July 26, 2022
I was a wee bit anxious the night before my orientation as a volunteer Meadow Rover at Mt. Rainier, after a brief Camp Gigi with both of the Littles kept my mind off it over the weekend. The training began at 10:00 and it was odd pulling up to Avenue Espresso at the late hour of 7:15, and driving down I-5 and across the prairie in traffic, the sun fully up. It was not so pleasant as it is two hours earlier.
I arrived early to rapidly filling parking lots and hung around the trail map listening to the experienced rover talking to visitors while I waited for the appointed hour to go upstairs in the Jackson Visitor Center (JVC) to meet the coordinator and another new rover. Most of the trails are still snow covered, I learned, with part of my favorite trail requiring route navigation skills. Holy moly, it was a snowy season. But the situation changes daily now.
Fun fact: Paradise is thought to be the snowiest place on the planet.
We talked around the table for a while, and I don’t even remember what about. Then went out to listen in at the map (again, for me), asking where folks are from, hearing how to kindly suggest to visitors in flip flops where they might be able to go, that Glacier Vista is every bit as good (maybe better) a vantage point as the more strenuous climb on up to Panorama Point, where there is snow, and affirming that everyone had sunscreen and plenty of water on this very hot day.
After lunch was walky-talky (W-T) training. I’m anxious about it. It’s really hard to hear over it, with static and all. I wore my hearing aids, but they aren’t much help for this. It has three purposes: to call for assistance, to listen to other calls in case my help is needed somewhere (e.g. to confirm a drone sighting or help in an emergency), and for listen for the coordinator trying to reach me. The listening out (and remembering codes) are the ones I’m concerned about.
Some long-time readers might remember the rover who was rude to me a few years back, after I released some of my mother’s ashes a few months after she died. He walked into the break room during the training. I couldn’t keep my glaring eyes off him. Obviously I’m still harboring resentment. You can read that post here. I broke so many rules that day.
And then it was time to get out on the trail . . . in uniform! Shirt, hat, W-T clipped to my belt and a clicker in my pocket. We shadowed another experienced rover, whose style will not be my style (she was a little more like the guy in the previous post). Then my partner and I went off on our own. He went down the steep bit of trail to view Myrtle Falls from below—because he had never been there—and found someone swimming in the small pool where the plunging water slows for a bit. Holy gamoly, glad I didn’t go down there. I went across the bridge up to the intersection with Golden Gate and Skyline east.
Here is what I did:
Took a group photo of an extended family, some living in Tacoma, others visiting from Mexico.
Told hikers about the snow on the trails on both forks.
Checked in with an older couple on a bench who looked fatigued.
And my favorites:
I talked to a little girl about the cat stuffy she was carrying and asked if they’d seen a marmot. “I don’t know what a marmot is,” she said. I showed her a picture in the brochure I was carrying. She cooed over how cute they are! And confirmed they hadn’t seen one. Earlier the rover we were shadowing had stopped this family for standing off the trail. She’d given the kids buttons then, “deputizing” them to educate others they see off the trail, and why. I pointed to her button, congratulating her for being a Deputy Ranger. She stood tall, puffed out her chest, and told me she had told her little brother he was standing on plants.
Heading back to JVC, the rover jumped all over a woman in the gravel off the path peering at a flower identification. Handled very poorly, IMO. When I saw (which was pretty obvious from the get-go), that the woman was probably 90-something years old, I stayed back while the others went on and asked if I could read the sign for her. She lit up and said, “Yes! Please!” We talked a minute about which plant the sign was identifying and she asked what another nearby one was (and I knew it was a sub-alpine buttercup). I gave her a flower brochure, then rushed to catch up with the others.
I think I am really going to love this so much. I had 37 contacts on my clicker in 90 minutes, traveling half a mile. (Shawn and I each got half credit for the ones we observed.) The trainer had 503 on Sunday! Holy guacamole.
This morning the August sign-up came on my email and I sent in my requests. I should get in the minimum 24 hours in August, then whatever I get in before the snow returns is bonus. And still have time for my own hiking. And another Camp Gigi. Oh, and supporting the publication of my memoir too. It goes to press today!! It will be a busy couple of months; there will be no yard work.
I ended the day as I always do after a day at Paradise, with a salmon burger and beer at Base Camp Grill. There are many of those in my future. Maybe I will branch out to a beef burger. Or not.
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