Monthly Archives: October 2017

National Parks are Important to Us

A trip or two to a national park with family and friends is always an enhancing and enriching experience. Glance through this Buzzle post to learn why the national parks are important and valuable to us.

Quick Fact
A National park was conceptualized in 1832 by George Catlin, an amateur artist who, on a trip to the Dakotas, was worried about the encroachment on forests and sites of the indigenous people. He proposed that these areas could be protected by certain government policies.
Many of us remember our first visit to a national park – it was, for most of us, with our parents or during a school tour. No matter how young we were when we first visited one of these places of scenic beauty and natural tranquility, its memories never cease to exist from our minds. The various wild animals, plants, flowers, and awe-inspiring landscapes, which we may have seen as children, always tend to remind us that nature has more things in store than we may think.

A National park is essentially a protected area, either owned or declared by the government of a country. Every country in the world has a number of such areas reserved as national parks, and interestingly, some of them also appear as natural heritage sites in the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The areas of national parks are protected to safeguard the natural environment, wherein the local, indigenous species of plants and animals dwell and thrive. They also protect and preserve certain landscapes, which hold a special significance for a particular region or for the country.
Importance of National Parks
National parks are important to us for more reasons than one. Some of them include the following:

Protection of Wildlife

We share our planet with a variety of plant and animal species, which collectively constitute the Earth’s biodiversity. Their survival for a longer period of time is ensured when their natural habitats are safeguarded. National parks provide them with existential security. Moreover, these are numerous species of plants and animals, which are extremely rare and cannot survive at all, if they are taken out of their original, natural habitats. In such cases, they often dwindle in population, thus becoming endangered and/or become extinct altogether. National parks help safeguard and conserve such rare and indigenous species, thus securing the biodiversity of that region.
Protection of Landforms

National parks are reserved/protected areas which, more often than not, encompass beautiful landforms such as snow-capped mountains, desert dunes, sandy beaches, foggy rainforests, river cliffs and gorges, and so on. The more they are exposed to human interference, the more they are prone to damage and destruction. National parks ensure sound, pollution-free environment, with minimum human intervention, controlled by legal statutes. This aids to safeguard the landforms and other places of scenic beauty, which may be a highlight of a particular region or country.

To Go Ice Climbing in the US

Ice climbing probably is the Mad Hatter among all extreme sports; anyone who’s tried it will surely vouch for this statement. Just imagine, this sport involves scaling a vertical cliff covered in slippery ice with nothing more than a couple of axes and a pair of crampons―and all of this is to be done in the biting cold.

Not many would be game for a monstrosity like ice climbing, but there are a few out-of-this-world people out there who get their kicks from it. With those people in mind, here’s a list of the most amazing places to go ice climbing in the US.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire, with its prolonged winters and short summers, is an ideal destination for ice climbing. The center of activity in this state is the Frankenstein Cliff. With its several crag-style ice routes, this remains a popular haunt for ice climbers.

If you’re looking for something that’s even scarier, look no further than Cannon Cliff, which carries quite the brutal reputation for ice climbing.

Mt. Washington is considered to be a hallowed climb within this sport. The mountain’s unpredictable weather is legendary; there are several tragedies that stand testimony of this fact. Nevertheless, the peak continues to lure both, alpine and ice climbers. NE Climbs has all the lowdown on ice climbing in the New England region.

Come winter, and Colorado’s famous rock climbing sites get inundated with ice climbers. This unfailingly happens, each year, as Colorado’s harsh winter causes most of its water bodies to freeze.

Ouray is the state capital when it comes to ice climbing. The Ouray Ice Park holds the distinction of being the world’s first ice park, with around 10,000 climbers using it annually. More than 200 routes have been identified and mapped, making way for easy access. The climbing season is December to March, and the annual Ouray Ice Festival takes place every January, which attracts climbers and gear manufacturers from all over the world.

The San Juan mountains in the vicinity are also a hotbed of activity for ice climbers. The San Juan Mountain Guides provide beginners with safety equipment and basic training.

For ice climbers, the state of Alaska indeed is the Last Frontier, and quite literally. Thanks to its proximity to the Arctic, the state’s climate is very conducive to an extreme sport like this. In fact, Alaska Iceclimbers has a dedicated website for the convenience of fellow enthusiasts.

Valdez, in southcentral Alaska has welcomed ice climbers ever since the early 1970s. The list of ice climbs around Valdez includes
Mineral Creek
Solomon Gulch
Hole in the Wall
Keystone Canyon
Bear Creek
17 Mile Wall
Sheep Creek
19 Mile Wall
The cliffs of Mount Pisgah that overlook Vermont’s Lake Willoughby are certainly not meant for the faint of heart. During peak season, the sheer face of the cliff has more than 40 different routes, some of which rising beyond 600 feet. Beginners are advised to stay away from this site, returning only when they’ve compiled several expeditions of their own.

