Nature Valley Trail View Adds Sequoia National Park To Virtual Hikes

In March of last year, Nature Valley launched their Trail View website, giving deskbound outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to take a virtual hike through three of the most popular national parks in the U.S. The website employed technology similar to Google’s Street View to give us the opportunity to explore more than 300 miles of trails in the Grand Canyon, Great Smokey Mountains and Yellowstone. Now, just in time to celebrate National Park Week, the site is adding yet another spectacular park to the mix.

Nature Valley has announced that starting today an additional 50+ miles of trail located inside Sequoia National Park will be available to virtual explorers. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia is of course best known for the trees from which it derives its name. The Giant Sequoias are known to grow to heights in excess of 200 feet, putting them amongst the largest living organisms on our planet. With the addition of the park to the Nature Valley Trail View site, you can now take a stroll amongst those magnificent trees directly from your favorite web browser.

Adding another park to the website isn’t the only upgrade to Trail View today. The site is also becoming more mobile friendly in an effort to accommodate smartphones and tablets as well. That will include the ability to download .pdf files with information about the parks and specific trails too. This could become a handy resource for travelers headed out to one of these destinations who might need a little help finding your way around.Nature Valley’s commitment to the national parks doesn’t end there, however. Over the past few years, the company has been a tireless advocate for the parks. Through its annual Preserve the Parks campaign they’ve managed to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Parks Conservation Association. With another $500,000 donation this year, the four-year total will exceed $1.8 million. This is in addition to some fantastic park restoration projects that conducted with volunteers who are eager to help protect their favorite parks as well.

As a fan of the national parks, I truly appreciate the efforts that Nature Valley has put forth to help preserve some of our most amazing landscapes. Their work is helping to ensure future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy these places as well. And with their Trail View website, they allow me to take a virtual escape now and again, which certainly comes in handy when I’ve spending far too much time indoors.

[Photo Credit: Dcrjsr via WikiMedia]

Hiker Finds 40-Year-Old Note Left On California Mountain Top

This past September, 69-year-old Larry Wright spent 11 days backpacking through Sequoia National Park with his son and grandson. While trekking up a remote backcountry peak, the trio discovered a small metal canister that had been carefully stashed against a rock near the summit. Curiosity got the better of Wright and he decided to open the rusted canister to see what was inside. What he found was a handwritten note that had been waiting four decades to be discovered.

The note, which was surprisingly well preserved, simply said: “Tim Taylor climbed to this peak, Thursday, August 17, 1972. Age 13 yrs. Anyone finding this note please write.” At the bottom of the page, Taylor included his home address, which was located in Flintridge, California.

Wright told the Los Angles Times that he isn’t surprised that no one had found the note until now. The hike to the mountain takes several days and few people have probably even been to the summit. He also said that the metal can was so rusted that it was hard to even notice it all. But inside, the note was nearly perfectly preserved, still waiting for someone – anyone – to find it.Once he got back to civilization, Wright attempted to contact Tim Taylor but found few clues as to his current whereabouts. A visit to Taylor’s address from the note found new residents who had never heard of the teenager that had left the note 40 years earlier. Furthermore, a search of the city voter registration records showed no one by the name of Tim Taylor still living there.

The story could have ended there, leaving us with an interesting little mystery and very few answers. But the Adventure Journal reports that not long after the Times ran the article, Tim Taylor showed up with his side of the story. Taylor, who is now a Superior Court Judge in San Diego, was a boy scout back in 1972. In August of that year, he and his troop were on a 50-mile hike through the same region as Larry Wright and his family. On one of their rest days, Taylor decided to hike to the top of a nearby peak, which may have been unclimbed at that time. While at the top, he left his note, not knowing if or when anyone would ever find it.

Taylor’s note was sort of a message in a bottle, although instead of being carried by the tides to some far off place, it sat in one location as the years rolled by. I think it is simply amazing that it was discovered at all and even more surprising that it could be still be read. It must have been quite a surprise for the now 53-year-old judge to learn that someone had found his hidden canister at last.

Book A Rare Stay At Bearpaw High Sierra Camp In Sequoia National Park

The Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, located inside Sequoia National Park, is one of the toughest accommodations to book in the entire park system. Typically reservations open in January and sell out completely in a matter of just a few hours. But this year a legal issue regarding permits delayed the opening of the camp and now that that issue has been resolved there are rare open dates for August and September.

Bearpaw is a unique and scenic destination that is unlike any other campsite you’ve experienced. It sits at an altitude of 7800 feet and overlooks the Great Western Divide, a mountain range in the Sierra Nevada that separates King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Park. Getting to the site requires an 11.5-mile hike through secluded California backcountry that rewards guests with a private and peaceful setting upon arrival.

The camp features six tent cabins, each furnished with two twin beds, and room for three, provided one of the campers is willing to sleep on the floor. A separate shower house provides modern bathroom facilities including flush toilets and hot showers, which are always welcome at the end of a long hike. Both breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate as well, ensuring visitors don’t go hungry while staying at the camp.

