At the age of twenty-two, I decided to become a park ranger. I pursued that life with a freshness and single-mindedness I can scarcely bring to anything now. At twenty-eight, I could move around the mountains in summer or winter through any kind of weather. I could climb rock and ice, pack loads around the back-country with mules, fix trails, build with logs, read maps and aerial photographs, and find my position in any kind of country. I was impervious to the sight of blood. I could splint broken bones and I could locate a large vein in an arm or a leg by feel and get an intravenous needle into it to save a life. You could drop me into a small fire with another ranger and I could build line around it. You could drop me into a big fire with a crew and I could stay alive and sleep when the nights got long in the warm ashes in the heart of it. I could shoot a pistol and hit the target every time. I could go out on skies in the winter and live in snow caves. And I was, I thought, an accomplished lover of the land.
- From Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol in the Sierra by Jordan Fisher Smith