Carlos A De La Torre

Carlos A De La Torre, SCA member, high above the mountains

Grand Teton NP

The Wild v. Civilization

Image 1: Hiking Static Peak, Elevation 11,303 feet The wild that we always see in movies and in parks is very different from the human lifestyle, from civilization. Most of the people in the US do not live by the wild, and have no knowledge in how to survive or deal with it. Cities are opposite from nature settings, they have technology, pollution, loads of people, and infrastructure.

Hiking Bunsen Peak in Yellowstone, here I decided to be a monkey and climb an old tree.

My personal experience has been interesting. I have lived in towns for most of my life, but it was still not the wild. Throughout life, I got accustomed to technology, I’m a tech person. I like making videos, taking pictures, going on YouTube a lot, going on Facebook, learning from the internet, following memes, etc. As well as going out to dancing clubs, theatres, bowling alleys, or local organizations that may only be available in cities or towns. The answer to all this…habit. Everything is followed by habit, or tradition. People get used to stuff, get used to calling a place home, get used to eating certain food, or get used to just certain friends. And all this tradition gets missed when it’s removed for a while. Points is, many people right now that work as employees in the park are probably missing their home and civilization, even if they love it here.

Early in the morning catching some good shots of the Tetons

The wild is a different thing, it is…peace, originality, beauty, nature, fun, exploration, DISCOVERY! Nature is so awesome! The way I appreciate it is by: its beauty for my photography and for its outdoor activities it offers. The wild is very different from human civilization. The reason for this is because we people…don’t quite fit in nature, we have our own world of advanced technological development. We have cars, televisions, computers, rockets, MUSIC! The wild is a place for survival of the fittest, for evolution, geological activity, adaption, and much more detailed biological processes that we never think of. It is so interesting. Look at it this way, our babies are super weak during childhood and have to reach a certain age until full maturity; on the other side, a bear cub may be able to find its food on its own and start killing at an early age. Living in our wild parks is a thrilling adventure. We have our own ways of adaption: bear sprays, backpacks with food, tents and sleeping bags for housing, and GPS devices for self location.

Canoeing in Colter Bay

As of now, I do miss fast internet where I follow top YouTubers and watch Netflix. At the same time, I will definitely miss Grand Teton National where I can do my hiking, climbing, biking, canoeing, and photography of sweet wildlife and nature. Both sides are great, for some it may be more favorable for urban people; others are just wild humans capable of living on their own farming living by big carnivores. Probably 95 percent of the people have urban lifestyles; I might be a bit like that, but I’m in training to heading to have a little of the wild lifestyle.

In Training for Mountain Safety with Exum…

because we have no snow in Texas I head back to college in about 2 weeks, and trust me, I might be looking for bears around me just because I got used to it. Well, my situation might be similar though. As a biker, I’ve gotten accustomed in being alert of crazy drivers. It’s crazy up there for college fish who barely know how to bike and get out there in town or with people traffic. So as you can see, being alert in life is part of a lifestyle, whether in the wild or urban areas. Both areas have their dangers and their areas of bliss, it is a changing world, and we adapt as time takes us through it. But I do want to recommend one thing, urban life is not everything, life in the wild is such a big world of science and beauty waiting for us to discover and explore.

I like making videos of my experiences where ever I go. I kind of follow the GoPro video styles, sports action moves with crazy upbeat music (probably because I like dancing to it). I enjoyed making this video and did my best. Hopefully you like it!

 

Experience, the real life teacher

An Elk herd passing by the road near the dam. Experience is everything, ranging from surviving skills in wild expeditions to work experience in different areas of interest. I have learned that reading material on the internet or books will not get people the real life experience where they can feel, smell, see, or suffer though different situations. As of now, I have experienced so much with the opportunities I take advantage of in work and college environments. Traveling is part of my main experience. It is the way to get out of the box, learn about what actually happens around the world and about what there is to enjoy.

A marmot scratching that annoying itch.

I attend Texas A&M University, a huge school, and big schools come with benefits. They have a numerous amount of clubs of all kinds: study abroad to many countries, different workshops, intramural sports, and work opportunities. I have taken advantage of many clubs in my college, including office positions, as well as study abroad opportunities. Both past winter semester study abroad trips I took concentrated in mammal research, in the awesome countries of South Africa and New Zealand. Both of these opportunities have taught me lifestyles around the world and an unforgettable experience.

A ground squirrel staying alert of his surroundings.

