Cryptobiotic Soil to Great Sand Dunes and conquering Rheumatoid Heart and Lung Disease as US Park’s Kristin Eagle hikes the Delicate Arch Trail one more time

As I hold back the tears welling up behind my eyes, I reflect on the warmth of a fathers arms and being sheltered from the danger as he is with you through life’s various trails and trials. Kristin Eagle’s interview will take you on a journey through America’s natural wonders and when you are at […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On January 27, 2010

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As I hold back the tears welling up behind my eyes, I reflect on the warmth of a fathers arms and being sheltered from the danger as he is with you through life’s various trails and trials. Kristin Eagle’s interview will take you on a journey through America’s natural wonders and when you are at the end of this read, no matter who you are, you will know you to can conquer the next trail and all the joys, trials, dangers and unknown’s that are on the horizon ahead.

The hight tech communication via twitter, willingness of US-Parks employees to share personal stories and the fast warm responses with…me, a Canadian, for initiatives like this informative interview, are testaments to the incredible dedication that employees have in sharing as many outdoor experiences and encouraging the enjoyment of US National Parks!
Go refill your tea and enjoy Kristin’s outdoor interview…

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

My father introduced me to the outdoors when I was eleven years old. His first attempts were crash tests that didn’t quite work out as I was your typical eleven year old. I preferred to be playing Missile Command on my Atari. However, he introduced me to Arches National Park and that was an interesting experience for me. At first I was a little bored. I hate admitting that because now Arches, much like all National Parks, I am in awe by them. While my father was pointing out the red sandstone arches to me, which I thought were very pretty, I kept staring at the ground. This time, not because I was bored, but because there were small signs on the ground saying don’t walk past this point, the ground is alive! Now THAT was just neat. Suddenly, I had all sorts of questions and I was fascinated. I was eager to learn more about this crazy living dirt, which I discovered was called Cryptobiotic Soil, as well as understand just how those Arches were in fact standing.

From that point on, every summer vacation it was another adventure to one or more National Parks. I was the only one in school that had been to so many and couldn’t wait for my next adventure. Now, I run with my father in honor of our adventures and explorations.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

This is a tough question. So many places come to mind immediately but I believe the biggest playground for me might have to be Great Sand Dunes.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Since I already shared my story about the living soil, I want to move on to a visit to Arches National Park that I took about 3 years ago. At this point, it had been a while since I had last visited. Unfortunately between my visits I had some health issues that were dragging me down. I had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Heart and Lung Disease and I had to learn to live with this. I was having a lot of trouble hiking and keeping up with my family during any local adventures which was starting to frustrate me. I kept thinking about Arches National Park and the hike Delicate Arch Trail. I so wanted to strengthen up my lungs and get back there.

I finally made it back and… it was raining. Not a chance of blue skies for days and we only had a couple days during this trip. Delicate Arch Trail was planned for day two. We enjoyed our first day but I have to admit, my mind was all over seeing my favorite arch. I felt like a kid in a candy store.
On day two we stood at the trailhead and made last decisions about the rain and if we should really go. For most people it probably wouldn’t have been too much of an issue. For me, I had to keep my lungs in mind. I decided the temperature was ok and there was not a soul in sight so I thought this might be an opportunity to have the place to ourselves. We made our trek to the top, it was tougher than I remembered it to be but again, that was because my lungs don’t always want to work with me. Every step of the way, I was all smiles and just so excited to be on this trail.

When we got to the top, the rain started coming down a little harder. The rain was coming straight down so we thought to go over to Delicate Arch and hide under it. For nearly two hours straight we sat under Delicate Arch, sheltered from the rain, and I was in bliss. The entire time, not one person had come up to the top of the trail. I guess the rain put other travelers off. I have to say, they sure missed out on a special experience. Not everyone can say they sat under Delicate Arch, just my father and myself, sheltered from the rain. I will never forget the experience and I actually hope I get to experience it again someday. When I go to Arches, I don’t mind the rain.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I have yet to be lost in the wilderness. The closest for me was when my father kind of tricked me into believing we were lost in White Sands. We were far enough out that you could no longer see any cars or decide which way was which in order to get back. We had our handy compass with us and he let me suggest the right direction and he had me explain why. I was pretty nervous but in the end, we were never in any danger because he knew all along. He just wanted me to experience how scary it can be but how important it is to keep your wits with you and to always have your compass.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Up in Rocky Mountain National Park we were walking along a trail when two coyote start coming our way. We stopped walking and watched where they were intending to go. Seems like every direction we wanted to go, they were going to do the same thing. The two coyote split while one came towards us and the other went more circular to us but eyes on us. We had a new camera in hand that we were just practicing using so we weren’t sure if we were getting any shots of these animals. It was a little disconcerting because we weren’t sure why they were coming so close as that is very unusual and we were feeling a little nervous and at the same time, wanting to get some photos. Not once did we put the camera up to our faces, just had it low in hand and aimed while we kept close watch on them.

The one coyote that was heading straight for us came right up to us. Now, I was scared. My hand was gripped onto my dads arm as I stood behind him. The coyote looked up at us first, then put his nose down on to the ground. He took a submissive stance as we stood very still. He just stood there for what seemed like an eternity while the other coyote now circled us. This wild animal was about 3 feet away from our feet. Finally, he looked up at us again, then bolted off to join the other coyote. We still stood there in complete awe of this and dad finally said, “You can let go of my arm now.”

We figured the reason this might have happened is because the coyote might have been expecting food. It made us wonder how many people still feed animals during their visits to parks. I hope this is not why this animal came so close to us because it’s bad news to feed the animals. We just couldn’t figure out why else a wild animal like this would come so close to us.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

I don’t believe I have one particular favorite. I visit too many sites that have excellent information that I just can’t narrow down.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I am biased here. We partnered up with them to offer outdoor gear on That’s how much we like them.
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Made In Canada Fire Strikers and Fatwood tinder are Made In Canada

How To Light A Fire Without Matches

Step 1.

Fluff the fatwood by scraping the stick with the edge of your striker. If a hunting knife is available, use the BACK of the blade to fluff.

Step 2.

Practice getting a spark to land on the pile of fluffed fatwood by using your ferro rod and the edge of your striker.

Step 3.

Direct the sparks to the top of the pile of fluffed fatwood by using your QUICK-FIRE and the edge of the Striker. (Or use the back of a blade)