Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 24, 2011

Raking out footprints

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 6:16 pm
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Ah, the beautiful La Sals. It's raking time!

Footprints in the backcountry frustrate. Usually the print-maker has shown no understanding of how to tread lightly, especially in the desert where our fragile ‘biological soil crust’ is necessary to hold everything together and must not be trodden upon. Off-trail footprints invite others to explore the same route, almost like a magnet; we prefer footprints stay in the front-country.

One place where prints have become noticeably pronounced is near an alcove where an owl nest is located exactly at an ancient archeological site. It is highly doubtful that oblivious hikers knew anything about either of those (nest or site), as neither is known to the public. The footprints persist, however. Our team needed to do something about that.

When you study raptors, you get to do detective work concerning prey. Bones, feathers, fur... near old owl's nest.

Mix five people, five rakes, a cloudless hot morning, gorgeous mountain views, annoying gnats, many liters of drinking water, and a 5-mile round-trip hike. Voila! No more footprints!

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