Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 17, 2009

Ranger Kathryn Gets Her Uniform

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:19 pm

Ranger Kathryn in her first ten minutes in uniform -- someone needs to pinch her.

Ranger Kathryn in her first ten minutes in uniform -- someone needs to pinch her.

The carton was bigger than a breadbox, not too heavy, and filled with what I knew would be exciting stuff.  I carried it from HQ to my apartment while mulling over other rangers’ comments to me:  “Be prepared for nothing to fit.”  How could that be?  I had taken all my measurements — twice — and submitted them to my boss, a woman just about my size, who would surely know how to order correctly.  We were about to find out.

The packing list said the contents cost $280, the most expensive item being the special hat, $58.  That was in its own protective carton on the bottom and would be the last thing I explored.  First thing out: the green shorts and green dress slacks.  Fit?  Close enough.  Next: the gray uniform shirt, which hasn’t changed in decades.  Fit perfectly!  Next, special Sequoia belt, highly coveted:  perfect, third hole!  Sweater? Who cares, I’ll never wear it, left it in the bag.  Hiking socks? Check.  Let’s get to that bottom carton.

Light as a feather as I lifted it from the larger box, my mind could only ask:  Will it fit???  I slid the insert out which held the flat part of the hat firmly in place.  Such a thing of beauty slipped into my hand!  How could something made of straw be so rigid and so… so… FLAT?!?  Placing it gently upon my head, and hoping for tighter rather than looser as they stretch with wear, I was overjoyed to discover that the 6 3/4 was flawless on my head.  I looked in a mirror and what I saw was not Trainee Kathryn, but Ranger Kathryn.

In the evening Ranger Bill asked if I had put my hatband on my hat yet.  Whoa, hatband, hmm… it was still in the bottom of the large carton.  And thus began a 15-minute adventure, with scissors and tweezers, to apply the coveted leather NPS-stamped hatband and chinstrap.  The process involved some serious stringing, looping, pulling hard, winding, snaking ends through the loops, and cutting off the excess.  It is a darn good thing I didn’t wait until the morning of my first day of work.  Ranger Matt next door walked by and saw us laboring over this hat, and came in to jaw a bit and tell stories of how he learned to fit his hatband to his hat.  This is done only once, and tightened up when it loosens, but it is quite the process.

It is now Wednesday morning, just at dawn. I am sitting behind my apartment at the base of my stone wall, in my lounge chair, typing on my laptop; a canyon wren’s song punctuates the silence.  I will go in, take my shower, and dress up as Ranger Kathryn.  Gold badge #23097 is pinned fastidiously to my shirt, and the bronze KATHRYN BURKE name plate is displayed on the opposite side, a precise 2mm above the pocket top.  I’ll drive down to the entrance sign and get someone to take my picture before I report for work this morning.  And it will be a great, great day.


  1. Ranger Kathryn rides again.
    Hi yo, Kathryn – awaaaaaaaaaaaay . . .

    Comment by Dad — June 18, 2009 @ 1:58 am | Reply

    Love Ya

    Comment by Kathy — June 18, 2009 @ 11:14 pm | Reply

  3. Arches has a Colestockian ranger
    For whom adventures are certainly no stranger
    From scorpions to spiders
    The courage is inside ´er
    Never shying away from the danger

    Comment by Becky — June 23, 2009 @ 9:27 am | Reply

  4. Kathryn in uniform
    Ranger Rick? Smokey the Bear?
    Childhood memories….

    Comment by Becky — June 23, 2009 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  5. In Arches is a Colestockian ranger
    For whom adventure certainly is no stranger
    From scorpions to spiders
    The courage’s inside ‘er
    And daily she overcomes the danger

    Comment by Becky Colestock — June 24, 2009 @ 6:33 am | Reply

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