California climbers find an entire human skeleton 

On October 7, two climbers working their way up Mount Williamson, California’s second-highest peak, noticed a bone beneath a rock in a boulder field. Further investigation revealed an entire human skeleton with a fractured skull, leather shoes and a belt. The climbers had gone slightly off the typical route up Mount Williamson, which may explain why the skeleton had not been found before. The climber who found the remains, Tyler Hofer, told APNews that it appears the skeleton had been buried. “It wasn’t in a position of distress or curled up,” Hofer said. “It was definitely a burial because it was very strategically covered in rocks.” APNews also reports the skeleton was lying on its back with its arms crossed over its chest. 

Hofer phoned the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department from the top of Mount Williamson to report the grisly finding. The sheriff’s department says there is no evidence of foul play and authorities believe the body could have been there for decades. The body will be DNA tested in the hopes that it can be identified. 

It may soon be (slightly) easier to land a reservation at LeConte Lodge

The hike to iconic LeConte Lodge is one of the most sought-after experiences in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Staying in the lodge, which is accessible only by foot, is possible with a hard-to-get reservation. In the past, the lodge issued “standing reservations,” in which hikers could get a reservation on the same date year after year as long as they paid for it. In 1998 the National Park Service began phasing out these standing reservations and in 2020 everyone who wants a reservation at LeConte Lodge will have an equal chance of snagging one. 

Not that nabbing a reservation will come easily. The initial 2020 booking process took place in early October and most dates in 2020 are already booked up. A wait list for 2020 reservations will be posted on the LeConte Lodge website on December 6, 2019. The wait list is used to fill cancellations that occur with 30 days notice or more. 

National Recreation and Park Association awards grants to communities in Southeast to expand park access

The National Recreation and Park Association recently announced that it will award grants to 10 communities, including communities in the South and Southeast, to increase access to “high-quality, close-to-home parks and public green space.” Grants total $400,000 and winning communities will also receive professional development, technical assistance and networking opportunities with other park and recreation professionals. 

Communities awarded grant funding are Gwinnett County, GA; Winchester, KY; Crawford County, AR; Starkville, MS; Miami, FL; Albuquerque, NM; Cleveland, OH; Klamath Falls, OR; Norwalk, CA; and Perris, CA.