Mount Bierstadt Summit

We immensely enjoyed exploring northern and central Colorado during our travels this summer.  Given the beautiful mountains and the cooler weather, we hiked more miles than usual.  While enjoying all the sights, we were also in training as we had a goal in mind – hiking our first 14er. We drove up Guanella Pass in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area where we caught the Mount Bierstadt trailhead.  This was Sunday and a popular hike, so we had plenty of company, although much younger than us!

Initially we hiked through the willows down into the valley, soon starting our upward trek, upward and upward.  Glad to finally reach what we thought was the saddle, the most challenging section of the trail came into view, a lengthy set of relentless switchback.   Upward and upward, many hikers returning from the summit encouraging those laboring up the mountain, one step at a time.  Here I finally understood hiking etiquette – the person hiking up the mountain has the right of way.  As I became more fatigued, my vision remained downward willing my feet around the impending rocks. When I had the energy, I demanded the right-of-way!  We set our sights on a rock or vantage point up ahead where we would again stop to catch our breath, noticing the oxygen becoming thinner as we continued upward.  All along the way the views behind us were astounding.  Multiple mountain ranges emerged and all the while HaRVy (our RV) was visible far in the distance – a tiny shiny white rectangle. Finally we conquered the grueling switchbacks. Next we saw a snow patch and a boulder-filled peak in front of us.  We scrambled up through the rubble, when dizzy stopping to adjust to the elevation gain.  Forging ahead, we soon made it to the top!  Once there we savored our ceremonial gorp and apple, while watching a marmot positioning himself for food scraps.  After we captured our moment on camera, a couple asked me to take their picture.  I said “I would be honored”, well knowing what it took to get there.  Much to my surprise, after the summit picture, the guy pulled out a diamond ring, proposed and she said “yes”.  I made certain that special moment was well documented.

One is advised to not stay on the summit for long due to unpredictable lightening storms, so we soon headed down.  What we thought would be a quick return was also challenging traversing down the slippery, sandy slope, down, down, down the switchbacks. Along the way, we were excited to come across two bighorn sheep goats calmly grazing along the mountainside.  Foraging ahead, we watched our progress as HaRVy slowly grew in size, glad to be back “home”.  7 miles round trip; 2770 ft. elevation gain; Summit 14,065 ft.

Missouri State Parks 100 Year Anniversary

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https://mostateparks.com/passport

I was quite amazed when perusing the spring edition of Missouri Resources to learn Arrow Rock Tavern was the first property purchased by the state; a rest stop built in 1834 for settlers headed west.  In 1916, Missouri was one of the first states to create a special park fund used to buy land. By 1928 the state had acquired 40,000 acres creating 14 state parks, mostly in the Ozarks. Only four states had obtained more land at this point in time. Funds initially came from game and fishing fees, and federal funds.  As automobiles and better highways improved mobility, park attendance grew. In 1974 the Department of Natural Resources was formed with Missouri State Parks under its umbrella. In 1981 federal aid ended. Fortunately citizen action led to voter approval of a one-tenth-cent sales tax to be split between state parks and soil and water conservation. To date, every ten years a large majority approves the tax renewal, now poised for a vote again this fall.

Per Missouri Resources, “state parks offer prairies, battlefields, covered bridges, ancient Indian villages, forested hills and valleys with caves and springs, streams with trout, lakes with bass and the homes and workplaces of honored artists, pioneers, soldiers and statesmen.” Given our state was quick to preserve land for the public good, we were major recipients of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Thousands of young men worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps building infrastructure in our park systems; as major recipients, four thousand in Missouri alone. Wonderful stone and timber pavilions, along with rock walls and steps along pathways, added beauty and functionality to our parks. With over 18 million visitors each year, we have much to offer – 53 state parks, 35 historic sites, and over 1000 conservation areas. Contrary to most states, entry to our parks is free.

In 2013, American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization, named Missouri the “Best Trails State”. We have almost 1,000 miles of managed trails and more than 500 miles of National Recreation Trails; diverse trails we can walk, hike or bicycle throughout our state park system; and the Katy Trail, the longest developed rail-to-trail  in the nation. We also have the beautiful Ozark National Scenic Waterway flowing through the lower part of our state. If you want to learn more about nature offerings in Missouri, call for free subscriptions to Missouri Resources through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Missouri Conservationist through Missouri Department of Conservation. Missouri is a beautiful state – get out there and enjoy it!

 

Join the Earth Day Celebration

 

earth-day
https://happyfunenjoy.com/earth-day-activities-posters-images-quotes-facts-slogans-pictures-coloring-pages-and-poems/

Earth Day will be here tomorrow – 4/22/16 – an annual celebration shared by billions of people all over the world.  Perhaps for you, Earth Day has already arrived! This event was first established in the United States in 1970. During a 1969 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Science, and Cultural Organization) conference in San Francisco, a peace activist, John McConnell, proposed a day to honor the earth and the concept of peace. His idea caught on quickly as twenty million Americans celebrated forming peaceful demonstrations favoring environmental reform.  Two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools and hundreds of communities across the United States participated the first year. The Earth Day celebration was held locally in Columbia at Peace Park, on the University of Missouri (MU) campus, from the get-go, an annual tradition that continues today.

