Osprey/REI
Osprey/REI

These Special Edition Backpacks Are Perfect For Hiking the National Parks

Osprey/REI
Osprey/REI

Any hiker knows that the right gear can make all the difference when you’re out there traversing the wilderness. Now, you can pick up a pack that does even more. Osprey Packs, in partnership with the National Park Foundation, have released a pair of special edition bags that benefit the agency. It’s the perfect birthday gift for the National Park Service’s centennial year.

The Osprey Kestrel 32 National Park Service Pack is being sold exclusively at REI and retails for $149.95. It’s a lightweight pack with features to accommodate a variety of adventuring, and is designed to keep you comfortable even in warm or rainy weather. For more specifics on the gear, check out the product page which includes an in-depth video from the retailer. The National Park Foundation Trip 20 can be found through Osprey Packs and sells for $60.00. (As reflected in the price, it’s a simpler pack for “light and fast day hikes.”)

As part of the partnership, Osprey has pledged a minimum $25,000 donation to the NPF through the sale of the packs, and is supplying the foundation with Jet 12 kids packs as well as Moki kids hydration packs for use in the Open OutDoors for Kids program, an initiative dedicated to underserved youth and getting kids outdoors.

Back when the news was first announced last fall, Sam Mix, Manager of Corporate Outreach at Osprey Packs said: “Osprey is honored to work in partnership with the National Park Foundation during this centennial year and raise money to protect America’s special places, connect people to parks, and inspire the next generation of park stewards. We are thrilled to be part of this celebration and hope the ‘Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque’ movement inspires national park enthusiasts and stewards for generations to come.”

Is wearing a National Park Foundation logo in a National Park akin to wearing a band’s T-shirt to their concert? Perhaps, but rock on.

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travel
Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels
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iStock

If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

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science
Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser Keeps Erupting, and Scientists Aren't Sure Why

An eruption from Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park is normally a rare sight, but guests were treated to the geothermic show seven times in the past three months, according to the USGS. The last time the geyser spouted at least three times in a year was 2003, and scientists are still struggling to find out the cause behind the sudden spike in activity.

Old Faithful has garnered fame in Yellowstone and beyond for its regular eruptions that blow every one to two hours, but Steamboat is less reliable. Geysers occur when magma heats up the water and gases trapped in pockets under the ground. If enough pressure builds up, the steam and boiling water will escape through cracks in the earth and shoot past the surface. The reservoir beneath Old Faithful is fairly simple, as geological maps have shown us, and that explains the frequent eruptions. But the structure beneath Steamboat is likely more complicated, leading to eruptions that result from a combination of hard-to-predict factors.

Steamboat's last eruption before this recent marathon of spurts was recorded in September 2014. The geyser's water columns have been know to reach up to 300 feet, making it the tallest active geyser in the world.

Geologists have come up with a few explanations for the phenomena, one being that it was caused by thermal activity in the park's Norris Geyser Basin. Another possibility is that the geyser is having these smaller eruptions closer together in place of one large one. While they haven't come to a consensus on the cause, experts do agree that the frequency of the eruptions is unlike anything they've seen at this geyser before.

While the geyser activity remains a mystery, it shouldn't be taken as an indication that a catastrophic volcanic event is coming to Yellowstone anytime soon. The last volcanic eruption on the park's land took place 70,000 years ago.

[h/t NPR]

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