As a child I was obsessed with Mt. Rainier. OBSESSED. As in, I wanted to live there permanently. Whenever we would camp I would eagerly go to the visitor center, join the junior ranger program, and read books about wildflowers and animal tracks. By the time I was in highschool I had 42 of 84 wildflowers of the North Cascades memorized by sight. I mean, I said I was obsessed.
Because I loved being outdoors so much, I decided (at the tender age of 9) that I wanted to be a park or forest ranger. And I knew that my dream was to be a park ranger in the Ohanaepcosh campground of Mt. Rainier. Or worse, down the road at the La Wis Wis campground (which was always our backup campground). It wasn’t until 11th grade that I gave up that dream, after meeting a gal at an environmental camp that casually mentioned the regulation changes for park rangers, that they had to attend police academy and carry a firearm. That sealed it for me, being a park ranger was out…I would NOT carry a gun for work. Not because I was opposed to guns in the backcountry (Grizzlies and mountain lions aren’t to be messed with people!), but because I didn’t want to be a law enforcement officer in a national park. I didn’t want to have to shoot someone. Nope. No thanks.
So I’m having dinner with my bio dad, and we were chatting about the crazy wildfires happening here in Washington…and he said, “Well, you know, my sister stopped being a forest ranger when she had to deploy her fire shelter on the fire line.”
And then I remembered that my bio aunt had been a forest ranger. Whoa. Uncanny, right? And where did she work? La Wis Wis campground. OF ALL PLACES, she worked right down the road, as a forest ranger, from where I wanted to work from 9-17. Whoa. And we got to talking, but he finally said, “But then the laws changed, and she stopped doing it because she didn’t want to carry a gun.”
He happened to say that at the EXACT same time that I said the reason that tipped me over the edge was when I didn’t want to carry a gun.