Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 4, 2011

‘Crazy season’ hath arrived

Litter carry-outs are always strenuous in our park

The radio crackled with traffic among several vehicles carrying us to the trailhead. A retired man couldn’t make it down from Delicate Arch in the 100-degree heat and needed an ambulance. To get him to the ambulance, our crew would do a litter carry-out. Just as we got underway, however, more radio traffic interrupted; a pick-up truck’s steering had given out and it had gone off the road, needing law enforcement assistance. Two miles further and he would have been on the dangerous switchbacks when this happened.

This was after the man was lost in the moonless dark last night, 2.5 miles from the trailhead farthest from the visitor center; it was midnight before a ranger found him (by blowing a whistle every 60 seconds), and 0130 before they got out. Meanwhile, a young French couple knocked on our house door at 10:15 pm, saying their car was at Delicate Arch but they lost the keys. And that was after the heart attack at The Windows.

The two fires we’ve had to put out recently included a lightning strike (three juniper trees burned) and a motorcycle on a remote 4WD road that caught on fire and started a nearby tree on fire. An experienced law enforcement ranger summed it up: “The crazy season is upon us.”

Holiday weekends can be some of our busiest, and this one is no exception.

March 21, 2010

Of deer mice, car keys, and carry-outs

Some days you don’t want to do over.

I opened the Visitor Center and was busy putting money in the till, raising the flag, writing the weather report on the whiteboard… and, out of the corner of my eye, saw a mouse run for cover behind a cardboard box.

We have plenty of mice. They can carry hantavirus (serious) and are not welcome. I walked over to said cardboard box, up against a wall, and kicked it VERY HARD.

Deer mouse bleeds from nose and twitches, but is still alive. Not having latex gloves and bleach solution (necessary to kill hantavirus), I leave it there and continue opening the Visitor Center. It is disposed of (i.e., killed and put out into the food chain) by Joel, just arriving for duty.

My day, and Joel’s day, go downhill from there. I could not find my car keys when I finished my field shift at a viewpoint, and had to radio to the Vis Center to bring me the spare set of car keys for the government vehicle. The entire county can hear my plea. After re-searching every nook and cranny, I find the keys in my SHIRT POCKET (I never put them there) and radio the VC to cancel the previous call. I am embarrassed.

Meanwhile, housemate Joel’s remote ‘Fiery Furnace’ tour is 80% finished when a participant seriously injures her ankle. Unknown whether broken or sprained, a SAR (Search And Rescue) happens and a dozen people help with a litter carry-out. Housemate Lauren is one of the rescuers.

We wind down our day with Lebanese food for dinner — Chef Joel makes falafel and tabouli and all the good stuff.

I hope we do not start out with a mouse tomorrow.

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