Public Lands Stewards: A Day in the Life of a Forest Service Wilderness Ranger

The sun shines high above the Pacific Crest Trail. Spinola Creek tumbles through basalt rock worn by millennia of meltwater. A northern harrier hawk crests over Cathedral Ridge looking to make a meal of a vole. It is noon – and like the predator above, I search for my next meal. My hunt is quick; a simple lunch is found in the top of my pack. From the time of wake up six hours ago, I’ve taken ten thousand steps, cut twelve logs, dug eight drainages, and engaged with twenty-six backpackers. In other words, I’ve ensured that five miles of this popular trail are clear for the hundreds of individuals who will hike this section in the comings months; I’ve educated two dozen backpackers on Alpine Lakes Wilderness regulations and Leave-No-Trace principles; I’ve consumed over a liter of water and perspired most of that out. The hawk was successful and returns to soaring the skies. Likewise, I’ve finished my lunch and get back to work. What lies ahead is what lay behind; ten thousand steps, twelve logs, eight drainages, and twenty-six backpackers. This is a day in the life of a US Forest Service Wilderness Ranger.   Continue Reading…