Join ranger-led snowshoe walk to explore Paradise

Staff reportJanuary 19, 2014 

With this weekend’s opening of the snowplay area at Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park officials are urging visitors to be wary of wildlife looking for easy food. This Clark’s nutcracker stole some snack food spilled during a parking lot picnic last winter. Wildlife managers fear animals that learn to pilfer human food will have a more difficult time finding natural food when humans are not around.

JEFFREY P. MAYOR/STAFF WRITER FILE, 2013

With the snowpack nearly doubling in depth in the last week or so, this is a great time to go snowshoeing at Paradise.

You can go on your own or take part in a walk led by a Mount Rainier National Park ranger.

The walks are offered on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays at 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Space is limited to 25 participants, and sign-ups are available one hour before the walk at the information desk inside the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

Participants should dress for winter conditions at 5,400 feet — warm coats, pants and waterproof shoes. Don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen if it is sunny. You can borrow snowshoes from the rangers or rent them at locations in and outside the park.

The two-hour walk follows the marked Nisqually Vista Trail. It is a moderately strenuous trek of 11/2-miles round trip.

For those heading out on their own, rangers warn of dangers such as snow-covered cliffs and streams. Snowshoers should make sure they know where they are and know how to get back even if visibility is lost, as can happen when clouds settle on the snow. The rangers recommend people carry a GPS unit to help return to the center or parking lot if weather conditions get bad.

Park visitors are reminded that tire chains are required in all vehicles. Also, the road from Longmire to Paradise closes nightly in the winter, opening about 9 a.m. (if conditions allow) and closing at 5 p.m. Make sure to leave Paradise by 4:30 p.m. so you don’t get stuck behind the locked gate.

COASTSAVER OF THE YEAR

Washington CoastSavers, which organizes three coastal beach cleanups, has named Olympic National Park ranger Al Voner as the CoastSaver of the Year for 2013.

Voner is being honored for his service in regularly facilitating beach cleanups and his stewardship of the wilderness beaches, said a coalition news release. Voner works out of the ranger station at Ozette.

Volunteers with CoastSavers conduct multiple cleanups along the Washington coast, including two coastwide events each year, drawing hundreds of participants from around the state. It is coordinated with coastal tribes and public agencies that manage the 157 miles of sandy beaches and rocky headlands that make up the Washington coast.

“He projects an attitude of service and helpfulness, along with authority and resolve,” Nancy Messmer, CoastSaver and Lions Club International environment chairwoman for Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula, said in the release. “His low-key manner and demonstrated competencies make every project better.”

“Al’s tireless dedication is an inspiration to us all, showing the power each of us have to make a difference in our community,” Carol Bernthal, superintendent for NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, said in the release. “We need more champions for our ocean, which faces many challenges like ocean acidification and climate change.”

In 2013, Washington CoastSavers volunteers removed more than 16 tons of trash from the beaches from Cape Flattery to Cape Disappointment.

The next coastwide cleanup will be the Washington Coast Cleanup on April 19. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance at coastsavers. org. Registration opens in early March.

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