Full Sail Ahead!

May 29, 2015 | 0 comments

How am I already 3 weeks behind on blog posts?? The good thing about this is that I have been so busy and having so much fun that time has completely flown by. The bad thing is, I know a lot of really cool stuff has happened, but I’m inevitably going to forget a lot of it as I try to encompass the events of the last 3 weeks into one post. But I’ll give it my best shot. 
Windflower, or Northern Anemone

At some point last week, I bade good night to the brown late-winter landscape and awoke the next morning to find the park had exploded into a million shades of green.  The tender colors of springtime literally emerged overnight, along with the first of the wildflowers and a symphony of songbirds echoing through the valley.

Fresh aspen leaves

In the evenings, I’ve been trying to go for walks in the woods with my camera to make sure I don’t miss a moment of the seemingly split-second seasonal changes that take place!

Look up.

Derpy snowshoe hare
Somewhere around my cabin lives a snowshoe hare. I’m not sure if it’s a boy or a girl, so we’ll go with “it.” I took the above photo a few weeks ago, but now rabbit-friend is nearly all brown and is much harder to spot! It’s so used to living around the cabins though, sometimes it’ll be munching on grass right below my porch steps and won’t even hop away until I’m just inches away!

The railroad trestle
After my first week of working with visitors, I determined that I need to do a lot more work to familiarize myself with the park. so I spent my first weekend hiking all the entrance area trails. It actually was super helpful, because the following week I was able to answer questions a LOT better and speak from experience, instead of trying to go off of what I was told or learned from other rangers. 
One of my favorite entrance area trails is the McKinley Station Trail, which is one I will be leading hikes on in a couple weeks. This trail is super cool because it has a lot of historical remnants of the park’s first headquarters of the early-1900s. Here there used to be a roadhouse for early tourists, as well as a silver fox farm that sold furs all over the country, some moonshining action during Prohibition, an old hotel, and of course the original HQ, all strategically placed near the railroad, which was newly built back then. 

Found my happy place 🙂
Another one of my major duties as of late has been staffing the Savage Check Station, which is a tiny little ranger station at Mile 15 on the road, the farthest point to which most vehicles are permitted. I’ll post a picture of it later, but when I do, you’ll see why we call it the “Savage Box.” It’s barely big enough for 5 people to fit inside, but fortunately there’s only ever 3 of us at once, and most of the day, it’s only 1 or 2 people.
Wildlife abound at Savage River
What I love so much about being stationed at Savage though, is the remoteness of it. No cell coverage, no internet, and even the radios barely work. On top of that, it’s a very active wildlife area right now, and every time I’ve been out there, I’ve seen grizzlies, caribou, dall sheep, ground squirrels, and/or ptarmigan. Sometimes there will be long periods of time when no cars are going by, and you can just sit there in the box and read, or stand outside and look for wildlife. It’s perfect. 
When cars do come by, my job is to talk to the driver and figure out where they’re going. Some have special permits to drive in the park, but about 90% of vehicles are just there to park or turn around. Buses are really the only ones allowed past the box, and when they come by, they stop and I hop on to give a 60-second ranger talk to the passengers, welcoming them to the park. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it at first, but I actually have become very fond of this part of my job; it’s kind of become a personal challenge to capture the attention of the passengers in that short moment of time and inspire them in some way if I can. At this point, I also record stats about the bus, such as how many passengers and where they’re going, etc.

Some lounging caribou on a hot day

Wildlife close to the bridge

Savage River canyon

So far I’m still loving my job, even though it is absolutely exhausting at the end of every week. Some days have been extremely difficult, others have just been learning experiences, and still others I have come away feeling like I’m on top of the world. I still have so much to learn, and feel like I know next to nothing about this park even though I’m constantly immersed in facts and figures and knowledge, but hopefully that’ll all start sinking in soon.

At this point, the season is just starting to pick up, so it’s full sail ahead from here. I start giving campground programs and hikes the week after next, and supposedly it isn’t even until July that we hit peak season. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like!

Anywho, I do have more stories to tell, so hopefully I can get a few more posts up this weekend to talk about C-camp life, maybe post some of my latest recipes I’ve been cooking, and geek out about more of the cool natural history here. Stay tuned!


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