Ranger Kathryn's Arches

January 26, 2012

2.3″ new snow alters the landscape

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Pinyon atop Shafer Canyon

The local landscape was transformed from desert red to crystalline white while I dreamed. Several hours of snow the preceding evening blanketed the junipers, the sandstone, the pricklypear; alabaster paths beckoned me, trackless, unmarred, as I walked to work. Clouds — a novelty in our annual 300 days of sun — hung low, scraping the buttes, dangling wispy hems into the canyons. Casting a magical spell on visitors and staff alike, light played on opposing cliffs as the sun’s shafts punched openings in the glowering sky. What a day; what a glorious day.

March 6, 2010

Preparing a guided walk

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:01 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Park Avenue, looking north from canyon bottom

“Conducted activities,” they are called. It’s when a ranger gets some quality interaction with visitors, rather than merely telling them where the bathrooms are and to please drink plenty of water. My first conducted activity is to be a guided walk, and I was asked to choose my location.

Easy.

Handsome east wall of Park Avenue

Park Avenue has been my favorite spot in the park ever since my first day here last June. It is the only major visitor spot I would call “intimate.” Is that a stretch in your mind, to think that a 3/4-mile-long canyon with massive sandstone walls and an arch hiding at either end could be called intimate?

I’ve walked that stretch three times in the past week, looking for clues, illustrations, specimens, and insights. Slowly, deliberately, intentionally, I’ve made myself see things that I hiked right by before. That juniper tree that must be 500 years old… the biological soil crust growing near the trail… the seven-foot arch standing six inches from a cliff wall… the rivulets of water that have eroded the ledgy lower layers… and the massive, aloof, Easter-Island-ish face hidden high in the Entrada sandstone. Queen Nefertiti watches solemnly from the other wall, while the realistic formation called The Popsicle taunts hikers in the hot months.

I want that canyon to tell its story while I merely turn the pages for the visitors.

=============================

Please leave a comment telling me if the large size of today’s top photograph took too long to  load. Other comments, of course, are most welcome too! If you have had any memorable encounters with rangers, tell us about them.

Blog at WordPress.com.