Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 26, 2011

The ‘wild’ in ‘wilderness’

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:53 pm
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After hiking quite a few miles Wednesday in remote Lost Spring Canyon, we three were hot and tired. Our truck was a welcome sight, with soft seats, air conditioning, and the ability to finally be off our feet. Working our way out of the wilderness on the 4WD road was our final obstacle before getting onto paved highways to home. Both of my co-workers had been on a long strenuous rescue the night before, and we were all feeling bushed. And then the magic began.

And then we came upon hundreds of these Large-Valve Dock in bloom

Just to the left of our truck a pronghorn bounded. We oohed and ahhhed at its beauty; not many large mammals get seen in Arches, so this was fun. Two minutes later we topped a rise and three (3) golden eagles flushed up from what must have been a communal feast near the road. Huge, majestic, glorious birds — we nearly fell over each other getting out of the truck fast enough to get binocs focused on them and study them for a few minutes. One eagle is great; two is “wow.” Three is awfully rare.

And then, two minutes later, the largest badger I’ve ever seen scurried for its life away from the truck as we passed. Our collective response? We hooted for joy at the plethora of wildlife. And this was after seeing Cooper’s Hawks and juvenile Red-tailed Hawks down in the canyon.

What a sweet, sweet job I have. Did I mention that I love it?

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April 8, 2011

RMVP

Chartreuse leaves have popped out on the sunny sides of the canyons!

“Resource Management & Visitor Protection” is such a mouthful that we’re often called just “RMVP.” Anything to do with keeping the park safe from the people, or the people safe in the park, falls within our department’s jurisdiction. This is different from “Interpretation,” the department for which I worked the past two seasons, whose job is to assist visitors to make intellectual and emotional connections with the resource. That job used skills that come very naturally to me. As I begin this new one, I am learning a lot of new skills all at once. It’s a wonderful feeling of being stretched.

The other day we monitored some riparian (“along a waterway”) trails and then hiked farther into the backcountry to look at historic nest sites of Golden Eagles, Great Horned Owls, and Red-Tailed Hawks. Of course, this is done while shouldering binoculars, camera, GPS, map, spotting scope, tripod, lunch, water, more water, bird book, sunscreen, field note folders, extra clothing layers, first aid kit, radio, and spare battery — at a minimum. I honestly feel as if I need a sherpa, but it is part of the Lean Mean Hiking Machine training regimen.

I’m typing this from the comfort of my bed at 6 a.m. the following day, knowing that I should be springing into action but finding that today my body doesn’t spring as readily as I had hoped. That will come… that will come.

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