Ranger Kathryn's Arches

January 2, 2012

There is reason to hope

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:36 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

"Birthday Cake." Island in the Sky district, Canyonlands NP, Utah.

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning.”    — Lyndon Banes Johnson

I heave a sigh, wondering what legacy is being left to my children. As I hike, and read, and experience a life away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and find my soul nourished by solitude, I fear for the generations to come. I see children unaccustomed to the wilderness, needing to bring their soccer ball into the visitor center to kick around while their parents get a map. I beg visitors to turn off their cell phones while hiking. I talk with vast numbers of folks who see nothing wrong with feeding wildlife. I shrug apologetically and say, “That’s a lot to expect from a wilderness park!” when they ask why there isn’t a coffee shop on site.

And then… then my hope is re-ignited. Children come in sporting a collection of Junior Ranger badges from all over the country. Visitors stamp their park passport books with delight, proud of having traveled to so many places. Backpackers brave the elements, carrying a pared-down version of their earthly necessities to a place where they can be surrounded by loveliness. Older folks endure a bit of chilly weather and an extra mile or two on their feet in order to see startling beauty.

All in a day in the life of a ranger in an obscure desert park somewhere in southeastern Utah.

Hope springs eternal.


  1. I find myself in wonder of how the young people of today are growing up without “playing outdoors”. More and more I am encouraging my students to go outside and sit in the woods at the nature center, go wading in a stream. They have difficulty sitting long enough to see the wildlife.They are so used to organized regimented lives.
    So, I am planning an informal outing at a state park this coming spring to go on a wildflower hike with students and parents.

    Comment by Deb — January 2, 2012 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

    • That is so good to hear. Involving parents is a smart idea! Will this be to Whitewater SP, or somewhere else?

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — January 2, 2012 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  2. I have a sense that things may be changing for the better and that we may be on the cusp of a conservation revolution where there will be a general recognition that conserving the natural world is the great challenge of this century. I certainly hope so, because that sort of awareness is so badly needed. I think that the disconnect from nature caused by modern technology and modern conveniences (as you have written about in previous posts) is real and worrisome. Thanks for all that you are doing to increase awareness about how much our lives are enriched by the existence of wilderness.

    Comment by Davis Middlemas — January 3, 2012 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

    • I deeply hope you are right, Davis. Everything in me wants to believe that it’s so.

      Comment by Kathryn — January 3, 2012 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

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