A Wilderness Ranger, Age 21

NY Times Green
Thursday, September 15, 2011

"I had come seeking physical work and the outdoors, and I received it in full"

“I had come seeking physical work and the outdoors, and I received it in full, complete with starry nights, sweeping vistas of thunderstorms coming my way across vast valleys, and the pleasure of falling asleep in a pitched tent to the sound of aspen leaves blowing in the wind.”

By Max Bearak - This article originally appeared on the NY Times Green blog

I’m a senior in college, which means that everyone I meet feels entitled to ask me, “So, what are you planning to do after you graduate?” But I’m at a liberal arts school, so I always respond with an “I’m not sure yet” or an “I’m going to take what comes my way.”

The truth is, over the last couple of summers I’ve been scratching a few itches - a few jobs that I probably won’t pursue after college but that were nonetheless appealing. Two of the most overwhelming urges were to use my hands for some physical labor and to work outdoors, preferably somewhere stunningly beautiful. So this summer I packed up an old Chevy Impala till it was almost bursting and drove out to Ely, Nev., to work in Humboldt National Forest as a wilderness ranger. …continue reading

Photo: Max Bearak for The New York Times
Three wilderness rangers size up a difficult pile-up while clearing trails on the slopes of Mount Moriah in eastern Nevada.