Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 20, 2010

BTR, Day 1: Knots, rappelling, situational awareness

This poor pack was loaded by a complete amateur, who can barely heft it. That is going to change.

I felt like I was trying out for “Survivor.” Heck, my pack weighs more than 1/3 of what I do! Glancing around to size up the other trainees, who were hefting their huge packs with a grace and ease that made me marvel, I resolved that I would NOT be the first one booted from this island.

Every last one of them was Law Enforcement, wilderness fire fighters, Search & Rescue, back-country or river rangers. Only one was Interpretation, and that was me, and that raised eyebrows from some others who asked “How did you pull that off?” Interpretation is historically its own division and gets involved in rescues only after all other avenues have been exhausted. A few folks asked me if I thought my supervisor would support me in getting out there for rescues, to which I responded that I hoped so and would look forward to talking with her about my desires to do just that.

After introductions and a serious safety talk, we were broken into our four training groups for the week. Each has nine students and four instructors. The much-anticipated Knots Test took place right away, and I PASSED with ease. (Many thanks, Ed.) I have a little work to do on my Munter Hitch, but that will be easy to master.

Hitches must be tied to something, so we gather around the litter to practice

Most of us have rappelled before, but some hadn’t, so we set up for that. We had to learn to tie ourselves off in mid-rappel so our hands would be free for rescue tasks.

I was watching the clouds build up as each hour passed; it was a glorious 72-and-sunny day, but in Canyonlands that can change in a flash. As our day wound down, the final hour was to be a lecture on Situational Awareness and factors that can diminish our attention to our environment. The teacher moved the class from clifftop to parking lot because of the threat of weather, and the wind still blasted sand into our eyes and ears and teeth, but it was a great illustration of the importance of not allowing distraction to deter us from our task.

Brandon, our highly capable instructor -- from Grand Canyon

At the close of the day I looked around with satisfaction and gratitude. One down, four to go. The leader had promised us that the first day would start off easy, but as the week progressed we would be increasingly challenged. I know I have to take things one day at a time, and have my nose in the manual every evening. Final test Friday is open book, so I don’t have to memorize kiloNewtons and breaking strengths, but I sure do have to work hard to know what I am doing.

(Continued in next post)


  1. Way cool!!!!

    Comment by rjcquilt — April 20, 2010 @ 8:08 am | Reply



    Comment by john — April 20, 2010 @ 9:09 am | Reply

  3. Just a hunch, but I’m wondering if somebody wasn’t anticipating a need in the Interpretation Div and then heard about your personality and put that together with your nursing & teaching background and came up with the obvious assignment to this particular training session.

    Comment by leroque — April 20, 2010 @ 10:08 am | Reply

  4. I can’t believe you found the time or the energy to write after day 1. Now that you have faced the big unknown (except for the why) you can proceed with the week. Let it be all you dream….. and someday you’ll know why.

    Comment by Mom — April 20, 2010 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  5. Good Job Kathryn! We knew you could “master” the knots…and you can master other things as well. We will be looking forward to hearing about how you passed with flying colors on Friday.. that is just fantastic. I am very proud of you sis…Keep up the great work.

    Comment by Chris — April 20, 2010 @ 8:35 pm | Reply

  6. Just getting caught up on the blog! Well, I was the only one from natural resources! I kept reminding people not to bust the crust and had a holy cow when one of our instructors was practically destroying a poor juniper do a litter demonstration. I couldn’t even concentrate on the darn litter! see, you were not alone…I didn’t fit in either AND I could barely carry my pack too!

    Comment by triciao — May 1, 2010 @ 9:32 am | Reply

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