Dylan Kinsella Alden: A NH Backcountry Ranger in the White Mountain National Forest.

NH People Profiles: Dylan Kinsella Alden, a NH Backcountry Ranger


Meet Dylan Kinsella Alden
A NH Backcountry Ranger

by George C. Jobel

Dylan Kinsella Alden feels blessed. She has a job she loves, meets interesting people all the time, gets outdoors often, and sees moose, regularly. Make that moose, deer, and bear. Well, almost. Usually she just hears bears crashing through the woods hoping to avoid her diminutive 5'4", 115 pound frame.

Alden is a backcountry/wilderness ranger, headquartered at the Saco Ranger Station in Conway. Her primary role is to educate the public and aid their appreciation of Mother Nature's handiwork in the White Mountain National Forest. With a bachelor's degree in Biology from Earlham College, an easy chuckle and a ready smile, you can just imagine her pleasant interactions with hikers, during her 40-50 weekly miles on the trail. She also passionately defends 'resources', ranger code-speak for the trees, plants, wildlife and trails. She wears a badge and carries a summons pad for those who need a reality check.

Yes Mildred, cutting down trees in the forest for your campfire is verboten! And people do crazy things in the woods!

She clearly remembers rounding a trail corner one winter day and seeing smoke rising from the chimney of a wilderness cabin. Normally that might not be curious, except this particular cabin's stove had been removed years earlier for public safety. Seems that the six 50-something males then occupying the cabin were frequent visitors. Wanting a wood stove they carried one in, would hook it up upon arrival, and would remove it and hide it in the woods upon departure, in wait for their next visit.

SO not cool. Neither was the transparent mid morning group intoxication. That incident merited a summons which they promptly literally chewed up. You GO girl! Wildlife occasionally scares her, but it's not the animals.

Her Conway office contains a hardcover journal, "Tails from the Trails", an informal collection of ranger accounts of the crazy stuff they witness on the job. For just a moment Alden playfully muses about the money they all could make, selling the stories, but who would believe it? Five college age kids would never watch a TV survival show, brazenly hike miles into the forest, and cut 30 or so saplings just to arrange them into a fort-like shelter. Nahhhhh. That stuff doesn't really happen, right?

Alden credits her life long love of the outdoors to her grandmother, who very early on gave her a Ranger Rick subscription. She also attended the Upland Hills Farm School (Now Upland Hills School) in Oxford, Michigan until high school. Everything there was hands on, and back to nature, as much as practical.

She discovered her need to be outdoors early: she tried working at Taco Bell but quickly realized it wasn't her. She then started leading horseback rides in a state park and enjoyed that much more. A few years went by and she met Mitch, a guitar player and lead singer in a band. They married and moved to the Boston area and Alden immediately placed applications with all the nearby ranger districts. Happily, she got a summer position with the Saco District Office and was later able to transition to a full time job.

Her position requires a lot. She has participated in 15-20 locate/rescue missions, monitors and helps maintain about 300 miles of trails, shelters and huts, picks up trash on trails, and all the while helping hikers understand and enjoy the forest. Almost regardless of the weather, she'll be out on the trails, wearing a 20-35lb backpack full of food, clothing and equipment. (The weight varies depending on the need, range and whether she'll be sleeping in the forest.) With a cheery smile she'll encourage you to carry out your own litter, and bury your own human waste if you haven't used a sanitary facility. Sometimes she has a ready supply of cheap orange plastic shovels in her backpack, and she'll offer one to you. There's no helping some people though.

"It's been three days but I'll wait!"

She chuckles: some days she has to deal with little white lies too!



 

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Copyright 2012-2017 by George C. Jobel, 603-491-4340. All Rights Reserved.