Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 26, 2009

Don’t go chasing waterfalls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:32 pm

I look at the scabby week-old gnat bites on my legs, still the size of pencil eraser tops.  I look at my credit card statement with $108 of fraudulent iTunes charges last month.  (Closed the card, don’t worry.)  I look at pictures of my kids, whom I miss, and my girlfriends, whom I miss.  And then I look up the hill at the Antarctic Deity formation (?see previous post?) and everything comes into perspective.  I am in a VERY special place.

Today we got an email from our director saying that it has come to her attention that “monsoonal weather patterns have begun to set in.”  Normally this happens in late July for a couple of months, when all their eight inches of annual rainfall happens.  Due to the effect of La Nina (different from El Nino) (both of which need tildes, but I don’t know how to do that), things have shifted significantly.  This is a whole month early.  We had 0.22 inches in a few hours this morning, and a gully-washer at 4 pm that lasted 90 minutes and sent pour-offs hurtling off the cliffs above the Visitor Center in a manner I have never seen.  From 800 feet up, small braids of water joined others and more others, and ran pell-mell down the sandstone, until, with one exultant hurrah, they plunged over the last brink and started undercutting our sandy washes down here.  An announcement was made over the loudspeaker:  “Welcome to Arches.  If you go to our big window in the Vis Center you will see some amazing waterfalls on the cliffs.”  I was working in a back room and RAN to a window and squealed with delight.  One waterfall was deep red — all depending on how much iron-containing sediment it is cutting through.  It was gushing, splashing, somersaulting down down down, taking everything in its path with it.  Vehicles slowed in that area of road to a crawl, savoring the wild sight.

And then the visitors began coming to the front desk, asking if there were any sheltered campsites around.  “Well, sheltered?  Um, Holiday Inn?” was all we could say.  The huge RVs didn’t mind, but the tenters were at the mercy of the rains.

So.  Maybe I ought to invest in a bright yellow poncho.


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