While Kurt has been in Austin, he's had a chance to chat with a few folks close to the National Parks. One of his recurring questions has been, "What has been your favorite experience in the National Parks?" How would YOU answer that question? Use the comment form below to submit your favorite story. I figure that among the national park travelers that read this website, there must be some good stories out there. To get the ball rolling, here is my most memorable, favorite moment in the National Parks:
Bat Count in Lava Beds National Monument
When I was an interpreter in Lava Beds National Monument, I was told of a bat survey happening in the park. The survey was to be conducted by the park biologist team, but other workers in the park (like me) were invited to watch. Lava Beds National Monument has many lava tube caves, more than 300 have been cataloged, if my memory is correct. Some of these caves, but not all, provide shelter for resident and migratory bat species. The cave targeted for this bat survey was fairly remote, and required a bit of a hike to access.
A lot of people in the park went to see this bat count, perhaps 30 of us, including seasonals in the park from the Student Conservation Association, volunteers, and park personnel. We parked at the trail head, an hour or so before sundown. This whole group of folks trudged through the pumice rock trail. The instructions were, "hike two miles, then take a left, off trail, at the lone juniper, and hike another half mile". This is before GPS, and it was in a wilderness area, so with those brief instructions, we were on our own to figure it out. I'm not sure I could find that cave again today, if I tried.
We made it to the cave. We were all fairly chatty at this point, somewhat excited for what we might see. While we waited, we had excellent seats for a terrific sunset. Then, maybe 15 minutes later, the park biologist raised his hand, signaling for silence. Soon, a few bats trickled out of the cave entrance, followed immediately by hundreds upon hundreds of little bats flying into the night sky. I have no idea how they count all those bats. I just remember being in complete awe at the site of this cloud of creatures streaming from the cave. It is a memory that has lasted for so many years quite vividly in my mind.
Everyone there that night was touched by the event. Walking back to our cars was fun, we were all energized by what we had seen. Of course, after the survey, nightfall had arrived, so our walk back to civilization was done in the dark. We had flashlights (and we may have used them on occasion), but the light of the rising moon was enough to guide our way. What a great experience that was.
OK, there's my favorite park moment. What is yours? Use the form below to share your story with the other travelers here.