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Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson

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Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 22, 2014 11:11AM
My wife and I made our annual fall pilgrimage to Yosemite last weekend. After enjoying afternoon sunshine and scenery in the meadow east of Yosemite Lodge, we ran across the common sight of a small group of people on one of the ranger walks. Much to our delight, it was being led by NPS "celebrity" ranger Shelton Johnson, familiar for his contributions to documentaries like the Ken Burns national park series and his personal projects recognizing the Buffalo Soldiers. Of course we joined the group and were treated to 1 1/2 hours of detailed and totally engaging commentary. The topic was "bears", but it expanded to include a much broader perspective of experiencing and appreciating nature. His knowledge and passion made for a rare and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, one that ended much too soon. I don't know if you could get information on when he does this sort of thing (it was just listed as the afternoon ranger walk) but it would be well worth the effort to try. It added a real highpoint to our collection of Yosemite experiences.

In case you aren't sure who Shelton is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A1GiSnkBc8
avatar Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 22, 2014 11:28AM
I took a number of Ranger Walks with Ranger Shelton before he was a "celebratory", when he had just relocated from Yellowstone to Yosemite. He is a great ranger and fortunately for us still leads many of the ranger walks that start at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.

avatar Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 22, 2014 12:01PM
Lucky! I met him once at the Valley Visitor Center, one of the three or so rangers helping field questions. As my turn came to be helped, I kept letting people through ahead of me so I could get a chance to talk to him.

I haven't met many Rangers who weren't pretty cool, though.
Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 22, 2014 12:04PM
I first met Shelton outside the visitor center 3 or 4 years ago. It was shortly after the Burns documentary had aired and I just happened to recognize his voice amid a crowd of admirers as I was coming outside. Coincidentally, I bumped into him on 3 other occasions that same week (even though we were mostly avoiding the Valley!) and while talking with him, he said something to the effect of having become a bit too much of a celebrity for the moment and that he was doing more desk-work than usual so that he wasn't becoming a distraction. I didn't see him on my next couple of visits but when we were there last September, I found him working at the information desk in the visitor center so, apparently, the celebrity status has died down enough for him to go out in public again! tongue sticking out smiley Celebrity or not, he struck me as a really nice guy who was great fun to chat with. I'd love to go on some kind of ranger walk with him...especially one that got a little more into the back country.
Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 22, 2014 12:57PM
Much to his credit, there's no sense that public recognition has influenced who he is. His love for nature and his ability to articulate it is why he's such an effective spokesman, and he genuinely seems to enjoy sharing that.
Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 28, 2014 09:52AM
We met Shelton Johnson when he hosted an episode of the Ken Burns series at the Lower Pines amphitheater. (Coincidently, unbeknownst to us, the show premiered when we were there with friends from Hawaii.) Shelton is a likeable and charming human being.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, Shelton came to the Millpond Music Festival near Bishop (I was tending to my craft booth.) He was not dressed in ranger garb, but in traditional African clothing. Immediately recognizable from his voice.
Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 28, 2014 10:21AM
For some strange reason I seem to miss Ranger Johnson when I am in Yosemite but strangely enough, did see him on a visit to Grand Teton NP and just missed him at Yellowstone. He was presenting an episode of the Ken Burns series at Jackson Lake Lodge. It was our last night there and I found out he was speaking just after we had come back from fly fishing and I did not have enough time to clean up. I am still impressed with his talk after the film and the fact he did not hesitating to have a picture of him taken with me while I smelled of fish and sweat. One of the things that did happen at the showing of the episode that I will never forget was that I was standing in the back of the room with a bunch of park rangers and I saw that several of them had tears streaming down their faces, just like I did, when the section about Yosemite came on.
avatar Re: Ranger Walk with Shelton Johnson
October 28, 2014 04:32PM
As does the sight of an eagle hovering 10 feet above your head at Cape Breton. Looking up standing in the Virgin River deep in the Narrows of Zion. Looking down into the Kalalau Valley in Kauai as the clouds part revealing its beauty. And then there's Yosemite.

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