Ranger Kathryn's Arches

November 16, 2011

Cataract Canyon 9: Tracking game(s)

(Continued from Cataract Canyon 8: Moonlight)

Sometimes rangers play games. As Bill and I headed up a wash to track bighorn sheep, Kyler offered, “I’ll give you a 30-minute head start and then practice tracking you. Go.” Bill has a reputation among the rangers for being difficult to track, one who walks lightly in the wilderness. We were about to find out how good Kyler was.

Ten minutes up the drainage it became apparent that the sheep were elsewhere. We turned around and sneakily retraced our path. Walking on cobbles, I stepped in Bill’s footprints when boulders weren’t available. At an opportune time we surreptitiously exited the wash and began making our way east, rock-hopping and tip-toeing across the bottomlands. It was now 0930 and we were still in deep shadow; I hadn’t felt the sun on my face for seventeen hours. Cold, cold, cold.

A force to be reckoned with. Uber-tracker.

After locating our ram/ewe/lamb trio we sat down to spy on them, little knowing that Kyler was behind a Mormon Tea twenty yards away, spying on us. Just like in the movies! I’ll spare you the details of the exceptional human tracking, but it involved radios, belly-crawling, deception, and that critical element of surprise when Kyler leaped up and scared the bejeebers out of me. FAR more frightening than any of the invigorating rapids we ran.

My consolation was in knowing that we have protection rangers whose skills are finely, finely honed, keeping even seasoned people unaware of their presence. I’m going to practice my levitation skills for the next round.

(Continued in Cataract Canyon 10: Final miles)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.