May 08, 2016 – Back Country Ranger Ethan

I had invited Spence and Linda to eat lunch with us.  They work together on Sundays, first cleaning the Cosby campground and then Big Creek. They showed up right on time at noon.  That was not soon enough for Andy.  He had been smelling pot roast all morning and was starving.

We were just finishing our meal when Ranger Will arrived to empty the money out of the iron-ranger money post at the campground. Will told us that he and Ranger Heath are both being transferred to the Little River section of the park.  That means that this section will have NO rangers except a back-country ranger on the Appalachian Trail.

The park’s budget has been cut significantly.  Richard told us yesterday that the maintenance department budget was cut twenty-five percent. Linda was a bit incensed that they were told to do “less with less”. Spence said he was not going to do less.  That would be a reflection on him.  I thought about it later and decided that “less with less” is a reasonable response to cuts.  They surely can’t do more with less.  I think the message meant that they can’t do everything they are accustomed to doing.  They will just have to be satisfied with doing less. That must be tough for these extraordinarily dedicated civil servants. Maybe it is time to consider charging an entrance fee for this park, like all the rest.

The weather warmed up into the 70s and was a beautiful day.  These mushrooms were popped out near the picnic area toilet buildings.

b Mushrooms

These small daisy-like flowers are along the roadsides here in Big Creek.  They are about as big around as a nickel.

b Tiny Daisy Like Flowers
Tiny Daisy Like Flowers

The path along the creek from the campground to the picnic area is filled with these tiny yellow flowers.  I’ll try to get them in better focus next time.

b Tiny Yellow Flowers
Tiny Yellow Flowers

On the radio:  A 10-year-old boy was stuck in a creek.  He apparently got his foot stuck between rocks and was screaming.  His mother called the park emergency number.  His head was above water.  We heard rangers in the Chinmeys picnic area looking for the boy, but never heard if they found him or not.  Maybe, they got his foot loose and left the area, not thinking to call off the search and rescue.

We drove the car to the ranger station to see if our uniform shirts and fleece jackets were in there.  Just as I was pulling into the station driveway, I realized that the hiker standing by the information sign was in a park uniform. I stopped next to him

“You are not a regular hiker”. He responded, “No I’m not.  I’m a backcountry ranger”.  When I told him are the campground hosts, he introduced himself as Ethan and gave his call number as 424.

“That’s Chase’s number.”

“No, Chase has been transferred to front country.” Then he asked me how far it was by road to Davenport Gap (he just started working here in February).  I guessed it was three miles and offered him a ride to his ranger truck, which he happily accepted. It turned out to be only a mile and a half. On the way there, Ethan told us that he is the only ranger in this section of the park.  And, he is not just in this section.  He hikes, about 20 miles a day, along the Appalachian Trail from one end of the park to the other. I forgot how far that is and can’t look it up without internet access.