Thursday, July 21, 2016

South District

        I recently had the opportunity to sign up for a training called A-100 Basic Aviation. After taking the Basic Search and Rescue class, this was one of the other certifications that came along with it in order to help out on SAR calls. It was an interesting class taught by Shenandoah’s new Chief of Interpretation who came from Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska where they use planes just as a means of transportation, almost like we use a car to get around here in the lower 48. He had a lot of great stories and a wide variety of experiences with planes. The class went over the fine details of how we use planes during SAR calls and how to safely work around them.
South District overlook waiting for the storm.
I began working down in the South District of the park where I discovered the park moves in a different kind of pace down south. Many visitors don’t normally drive the entire 105 miles of the park from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap, but generally they will either start north in Front Royal and head back out that way, or they will head to Big Meadows at milepost 50 and leave the park at Swift Run entrance station at milepost 64. The south district is much more quiet, they do get traffic that will speed through, most likely assuming they don’t see any other vehicles so they have the park to themselves…until they pass a ranger at a high rate of speed and think otherwise. I finally get to say though that I have been through the full 105 miles of the park and even got a chance to check out the Blue Ridge Parkway. On our way out of the Parkway we made a stop for a taillight out on a vehicle, only to find out the driver had overstayed his visa in America and failed to have a operator’s license. You just never know what you’re going to get on what seems like a “simple stop” at first. 

The finished product.
Another day down in South District was a day filled with gaining knowledge of weapons. A ranger had me break down his AR-15, cleaning it inside and out and learning the different parts of it. This ranger is the park’s armorer, who has a wide range of knowledge of weaponry and gave me excellent lessons on them. South District was a great time filled with some amazing views that I had yet to discover in the park. 

After storm rainbow.

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