Legal issues arose earlier this year over permits that allow the use of pack-mules within national parks. The animals are used to shuttle supplies, such as food and water, to the remote location where Bearpaw is located. The camp couldn’t open until the situation was resolved, but now that permits have been issued, resupply of the camp can take place. That means that no one could book a reservation to stay in the camp until now. As a result, a camp that is traditionally very difficult to book and stay in now has some openings for the months ahead. This is a great opportunity for travelers to experience Bearpaw and all that it has to offer.

For more information or to book your stay, visit or call 866-449-4902.

New study finds national parks at risk

The National Parks Conservation Association released a comprehensive report yesterday that paints a grim picture for the future of the national parks in the U.S. The report, which is entitled “The State of America’s National Parks,” examines a number of economic and environmental threats to the parks and is the result of more than a decade of research. The non-profit NPCA also calls on the Obama Administration to address those threats while developing a comprehensive plan for the future, ahead of the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service.

The report, which can be read in it’s entirety here, identifies a number of challenges to the future of America’s national parks. The threats, which are both old and new, include pollution, invasive species, climate change, and continued funding shortfalls, amongst others. The NPCA goes on to say that many of these threats are already having a real and dramatic impact on the parks. During their research they found that 63% of the parks surveyed had issues with air quality to some degree or another. Others were found to have poor water quality as well, while a staggering 95% of the parks assessed had lost at least one plant or animal species over the course of the past ten years.

According to the NPCA, the largest threats to the parks, and their natural resources, stem from two sources – human activity and climate change. In the case of the former, the development of lands surrounding the park is changing the natural habitats of wildlife and contaminating both the air and the water. It may be the latter that has the most lasting effect however, as the report cites threats to everything from the redwoods of Sequoia National Park in California to the coastlines of Katmai in Alaska, as being dramatically impacted by the changing climate.It isn’t all doom and gloom however, as the report also spotlights success stories in several parks as well. For instance, a comprehensive effort to remove non-native species, including horses, rats, and pigs, from the Channel Islands has helped the native fox species there to bounce back in numbers. Similarly, a “vessel management plan” in Glacier Bay National Park has been very successful in protecting the marine mammals that live there as well. The NPCA says that these examples show that when “National Park Service staff have sufficient financial support, up-to-date scientific information, and adequate training,” they can do positive things.

In order to protect these vital natural resources, the NPCA is calling upon the Obama Administration to create a plan for the long term management of the parks. That plan, they contend, must address the threats to the parks and create a system for monitoring the quality of the air and water found within their boundaries. The organization is also asking the President to issue an Executive Order that will commit federal resources to preparing the parks for their second one hundred years and beyond. The NPCA believes that can only be achieved by fully funding the Park Service to equip them with all the tools necessary to address these threats properly.

Considering the attendance numbers over the past few years, it is evident that Americans recognize and appreciate the value of their national parks. Hopefully this report will send the wake-up call that is necessary to ensure that those amazing natural spaces will be around in another hundred years so that new generations of Americans can enjoy them too.

[Photo credit: National Parks Conservation Association]

Take a women’s only winter adventure with Call of the Wild

Women’s only adventure travel is one of the fastest growing segments in the entire industry and U.S. based Call of the Wild is a company that specializes in delivering fantastic ladies only options. The company has been in business for more than 30 years, and during that time it has pioneered this style of travel, offering trips to far flung places, both domestically and abroad.

This winter, Call of the Wild is offering some great trips that are sure to appeal to the active traveler looking for a little adventure. For instance, their Snowshoes and Sequoias Weekend is a three day expedition to Sequoia National Park during which time the ladies will have the opportunity to learn how to snowshoe in a breathtaking mountain setting. And at the end of a busy day, they’ll return to their rustic lodge for a fantastic meal and a glass of wine around the fireplace. This trip is scheduled to take place from February 11-13 and costs just $650.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more tropical this winter, than perhaps the Hawaii Explorer will be more to your liking. This seven day vacation sends travelers to Kauai, otherwise known as the Garden Isle, for a little fun in the sun. Visitors will take day hikes to visit some of the islands most breathtaking vistas and stunning beaches, while humpback whales play off shore and the island blooms with life. This trip runs from March 6-12 and can be booked for $2195.

New to Call of the Wild’s 2011 winter catalog is their Discovering Death Valley option. This trip sends a small group of adventurous women to Death Valley National Park, where they’ll soak up the natural beauty of the place while exploring the sand dunes and rocky canyons located there. And when they’ve had enough excitement for one day, they’ll return to a comfortable hotel and enjoy fine meals at local restaurants. The Discovering Death Valley trip is $1315 and will take place February 26 – March 2, when temperatures in the park are comfortable and moderate.

If you haven’t planned your winter escape for 2011 yet, then perhaps its time you gathered up a few girlfriends, picked an adventure, and heeded the call of the wild. After all, we can all use a little more adventure in our lives.