In 1990, Denis Hayes promoted the event internationally, organizing events in 141 nations. With the world-wide expansion came a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and the beginning of United Nations summits focusing on environmental concerns. By year 2000, the Internet helped link activists world-wide; over 5,000 environmental groups reached out to millions of people in 184 countries. Now it is observed in 192 countries, coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, making it the largest secular holiday in the world celebrated by billions of people every year.

For years I have participated in this fine tradition. This is a fun event I enjoyed sharing with my girls while they were growing up, they loved celebrating Earth Day! Hopes are you too have been enjoying this annual tradition.  If not, click on the Earth Day Network, and find an event in your area.

As for “my” local, this year’s event, the 27th Annual, will again be held in Peace Park on the MU campus from noon to 7pm  this Sunday, 4/24; rain date 5/1/16.  Peace Park is located at the north end of the MU campus along Elm St, between 6th & 8th Street. Over the years the event has expanded onto the adjacent streets, including 7th, 8th, and Elm Street.  Events include a packed performance on the musical stage, Kids Park, Eco Avenue, and many educational and food booths. The stage will be filled with performances including two children’s choirs, dance performances, folk music, bluegrass, sitar, woodwind music, and close out with a couple bands including Violet and the Undercurrents and Catdaddy’s Funky Fuzz-Bunker Band.  For more information go to – http://columbiaearthday.org/contact; 573-875-0539 or email mail@columbiaearthday.org. Mark your calendars now! Then 4/24, bring your family and friends along and join the celebration with the rest of the World!

 

National Parks Anniversary

I’m a big fan of March 1, 1872; that was the day the US Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant designated Yellowstone as our first National Park. This land was set aside “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and placed under control by the Secretary of the Interior.  This one action led to a new world-wide trend, now more than 100 countries have set aside some 1200 national parks or preserves.  In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service to protect 35 national parks and monuments.  In 1933 the National Park Service also assumed stewardship of 56 national monuments and military sites.  Now more than 84 million acres are protected, so much to enjoy!

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Love of Hiking

Words always seem to fall short when I attempt to articulate what hiking means to me. Of all leisurely pursuits, hiking has always been my activity of choice. In lone pursuit at a very young age, I continually wandered beyond the boundaries of our farm in pursuit of trees and creeks.  This was no small task as I was surrounded by crops and my legs were much shorter then!  I finally discovered a pristine creek in the woods where I spent hours enthralled with minnow filled pools along with the sounds and sights of water trickling over and through the rocks.  My parents and family weren’t into camping or hiking.  Someway I pursued those adventures anyway – perhaps nature chose me.

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Travels Southeast Bound

One January, we were chilled to the bone so we hit the road, heading south. Always aware of the environment, here are my sightings.

Our Mississippi State Park campground was absolutely beautiful but there were no recycling bins.  Anti-litter signs are prevalent – “Pick It Up Mississippi” along roadways and “Adopt-A-Highway America” along the Interstates.  It appears these signs are effective, as we didn’t notice much roadside litter.  As for local cuisine, I wasn’t much interested in fried chicken on top of waffles, boiled peanuts, or fried pies but I was glad to see the produce stands emerge as we traveled further south.  Overall, Mississippi is quite beautiful.  Much of the land is sparsely populated and filled with healthy forests.  While logging does occur, we didn’t notice clear-cutting scars.

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Winter Solstice

Since early times, people have observed the Suns path across the sky. The Stonehenge and other monuments were created to follow its progress. Today we understand it as an astronomical event.

Two solstices (“sun stands still”) occur per year.  During these solstices (around December 22nd and June 21st), the sun appears to halt and change directions, although it’s actually due to the rotation of the Earth on its tilted axis circling the sun.  In the Northern hemisphere, we experience our shortest day during the winter solstice, whereas the Southern hemisphere experiences their longest day.  During the Spring and Fall Equinox (around March 21st and September 23rd), the earth’s equator passes the center of the Sun, so the day and nights are approximately the same all over the world. Our changing seasons are due to the Earth’s tilted momentum around the Sun.

During our winter solstice the North Pole is tilted the furthest (23.5 degrees) away from the sun.  At this angle, the Sun appears to travel across the sky in a low arc resulting in our longest noontime shadows of the year.  While we are now losing approximately one minute of daylight per day, after December 21st, we will start gaining those minutes back.

Prior to science study, imagine the fear when it appeared the Sun was slowly fading away; then all the excitement when it grew brighter once again. Many spiritual and cultural traditions were formed to celebrate this seasonal milestone, many world-wide ancient traditions continuing today.

Over the centuries, we have tracked time using various devices from the sundial relying on shadows to our current atomic clock system, calibrated by the astronomical time scale.  Then we started adjusting the clock a bit with Day Light Savings Time (DST), which ended last month.  Overnight, we lost another sixty minutes of evening light when we set our clocks back. DST was first implemented by Germany in an effort to save coal during World War I.  Soon other countries followed suit. After the war, many countries reverted back to standard time until World War II.  In the United States, DST was extended to a period of ten months in 1974 and eight months in 1975 in an effort to save energy following the 1973 oil embargo.  Introduced through the 2005 Energy Policy Act, DST is now observed for about seven months each year starting on the second Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November.  I apparently have to leave my clock alone for now.  I’m so glad the winter solstice is here! More daylight minutes will slowly grow into hours!