Last week I got to spend about 45 minutes at the backcountry desk getting an Imlay permit and registering for the Express Permit system. It was quite busy to say the least, thus the delay. The conversations I overheard provided hours of entertainment for us during Imlay, so Taylor (Bootboy) suggested I post a few of them. I discovered Seth (the ranger with the long dreadlocks) is quite entertaining in a passive serious kinda way. Picture a 60ish year old couple, the husband has a brace on one knee and has an overall still-riding-a-horse look to his legs (not judging, just the facts), and the wife looked like Weeping Rock might pose a challenge (definitely judging). Both walk up to him and emphatically state, “We are doing the Subway tomorrow and we can’t wait!” After spending well over 5 minutes answering all their Subway-related questions- including an eye opening explanation for these folks of the difference between top down and bottom up, Seth asks them if they want to pick up their permit they reserved. Shockingly, they don’t have a reservation. He then proceeded in the most professional manner I’ve ever seen, to check the availability of the permits for these kind folks, knowing full well they have a better chance at winning the Utah state lottery than there being 2 permits available. In a voice similar to Pat Sajak when someone spins a bankrupt on the wheel, he muttered, “Oh, I’m so sorry, it looks like all the permits have been claimed for tomorrow.” I can only imagine repeating this conversation, twenty times a day, every day, while still maintaining a professional look. I can also imagine the lives and rescues these guys save as they try to assess the potential for any of us to actually survive whatever hike or canyon we are attempting that day. I asked Seth about the conditions of the road between Lava Point and the West Rim trailhead after the recent heavy rain. As I thought about his answer afterwards, I almost busted up laughing and figured out how those guys stay sane. Here is his answer, almost word for word. “I was up there this morning and the road is in pretty good condition. There were a few puddles…..well, some of them were really deep though. There was a little bit of mud.....actually, it was quite muddy in some spots. There was a little bit of water…..well, it was raining at the time and was actually a flowing river in some parts. But overall it’s not bad as long as your car can handle those conditions.” Overall, props and a big thanks to the backcountry rangers for putting up with us shlubs. I might actually regret the decision to sign up for the Express Permit- but probably not.