Tuesday, October 10

Today was a very long, but very fun, day! I went back to Coronado National Memorial and had a great time there.

Andy and I woke up early to drive to Coronado. Typically, I always drive there and he drives back. On the way, I saw a couple of javelina on the side of the road! They quickly ran up the hill as I approached. Directly after that, I saw a baby deer hanging out in the middle of the road. Fun way to start the morning! The drive was rather mellow and uneventful.

At the memorial, I got to meet Steph, a seasonal interpretive ranger there. She seemed really nice, enthusiastic, and fun to talk to! She also loved Colorado, so that's always a fun talk to have with folks. At the Coronado VC there is a large window overlooking a small pool of water, which deer frequent. We saw a doe come and hang out a while. Andy then spotted a gray fox, which neither Steph nor I had ever seen in the wild! We got pretty excited over it. We were waiting at the VC for the high school summit kids to arrive. They were a bit late, but I just talked with Steph and Chris, the other interpretive ranger I met.

The kids arrived and they spent some time trying on the chainmail costumes, learning about the park, etc. They all had neon shirts saying "Southern Arizona Youth Outdoor Summit" with the NPS arrowhead. I was jealous. I want one! We all got into the vans and drove to the trailhead of Coronado Cave. We were briefed by Chris as to what we would be doing that day, which was removing some of the cave graffiti. The hike to the cave is a half mile and gains 600 feet in elevation. People were definitely out of breath once we reached the top. We had a snack break, put on helmets and headlamps, and entered the cave!

We looked around the cave and Chris gave us some descriptions of various aspects of the cave. Then, Chris had Andy and me look for graffiti that we could work on that day. We then got to work, using water, dirt, and paintbrushes to cover the scratches into the cave wall. We didn't work for too long before we had to leave. Unfortunately, I lost one of my bracelets in the cave. :( Luckily it wasn't anything too precious.

We drove up to the top of Montezuma Pass, where I saw last time, to eat lunch. The kids got to make their own sandwiches and Andy and I were allowed to make some of our own. We ate and talked with the kids. I really liked hanging out with them, some of them were just really fun and entertaining to talk to. Shoutout to Ricky and Ariala for specifically having great conversations with me! Also at lunch, we met up with Allen, our superintendent (for Chiricahua, Coronado, and Fort Bowie). Immediately, he pointed to me and knew my name. We had only met once before! It's always super awesome when someone, especially in the high position he is in, remembers your name on the first try. As we ate lunch, he spoke to the students. What he had to say was powerful. First, he described the problem of overpopulation and how Americans waste so much resources. He described how this can affect our parks ("Are we loving our parks to death?") and gave us a challenge: to go, be creative, come up with ideas on how to solve these problems, and change the world. "It only takes ONE. One of you. To save the world," he said. He spoke about climate change and the troubles we face. He ended his talk with saying that one of the best ways to protect our national parks is to............VOTE!!!!!! That got a lot of head nodding from me in the back! We had other little talks afterward, too. I really like Allen, and look forward to having more conversations with him. He's very friendly and seems to genuinely care so much for the parks. He started out as an interpretive ranger, then became law enforcement, then superintendent. We talked some about Death Valley because he had worked there.

Afterward, it was time for me and Andy to say goodbye to the kids. It was pretty brief, and I remember saying that I hope to be able to see them Saturday for their summit graduation at Saguaro. Andy and I had some good discussion on the way back to Chiricahua. I am so tired from today. So fun though.

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