The Torch We Carry

     This is going to be another unusual entry for me; I won’t post any pictures in this one. Why? Well, because to adequately post pictures for what I’m going to talk about requires either thousands of pictures…or none at all.

     I’m going to go the long way around to come back to what I really want to say; bear with me?

     Being a Park Ranger is sometimes an extraordinary joy, and sometimes it’s just a job. Like many people that I know, I am guilty of letting myself get mired down in the tiny dramas that make up working at any place a person can work – even a beautiful vacation destination. But then once in a while I’ll catch a glimpse of a really beautiful vista that maybe I hadn’t seen in that exact way before, or I’ll have a great talk with a guest, or I’ll get a chance to help someone out and keep the vacation they’ve been dreaming about from turning sour. When I get those little moments of grace, it reminds me why we’re here and why we do the things that we do. Now, I’m not prepared to get philosophical about it. Don’t get me wrong: those moments of grace do put me in a philosophical mood, but they also make me think of…well, they make me think of a Scottish immigrant that some people said was crazy.

     His name was John Muir. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve heard the name before; there are more nature trails named after him than I can count, scattered all across the United States. Maybe you even know all about him, and if so, I’m glad that you do.

     But if you enjoy State Parks or National Parks, or any other of the myriad places that are dedicated to the preservation of nature and natural resources, then John Muir is a name you should know. Some people call him “The Father of the National Parks.”

     I’m not prepared to go into his entire life story, and even if I was, it’s outside the scope of this blog. I will, however, post some links to his life story at the end of this post, so you can easily learn more if you want to.

     In a nutshell, and in my opinion, John Muir was the father of a paradigm shift. He changed the way that people looked at natural resources. He helped shape the way of thinking that would eventually be the skeleton on which modern nature parks are built.

     If you come here to South Toledo Bend, or if you go to a state park in another state, or a National Park, and you like what you see, in a very real way you have John Muir to thank.

     Those of us who work in park settings, who are conservationists at heart, if not in our job description – we carry John Muir’s torch. Wherever he is now, I hope we make him proud.

For more information about John Muir:


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