22 Jun Learning the Ropes: Bear Jams, Roving, and Visitors
As the weeks progress, I am gaining more confidence working the front desk and assisting visitors. I now know how to run the cash register, direct visitors toward campgrounds/lodges, and answer simple questions about the park and hikes. Normally people want to know what easy hikes we recommend, and by the end of the day I feel like a robot repeating information over and over again. For the most part I am only able to recommend hikes in our central section, until I learn the northern and southern hikes better.
A lot of visitors want us to tell them about the bears, and where they can see bears. We often have to explain that the bears are wild animals that move in and out of the park as they please, and that we don’t keep them in the park and we definitely don’t feed them. Since bears are the big attraction animals here, many visitors disregard the rules and will often try to get as close as possible to photograph the animals. This often causes “bear jams,” where cars stop in the middle of the road and attempt to observe or photograph a bear. I have only had to break up a small bear jam one time, and luckily it was early in the morning and there were not many people around. The bear was able to escape, somewhat undisturbed, into the forest. I wish visitors here were more respectful towards our wildlife and regulations.
Roving is another part of the job that I’m still learning about. During a roving period, an on-duty ranger can go out to do any hike they want and just make informal contact with visitors on the trail. Rangers can carry extra water or snacks, and provide information to visitors that want to engage. Though I haven’t had a chance to rove by myself, I’ve been able to shadow some other rangers. This seems like a really fun part of the job, since working the desk or doing a program is mentally exhausting. I hope to be able to rove by myself soon!