Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 12, 2010

Basic Technical Rescue, Part 1: The Announcement

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:33 pm
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Boss Nancy walked out to the visitor desk where I was working, although no visitors were around. She stared at me in disbelief. “You got into that course,” she sputtered. “The course I told you you’d never get into. You were selected.”

It took a second or two for me to realize what she was talking about: Basic Technical Rescue, an intensive five-day outdoor course taught entirely on cliffs. (It teaches rope rescue techniques for those in wilderness or climbing or river-rafting or other situations with an injured or ill person.) It’s an annual course taught by NPS personnel for only 40 selected participants from all over the park system in our country.

I was so elated I looked for somewhere to do a middle-aged cartwheel. This is SUCH a dream of mine. And my boss had told me that I would have no chance, competing against full-time permanent NPS employees who are hired with rescue in mind. “That course has a waiting list every year,” she said while shaking her head. “I still don’t know what happened.”

This grin on my face accompanies me all day…

click to enlarge first paragraph of announcement letter

Mesa Verde, CO, in spring snows

ladder into a kiva at Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde; dust in air

Do you ever wonder about the people who lived in your area before you did? Waaaay before you did? The Colorado Plateau — which is parts of AZ, NM, CO, and UT — contain many evidences of early inhabitants. Rock art depicts many symbols of the people who lived here. Sometimes granaries (for storage of their crops) were built into alcoves or on mesa tops. If you have eyes to see, lots of telltale clues inform us of people living here before us.

masonry dwellings at Spruce Tree House

The pinnacle, however, seems to be when we discover their dwellings. In 1888, some cowboys were chasing down their errant cattle for a round-up, and rode into the deep canyons containing Mesa Verde’s cliff dwellings. They could not believe their eyes. It was such an incredible discovery that it took only 18 years to become a national monument. It is now a World Heritage Site, on a par with Egypt’s pyramids.

Square Tower, four stories, 26 ft, tallest structure of the ruins

These ruins are all 13th-century masonry construction, datable via dendrochronology (studying tree rings in roof timbers). The trees in the area seemed to quit growing around 1276; it is presumed that a long  and terrible drought (24 years’ worth) precipitated their abandoning these marvelous structures, which have stood for over seven centuries. My preferred way of looking upon ancient homes is to imagine the lives of the people who lived there. How did they stay warm in the winters? Who planted the crops? Did the girls laugh about the boy next door as they ground the corn? Where did they learn to weave, or to create clay pots? Who helped in childbirth? Was there anything resembling a school? How many generations shared a room?

snow, and lots of it, dominated the high elevations along the 20 miles of entrance road

In which Olive is injured

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 1:05 am
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3:53 pm, a few miles east of Cortez, Colorado, I see this sign:

A pretty common sign in the west

3:55 pm, a mule deer forgot to look for traffic.

Olive (my Prius) is painfully injured. More so is the deer, which cartwheeled off my right quarter panel and into the ditch, and tried twice to get up but couldn’t.

Olive's injuries. Passenger door won't open.

I was blessed to have a maroon pick-up pull up right behind me as I put my flashers on and pulled over. A young couple got out and helped me pull my fender off the tire. The extremely helpful guy checked under the hood for internal damage, had me turn my wheels, examined the rims, and felt confident that I could make it back to Moab fine as it appeared to be all cosmetic damage. Both of them told me they were so very sorry that this happened, and that this stretch of highway was like running a deer gauntlet.

Hold your values tightly, and your possessions loosely.

Leave a comment if you have ever hit (or been hit by) a deer, and state the repair cost.

Why you must leave comments on my blog

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 12:36 am
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Happy Blogger

See Kathryn. See Kathryn’s laptop. See Kathryn blogging. See how happy she is to be sharing her Utah adventures with her friends and with total strangers!

It has come to Kathryn’s attention that some of you are lurking in the shadows, reading, thinking about commenting, but never bringing yourself to the point of actually clicking on that red COMMENTS link and writing a thought or two.

She begs you to write, if something moves you. This is how a blogger gets to know her audience. Her stats page tells her that she has been getting between 40 and 98 hits per day, which astounds her. (Biggest day was 210 people, after hometown newspaper ran an article and included blog link. She was thrilled!)

Bloggers feel honored when folks leave comments. She’d love to know if something she writes or photographs moves you, or you have questions about rangering or Utah or national parks or whatever. Or, feel free to suggest a blog topic for her to write about.

One last thing: if you’d like your computer to notify you whenever she posts a new piece, go to the bottom of the right-hand column under META and click on ENTRIES RSS. The same goes for COMMENTS RSS. Then you never have to check back here to see if there is fresh ink.

Leave a comment: What specific obstacles keep readers from commenting?

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