When you think of a wilderness ranger, who do you think of? Do you picture a big burly bearded man, covered in plaid? Would it blow your mind to see a woman ranger, wearing pink, with a pickaxe in tow? If so, consider your mind blown.
Meet Kat Barker, a trails and wilderness supervisor. She and her crew head to the backcountry for 8 day long trips of 10-hour work schedules, consisting of clearing downfall, maintaining drainage structures, trail and bridge construction, etc. It takes a tremendous amount of strength and wherewithal to perform the daily tasks and move camp every night. The job may be tough, but it comes with the best office space around. Every night ends with a good meal at the campfire with friends, and rest is sweetest after collapsing into a sleeping bag, every limb aching from the typical routine.
It’s inspiring to see this role, historically dominated by men, being filled by strong, independent women. Kat’s advice for young girls who hope to follow a similar career path is that, “You can do it! If you love being in the mountains and enjoy working really, really hard and sweating a lot, there is nothing stopping you. It can be difficult to get your foot in the door with public land management agencies, but do your applications, and call, call, call! Making actual connections with the people in charge of trails and wilderness programs goes a long way in getting hired. Or there are many other arenas like firefighting, range work, biology technicians, etc. that are open for newcomers as well. Once you get hired on, even more doors will open.”
Nothing beats a barrel of determination and love for nature. Let your passions be your driving force in life.