Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 13, 2009

Heat’ll do you in

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:03 pm

I drove the 25 minutes up to Delicate Arch viewpoint, glad to be in the field again.  The Vis. Ctr. is pleasant, and air-conditioned, but nothing beats being out there in my ranger togs, answering Qs for the visitors, teaching them about our park.  I purposely use “our” to let them know that it belongs to all Americans.

The only thing I dislike is how much STUFF must be hauled to these field locations.  To refresh your memory:  small table, sandwich board, radio, extra battery for radio, first aid kit, lots of water, bin of props for various presentations, etc.  In other words, two trips to car, two trips from car.

Today I am in a new place.  As usual, it is not far from the trailhead or viewpoint, where we can snag more than a few visitors to fill their ears with our stories.  I set up my table at 2:15 pm, heat of the day.  Talking takes energy in this heat, as it is over 100 again.  I keep drinking from my water bottle every few moments.  More visitors, more questions, more interest.  I show them photos I brought of Wall Arch; everyone wants to see the one that fell last summer.  I teach them about my particular passion, the cryptobiotic soil crust made of cyanobacteria and moss and lichens and algae.  It holds our desert together.  Without it this place would be utterly barren.  I love the crypto.

About 3:00 I start to lose energy.  Come on, I reasoned with myself, you just started this.  Your shift is only half over.  Press on.  These are fun people who want to learn.

About 3:10 I had to sit down on the lower fence rail nearby.  I drank and drank more water.  More visitors.  Must greet.  Must teach.

About 3:20 my brain was getting foggy and I felt as if I were atop Pike’s Peak.  I had to pause after each sentence to catch my breath.  This was not right.

At 3:25 I reviewed the very important lesson given in training my first week:  YOU are responsible for taking care of YOURSELF.  Nobody else is.  Don’t be a fool in the desert.  The last 20 minutes in the field was not as important as my safety.

I packed up my bin, made the first trip to the car, and decided to drive the car nearer my other belongings for the second batch.  Of course, three people stopped me along the way because my flat hat invites all comers.  I tried to stay upbeat and positive for them all while I was battling this heat.  The heat would have won, had I not jumped into my air-conditioned car and started the 25-min drive back. 

I was feeling like a wrung-out dishrag.  The AC helped considerably, though.  My colleagues asked me if I had entered the day on the low side of hydration, calories, or sleep — a good reminder that YESTERDAY’S self-care impacts TODAY’S well-being.  While I thought I was on a pretty even keel, it is clear that something was amiss.  Maybe the something was simply the heat and the long green pants.  

I will bring my ranger shorts to change into in the future.

Walked home to discover that the swamp cooler was broken and it’s 86 in our apartment.  Oh, well!

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