Ranger Kathryn's Arches

December 23, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 4:39 pm
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Unretouched image of me at Mesa Arch at sunrise today. It glows copper-colored for only a few moments. Supreme joy.

In my last post I identified that I am in search of, driven by, and yearning for, three things. Not riches, not fame, not comfort; not accomplishment or acquisition; not greatness, not honor. Here’s what moves me:

1) I can sit on the edge of a canyon in mute wonder for a great long time, with no need to budge. I can stare at a single flower blossom in admiration, or stand transfixed and breathless in an art museum. Beauty undoes me.

2) I’m wired for connection. When I am 1:1 with a friend — over a cup of tea, on the phone, Skyping across an ocean, or (in the old days) writing a l-o-n-g letter — my heart is full and satisfied. It’s all about relationship.

3) Always, always, I am digging up something fresh and intriguing. How does the evening primrose spring open so quickly? Where will that canyoneering route take me? What is the etymology of this curious word? How many civil war deaths resulted from field amputations? And… did I bug my parents by asking questions incessantly? This insatiable curiosity is a manifestation of my longing to be fascinated.

These stirrings provide strong evidence that there’s something more, something higher, something I can’t yet see. C. S. Lewis got it:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Aaaaahhhhh. That’s it. My lifelong search for beauty, connection, and fascination is not of this earth. Makes perfect sense to me.

So, in this Advent season, when we remember the gentle and unassuming commingling of earth and heaven, the contemplative in me finds rest. My deepest longings will one day be satisfied, beyond my ability to imagine. This I know.

All is well.

Merry Christmas to my readers.

August 9, 2010

The Case of the Capricious Keys

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:29 pm
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View of Buck Canyon from the staging area

Rangers Kevin and Sharon looking for just the right rappel route

A family of five showed up at the Visitor Center desk with their video camera and proceeded to play a clip for Ranger Julia and me. In it, their two 13-year-old sons were sitting happily on top of Mesa Arch, smiling for Dad behind the camera, when the one with the car keys dangling off his finger (no — do NOT ask why) suddenly looks down as the set of keys drops 200 feet into the canyon. The facial expressions are priceless.

Ranger Sharon starts her rappel

Another family gave them a ride six miles back to the Visitor Center, where Ranger Sharon (an expert climber with the law enforcement division) assembled equipment to rappel down and look for the car keys. It was a slow afternoon and we had enough help, so the law enforcement supervisor allowed me to come along and watch, and help carry heavy gear, as they built anchors and set up a belay station to lower Sharon down the cliff. It was, she said with a twinkle in her eye, “a cruel case of Ranger fetch.”

Sharon follows the canyon wall to the site of the dropped keys

The entire operation was completed in about two hours’ time. Getting her back UP the sheer cliff was the trickiest part, as specialized ascending equipment and techniques needed to be utilized, but it all went without a hitch and the keys were fortunately found within minutes of her bushwhacking to the cliff base and looking in the greenery.

The grateful family dropped a 50-euro note into the donation box in the Visitor Center on their way out of the park. We’ll keep it there to encourage others to donate, but we hope for no more key-recovery operations anytime soon. And Fabian won’t be entrusted with car keys for quite some time, I suspect.

July 26, 2010

Mesa Arch: Showcasing my sister’s photographs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:19 am
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First rays of sun strike Mesa Arch. Look at that beautiful Navajo sandstone.

Mesa Arch sits precariously on a cliff wall, six hundred feet above Buck Canyon, facing due east. When the sun peeks over the La Sal Mountains, the first rays hit the red sandstone wall below the arch and bounce upward onto its underside. A fabulous deep copper color appears to emanate from within the very rock itself. How one could forget one’s camera when sunrise at Mesa Arch is on the agenda, I don’t know… but I did. Maybe it was because I was trying to wake up a few tired campers and get them moving at 0520. At any rate, my sister Becky took these photos. Some of them are her own compositions, and some she got by following around a Frenchman and shooting from his locations.

I must say, our favorite quote from that morning was his utterly sincere assessment of his younger California girlfriend, as he turned to snap her photo:  “Ah, she ees more beautiful zan zee arch…”

Gorgeous view of Monster (R) and Washer Woman Arch (L) in distance

This copper color lasts only a few minutes each morning. Arch dimensions -- about 50 by 15 feet.

June 28, 2010

Rangers laugh, too

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 6:44 pm
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I couldn’t help it. Ranger Diane, my Teacher-Ranger-Teacher counterpart at Dinosaur National Monument, encountered me at Mesa Arch while I was on a rove and posed with me for some on-the-job pics. I don’t know why it was so darn funny, but a Belgian visitor used my camera to catch these images.

"See that? It's... a canyon..."

Must... compose... self. Must... maintain... professional... demeanor.

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