who are you? where do you live? what do you do?
I'm Miranda, a 24 year old forest dweeb living in Northern California. From 2013 to 2016, I worked for the United States Forest Service as a front country ranger, timber crew member, and wilderness ranger. I decided to take the season off in June 2016 due to a heart condition I didn't know I had that flared up suddenly during a work hike (192 beats per minute made me a liability). As it turns out, I really like exploring the Sierras on my own time, so I'm taking the 2017 season off too. Not having to go through the USAJOBS.gov hiring process this year was a nice break. While I'm taking this season off from work, you'll find me kayaking, hiking, camping, practicing yoga, backpacking, trail running, traveling, and taking lots of pictures. Oh, and I'm getting married up in the forest in June. We'll be wearing jeans and down jackets ;)
How did you get your job, and what did you do as a wilderness ranger?
Before I got the job I had never gone backpacking before and had no idea what a "Wilderness Area" was, but I knew that I loved wild places. I went to my local USFS Ranger Station with a resume, met my future boss, and she loved me immediately. However, all federal hiring is done through USAjobs.gov so I went home and applied. I got the job. I'll admit, it was pure luck that I had done all of this during hiring season (usually January-April).
When I'm working as a Wilderness Ranger, I spend about 3-5 days a week backpacking and hiking in the Wilderness with nothing but my 35-lb pack (I'm a lighty) and a few tools like crosscut saws, hand saws, shovels, etc. I do this May-October since I'm a seasonal ranger but the permanent ranger does this year-round. My job is mostly to clean up after people and make sure that they're leaving their camp so brand new that the people who come in after them will have no idea that humans ever set foot in that spot before. As you can imagine, 99 out of 100 people think that Leave No Trace (LNT) is all about picking up trash, and those are the same people who can't tell me what the first ethic of LNT is. So I spend a lot of time talking to backpackers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike about how they can use LNT to help protect the place they play in. We do campsite naturalization, trail maintenance, outreach presentations at REI stores, vegetation monitoring, all sorts of things.
What gear do you recommend?
I'm a total gearhound. I have way too much of it, but here's what I use the most:
- Sleeping Bag (I use 2 depending on weather conditions)
- Sleeping Pad
- Hiking Boots
- Hiking Socks