Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 15, 2010

How many of you are (k)not experts?

The length of purple rope lay in my hands expectantly. “Tie me,” it seemed to taunt. I didn’t know where to start.

In my life, I’ve learned how to tie shoes, scarves, and sutures. That is three (3) kinds of knots. Any time I’ve been camping, lashing something onto a car top, or securing something for a move, I either let someone else do it or I end up with the ugliest jumble of untrustworthy ropes and loose ends that you’ve ever seen. Knots have been my nemesis.

It is now time for me to look at them differently.

Ed models the first one, a water knot called a Ring Bend. “This one secures two ropes to each other.” With a few flips of his hands he has a handsome figure of rope that I am to copy, and I enjoy success with this very easy knot. After a number of repetitions, I think I have it, and we move on to something else that should be vaguely familiar — a Figure Eight Follow Through, one I’ve used in the past for rock-climbing. That one boosts my confidence as well, which I think is Ed’s strategy.

Knots can be fun???

We work through the list. Watching someone who’s tied them thousands of times is one thing; I, however, have no muscle memory, nor any concept of what each one is used for. It’s pure mechanics for me: grab bight, twist twice, insert short end through loop, etc, etc, etc.  After each one I review the ones I learned earlier, and am pleased to discover that I have a modicum of retention.

That’s good. My life, and the lives of others, will depend on having strong and correct knots.

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[Permission granted by Ed to use opening line of his Knots Class as this post’s title.]

March 12, 2010

Basic Technical Rescue, Part 1: The Announcement

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:33 pm
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Boss Nancy walked out to the visitor desk where I was working, although no visitors were around. She stared at me in disbelief. “You got into that course,” she sputtered. “The course I told you you’d never get into. You were selected.”

It took a second or two for me to realize what she was talking about: Basic Technical Rescue, an intensive five-day outdoor course taught entirely on cliffs. (It teaches rope rescue techniques for those in wilderness or climbing or river-rafting or other situations with an injured or ill person.) It’s an annual course taught by NPS personnel for only 40 selected participants from all over the park system in our country.

I was so elated I looked for somewhere to do a middle-aged cartwheel. This is SUCH a dream of mine. And my boss had told me that I would have no chance, competing against full-time permanent NPS employees who are hired with rescue in mind. “That course has a waiting list every year,” she said while shaking her head. “I still don’t know what happened.”

This grin on my face accompanies me all day…

click to enlarge first paragraph of announcement letter

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