What's the Difference Between a Walk and a Hike?

This should be the last of my series on things to do at National Parks, at least for a few months. Last week we were mostly looking at seaside activities. This week we move to sore muscles, aching feet and surprise bears; i.e. hiking.

Biscayne National Park in Florida http://www.nps.gov/bisc/index.htm describes itself as a “watery wonderland”. You may remember the lobster quadrille in Alice in Wonderland. No word on whether they dance or not but the park does have a lobster sanctuary, so you never know.

Jumping to the Badlands National Park in South Dakota we come to fossils, a topic of interest to all ages. Paleontology Lab runs every day through September 21st. This free and accessible program goes on all day, which is nice if you are the type that doesn't like to plan your day to the minute. The fossil quarry right next to the lab is a fertile site. In 2010 a seven year old called Kylie found a fossil that turned out to be the skull of an extinct animal that is very close to the saber toothed cat, the Hoplophoneus. http://www.nps.gov/badl/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=415867-2...
Fossil Talk is another free and accessible program which runs through August 24th. There are two events daily which are about twenty minutes long and meet on the Fossil Exhibit Trail. I recently read an article about a boy who went to the talk with his mom, then went for a hike and found a fossil of a prehistoric mammal. BTW – don't disturb what you think may be a fossil. Paleontologists want to see where it was located and likely take surrounding rock when they remove the fossil. http://www.nps.gov/badl/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=415851-2...

Haleakalā National Park in Hawaii http://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm is a beautiful place; not surprising given its location. The park offers three cabins if you want to camp, all of which are at the end of a hike that is at least five miles long. http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/wilderness-cabins.htm There are also two wilderness primitive camps. They aren't kidding about the word primitive - for example the list of things you should pack in includes toilet paper, a trowel and Ziploc bags. http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/wilderness-camping.htm If you're lazy like me you can try the drive up camping, but these aren't exactly for the pampered. http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/drive-up-camping.htm There are so many types of guided hikes, including one in a cloud forest, that I will just direct you to the event schedule and let you pick out one you like. http://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/events.htm

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas has some interesting events coming up. The one that sounds the best to me is called Hike on Hot Springs Mountain. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=11665 The free program runs on Thursdays through August 15th. Dogs are welcome, which is really nice. Just be sure to pack enough water for both you and your dog. Reservations are necessary and if there is a hurricane or a blizzard or something the hike will likely be canceled. The Sunset Trail Hike has similar instructions; dogs are invited and reservations are requested. This hike runs Sundays through August 25th. http://www.nps.gov/hosp/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=416719-2... Olly, Olly Oxen Free is a daily games program run by rangers. Accompanied children will be able to play games like Baggo (which I presume will be taught to everyone), flying hoops and run (or hop)sack races. This free program runs in the mornings. http://www.nps.gov/hosp/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=312668-2... You can also enjoy an old style mineral bath at the Buckstaff Bath House, which models the type of spa treatments that originated in the late 1800s. These are definitely not free. You can learn about this relaxing experience here: http://www.buckstaffbaths.com/

If you're heading off to Yellowstone National Park, which is filled with both beauty and danger, you should think about taking the Experiencing Wildlife in Yellowstone workshop. You'll learn what to do in order to view the wild animals safely. Did you know bison can run quite a bit faster than you can? It would be a bit like being chased by a furry tank. Not recommended. This free program runs daily through September second. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=18666 The Lupine Loop Walk sounds good but raises some questions. Why is this three mile hike called lupine? Does it have to do with wolves, flowers or the video game company? Hopefully by the time the walk ends you'll know the answer. This free program runs daily through September second. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=18665
Yellowstone Canyon Talk is wheelchair accessible and runs multiple times daily through September second. This program focuses on how art and the beauty of Yellowstone interacts. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=18655

Olympic National Park in Washington has a nice variety of terrain. Mountainous, water, tide pools, and a rain forest are some of the places you can explore during your visit. The tide pool also has one of those rock walls with the hole in it, with the waves crashing on the other side. http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/tidepool-activities.htm Every day until September first you can take part in the Hoh Rain Forest Nature Walk, which is free and can last about ninety minutes. The rainy season brings between twelve and fourteen feet of rain, resulting in the kind of leafy greenness that is shocking to some folks who grew up in the desert. Rain forests are definitely something to experience if you get the chance. http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm The Hurricane Ridge Meadow Walk runs on the same schedule, daily until September first, and is also free. The views from this meadow are supposed to be incredible. The flowers aren't bad either. You may even learn exactly what sub-Alpine means. http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=442919-3...

If you really like trees, especially when they are big and strong, you'll love Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. http://www.nps.gov/seki/index.htm The Sherman Tree Talk will leave you with plenty of knowledge, such as how big this enormous tree is (102 feet around at the base), whether it really is the biggest tree in the world (I hear the baobabs are pretty big), etc. It appears there will be only one more of these talks this season, on the 29th of this month. The free program is wheelchair accessible. http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=438739-3... There are two more events on the 29th, one called Realms of Giant Walk, which explores some of the taller trees, and Critter Talk which is probably not a bunch of animals sitting around the campfire gossiping. The links are http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=6562 and http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=13667 There are also a ton of outdoor activities, including rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking, camping and backpacking. You can even bring your llama, as long as you both behave yourselves.

There are so many more parks, monuments, forts, etc that you could probably spend years investigating them all. Once you get done with them you can get started on state parks.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat, like last week's, is from Lightspeed Magazine. Called Cancer, the story is written by Ryan North, who is probably most famous for his strip Dinosaur Comics. It is from the second book Ryan has edited about an invention (discovery?) called the machine of death, which predicts how a person will die, in an ambiguous but accurate manner. But in this particular case it looks as though either someone made a big mistake or the machine is malfunctioning for the first time. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/cancer/