven’t left Glacier for another park (not yet at least), but I’m down in southwest Utah helping both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks this week with some media projects.
Part of my job is to not only work on media projects in Glacier, but to assist other parks within the Intermountain Region of the NPS with their media projects. In Bryce, I’m helping them develop some Podcasts that will debut soon. In Zion, I’ll be working with staff to develop an eHike of Angels Landing (similar to Glacier's eHikes).
After work hours, I’ve been hitting the trails in Bryce. It is an amazing park, especially if you’re willing to hike among the towering hoodoos. The rock formations are incredible, not to mention trees at the bottom of the canyon that in some cases, are 700 years old. It’s hard to imagine that life exists in such a gnarly place, but a closer look reveals an astounding ecosystem filled with beautiful plants and animals. And don’t forget about Bryce’s reputation for night skies. The stars here are wonderful. Because there isn’t a lot of light pollution near Bryce, the park is a haven for stargazers. Evening programs on astronomy allow visitors to learn more about our solar system, and Rangers assist visitors in viewing solar system features through telescopes.
Put Bryce on your list of parks to visit if you haven’t already. If you have visited before, be sure to check out their future Podcasts so you can reconnect.
David Restivo, NPS
July 3, 2008
Shuttle season begins today! The Going-to-the-Sun Road is going through an 8-10 year rehabilitation process, and Glacier’s shuttle system was implemented last year to reduce traffic congestion during road construction. The system was a huge success. For 2 months, 133,000 visitors rode the shuttle instead of using their private vehicles. That’s great news for visitors who saved gas and wear and tear on their vehicles, for construction workers rehabilitating the road, and for the environment.
Between 6:30am and 6:45am, over 2 dozen visitors started lining up at the Apgar Transit Center to take the shuttle. The first visitors to hop on a shuttle were from the state of Washington.
Their destination? Logan Pass.
I asked visitors why they chose to ride the shuttle today. Only two reasons were given (and I quote):
For more information about our shuttles and our new environmentally-friendly Apgar Transit Center, please check out our shuttle Web pages.
David Restivo, NPS
July 2, 2008
Hello, from the desk of Glacier’s Visual Information Specialist. I’m excited to share Glacier National Park with you from this blog.
My job involves creating visual and audio interpretation of Glacier for you and thousands of other visitors. I do this through design work on the Web with virtual tours, exhibits, publications, Podcasts, my photography, and other new and immerging technology. In short, it is my job to create an opportunity for you to connect (and stay connected) to Glacier National Park and other perks in the NPS. Sometimes it can be challenging, but most of the time I think it is easy.
I say it is easy not to be conceited, but because at one time, I was once a visitor myself. Glacier captured my heart in 1999 when I took a spontaneous road trip to Montana. After that trip, I longed for pictures, video, or any information I could get my hands that related to Glacier. My tiny cubicle in western New York was plastered with postcards, maps, and pictures of my favorite place 2,500 miles away on the other side of the country. I can say with confidence, I know how some of you feel about Glacier.
It is my desire and goal to keep you dialed into this fantastic place through this blog. I’ll do my best to post photos and video of Glacier’s most precious treasures, and to share with you some of my experiences to help you live vicariously.
Let me conclude this entry with a photo I took late last week of Beargrass. There is a path I walk everyday that is now loaded with this amazing member of the lily family. To me, it is the iconic flower of Glacier. I smile every time I walk by and see it. Hope you enjoy it.
Did You Know?
Did you know that in 1985, the Going-to-the-Sun Road was dedicated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark?