Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 29, 2009

In which I am the recipient of unexpected favor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:19 pm

Olive’s thermometer kept bouncing between 99 and 100 degrees on my drive to town; hot day, little breeze.  I strode into the storefront that housed the highly-rated canyoneering guide company that I had found via internet in February.  I was still in uniform, and the three guys who were sitting around chewing the fat suddenly grew quiet and sat up a little taller.  “Can I help you?  A woman in uniform always gets our attention.  Just don’t shoot…”  I laughed at being mistaken for a Law Enforcement officer, whose duty belt must easily add 20 pounds fully loaded.  And I realized once again how much weight the park service uniform and badge carry.

“I’d like to sign up right here, right now, for every canyoneering trip you guys take,” I said earnestly and with a straight face.  Pause.  “Uhh, okay, we can arrange that,” the owner managed to reply.  “We’ve got trips going out almost every day.”  Amid the banter of the next ten minutes, we found out all that we needed to know about each other, and got me signed up for a Saturday and a Sunday trip this coming weekend.  “I’d like to strike a deal with you guys,” I offered —  “Do you have any type of punch card?  If I buy X number of trips, I get the next one free?”  Matt, the owner, looked at me and said, “You know, I believe our rangers should be familiar with the Park from all sides.  I’m not trying to butter you up or anything, but you could just come along with us kind of as an apprentice or helper.”  His eyes twinkled.  “We’ll give you the heaviest ropes to carry, and all the water, and not charge you anything.”  I couldn’t believe my ears.  These trips go for at least $75 each.  They scale them back a bit in the summer, due to intense heat, so the routes are shorter but still magical.  And here is a guy who wants to GIVE me his trips.  Sure, he would appreciate my “ranger” recommendation to visitors; I know that.  But this company is the only one permitted to do technical climbs in Arches N. Park, because they are conscientious stewards of the environment and the resources.  

Is there an ethical dilemma here?  I don’t know.  When I told him that my children would be coming out in August to visit me, and I planned to BUY trips for them then, he was happy enough.  It sounds like a win/win, honestly.  The guides need the extra “mules” to carry the load.  And don’t you take good care of your pack animals?


  1. Mom is thrilled! I love it that you can experience canyoneering under the watchful eyes of experts! You will also get the most out of these trips that way, I think. And you will know which ones to send your kids on. What about the Olive getting hot? I don’t know if it refers to hybrids, but I heard on TV and then read in the paper: “If your car overheats, pull to the side of the road, and while it is idling slowly, turn the HEAT on full blast. This cools down the engine.” If, however, it boils over of smokes, stop and get help.

    Comment by Mom — June 29, 2009 @ 7:42 pm | Reply

  2. I now realize Olive was registering the outdoor temperature, not that of her engine. ….Second paragraph…..”After ten minutes of bantering”. Yes, after ten minutes of conversation with Ranger Kathryn they men knew they would have an asset to any canyoneering outing they took her on, and she’d not be a sour puss or a day dampener. Hey, who’s the winner here? Yes, Ranger Kathryn……. but even more, the people in her party who are the benefits of her personality and person-hood. Go, Kathryn!

    Comment by Mom — June 29, 2009 @ 9:10 pm | Reply

    • Awwwww, Mom!

      Comment by kath56ryn — June 29, 2009 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  3. No conflict of interest that I can see. If they are the only ones authorized to give canyoneering trips, then there is no question of favoring one competitor over another. And, since this is a big part of the Arches experience for the diligent hikers, the park rangers should know what services they provide and which excursions are easier and which are more difficult. No, I agree that this is a win-win-win situation for Ranger K, the canyoneering folks and their customers.

    Comment by Dad — June 30, 2009 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  4. Your Mom (one of my neighbors) gave me this web address! . . . And a glowing account of your experiences there. You have some very proud parents! Arches is a beautiful place! . . . Enjoy!

    Comment by Rogene — July 10, 2009 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

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