Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 12, 2009

Gnats up my nose

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:31 pm

They are hard to deter, those gnats.  At least we don’t have mosquitoes and black flies around these Utah parts.  But these gnats fly right up your nostrils as you walk through the desert, and then you feel conspicuous trying to close the other nostril and blow them out.

Since meals are tastiest when one is hungry, and pillows most beckoning when one is exhausted, and showers loveliest when one is filthy, I shall leave my parking lot blog spot and go home.  I’m all of those, and I’m beat!  Tomorrow:  FIERY FURNACE!

The Needles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:21 pm

Have you ever been to a place that is so “other” that you wonder if you can describe it?  That would be the Needles district of Canyonlands NP, for me.  Until I learn to put photos up (soon, soon!) I can only try to describe this place of wonderment and mystery. 

Imagine the Colorado River carving its way lazily through rock, over the ages.  Meandering rivers signify slow-moving water and low slope.  The Colorado did just what it was supposed to do… but meanwhile, the entire land mass underneath it began rising.  The incising power increased, and this whole area called the Colorado Plateau began taking on a new topographic shape.

I forgot an important part.  Go back further.   As old oceans filled in and receded, filled in and receded, many many times, different colors of grains were deposited in layers.  White sands would blow in from ocean beaches to the west, and be laid down and compacted.  Red iron-containing rocks from the mountains would erode and be washed down, and pile on top of the white, and be compacted.  Repeat ad nauseum.  Then add an incising river.

Now you begin to imagine what one sees looking down from the Needles area.  Rock formations that look like peppermint sticks!  Odd and curious shapes like mushroom tops, spires, and castles!  All in an area the size of, oh, Rhode Island.  Today I saw it from up on top of the mesa as well as, several hours later, down in the maze itself.  I’m telling you, it is OTHER.

Black Widow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:21 pm

Coldest June in his 24 years here, the biologist said today.  “Cold” means in the mid-80s instead of mid-90s, so we are delighted that it is this cold.  Drove to Canyonlands NP Thurs morning and hiked 7.5 miles carrying 9 pounds of water on my back.  The Camelbak hydration system is the snazziest thing — a drinking tube goes from a 100-ounce reservoir of water, right over my shoulder, clips to my shirt, and allows me to bite on and suck from a nozzle as I hike.  One gallon per day is a minimum we are to drink while we are out in the field.

Set up our group camp together with a dozen other trainees, and one ambled out of the outhouse and said, “Take a look to the left of the toilet.”  Sure enough, a textbook black widow spider was standing on her web, suspended about a foot off the concrete floor.  I brought my flashlight in to see her, as it was dark out; you can only imagine the size of the “black widow shadow” it cast!  Her shadow was even scarier than she was!  I’d say she was about 1.5 inches from front toe to back toe, with the perfect red hourglass.  I don’t know how smart it was to blow on her, but I just wanted to see where she would go before I sat down on the pot.  She scrambled straight up her web, and I peed and left before she could come back.  Nobody wanted to kill her; remember, rangers are “live and let live” types.  She has as much right to live in the outhouse as we have to pee in the outhouse.  Criminy. 

A co-worker sat on a Velvet Ant and got bit.  “Hey, watch out for fuzzy ants,” she advised.  Note to self:  don’t sit on ground, check under toilet seats, remember to shake out shoes and boots.  And don’t live in fear of what might happen.

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