Ranger Kathryn's Arches

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.

April 5, 2011

Heart check

I was walking up Winter Camp Wash with another volunteer to look for old and new raptor nests. This is a drainage system below the most famous arch of all, and I had never seen Delicate Arch from this angle before. Camera ever ready, I tried to get all artsy-fartsy and blur the arch while focusing on the foreground plants, but I didn’t quite have the know-how to compose it properly. Still, it was fun.

This was one of those mornings when I pinched myself. “I get to do what? Hike into remote corners of this park and look for birds? Be immersed in nature? Perform data collection that will improve wildlife policies? Hear the peregrine falcon’s cry? Peer through good binoculars? Feel the sun and breezes on my face as I am surrounded by gorgeous red rocks? Watch Great Blue Herons in love?”

Springtime: my favorite season. Its cyclical representation of new beginnings brings hope and joy. When I see Red-tailed Hawks courting, or Great Blue Herons choosing their rookery spot together, a small twinge of wistfulness creeps in as I recall what it was like to share life with someone who adored me and would bring me my heart’s equivalent of the perfect twig for my nest. It’s healthy that I acknowledge the tiniest molecule of melancholy before I count the fathomless blessings of my very happy life.

You know, if love is not on the scene, I’ll take the second-best thing: dark chocolate.

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