Tuesday, September 26

I woke up and got ready to hike. I packed myself a lunch, compiled all my hiking gear, and set off to the VC. At the VC, I got to meet Andy, the other SCA interpretive intern in my exact position. He had arrived a week earlier. He is a pretty cool guy. He graduated from Western Washington five years ago, and is from Seattle.

I said hi to Libby and Suzanne. As the VC opened, I purchased a baseball cap for Chiricahua National Monument to wear for my hike. I had needed to buy one of those. I also got a CHIR sticker to put on the car. I am planning to purchase A LOT more, but Karen at the bookstore says to save purchases until Saturday because with Public Lands Day its 15% off the purchase. As 9:00 rolled around, I got on the "shuttle" (I was the only one today) to Echo Canyon trailhead. Andy drove me in the NPS van. We talked about a variety of things - what he did, what I did, our schools, and rock climbing! He also has a degree in communications. He has experience with technical climbing and bouldering, so I talked to him about that. I would love to go technical climbing again considering I know how to, but the gear...the gear is expensive. Someday soon, hopefully!

I got dropped off at the Echo Canyon trailhead and finished applying all my sunscreen. I put on my new cap, went to the bathroom, gulped some water, and started along the trail. As I walked a few feet, I saw a huge panoramic view of a cool formation called Cochise Head, which looks like the sideways profile of the Native American chief. I decided to use my binoculars my dad got me for my birthday for the first time. They go from 8x to 24x - it truly is amazing how much detail you can see with them. I could see individual grass on peaks miles away. I strapped them to my backpack and continued to use them for the rest of my hike. I hiked the Echo Canyon trail, and then followed the Upper and Lower Rhyolite Canyon trails back to the VC. This was about 5.5 miles. Everywhere on the hike, you get amazing views of the pinnacles and structures, like chess pieces scattered all around. They are so unique looking and wild. I came upon the Echo Canyon grotto, which was a cool little cove that I climbed up into, and could have some nice cool views while being secluded. I only saw two other people on the trail with me today. It was absolutely amazing spending time in pure nature, with the only sound coming from the birds. Sometimes, it was absolutely quiet. I saw dozens of lizards - some black and some grey with patterns. I ate lunch on the trail and continued into Rhyolite Canyon. This is a big canyon where hundreds of pinnacle formations border the canyon walls on both sides. I completed the hike around 12:30. It is so cool, hiking during working hours. I was planning to do all this on my days off, but its just part of the job!

As I got back, Suzanne showed me and Andy the little staff library on the backside of the VC. It has two shelves full of relevant books. About animals, terrain, Arizona, NPS, you name it. Cobwebs were over some of the shelves and the books looked a little dated. Nevertheless, we browsed around them. I decided to check out the book "Desert Hiking." After all, I know a lot about mountain hiking. I don't know as much about the desert hikes. WE came back to the VC, and Suzanne handed me a DVD that I needed to watch. It was "Working Along the United States-Mexico Border," which went through all the issues that can arise when working on the border. Chiricahua is not on the border, however Coronado National Memorial is. I'm scheduled to be working at Coronado this weekend, so I needed to have this knowledge. I learned about what happens in an area regarding illegal immigration and drug trafficking, how to handle the issues, how to prevent them, and what to do if I encounter someone suspicious. I also learned that I can safely assume I am "always being watched" while working in that region. It's a little intimidating, but nonetheless, I'm excited to work at the border there. After I finished with the modules, I hung around in the VC with Suzanne, Libby, and Andy, talking about a variety of things. I was told I had the day off tomorrow, which was a pleasant surprise!

I still haven't had the time to go look at the stars outside or watch the sunset from the park highlights. I sfigure I should probably get a little more acquainted. It is a little eerie being alone outside at night here. I've been warned that's when the snakes come out. I glanced at the nigh sky from my porch this evening, but I couldn't see much because my eyes couldn't fully adjust. But, one day I'll look at the view from the best points in the park!

P.S. Exciting news! I learned that though I cannot make calls from the landline phone here, I can answer incoming calls. So I CAN talk to folks! I got to talk to Will on the phone and it was awesome. It's a big relief knowing that I won't have to drive into Willcox for service or purchase a calling card or whatever.

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