“Even a week after the fire burned through, all the grass started resprouting, and this black, desolate, charred moonscape sprang up into green again,” McGill recalled.
Cade Herrera ’23 is at the very beginning of his park ranger experience as he looks forward to working as a climbing ranger at Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming this summer.
The Currier House resident “got bit by the climbing bug” during his sophomore year. This summer, he’ll wake up at 4 a.m. and climb eight hours a day to ensure the safety of both climbers and the 867-foot igneous rock formation itself. The routine may sound grueling to some, but for the vice president of the Harvard Mountaineering Club, it’s a chance to unwind.
“I’ll be done with my job in the afternoon, and I’ll be able to sit in a hammock and read — exactly what I need after five years at Harvard,” the premed neuroscience concentrator said.
As a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, Herrera grappled with ambivalence toward the National Park Service before applying for the position.
“National parks take a lot of autonomy away from the tribes,” Herrera said. “They keep the land and conserve it, but from a very Western point of view. Tribes were great stewards of the land for more than 10,000 years.”
Although Herrera still has mixed feelings about national parks, he views the ranger role as an opportunity to inform visitors of the monument’s cultural significance.
“I’ll be climbing in such a sacred area, and I’ll be there in the summer months, when a lot of ceremonies happen,” he said. “I think the experience will bring me a lot closer to my culture.”