Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

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Death Valley Dazed
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Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:00 pm

Over the eight years since I discovered Death Valley National Park, I've had the pleasure of meeting and corresponding with ten NPS staffers. They have been generous with their time and wisdom about the park while increasing my awareness and sensitivity to keeping the park in pristine shape for others to enjoy as I have, This paradox of personally enjoying the wilderness while minimizing my impact is weighing more upon me of late.

I've have created several video adventures in the park that after considering their potential negative impact by increased copycat adventurers I have not published. I'm saddened at having to edit down some of my enthusiasm for the park just to help preserve what I love about it. When all is said and done and after I turn to dust I hope to have left the park in better shape than when I discovered it. Some of my thousands of footprints in the park will take years and years to weather away. One beauty of the sand dunes is that almost daily those footprints are blown away.

So back to the NPS staff who have shared some of their adventures with me. I have no idea what percentage of staffers spend much of their off time adventuring around the park but there are at least a few who really "go for it." I love picking up their bread crumbs along the less explored areas of the park. Some of these trails I've come across completely by chance and others have been suggested. I like knowing that some of the NPS staff avidly explore all parts far and wide inside of the park on their time off.

I like it when the NPS registers their names in the logs atop the various peaks in the park. It's fun to see the names of you who frequent this forum in those same logs. For example, there are now at least two NPS staffers who have registered atop Blue Mountain, one of those majestic sentinels looming over Artists Palette. I will never be able to catch up with these weekend hikers and scramblers who reside inside or close by the park so I console myself with reading (NPS staff and also your informative forum) trip reports.

I realize that being the currently most accomplished DV explorer is not a contest but I do wonder who that person might be and how much DV wisdom they could impart. I believe that many of us, including myself would be astounded at "the body of work" this person has accumulated. It's also possible that this person is unknown to everyone except themself because of many DV adventurers not going public with their accomplishments.

My shortlist of possible candidates for the living person with most DV adventuring excluding NPS staff who prefer to remain off the public radar:

Steve Hall - http://panamintcity.com/,
Black Turtle - http://www.blackturtle.us/
Candace66 - right here
Kauri - right here
GowerGulch42 - right here
MojaveGeek - right here

Please nominate others that you admire or are aware of. I realize that there are other forums and blogs that I don't frequent who have members with huge amounts of DV wisdom. I enjoy observing how the individual personality shines through the contributions to the growing body of DV wisdom.

To all of you so far ahead of me in the DV wisdom kingdom I hope to slowly follow in your footsteps. Also, thanks to the admin of this forum for allowing my ramblings and going on over the years.
Life begins in Death Valley

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by MojaveGeek » Mon Jan 06, 2020 8:05 am

I'm very flattered to be on your list! But I think all of the others have done more in and around the park than I have. I often feel I'm walking in the footsteps of the others, and greatly appreciate the volumes of info they have passed on to me. I'm fortunate to have spent about 8 months of my life within and near the current boundaries of the park (it was still the national monument, on the old boundaries, when I first showed up) and have discovered some cool stuff but have been limited to one or two weeks a year due to my distance.

I have to think that Michel Digonnet must be pretty high on the list. He's at Stanford for his day job so has fairly ready access, and one must assume that the hikes that he chose to print up in his guides are only small subset of all the places he has been. I'm envious of what he knows and must have seen!

It has been interesting watching how access to the park has expanded during the three decades I've been exploring it. When I first appeared there was one very thin book of hiking tips with pretty marginal maps but it was enough to get started. Over time I realized that there were lots of old miner and game trails, but they were harder to see on the old monochrome aerial images. A couple other books appeared and then in '97 his first book appeared. I was both dismayed (at his revealing a number of cool places that I had found independently) and thrilled (at the number of new places he suggested, with good hints about access).

Then of course came broader adoption of the Internet and the Web and browsers made it much more accessible (we geeks had our ways of sharing info before then, but mostly limited to text messages and not necessarily well archived). I'm curious about the visitation numbers in the park. I know they have been rising in all the national parks, but these days you seem to see more and more people out in places far off the roads, and some formerly sketchy use trails have become much clearer. I recall saying about 10 years ago that in all my DV hiking I had seen only one other person when off the well known trails, but this is no longer the case.

I go back every year and in my little group I'm the one who is tasked with finding places to hike and deciding where to go. As I approach the task, I'm thinking of various places we could revisit as we must have been everywhere :) By the time we go, I've worked out more possible new trips than we'll have time to do! DV really is vast.

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by shane » Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:41 am

Scott Swaney and retired ranger Charlie C. have certainly covered a lot of ground.

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by TrailHound » Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:48 am

I will second Charlie Callagan, the epitome of an NPS ranger.

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by Aedwards27 » Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:58 am

I know of one person who has a web presence (but no account here) who has probably done more in the Owlsheads and Eureka areas than anyone else.

My own lowly record from 2010-2019 added up to 2,100 miles of hiking in the park. I can't be very specific or open with some of my treks though, due to the nature of what I look for.

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by Kauri » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:31 pm

I'll add a third vote for Ranger Charlie, and a second vote for Digonnet.

If it hadn't been for Digonnet's book (which I bought in 2005), and Steve Hall's website (which I found in 2009), I wouldn't have done anywhere near as much exploring as I have done in the park.

There are some folks who seem to have dropped off this forum, who did a lot of exploring in DV many years ago (and possibly still are, I'm not sure), and were an inspiration to myself and other new forum members, including Robbie Mize (who discovered Crescent Bridge).

And I think some of the staff at the DV hotels also know the park quite well but don't necessarily post about their travels. The list just goes on...
Death Valley named locations map, and my trip reports: http://kaurijacobphotography.yolasite.com

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by Candace_66 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:05 pm

:oops: Aww, thanks!

I have been around DVNP and environs quite a bit over the years. Though not so much lately, as I've been chasing goals elsewhere.

Though I don't post a lot anymore, and never bother to do trip reports, I do try to chime in with a little assistance now and then! :smile:

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by blackturtle.us » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:36 pm

Death Valley Dazed - Thanks for the mention. I admit that I have done far more hikes in the Argus Range than in DVNP in the last couple years, but one way or another I do a hike every week. I live in Trona and so it's easy for me to get to anything in Searles Valley and Panamint Valley pretty quickly. I recently purchased a cabin up in Kennedy Meadows and so I plan to do more hiking in the southern Sierras and not just in the summer. (In fact, I did a little snowshoeing last weekend, but then did an Argus hike the next day.) I've taken a liking to the Sacatar Trail Wilderness and so I'll be doing more exploring up that way. But I have no plans to stop hiking in the DVNP/Argus Wilderness areas anytime soon.

For those unsure about the location of the Argus Range, it's the range which is on the west side of Panamint Valley and actually the northern part of the range is in DVNP.

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Re: Mixing Jealousy & Admiration For DV NPS Staff

Post by ETAV8R » Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:39 am

I've found the staff at most NPs quite helpful. My Canyonlands trip years ago could not have happened without the help of the ranger I was in contact with. Seemed like a travel agent in a way.

I used to do a lot of trip reports on various forums but don't anymore. I'm also very careful with the photos I post because I don't want special places to become overrun with social media types who need their egos fed. It is sad what I've seen happen in the outdoor areas I've been exploring for more than 20 years. Hopefully the outdoors will become less sought after by the masses but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

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