This area is known among ice climbers as ‘The Lake’, and is considered by many to be one of the toughest to scale. The Vermont Outdoor Guide Association has detailed information regarding routes, equipment rentals, and instructors.

Everything About Water Skiing

Whether you use two skis, or a single ski, or skim through the water on bare feet – getting pulled by a speedboat – there is something about skimming on water as you glide through the spattering sprays that has you coming back for more, despite the number of times you get dunked.

It was back in 1922 that water skiing began when Ralph Samuelson, an eighteen year old boy from Minnesota, thought that if snow skiing was possible, then why not skiing on water? He tested his theory out for the first time on Lake Pepin, Lake City, in Minnesota, getting his brother Ben to tow him. It was after the two brothers had been experimenting for several days that Ralph realized that if he leant his body back, putting the tips of his skis up in the air, it led to skiing successfully. Those skis that the two brothers used were made from barrel staves, after which they tried using regular snow skis. Later, Ralph created the first pair of water skis out of lumber that he bought and hewed into shape. Leather straps were used to bind the feet on to the skis and a window sash served as a tow rope.

From those days to today, water skiing has turned into one of the most popular water sports. Whether you are a beginner or a long-time fan, who has always envied people gliding effortlessly on the water, here are a few tips that you are sure to find interesting and useful:
One of the first things you will need is a Personal Flotation Device or a Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket, that fits properly. So that when you do take a toss in the water it should not come up to your head.
The next thing is learning to put on the skis. While this is usually done in the water, it is better for a young beginner to be helped by someone while they sit on the swim platform of the boat.
The bindings that come with most beginners’ skis are adjustable in order to fit various sizes of shoes. The bindings should be sized properly, adjusted in a way as to make them as tight as possible, and still have the foot fitting in comfortably.
Once you have the skis on, the next thing to do is get hold of the tow rope handle and float on your back in the water, while the boat driver takes out the slack of the rope. It is not necessary at this point to try to keep your skis straight or to align yourself with the boat. Simply relax, and float with the help of your life jacket.
Once the boat driver removes the slack out of the rope, he/she will put the boat into neutral, waiting for you to get ready. This is when you begin getting into position by bending your legs fully and extending your arms almost completely, with the elbows outside your knees. The skis should be positioned in such a way as to be between you and the boat, while the rope should be between the skis. So, your body should be bunched up in a ball, while your head should be upright and facing the boat.

Skydiving is not extreme enough for you

Have you ever wanted to fly through the air like a bird? Not in a hot air balloon or an airplane, but without anything between you and the sky? A relatively new type of BASE jumping has been created, and it involves using a special suit called a wingsuit. A wingsuit is essentially a specialized type of jumpsuit that has layers of fabric attached in such a way that a falling person gains lift, and can direct the path of their fall. Technically, it is a very extreme form of gliding. There is no way for a person to rise after they begin their descent, but the wingsuit allows them an unprecedented level of maneuverability.
The wingsuit was popularized, if not invented, by Patrick de Gayardon, a French skydiver, in the mid 1990s. In 1998, Australian BASE jumper Tom Begic developed his own wingsuit. He found that it had a number of benefits that allowed the wearer to jump off from areas that were, to that point, impossible to jump from.
BASE jumpers specialize in jumping from many stationary earth-bound objects, which is where the name comes from. BASE is an acronym that stands for Buildings, Antennas, Spans, and Earth. As unlikely as it sounds, it is even more dangerous than skydiving, and requires a lot more skill to practice safely.
Wingsuit flying requires a lot of skill as well. The United States Parachute Association currently recommends that before attempting to use a wingsuit, a jumper should have experience with a minimum of 200 skydives, if receiving guidance from a wingsuit instructor. If you’d prefer to try it without an instructor, the recommendation jumps to 500 dives!
Once you have the prerequisite experience, how do you attempt a jump? There are a few options available. You can jump out of a plane or off something very high, like a cliff. Each approach has its own pros and cons. When jumping from a plane, the jumper has to align himself properly from the plane as he exits. Once he is far enough, he simply spreads his arms and legs, so that the wingsuit can begin converting momentum into lift.

A far different technique is employed when jumping from a cliff or some other stationary object. The jumper has to wait until he has enough downward velocity to maintain stability as he glides. Wingsuit flying is relatively new, having been developed within the past fifteen years. The technology continues to be refined. Some jumpers add a special type of carbon fiber wing to their suit to allow for better performance. In 2003, an Austrian BASE jumper used a carbon fiber wing and jumped from a height of 9,000 meters (5.5 miles). He managed to fly across the English Channel, a distance of 35 kilometers (21 miles), in a mere 14 minutes.