which is the largest U.S. National Park?

An interesting graphic posted by ParkRemark.com, “News and Views on the National Park Service” in the States, puts things into perspective.

(via Gadling)

On a possibly related note, George Novak uses the U.S. National Park Service website to research future trips. For example, check out Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska, a World Heritage Site.

If you like freedom, know that Backcountry permits are NOT required to hike there. But travelers are encouraged to complete a “Backcountry Itinerary” available at any park office.

blackburn.jpg

Parks Canada … listens?

I was very pleased to get a personal email from Frank Grigel, Social Science Specialist, Monitoring, with Parks Canada.

He was responding to my complaints about the Parks Canada Listens program.

Seems Parks Canada really is listening.

Here’s the gist of my email reply to Frank:

… I understand much better your Parks Listens surveys — after your explanation. Thank-you.

Next time be sure to explain it from the start. For example, I did not know how many surveys would be happening. How LONG they would take.

The questions seemed well constructed but certainly the process could be improved.

I would suggest an on-going feedback online instead. As you know, government organizations are infamous for spending money on a one shot research project. Then shelving the report. Sometimes this is “theatre”. Politicians stalling to avoid actually making painful improvement.

I would suggest a more open, transparent, interactive process. It is better for Parks Canada to have a place where people can vent. (Every major corporation at this very moment is adding bloggers as they learn this lesson the hard way.)

The alternative is for Parks Canada to get the same feedback from independent sites.

I subscribe to these two blogs in the USA, for example:

  • National Parks Traveler
  • Park Remark
  • Certainly I would subscribe and contribute to a Parks Canada watchdog site. Even start one myself.

    The internet, I believe, will force Parks Canada to be more responsive to taxpayers.

    Regarding the surveys, people were frustrated not having more information. They wanted to be involved but could not easily find out how.

    Look at your website: ParksListens.ca

    No “about” link. No “contact” link. All I can do is download a .pdf file.

    All in all, it looks pretty intimidating. A “secret” contest of some kind.

    I dislike everything about your site … except the name: Parks Listens

    That is perfect.

    Good luck with the project, though.

    I really hope it results in positive change for Parks Canada.

    If I believed things were getting better for our National Parks, I would encourage people to pay for an annual pass — rather than go to the States instead, as I do now.

    I encourage Frank and anyone else to leave a comment below. This rant of mine then becomes a conversation: open, transparent, interactive, on-line.

    tiny laptop, full keyboard, satphone

    It’s tiny (although bigger than a PDA), it looks great for expedition blogging. Connect it up to a solar panel and a satphone/3G/GPRS/WiFi connection and you’re away. I like it and I like it allot!

    There are no firm details yet other than it having a finger print reader for security.

    Geared Up includes a video clip of how it works.

    Team Geared Up Blog » Expedition Gadget: The Folding Laptop

    Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

    UPDATE:

    Ruhaizad Daud contacted us with excellent information. He’s a Malaysian doctor from Sabah who is passionate about Mount Kinabalu.

    Ruhaizad is also the editor of Mount-Kinabalu-Borneo.com, a content rich site with everything you could possibly need to plan a trip. He confirms that "Anybody, I repeat anybody – can reach the summit – provided that they have the best information and preparation."

    We’ve subscribed to his blog and newsletter. Ruahizad even publishes a .pdf guidebook which you can download for a small donation.

    john.jpg
    St. John’s Peak 2005 – photo Ruhaizad Daud


    We’ve added Mt. Kinabalu to our list of best hikes in Asia and linked to Ruhaizad’s site.

    However, this is just the kind of adventure which tends to attract beginners who may get hurt or killed. A British teenager died there in 2001. Guides are mandatory but the quality of those guides is suspect.

    On the other hand, I really want to go to Kinabalu myself.

    At over 4000m (13,123ft) it’s South-East Asia’s highest mountain. The photos look very appealing.

    Malaysia is the most under-rated country in Asia, in my opinion. I definitely want Kinabalu on my own list of the best hikes in the world.

    kin.jpg
    photo – zbjernak

    more great Kinabalu photos on flickr

    ( via Adventure Blog)

    new look for the besthike.com blog

    Six months is a long time on the web.

    It seems much longer since I launched this blog. I used the default theme in WordPress with a modified header image.

    besthikeblogheader.jpg

    I updated in early November, 2006 with these objectives:

  • better integration with besthike.com
  • new Google search box includes both blog and besthike.com
  • wider post column (mainly for photos)
  • wider navigation column (to reduce clutter)
  • Subscribe to Comments” so comments can turn into conversation
  • (slightly) better image handling
  • So far I am quite happy with the new theme, based on Cutline.

    It may look a little strange for a few days. Especially if you use the SAFARI browser. I am still working out a few bugs.

    Rick McCharles, editor

    introducing Tom Mangan – hiking blogger

    He hikes. He blogs.

    me2.jpgMy new friend Tom Mangan is IMHO the top hiking blogger on the internet. (He must browse more RSS hiking feeds than anyone else.)

    Tom’s one of the original bloggers, posting long before the word “blog” had been coined. Yet he is a relatively recent devotee of hiking. (Disclosure – I only got serious in 1999 myself.)

    What I like about his Two-Heel Drive hiking blog is the balanced content. Unlike most blogs, including this one, Tom does not focus on the extreme, the sensational, the “best” — but rather covers everything hiking. He tries to get to know regular hikers as people. And he points out the positive.

    Very refreshing.

    Thanks Tom for motivating me to do a better job with this blog. I know you have had a similar energizing effect on dozens, perhaps hundreds of others out there.

    Keep it up!

    Why are we blogging?

    * To pass along interesting stuff we find online …

    * To document the fact that we experienced life on earth (And to have our names come up first when we google them.)

    * To share our expertise and knowledge.

    * To create something original.

    Why are we blogging? – Two-Heel Drive