The SCA is a great organization that I find very useful, it is a steppingstone to at least seasonal job openings. I remember seeing the SCA flyers in my college during my freshman year, but I never took action until I went to an SCA workshop led by a recruiter. College is about exploring yourself and your life interests to find the best fitting career. Taking part in an SCA internship teaches people about what to expect on the job of interest, along with a network, AND with opportunities to go to amazing places in the US.

Working in the visitor center going over a Junior Ranger paper.

Right now I love working in Grand Teton National Park. There are rare times when I actually get bored here, but other than that summer is going fast!! I’ve only got a month left to enjoy this place and finish some of my activity goals. As you read before, I work as a Volunteer Coordinator. On days when we only have one group of volunteers a day, I dedicate myself to work in the Colter Bay Visitor Center. Visitor Centers get all kinds of questions. You get asked the same questions so many times, that when you answer it you sound like a recorded voice in a machine. But I don’t mind when I get asked simple or repetitive questions. I feel I tell them about too many trails when sometimes they’re only here for a day, and spend more time at Yellowstone (which I don’t find as fascinating as Grand Teton). There are some occasions when it gets big and someone looses a kid so we have to call a ranger, like one time when it turned out the kid was in the restaurant asking for directions. Other times the visitor center is empty and you get to have conversations with fellow coworkers. I like teaching people nature topics, so I talked to the Colter Bay District Interpreter to see if I could do a program at night, when my random schedule does not interfere. So now I am set up to present an evening program on pronghorn, the mysterious speed machine. I’m excited for that!

Blue Heron in Heron Pond seen in one of my local hikes. This SCA internship has given me a great amount of experience so far, and I plan to seek for more. I live by experiencing the resources this planet offers, experience from: different activities/sports, different job positions in parks or refuges, foods, environments, places, people, technology devices, etc. I like to be open to anything that comes in my path. Bliss comes from the journey of the goal, not necessarily from the goal itself.

 

The Awesome Mountain Life Experience

Double rainbow, coming from grocery shopping on the way to Colter Bay, sweet first day! Another of my travel adventures begins. This time I get to intern in one the most awesome parks in the U.S. I was so happy to be placed close to mountains, whereas in Texas you barely see anything sticking out of the ground. My first couple of days here I met most of the people I’ll be working with. As I got picked up from the in-park airport, we passed a double rainbow - as in this couldn’t get any better! I spent the following days exploring the area around me - what I usually do when I move somewhere - and taking tons of pictures, plus attending the employee orientations.

Colter Bay, shot from a little peninsula by the area where I stay.

My main job as an SCA conservationist consists of bringing out the power of volunteerism. As a volunteer coordinator, along with my supervisor, I help organize projects for volunteers from a Tour Bus organization called Tauk. They have been co-working with the National Park Service for around 10 years. Most of the work that volunteers do consist of painting cabins, loading up branches, covering up trails with branches, and other projects that won’t take too much effort and time. Folks volunteer for about an hour and most volunteers are elderly, so we have to warn them about the elevation and other safety factors. Back in college, I am usually the one that volunteers, and now coordinating volunteers feels empowering in a way. While on the project, I can’t just supervise and watch, so I work along with the volunteers.

The truck full of branches loaded by our volunteers from Tauk.

An average day with the Tauk Volunteer program includes different tasks. I first wake up and try to get some food if I don’t snooze too much. After getting all dressed up, I visit my supervisor and start getting the reward shirts ready for the volunteers. After getting our gear together, we take off to the project site where we prepare the trailer or take out the paint equipment. As everything is in check, we head out to the place where the bus and the volunteers stay in. Either my supervisor or I give them an introduction to the project and a thanks for volunteering with the NPS. When we arrive at the project site, I get the gear ready for the volunteers as my supervisor talks to them a little more about the area and the project. The volunteers get rewarded at the end with the shirts and get a group photo sent to the Tauk website. The end is the best part! It makes me feel good to get people with a warm heart to volunteer with us and contribute towards conservation…preserving without obligation. Volunteering helps conserve the environment bit by bit but it can help in copious amounts. Conservation in today’s world should be part of a lifestyle. Our earth is our park in this universe.

Bearpaw lake, me and my co-workers’ first camping night at GTNP, keeping in mind it is bear country.

The benefit of choosing this internship is that I get to explore different departments in the NPS. When I had a talk with my main supervisor, I told her I was open and interested to do a wide variety of positions. From interpretation and research, to working with river/lake rangers and search and rescue. The thing about me is that I like learning. But, different from book learning, this is applied learning in the great outdoors. This kind of education is my key to enter the road in making a change in the world of conservation.

The moon is my favorite part of the night.

Stay tuned on my next blogs to hear about my other positions in the park! Meanwhile, enjoy a few of my pictures from the great Grand Teton National Park.