Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 21, 2013

Why I love the desert, in five sentences and seven photos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 3:26 pm
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“Looking out over the pure sweep of seamless desert, I am surprised to realize that the easy landscapes stifle me—closed walls of forests, ceilings of boughs, neat-trimmed lawns, and ruffled curtains of trees hide the soft horizons. I prefer the absences and the big empties, where the wind ricochets from sand grain to mountain. I prefer the crystalline dryness and an unadulterated sky strewn from horizon to horizon with stars. I prefer the raw edges and the unfinished hems of the desert landscape. Desert is where I want to be when there are no more questions to ask.”             — Ann Zwinger, Mysterious Lands.

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Today’s photos were from a 24-hour escape to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park where Chris and I camped, climbed, and explored a side canyon whose dinosaur tracks remained unrevealed but whose many petroglyphs enthralled us. I share them with the hope that you will glimpse the beauty of this area for yourself and make plans to visit if you are able. But beware; the bulldog grip this place exerts on your heart is irreversible.

 

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March 13, 2013

Again, it begins

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:16 am
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Clouds linger in the canyons after winter's last gasp.

Clouds linger in the canyons after winter’s last gasp at Island in the Sky district..

Spring is marching forth with unbridled energy as I return to Utah to begin my fifth season as a ranger in Canyonlands National Park. Winter’s remains are draped over the land; pockets of snow cower on the north sides of blackbrush and juniper, knowing their demise is imminent. The strengthening desert sun leaves no option.

Driving up and over the high knoll which conceals the massive sandstone chasms, knowing what spectacular view lies just ahead, I inhale deeply… but nothing in all the earth prepares me for the beauty that unfolds southward.

Words from a Mary Oliver poem rise in my soul, reverberating like harmonics after a deep gong has been rung —

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Joy, joy — I am back where I belong.

September 9, 2012

Backlit sunrise goblins

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:44 am
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Moments after sunrise, eroded sandstone figures resembling chess pieces stand guard on a mesa in Utah.

Death of a goblin. For scale, Chris.

In the 1920s, cowboys searching for their cattle happened upon a few secluded valleys sheltering thousands of sandstone goblins. This small tract of land in the middle of nowhere in southeastern Utah was first photographed in 1949, and the public became enamored of its lumpy beauty.

Differential erosion sculpted the fantastical shapes that inhabit Goblin Valley State Park. If you’re on your way to anywhere nearby, enjoy the delight of roaming among the mushroom-shaped pinnacles — which look their finest in low-angle light.

Goblin Valley, just as the sun first kisses it.

 

March 10, 2012

Sneak preview

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:41 am
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Sunrise from White Crack -- the most coveted campsite on the White Rim Road, for obvious reasons.

Two hundred fifteen photos and 130 sinuous miles later, our breathtaking 3-day backcountry trip is finished. Due to the imminent arrival of a very special guest — my daughter — I am taking a short hiatus from blogging. Here is a photo, however, that I hope conveys the essence of the wilderness protected by Canyonlands National Park. Every footstep I take in this place deepens my love of it, and my commitment to preserving it for future generations. Please enjoy; I hope this whets your appetite for upcoming posts that shall be published as soon as the dust settles.

January 24, 2012

Not in my park

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:12 am
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Location unknown, but it's where humans and moose intersect. (Photo shared with public on "Love Mountains" Facebook page.)

Sometimes a picture says it all.

A friend in the far north recently posted this on Facebook, making me realize that I am grateful for the absence of near-sighted ungulates here in Canyonlands National Park. Our dangerous beasts can be described by the adjective “elusive,” a good thing for humans sharing the territory.

Clearly the photo raises the questions of which critter was there first, and which has the right to live unmolested by the other.

December 19, 2011

What I see every morning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:50 am
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Shafer Canyon, Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I’m laboring over a blog post on longings, which will take another concentrated hour of writing, but I want to show you what I see every morning from the picture windows at the visitor center. This view quiets my heart and replenishes my spirit. I hope this small two-dimensional representation will help you through your day.

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