Saturday, July 28, 2012

Farewell to Mount Rushmore National Memorial

My final week at Mount Rushmore National Memorial certainly did not disappoint.  The fire danger within the area was still at an extreme high.  About every two hours or so rangers would drive to the high lookout points to check for any smoke around the park.  We made it through most of the day without sighting anything.  However, at about 5 in the afternoon a large smoke funnel was spotted a few miles outside of the park boundary.  The local Forest Service Dispatch was contacted and they notified us that six fire engines were already en route along with a few helicopters responding as well.  In the meantime the decision was made to close the Presidential Trail in case the fire spread in the park’s direction.  Once everyone was escorted off the trail we closed and locked the gates so visitors could not gain access.  Luckily the fire was under control and put out by the next morning without getting much larger.

All Summer I had been working on the proper techniques for holding, handling, and holstering handguns and the day had come to put all those skills together.  Ranger and Firearms Instructor Darin Oestmann took me down to the park’s firing range to work with the handguns.  I first shot from the five yard line to get a feel for the weapon.  Ranger Oestmann also gave me tips for switching out the magazines and making sure to always practice proper techniques to build good habits and muscle memory.  He also told me the importance of being able to shoot one handed in both dominant and non-dominant hand in case one gets injured during a fire fight.  I feel much more confident when working with firearms and now have a better understanding of how they work and should be handled.

Shooting left handed.
Shooting with right hand only.
My last day at the park ended my summer just as it had started: on the mountain.  I worked the early shift with Ranger Oestmann and first thing we hiked up to the faces, the chins to be exact.  All the rangers had been telling me all summer of certain sites that were a must-see and being at the base of the faces at sunrise was definitely on the list.  It is absolutely breathtaking to be standing next to a sixty-foot carving of one of our Country’s leaders and feeling so small.  The view alone was worth the climb and will be an experience I will never forget.  

My summer went entirely too quickly and the experiences I had would not be traded for anything.  I learned so much from every single ranger I worked with and had opportunities that I never thought I would have been presented with.  It is unfortunately an end to another chapter in my life but I can only imagine what has yet to come.  See you all at Leadership Camp!!

ProRanger Erin Langeheine      

No comments:

Post a Comment