Summer Rangers are crucial to the care and maintenance of Montreat’s wilderness area. The conference center hires between four and six rangers every summer. Responsibilities include maintenance of wilderness trails, leading public wilderness hikes, monitoring wilderness use in accordance with the Conference Center Conservation plan, assisting waterfront staff with regulation of fishing in the lake and streams, and assisting with wilderness education programs. Hiking and nature study experience preferred. This position requires good physical fitness and stamina. Rangers are regularly expected to carry significant loads up mountain trails and to use heavy hand tools. Rangers are expected to arrive with the following:
Ranger Gear List
If you are hired as a Wilderness Ranger it is expected that you will arrive with the following items, or arrange to procure these items as soon as possible after arriving on site. Be advised that as a Montreat Ranger you will receive significant discounts at local retail outfitters, so you may want to purchase some of these items once you arrive in Montreat.
1. Hiking boots. These need to be sturdy, mid-height boots. You will be carrying heavy loads on some of the most uneven terrain in the state, so low-top shoes/sandals/crocs will not be adequate. It is strongly recommended that you have two pairs, so that when one gets soaked you will have a dry back-up. It is also recommended that you arrive with your boots already broken in. You will be expected to hike multiple miles the first week of the season, and that is no time to discover that your boots don’t fit. Don’t forget good-quality hiking socks. You’re hiking every day, so unless you really like doing laundry you need at least five or six pairs.
2. Day pack. A good-sized day pack of at least 2,000 cubic inches, with a padded waist belt and internal framing that supports the load is absolutely essential. On the trail you will always be carrying a large first aid kit, navigation tools, survival equipment, water, and food, not to mention tools and other equipment needed to complete that day’s jobs. Fanny-packs or small packs designed for toting your school books are not adequate for this job.
3. Hydration system. In the old days we used water bottles, and if you want to go that route that’s fine, but the new bladder-style hydration systems are excellent options. Regardless of how you do it, you will need at least 2 liters of water capacity each day.
4. Pocket knife. There are hundreds of different styles on the market. This does not have to be an expensive “survival” knife…just a decent sized (3” blade is ideal) folding, lock-blade knife that will stand up to a reasonable amount of heavy use. If you don’t have one already, drop by the sporting goods section of your local discount store and pick up one by Gerber, Remington, Kershaw, Buck, or some other name brand. Avoid the store brands (like “Ozark Trails”) as they are cheaply made of questionable steel. Be sure the knife has a pocket clip. Semi-serrated blades are all the rage right now, but you’ll find a plain blade much more usable and easier to sharpen.
5. Hiking pants. Shorts and/or trousers made of sturdy material. Cargo pockets are a real advantage. Gym shorts and similar athletic wear are not appropriate for this job. You will be issued two cotton T-shirts, so you’ll definitely need more of these. Strongly recommended are one or more long sleeve synthetic wicking shirts (it gets cold at night here) and at least one pair of pull-on synthetic bottoms. We will have several overnight work trips at high elevation, and dry warm clothes are essential.
6. Rain gear. We get rained on a lot, and we are typically several miles from town, so sturdy rain gear is essential. There are essentially two options…a rain jacket and pants set or a poncho. Many folks like ponchos, especially if they have extra fabric in the rear to provide coverage for your pack. Jackets are a bit more flexible, and pants will really keep the rain out of your boots better than anything else, so this is a good choice if your pack is –very waterproof. Regardless of which route you decide on, don’t cheap out here…get the best you can afford. Cheap rain gear (like coated nylon) collects condensation and you get soaked anyway. Breathable fabrics (Gore-Tex, Omni-Tek, etc.) are worth the extra expense, and a good-quality garment will also stand up to years of tough use without falling apart.
7. Overnight gear. For overnight work trips, and in the event of a search operation that takes us out into the wilderness area for extended periods, you will need a larger pack and a sleeping bag. We have a number of packs which you may check out for the summer, but a sleeping bag (comfort rated at least to 40F) is something you will definitely want to acquire. You may wish to bring other personal camping gear…after all, you can’t use it if you don’t have it. The Wilderness Program has cooking equipment, shelter, and other basics that you will have access to, so you don’t need to go out and buy a complete backpacking set-up.