Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Nation of Park Rangers. Obed Wild & Scenic River.

Matt Hudson is the head ranger at the Obed Wild and Scenic River, operated by the National Park Service about an hour outside of Knoxville, TN.  It was great fun getting to spend the day with Matt who enjoyed getting out of the administrative duties he now handles and back to what he really loves to do and that is sharing the beauty of the park with visitors.    Today we joined kids from the county learning how to climb rock faces and raft the river.  It's the goal of the Obed programs to get every kid in the county to have a wonderful and exciting experience in the park.  Matt is certainly more than just a teacher and guide, as he is also part of the law enforcement and rescue operations and recently received an award for a night rescue of a unprepared boater stuck on a rock for 5 hours at night without any life jacket or other gear. He downplayed the rescue somewhat, but it's obvious that if you are in need of rescue, Matt is the one you would want looking for you.  A Harvard Law graduate, Matt realized that his true calling was the outdoors and that the best job would be a park ranger.  Perhaps a 40 day solo canoe trip down the Yukon in his early 20's planted the seed of adventure that drove his desire for the ranger career.  He also participated in a Tall Ship adventure at 16 years old touring around parts of the world with other kids his age from Russia and Poland.
Writer and friend Dan Howe and I are profiling Park Rangers from around the United States in order to illustrate how these individuals have dedicated their lives to protecting our National treasures.  The goal is to photograph the rangers within the landscapes that may or may not be familiar, but also to tell the stories that only Rangers can tell.  Based on this first experience, it's going to be an interesting journey.