Is it possible that three weeks have already flown by? This opportunity is everything I could have imagined, hoped or dreamed. When I think that I’ve wondered what this would be like for the past 15 years, I must admit I thought there could be a letdown. You know how it goes…you think about something so long and set expectations and then, poof, not so much a match to the images you had. But, THIS, fulfills everything I imagined.
I spend half my day at the VC (visitor center) and half roving the park. In the VC it’s all about helping visitors choose where they want to go and helping them understand where they shouldn’t go.
Explaining the regulations for the White Rim Road (WR) is often a challenge…a road 1400′ below the 6000′ high mesa where the VC is located. The WR is like a Jeep commercial. Seventy-seven miles within the park boundaries and 23 miles across dirt and paved roads gives a 100 mile loop that takes 12-14 hours to complete. You descend steeply on switchbacks that boggle my mind and then crawl along over dirt and rocks in an amazing 4WD adventure. There is dispersed camping along the way and opportunities to hike another 700′ down to the Colorado or Green Rivers. Trips can be planned up to four months in advance and they are always booked! Everyone wants to go but not everyone can manage the road. If you need to be towed out, we estimate about $1,000!
I often try to discourage hikers from taking the Syncline Trail. This is our most challenging and deceptive trail. It circles the Upheaval Dome which is a geological oddity that could have been formed by a meteorite, salt dome, combination or aliens? No one is really sure except geologists know it’s not volcanic. Most of our rescues occur on this trail and once I offer that tidbit, I find those that shouldn’t be there understand.
Roving is a blast because I get to enjoy a hike or walk or gaze at an overlook while speaking with visitors. I love the questions especially from kids and I’m getting pretty good at giving them a partial answer and getting them to fill in the blanks. This is all part of interp (interpretation). It’s not what I think that’s important but what you think you are seeing or how it’s impacting you.
Come visit! I should be there through May and might have the opportunity to return in the fall.
My top 5 for this week:
5. Watching the critters… bunnies abound by housing, kangaroo rats cross my path on trails, birds are starting to show themselves more as the weather arrives and a rattlesnake was sunning itself on the roadway
4. Learning more about the trails from both reading and exploring – Lathrop is 13.6 round trip with a 1,400 elevation change but I can easily enjoy the first 5.5 miles along the mesa top to the rim
3. Sitting and watching sunset
2. Helping on a SAR (Search and Rescue) for a woman’s jacket the blew over Mesa Arch! Unfortunately her ID, credit cards, and plane info were in the jacket. Keeping her calm and helping her think through Plan B’s (get a credit card sent overnight, call home and have someone send you another ID, etc) was my role while LE (law enforcement) tried to locate the jacket and then determine if they could rappel to it.
1. Swearing in JR (Junior Rangers)! I love it! Very knowledgeable, fun to work with, and so serious about what they are doing. Although, I told one I might have to rethink giving him his badge when I asked him to tell me something older than him. His answer? The park ranger!