As I mentioned in my last two posts, my wife and I recently visited the Moab area. One of the highlights my wife wanted to hit was the park ranger guided tour of the fiery furnace over at arches national park. The hike was beautiful, but something the park ranger said made me pause a bit.
For those that don’t know, the ranger guided tour is one of the only ways to see the fiery furnace. The terrain isn’t that difficult (a small amount of rock scampering, edge walking, scooting through a rock canyon that is too narrow to touch the ground, and so on), but it is at least moderately challenging. The big thing is that the hike goes all through a maze of narrow rock canyons and such. Without a ranger it is easy to get lost. In fact, due to that and the fragility of the life in the region, they only guide two tours of 25 through per day and only let 25 non-guided hikers in by permit. For those with the non-guided permits, maps are not provided.
But, as I said, the hike through the fiery furnace is extremely beautiful. I don’t think I’d ever been through features like that, hidden tiny canyons and such. I had a great time getting to see it all.
And, of course, the park ranger stopped once in a while to tell us about the area and the life that could be found therein. Part of the talk, which I’m sure was scripted, involved discussion of the kangaroo rat and the coyote. The ranger described these two animals as heroes of his because of the adaptations they had made to the extreme conditions of the region.
For the kangaroo rat, the adaptations involved being nocturnal so as to avoid the heat, having huge back paws for leaping erratically to get away from predators, getting water from seeds, and peeing so little (only a drop or two a day, purportedly the most concentrated urine of any animal) that the water from the seeds is sufficient. The coyote was simpler, pretty much being able to eat anything.
Incidentally, the discussion also involved how the coyote was adaptable enough to thrive, despite all attempts to eradicate, in reportedly 49 of the 50 states (including reports of Central Park in New York). The ranger asked which state didn’t have coyotes and I correctly guessed Hawaii, assuming that Pacific Ocean might still cause the coyote a few problems).
However, I started wondering about the park ranger as he discussed these two heroes. After all, remember those predators I talked about the kangaroo rat avoiding? One of those is the coyote…and the kangaroo rat isn’t always successful. Thus, two of the park ranger’s reported heroes are directly opposed to each other.
Might not this cause some internal conflict for the ranger? I wondered about this. I mean, doesn’t this count as a rivalry? When a kangaroo rat is running from a coyote…who would the ranger root for? Isn’t this a bit like having both Superman and Lex Luthor as heroes? Shouldn’t one be an anti-hero?
Of course, this was all just part of a little talk the park ranger was supposed to give on the tour to give us a more profound respect for life in the region. I wasn’t supposed to be off on a futile tangent like this. In fact, I fully recognize that it is an utterly unimportant thing to consider…but consider it I did. And now I’ve shared that inane thought with all of you. You’re welcome.