The myriad ways the natural world disappoints, delights and destroys.

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • NEW MEXICO Ride ’em, deerboy!

    Curtis Thomson and Molly Magnuson
 

ARIZONA
Don’t get the big head, Big Ditch: Some recent visitors have complained on Yelp and TripAdvisor that the Grand Canyon is really not all that grand. The Arizona Star compiled some of the more jaundiced online reviews, including this one from Jorbi P. of Somerville, Massachusetts, who jeered, “Whoopity do, Grand Canyon. You were caused by erosion. You don’t have the coasters or dippin’ dots. Jeesh, can you say over-rated?” Barry G. of Seattle said the same in fewer words: “Ehh. I’ve seen better.” Paul B., location unknown, complained that he’d been “dragged here by the missus when I should have been playing golf. It’s just a hole in the ground.” A woman from Atlanta, Georgia, who goes by Iamtravelinpam, had a different beef, based on her desire never to leave her car: “They’ve built so many buildings that they’ve stolen all the beautiful views from the road.” Shane H. of Oakland, California, noting the discernment of “yelpers,” lowered his rating of the canyon from one and a half to just one star after judging it “more like Mediocre Canyon.” But Boston resident Frenchie takes the cake for being blasé: “(Grand Canyon) is about as disappointing as my trip to the Taj Mahal and Great Wall of China.” John Wesley Powell, who led the first recorded trip down the Colorado River in 1869, had a slightly different view, though some people today would likely knock him for seeming to gush: “The elements that unite to make the Grand Canyon the most sublime spectacle in nature are multifarious and exceedingly diverse. You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view, as if it were a changeless spectacle from which a curtain might be lifted, but to see it, you have to toil from month to month through its labyrinths.”

THE WEST
Yet again, the natural world came up short, much to the disappointment of tourists to Yellowstone National Park, reports the Missoulian. Commenting on a visitor survey provided by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, one person wrote, “Our visit was wonderful but we never saw any bears. Please train your bears to be where guests can see them. This was an expensive trip to not get to see bears.”

ALASKA
If only those disappointed Yellowstone tourists had traveled to Haines, Alaska, on the Chilkoot River, they might have seen “a man who donned a fairly realistic bear costume,” reports The Associated Press. It was not clear what the ursine imitator hoped to accomplish by running around, and jumping up and down, though he did get within three feet or so of a sow and bear cubs that were gorging on salmon. Before anyone could detain him, the man drove off, still wearing his big bear head. Unexplained as well was the comment by Alaska Trooper Megan Peters: “This is not the first time we’ve encountered a man in a bear suit.”

THE WEST
The numbers are staggering: Five major wildfires covering 438 square miles, known as the Okanogan Complex, were burning near the town of Omak, Washington, as August ended, and more than 1,000 firefighters were on fire lines, with crews coming to help from as far as Australia and New Zealand. And “only 100 miles is under control,” reports the U.S. edition of the U.K. Guardian newspaper. Yet an unlikely concrete dome just outside of Omak, which was turned into living quarters 15 years ago, lived up to its reputation as fireproof, surviving a fire surge with flames more than 12 feet high. Homeowner John Belles said he hosed everything down that he could, including himself. Once the flames got to within 50 yards, however, “there was nothing I could do.” So he shut himself in the dome and waited. It got incredibly hot in there, he said, and the fire destroyed the electrical junction box, but the dome — and its owner — survived unscathed. Meanwhile, thousands of people have been forced out of their homes, and the smoke is so thick that drivers have to use their headlights during the day. Matt Reidy, a former Forest Service ranger now working as a fire incident commander, recounted how he found a young couple still in their house on Salmon Creek Road. They had no clue that flames were advancing toward them, hidden by a ridge. When Reidy told them to run, “they picked up their belongings, just what they could hold, threw it in their car and they left. … Within minutes the house was engulfed.” Reidy said he was amazed at the intensity and height of the home-devouring flames, which were whipped up by winds of over 35 miles per hour. As for his own family in Omak, Reidy said that this summer’s fires have forced them to evacuate three times.

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNITY OUTREACH MANAGER
    High Country News (HCN) is looking for a Community Outreach Manager to reach and forge new relationships with individuals and groups who represent communities historically...
  • NEW BOOK:
    True Wildlife Tales From Boy to Man. Finding my voice to save wildlife in the Apache spirit. 365+ vivid colorful pictures. Buy on Amazon/John Wachholz
  • CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
    with Rural Community Assistance Corporation. Apply here: https://www.marcumllp.com/executive-search/chief-operations-officer-rcac
  • CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a climate justice fellowship. The fellowship...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Wild Rockies Field Institute is seeking a visionary Executive Director to lead the organization in Missoula, Montana. Individuals with a proven track record in...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • ARIZONA PROGRAM MANAGER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks an Arizona Program Manager. The Arizona Program Manager works...
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.