Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 23, 2011

Horseshoe Canyon: Radio Glitch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:02 pm
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“600? 681.” Pause. Nothing.

“600? 681, Grandview.” Long pause. Nothing.

I, volunteer #681, was trying to contact the Hans Flat ranger station (#600) on channel 2 (Grandview) for my twice-daily check-in. I could hear other radio traffic, but obviously was not transmitting. If the ranger station an hour away didn’t hear from me for a day, they’d send someone to check on me, and I did NOT want that to happen. I was fine.

Sunrise over the La Sal Mountains, as seen from Sheep Camp

I switched to the relay channel that the NPS put up, and couldn’t get anything on that either. After reading the entire radio manual in the trailer, and trying everything I could think of — including trying to radio Arches National Park whose traffic I could hear, and having them call Hans Flat — I shrugged and gave up. I’d be in a pickle only if a real emergency arose, but there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

I drove to Hans Flat on Day 3 for a potluck and a hiking expedition, and walked into the ranger station carrying my radio. Within minutes Gary had checked its innards, reprogrammed it, and rendered it fully functional. Whew. Now 681 could call 600… and she hopes it is only twice a day for routine check-in.

Have you ever been out of touch with civilization for long? How did it feel? What concerns did you have?

Horseshoe Canyon: Sheep Camp

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:50 pm
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Sheep Camp at Horseshoe Canyon trailhead -- my home for nine days

The adorable 15×7 foot trailer (nicknamed ‘Sheep Camp’) beckoned me: “Come, stay awhile.” In 1994 the Park Service parked it behind some sand dunes and attached a solar panel, and rangers and volunteers have been living in it ever since when they patrol the canyon for a stretch of time. Somehow I had envisioned a dusty old hantavirus-laden box which I’d share with small critters, but this was a camper’s delight.

I unlocked the door and found sweet quarters for my solar- and LP-powered wilderness habitation. A tiny kitchen, bench seats, and lofted bed welcomed me. Ruffled blue curtains covered the three windows. A couple of propane lanterns (mantles intact) graced the walls, and a battery-powered radio pulled in a few Salt Lake City stations. Water containers and an ice chest were brought from the station an hour away by a ranger. The outhouse at the trailhead was nearly a half mile off; I’m not shy about peeing behind a blackbrush.

Kathryn surveying her kingdom from Sheep Camp

After reading a bit about the rich local history, I fell asleep my first night wondering how many Basque sheepherders slept on this knoll. Up to the mid-20th century, thousands of head of sheep were grazed in this canyon. This spot made a good camp for the shepherds since it was near the livestock trail that leads down 750 feet to Barrier Creek, the only water supply. Today this rough trail provides the access for most hikers wanting to see the rock art; I would become quite familiar with all 6.5 miles of it over the next nine days.

Comments: Have you any clear memories of a particularly delightful cabin or campsite you’ve occupied?

State Line, 4:22 pm, March 13

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:36 pm
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What's the opposite of "elevated"?

The billboard says it all — displaying the most iconic of the state’s sandstone formations, Delicate Arch, which is on every Utah license plate. I am promised that my life will be “elevated” if I hang around Utah for a time. I guess I’ll try that… even though I wasn’t “depressed” in Minnesota.

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