Friday, June 26, 2009

The Big Exhale

Friday, June 26, 2009

The big exhale....Ahhhhh. It is both a sigh of relief and a large gust of wind that characterizes the St. Mary Valley. The relief is that the Blackfoot Confederacy Conference is over. It was an exhilarating ride, but it's nice to be back focusing on our job again. It seemed like everything was paused for four days and now we are back to playing the role of interpreter again. All the interpretive staff are getting their first jitters. They are so excited and so professional that they appear stressed. It's nice to see everyone working hard, but the bottom line is, we all need to have fun too! I think this week was a little of both stress and fun!

I also talk about the characteristic wind of the St. Mary's back. In early June weather reports were stating that the winds were less than average. It was true, there wasn't enough wind. Can that be true? The mosquitoes were bad and the days were hot. It's almost a relief now to have the steady 15-20 mph winds and the strong 30-40 mph gusts that keep the mosquitoes away and the days cool. We also had a very chilly day on Monday. It left a dusting of snow high in the mountains. That's a big exhale for the glaciers...they'll get one more little layer of snow to protect them during the warm summer months.

I guess the big exhale really is just the fact that the season is starting...the interpretive season. Our job is just beginning and it's almost July. But, it's a big sigh of relief to have everyone in a schedule, doing what they need to do, and allowing the lead interpreters to organize again and focus. It's a good feeling.

Oh, and by the way, the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road opens today at 10:30am. It feels early, but I think it's just in time. We get LOTS of questions about the road and LOTS of frustrated visitors. So here's another big exhale....we can answer this question with yes: Is the Road open? YES! Summer must really be here now!

Here are some photos from the Blackfoot Confederacy Conference and a flower photo from my first Ranger-led activity this year: St.Mary Lake & St. Mary Falls trail.

The Color Guard:
I spoke with these kind gentlemen for about 20 minutes while we all waited for show time. Monday was so cold and windy, we hosted the opening ceremonies in the auditorium.

The "Warriors" Riding in from the East:
At the end of the transfer of the straight-up headdress ceremony, the Warriors came riding in from the east.

The Chiefs of each Blackfoot band, after the transfer of the Straight-up headdress ceremony

Sending Down Roots: The Blackfoot Confederacy Conference Lodges & St. Mary Visitor Center

The Continental Divide and St. Mary Falls Trail: A Garden of Flowers

Weather: 40's-50's at night, 50's-60's during the day. Sunny!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blackfoot and new roots

Sunday, June 21, 2009 - Father's Day
Today is Father's Day, a great Thanks goes out to all those awesome Dads out there...and perhaps those potential Dads, too!

I went into work this morning at 8am. It was a good thing I did, we were hosting a Cultural Awareness Training in the Auditorium. Why you ask? Because the Blackfeet are hosting the Blackfoot Confederacy Conference right here in Glacier National Park. This is both good and not-so-good. Good because we get the chance to experience the culture of the neighboring Blackfeet Indians. The Blackfoot Confederacy Conference is held annually to address and assess issues and news with all 4 bands of the Blackfoot Indians (in both the US and Canada). The local Blackfeet tribe is hosting it this year with the theme "Glacier National Park on Blackfoot Land." Without going into it too much, I'll just say, this is still their land, it just happens to have a National Park on it.'s good because I've already learned a bunch about out neighbors.
Another good thing is, we get overtime! Yeah, Money! Today I will have worked 10 hours of overtime...this is an exceptionally good day because I'm supposed to have the day off, but I'm working. It will be good to get some extra spending cash!

It's not-so-good because it throws a wrench in our smooth interpretation operations. In other words, we are pushed to the limits on staffing. This seems to happen at least once a year here in the park. But, we are fully staffed, and hopefully, prepared for hosting this event on park property. There was some great forethought to this season and we decided early on that we would give everyone an extra week to prepare for their interpretive programs (guided hikes, etc). Well, that was the best decision we could have made!! Thankfully, we are only giving about 7 or 8 programs this week.

That brings me to the "new roots" part of the title of this blog. Everyone on our staff is growing new roots in the park. They have learned about the park resources and therefore started to shoot roots into the ground. Now they are growing deeper and deeper into the park and taking hold of their interpretive programs and abilities. Soon the little green shoots will come up from the ground and burst into the light of day! It's so exciting to see everyone grow in confidence and clarity. I can't wait to see their programs.

Last, "new roots" also refers to the plants that are growing FAST! Many flowers are already in bloom and I can't believe it! The water is roaring down the falls to feed those flowers and the snow is melting at Logan Pass to feed those falls! Check out some of the photos below.

Round-leaved yellow violet

Blue Penstemon

Mariposa Lily

Beautiful St. Mary Falls

Logan Pass sidewalk, much less snow than usual. This is about typical for July snow.

Missing Feathers,
I found these on the sidewalk separated from their host, the Mountain Bluebird

Path to Hidden Lake and Mt. Clements in the distance

Many Glacier Valley June 10, 2009- Interpretive Training

Monday, June 8, 2009

Procrastination and Building Character!

Monday, June 8, 2009

You know when you have a deadline, and you try to find everything else to do before completing that deadline...well, that's what I'm doing. I'm giving a presentation tomorrow during our Interpretation training. I'm assigned to report and "flesh out" the results of the Visitor Voices Project. I was deeply ingrained in this project during the time of my Master's school work. I worked with my lead professor to develop and carry out the research project that would assess what comes OUT of an interpretive other words, what does the visitor take away with them. It's pretty interesting if you're into research and the finer details of interpretation...but to the lay person, it's just statistics. I'm hoping to turn it into an enthralling presentation with useful information and fine photos. It's mostly done, but I've got to tweak it a bit. Until then, I will procrastinate and write here!

It's been a busy week here at Glacier. Each week is filled with more and more questions, amazing knowledge, and fun experiences. The last two Monday's have been a rush to complete all the tasks that we ignore during training, such as, payroll, scheduling details, emails, phone messages, and broken things at the St. Mary Visitor Center. It's amazing how much stuff can happen in one week. Can't it just run smoothly? Does the heat have to stop working in our Auditorium? Do light bulbs and door locks have to break? Ahhhh! I think it's the finer details that get me frustrated. In the grand scheme of things, the Visitor Center works's only when you look closely that you see the mistakes and tiny imperfections! I think it's all part of building character...the more imperfections, the more mistakes, the more character you have. It's like an old leather jacket, the imperfections are what make it beautiful and interesting, which make you love the jacket that much more.

The weather here has turned a bit chilly. We've had several days of rain clouds holding down low in the valley. Also, it rained/sleeted/snowed is the usual for St. Mary. It's comforting to know that June lives up to it's expectation of being the rainy season, mixed with some (sometimes) surprising snow. That means the glaciers will live a little longer into the summer season. They will be protected with another layer of snow, as an invested insulator. Hopefully, the glaciers will see less melting this year...but the precip levels need to rise a bit...and every little bit helps, like today! We had Bear Training at the St. Mary Visitor Center and everyone heard the little snow/sleet pellets hitting the metal roof. It was a calming sound, surprising to some, welcomed by others.

That's it for my procrastination. I've finished half of my glass of red wine (a new ritual for me everyday), and it's time to make a pretty presentation, POWERFUL! I promise to post some photos soon. I have an incredible backlog of neat photos, that are dying to be published online! I'll get to it, one of these days! Until then, it's off to Interpretation Training, for another 4 days!

Weather: Mostly cloudy, multiple types of precip. Highs in the 40's-50's and lows in the 30's. It's June, what can I ask for..