Five for Friday

1. Updates on fees at U.S. National Parks.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, July 2014


2. According to @AlaskaNPS, the Northern Lights may respond to whistling:


3. The Dark Mountain Project’s Dougald Hine interviews Jem Bendell, a professor of sustainability leadership at the University of Cumbria, in the U.K., about resilience, relinquishment, and restoration. Alongside that element of the discussion is this wonderful, and metaphoric, anecdote about a response following one of his talks:

“I remember one lady came up to me and said she used to be a pilot in the Outback of Australia and in her training, they used to do quite a spooky exercise which was called ‘extend the glide’. And it’s about, if the aircraft has a problem with the engines and they cut out, how do you then extend the glide to just give yourself more time to find yourself a safer place for the crash landing, but also on the off-chance that the engines might kick in again. And she said, that’s what you’re inviting us to start working on: how do we extend the glide?”

(You can read Bendell’s thoughts on the interview here.)


4. A lunar halo, as viewed in Chile, was named the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang’s picture of the week.


5. Poet Robert Cording’s prose piece, Cloud Shapes and Oak Trees, about art and experience. Keep reading, and you’ll get to a beautiful set of beliefs he issues later in the piece, introducing them with these lines:

“I often ask my students to write a statement of what they believe and what they would like their writing to accomplish. In that spirit, here’s my own little credo. I believe words evoke and depend on a reality apart from the acts of verbal reference, although poetry and, to my mind, theology are as Wallace Stevens said, ‘a revelation in words by means of words.’ I write, first and foremost, to honor the mystery of creation.  Here are some of the assumptions that underlie my work…”

Among those assumptions are this one, which I include because I appreciate it when writers quote Wendell Berry:

“We must love this world—not to figure it out or even understand it, but as Wendell Berry says, ‘to suffer it and rejoice in it as it is.'”


Eagle Cams: Here, There, Everywhere!

Arboretum cam april 2018

U.S. Arboretum Nest Cam, April 7, 2018 © 2018 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG

It’s eagle hatching season! I learned about the eagle cams at the U.S. National Arboretum a couple of years ago, and have really enjoyed watching them in the spring seasons since.

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Eclipse, a Month+ Later


Why now? Well, why not?

The hype around the eclipse seen in North America Monday, August 21, seemed unreal. My local go-to for weather tweeted about it constantly. The entire Eastern U.S. seemed to have driven south for it, based on our experience on I-81 headed back north that night. I learned that the Waze app allows comments; reading them at 1:30 a.m. was its own special experience.

And then it was Tuesday.

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On Walking for a Cause

About 15 years or so ago, I participated in my first, and one of only a few, walks “for a cause.” It was a breast cancer awareness walk that began near the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball stadium in Camden, NJ, and traveled across the Ben Franklin Bridge. I sat at home with my parents early that morning, in the lingering drizzle after a rainy night, debating whether or not we should actually go. On the one hand, we’d planned to meet another group there. On the other, we’d already made donations to the organization that had planned the walk, and it was still raining.

We ended up going, and the rain largely subsided by the time the walk began, but the nature of our debate stayed with me. I’ve often wondered what the usefulness of the walking itself is in these scenarios when the ultimate purpose is to raise money; it’s easy enough to make a donation with a few clicks on a screen without ever getting off the couch. Yet in the past week, in the midst of so many walks for causes, I may be starting to understand. Walking with others can be a show of camaraderie, a show of force, a show of unity.


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High Divide, or the Hike That Wasn’t

Heading toward Sol Duc Falls
Heading toward Sol Duc Falls

I am not Bear Grylls. I have no desire to be. I do not feel at all compelled to battle the elements in bizarre ways, to drink my own urine. Frankly, when I go out for a walk or begin a longer hike, I’m mainly just looking for a way to challenge myself a bit, relax, and enjoy the scenery (and yes, those first two can co-exist!). I don’t mind weather that’s a bit off or scenery that’s not as grand as I’d hoped. I do mind constant rain, cold, and fogged in views from the edges of steep mountainsides that make you lose all perspective — both physical and mental.

On that note, I should point out that this post’s title isn’t true: we hiked the popular High Divide (Seven Lakes Basin) trail in Olympic National Park, and while we didn’t complete the loop that meets up with Sol Duc River trail head, we hiked the section of the trail most renowned for its views of Mount Olympus. In the 2008 edition of Hiking Olympic National Park (revised just last month), Eric Molvar writes that “views of the Olympus massif expand to fill the entire southern horizon as the path crosses the slopes high above the Hoh River valley.” We saw nothing. Our intended two-night backpack turned into one very long (approx. 17-mile), very wet and cold, and very disheartening day that landed us back in the same place we’d begun that morning.

Continue reading “High Divide, or the Hike That Wasn’t”