Come back soon. Article expected to be published by February 20, 2017.
Mount Rainier, Washington
One of the largest mountains in North America, Mount Rainier, otherwise known as Mount Tacoma is the highest mountain in the Cascade Range and is an active strato-volcano, also being one of the most dangerous volcanoes in existence. Because of its threat, it is listed on the Decade Volcano list as one of the world’s most dangerous threats. The amount of glacial ice on the volcano could produce massive lahars when she erupts that could destroy the entire Puyallup River valley and destroy Seattle. It is located only 54 miles south-southeast of Seattle that hosts over 3.7 million inhabitants in its area. Mythically, Rainier was known by local tribes as the Goddess “Talol” (Tahoma/Tacoma) as the “Mother of Waters” or “Larger than Mount Baker”. “Rainier” was given by the adventurer navigator George Vancouver to honor his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier and was listed on the Lewis & Clark expedition map as “Mt. Regniere”. A national park was established to encompass it as a forest reserve. She can be seen as far away as Corvallis Oregon or Victoria British Columbia on a clear day. There are over 26 major glaciers and 36 square miles of permanent snowfields / glaciers atop Mount Rainier and is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. The summit hosts two volcanic craters, each over 1,000 feet in diameter with the larger east one overlapping the west crater. The craters are free of snow and ice due to the geo-thermal heat coming from within the volcano, forming the world’s largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters and hosting over 2 miles of passages. Mount Rainier start the heads of the Carbon, Mowich, Nisqually, Cowlitz, and Puyallup fed from the glaciers, while other fed glaciers create the White River. Most empty into Puget Sound and the Columbia River. There are three major summits atop Mount Rainier, most notably Columbia Crest, Point Success, and Success Cleaver. The mountain is made up of lava flows, debris flows, and pyroclastic ejecta and flows from past eruptions. The earliest deposits are over 840,000 yeaers old with the current cone being over 500,000 years old. Most of the geological composition is andesite. Past lahars and lava flows had reached Puget Sound in the the past as recent as 5,000 years ago during a major collapse. Her most recent eruptions were between 1820 and 1854, though eruptive activity took place also in 1858, 1870, 1879, 1882, and 1894. She is ready for a major eruption anytime now. She is part of the eastern rim of the Pacific Ring of Fire, nestled with other active volcanoes in the east such as Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak, Crater Lake, Three Sisters, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Cayley, Garibaldi, Silverthrone, and Mount Meager. Rainier has up to 5 earthquakes recorded monthly near its summit with swarms of 5-10 shallow earthquakes taking place every 2-3 days from time to time below the summit.
Olympic National Forest
One of my favorite forests next the the Redwoods is the Olympic National Forest especially the Olympic National Park. However, when I visited in March 2016, it just wasn’t the same. It seemed not in the glorious state I remember. Perhaps it was the wildfires in 2015 that battered it down. Nonetheless, a must visit location for anyone wanting to experience “America”. The Olympic National Forest is located on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle Washington. The park consists of 628,115 acres of preserved rain forest and surrounds the Olympic National Park and its associated mountain range. The landscape varies depending on where in the forest you are, from beaches, salt water fjords, mountain peaks, and of course rain forest (temperate). The forest receives approximately 220 inches of rain each year. It was created as a Olympic Forest Reserve in 1897, then re-named the “Olympic National Forest” in 1907. The extent of its old growth is estimated to be around 266,000 acres (1993 study).
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White Sands National Monument
* Alamogordo, New Mexico * www.nps.gov/whsa/ *
A childhood tromping ground for me with memories of hikes, sliding down cardboard boxes and skis, White Sands was our favorite desert. Rolling hills of white gypsum sand was our concept of a desert as kids. The Monument is located 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, New Mexico. It resides at an elevation of 4,235 feet above sea level and is a 275 mile field of white gypsum crystal sand.
The first known humans to investigate the sand beds were the Mescalero Apache who lived in the area. The first official exploration was by the U.S. Army in 1849 C.E. The first Euro-Americans to explore the sands were Hispanic families farming in the area around 1861 C.E. (Common Era) inhabiting Tularosa (1861) and La Luz (1863). IT was already as early as 1898 C.E. when thoughts were discussed about turning White Sands into a National Park, originally proposed as Mescalero National Park as a game hunting preserve. This was not successful as the idea conflicted ethically with the National Park Service mission which does not preserve sites for hunting. It wasn’t until 1933 when President Hoover created the White Sands National Monument. The Monument however is completely surrounded by military installations such as the White Sands Missile Range and the Holloman Air Force Base. Relations between the government agencies haven’t always gone well as over 131,000 errant missiles have fallen into the National Park property destroying some of the areas for visitors and fly-overs by the air force base have disturbed animal life and the serene tranquility of the monument. It was proposed to be part of the World Heritage Sites in 2008, but shot down by U.S. Representative Stevan Pearce who believed such listing would endanger use by military installations in the near future. This caused a lot of controversy in the surrounding are with resulting petitions signed, passing Ordinance 07-05 purporting to make it illegal to become a World Heritage Site. In 2008 the Commission had a Attorney demand that the Secretary of the Interior remove it from the Tentative World Heritage Site list.
White sands is unique in that gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because of it being water-soluble as rains would normally dissolve it and carry it out to sea. But since the Tularosa Basin is enclosed, there is no outlet to the sea trapping it in the basin, with water sinking into the ground forming shallow pools that eventually dry out creating selenite crystal, or flowing out south into the Hueco Basin. These crystals can grow upwards in length of 3 feet. Weathering and erosion usually pulverize them back into the sand thereby creating the white dunes which constantly change shape moving downwind. Many different forms of dunes can be found in the park – including domes, transverse, barchan, and parabolic dunes. These sands never heat up like the quartz-based sand crystals so can safely always be walked on with bare feet even in the hottest weather months. The park is open annually, except twice a week for 1-2 hours during missile testing by neighboring bases for safety reasons. The Trinity site, where the world’s first atom bomb was detonated, can be found in the northernmost boundaries of the White Sands Missile Range.
* Smokey Mountains National Park, Fontana Dam, North Carolina *
Named after the Italian word for “fountain”, Fontana Lake is named after the flooded town of Fontana, which was the Smokey Mountains infamous lumber and copper-mining hub back in the day at the mouth of Eagle Creek. Now a reservoir contained by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River. The lake creates the southern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, separating it from the Nantahala National Forest. The depth, length, and width of the lake varies with the seasons and flood controls by the dam, but at its greatest containment measures approximately 17 miles long with a maximum elevation of approximately 1,710 feet above sea level. The lake is measured as being over 10,230 acres. The lake houses many inlets, coves, and islands formed from former mountain peaks from when it was land, especially by the eastern edge. Many hiking trails weave their ways around the lake, and the lake itself gives access to some of the more remote areas of the National Park. The apalachian trail crosses the top of the dam. Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S., is a hydro-electric dam along the Little Tennessee River that manages the lake and its levels. This was built in the 1940’s.
Cheoah Lake/River/Dam, Fontana Dam, NC
Busáras Locker Storage – Dublin
* Busáras * 1 Store Street * Dublin, Ireland *
With terrorism paranoia on the rampage in this world, one of the biggest side effects is the diminishing options for storing your luggage when travelling, especially as a backpacker. (Though internet cafes and hostels pick up some of that slack) Luckily, if you’re a backpacker in Dublin, there is a centrally located locker depot in the Busáras station in the heart of Dublin with decent rates. Its only a few minutes away from O’Connolly Street. Storage lockers are in the basement.