“The American people feel that their National Park System is the basis for a kind of religion. And that the national parks are the cathedrals where they come to worship. And the people in the big hats are the high priests who have been given the responsibility to protect these sacred land trusts.”
— Doug Follett, National Park Ranger
It’s a big year for Ranger Doug Follett. The big 5-0. Half a century. Half a lifetime (if you’re lucky enough to live for a century).
No, he’s not turning 50 years old. He’s actually 84 this year. The “50” refers to the number of years Follett has been a seasonal interpretive ranger at Glacier National Park in Montana. And he’s still going strong.
The National Park Service recently interviewed Follett. The first thing that struck me about his interview, which you can read here, is his comments on the disappearing glaciers. He says,
“Then one spring I noticed six inches of red rock at the end of that Glacier snowfield. And I said to myself, ‘Next year that will be covered up, because Old Mother Nature knows that if she doesn’t put more snow on top, we won’t have glaciers, and our sign at the entrance says we’re a glacier park.’”
The next year, it wasn’t covered up. The glacier had shrunk further.
The second thing that struck me was the passion that the National Parks inspire. Follett, and many other rangers like him, return to the parks year after year, loving simply being a part of the parks and dedicating their lives to helping others discover and explore them. We should all be lucky enough to find one passion in our lives like that.
Watch the short video of excerpts of the interview, with incredible contemporary and historical photos of Glacier National Park, below.
National Park Week starts this Saturday, April 17 and continues through Sunday, April 25. Take advantage of the special programs and free admission to the parks near you!