Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 26, 2010

Caution: transitions ahead

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

I’m already feeling it; I can foresee the bumpy road around the bend. Housing check-out is five days away and I am mentally going through the “lasts.”

Today is my last shift at Arches National Park. Today is the last time I can announce the 15-minute orientation film, pick Encyclopedia Lee’s brain, and issue permits for the Fiery Furnace. It will also be the last time I hike up to Delicate Arch wearing my beloved green-and-gray park ranger uniform and the coolest hat on earth.

Marking the way to Upheaval Dome

Yesterday I did my final hike in Canyonlands NP to Upheaval Dome. The photograph of the carefully-constructed cairn was taken at the first overlook as I was hit with a wave of fond memories of my many treks up there to interpret this geologic anomaly for visitors. Tomorrow I make my last gorgeous drive up to Island in the Sky for my final two days’ work and a sleep-out on the basketball court.

Goodbyes will be wrenching. Deep friendships have been forged in this desert land, and the men and women who have become part of my life are very dear to me. This is a part of park service employment that is difficult for everyone, and each ranger deals with it in his or her own way. Some just don’t let their hearts become attached because of the inevitable pain of the goodbyes; that is not possible for me. I’ll just try to staunch the bleeding, and heed my wise mother’s advice not to mix driving and crying.

I found this photo of my dear children as I was scrolling through iPhoto — the last one we took before I came out here in February. It made me tear up and want to gather them all in my arms and hug them and squeeze them and cook with them and laugh with them and relish being in their presence. THIS is what makes leaving bearable, and pulls me eastward. Even though I have become a hopeless ‘desert rat’ through and through, Minnesota is still my home.

Friends and family — see you soon. Meanwhile, I need to go polish my boots.


  1. thanks for continuing to take us on your journey. if no connection, goodbyes or “see you later” would not be painful or bittersweet. but saying goodbye meant that you said hello, and there is richness and growth in that. Godspeed. That’s good advice from your mom. On the flipside,once I had to pull over because I was laughing so hard that I could not drive safely. Life is certainly a mixed bag.

    Comment by Lynn — September 26, 2010 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  2. Kathryn, mom was absolutely right about the driving and crying. can’t wait to receive your long texts that you undoubtably will be sending while driving those long desolate streches eastward.

    get another job, in another park, and let’s start this whole damn midlife crisis adventure again, shall we???

    Comment by john — September 27, 2010 @ 6:03 am | Reply

    • Oh! So what I have been experiencing is my midlife crisis?!?!? Wow. It’s fun. I won’t be texting you, BTW, while driving. I can hardly text while stationary.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 27, 2010 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

  3. Sis you can get back there next year can’t you? You have done such a great job and they love you there!

    Comment by chris — September 27, 2010 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  4. Does that rock have a face carved into it?

    Comment by Neal Patel — January 14, 2011 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

    • No — it was just a cairn (pile of rocks to mark a trail). Sometimes we “see” faces in the rocks or in the chemicals that make the rocks streaky and discolored. Sometimes we find faces painted there by ancient peoples.

      Comment by kath56ryn — January 14, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

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