Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 29, 2013

Quick trip down Shafer Trail

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 6:13 am
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The switchbacks that gain the most attention in Canyonlands National Park are the old livestock-path-turned-4WD-road called the Shafer Trail. Dropping over 1000 feet in just a few miles, it carries visitors away from the popular mesa-top viewpoints and crowds. When our friends arrived with a 4×4 truck that enabled us to explore one of the more remote parts of the park for an afternoon, we decided that getting off the beaten path is ALWAYS a good thing.

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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.

 

May 13, 2012

Mother’s Day sun-up

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:05 am
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Sun’s first rays strike the formations west of Green River Overlook.

When you want to see the sun rise in all its glory, you seek out a high place. Baby Half Dome, a knob of Navajo sandstone in the middle of the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, seemed perfect. I’d been up there for a sunset a couple of years ago and knew I could find my way to the top again. Once you know the combination to the service road gate, all it takes is perseverance, the ability to follow others’ footprints, and some scrambling moves on a couple of sketchy places.

The reward? Three hundred sixty degrees of stunning beauty. Complete and utter silence. Chiaroscuro lighting falling on the basins and river canyons below. A fresher, deeper realization of why I do what I do.

We moms think about our kids on Mother’s Day. I sent this photo via text to my four children as my friend and I stood way up there on top of my little spot. And, in celebration of my own mom, may I say: Mother, all that you have poured into me over the years has paid off in spades. You are beautiful, intelligent, wonderfully supportive, funny, a deeply-motivated lifelong learner, and a very classy lady. Happy Mother’s Day; I love you.

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.

March 3, 2012

When the desert sun doesn’t shine

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:58 pm
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Clouds & blackbrush. North of La Sal Mountain Viewpoint, Arches National Park, Utah.

Winter yucca

Our training day for natural history took us out in the storm-ish morning. A front was passing through Arches National Park; the chill air didn’t bother us unless we stopped too long to listen to a talk about grasses, or amphibians, or water quality. I was taking photos as the light changed by the minute, trying to capture the day’s feel. No special lens, no special camera, just a very special mood courtesy of filtered clouds and mists. I hope you enjoy these shots from one of Arches’ loveliest locales, Courthouse Towers.

Three Gossips & Sheep Rock. Courthouse Towers, Arches NP.

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.

January 14, 2012

What we refuse to destroy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:50 pm
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January sunset, Sand Flats Recreation Area, Moab, UT

“In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but what we refuse to destroy.”   — John Sawhill

I’ve been thinking about this quote for a couple of days. Every time we cut down forest for development, drain marshland for a new neighborhood, or pave a parking lot instead of leaving green space, we are destroying something that is difficult or impossible to reclaim. When I found Canyonlands National Park on Lonely Planet’s list, “The World’s Most Surreal Landscapes,” my heart jumped for joy. Others realize what a unique and stunning location this is. By managing wilderness as responsibly as we can, we are preserving it unimpaired for generations to come. Thank you for lifting your voice, or your pen, or your checkbook, in support of wilderness. It is my hope that you will visit a wild place at the soonest opportunity. Your soul will benefit.

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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