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Out Field Testing


  Swellwedge_copy   Day after day, many issues come up throughout the national park system.
    There's an effort in the U.S. Senate, led by Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming, to see the National Park Service reimbursed for the tens of millions of dollars it spends each year protecting borders and other tasks that the Department of Homeland Security should be handling.
     There's a debate in some circles whether hand-held electronic products intended to guide visitors through parks are a good idea, or simply another step towards the "wreckreation" of our park system. At Cape Hatteras National Seashore, off-road activists, surf fisherman (and woman), and nesting shorebirds are causing problems for park managers trying to please everyone.
    I could go on and on, but you get the idea. And hey, it's Memorial Day Weekend, the official kick-off to summer. So, I'm outa here for a couple days, off to the San Rafael Swell in central Utah with my youngest son and a friend of his for a short backpacking excursion.
    I know, I know, it's not a national park destination. I thought about going to Great Basin National Park, but there's a cold front moving in and with its elevation, the precip will be in the form of snow. I also thought about the Kolob Canyon area of Zion National Park, but I'm sure that by the time we got down there all the campsites would have been booked for the weekend.
    So, the Swell it is. And really, there is some national park history there. Back in the 1930s the locals were so smitten by the sandstone beauty of the area that they tried to drum up support for creation of a national park. Alas, it didn't come to be. Today it's Bureau of Land Management Land, and we're heading into a Wilderness Study Area, so we should enjoy some peace and quiet and killer high-desert scenery.
    The jaunt also will give me time to field test a new pack, an Aether 70 by Osprey, as well as a new tent, REI's Quarterdome, and miscellaneous other career and goodies. I'll let you know how it fares. 

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