2013 / Hiking / Nature / Park Ranger / Summer

Why I Love Being a Ranger

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photo (2)Sometimes even the best jobs feel like work. There’s only so many times you can answer a question – “where is the bathroom” or “I have two hours in the park, what should I do?” – before you feel like you might explode. I can generally keep in mind that even though it’s the 1,001 time you’ve heard that question, it’s the only time *this* visitor has asked it, by now, even that mantra is wearing thin. A good friend of ours, Mariana summed it up in her recent post – August is simply a tough month on Park Rangers. We’ve been going non-stop since spring, talking to thousands of people, it’s hot out, and we’re burning out. Add to that the end of season summer cold going around our office, and you’ve got a recipe for a very tired, semi-crabby Ranger Leigh.

Cue today’s hike to Avalanche. On the drive up I was simply dreading it. Even with the extra-strength Sudafed, my sinuses were killing me due to this cold, and hiking 4+ miles just didn’t sound appealing. I ended up with about 16 people on my hike, so no dice on the canceling thing, but as we got moving, I got into “Ranger Mode” and started to enjoy myself. I had an adorable gaggle of children with me – I felt like the pied piper. They were so bright and interested, and full of wonder that it was hard not to get swept up. They still see magic in the world, where grown-ups have often lost touch with it.

I was hitting my points well, timing it well, and the coup de gras for my bad mood was when at the end of the hike, little Emma said she wanted to be “just like me when she grew up.” Then another little junior ranger gave me a huge hug. Boy does the world know how to make you feel better when you’re low. Adorable junior rangers to the rescue! On my hike back downhill, I smiled to myself as I thought about how glad I was that I did my programming today, even though I felt crummy. Given the budget cuts due to sequestration, there really wasn’t an “extra” member of staff around to do my program anyway, but it’s good to know I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that. Most days, I know I have one of the best jobs on earth, some days, I just need a little reminder.

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