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of Out of Thin Air by Nancy Muleady-Mecham:

by Marla Allison in the Sierra Lodestar February 3-9, 2010:

Visitors center books lead to great adventures

On a recent visit to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, I noticed a children’s book in the visitors center written by Arnold resident Nancy E. Muleady-Mecham.

The book is a fascinating look at giant sequoias and what makes them grow. Geared for higher elementary and middle school students, it’s very educational and interesting at the same time. Curious, I talked to Tami Rakstad-Schaner, the buyer for the store there and she recommended I contact the author for more information on her background. I am glad I did.

It turns out that Muleady-Mecham has been working for the National Park Service since 1979 and has written two books on that subject as well. She has worked as both a seasonal and permanent ranger in many national parks, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Death Valley, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the Florida Everglades and the Grand Canyon. She still works seasonally for the park service.

Her first two books, “Park Ranger: True Stories From a Ranger’s Career in America’s National Parks” and “Park Ranger Sequel,” focus on her adventures in the emergency medical services and technical search and rescue operations with the park service. Exciting stuff!

Her books – based on her career – depict what it is like to be a guardian of natural resources as well as a firefighter, law enforcement officer and paramedic. She recounts some harrowing experiences in ways that will keep your eyes riveted to the page. They depict a very well-rounded view of what it’s like to be a park ranger. Anyone contemplating working in the wide open spaces of the park or forest services would enjoy reading them, especially someone interested in the medical field.

No moss grows on this lady’s stone. She has a doctorate in biology and is an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University. She is a visiting lecturer for the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea Program; she has posted a journal on that program at

Muleady-Mecham was recently selected by the United States Department of State as a Fulbright Scholar. She will be traveling to the Russian Federation this fall to teach at Gorno-Altaisk University in southwestern Siberia. Nancy and her husband, Kent, have lived in Arnold for two years – ever since Kent’s retirement from his post as the structural fire chief at Grand Canyon National Park. She said she loves the Sierra Nevada and has been visiting the area since she was in her teens. She also has friends and family in Calaveras County.

Nancy volunteers as a docent at Calaveras Big Trees State Park and the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum. She also works part-time as an emergency room nurse at Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital in San Andreas and last season she worked for the Ski Patrol First Aid Room at Bear Valley Mountain.

She truly loves the outdoors and is an avid hiker and backpacker. She has completed solo hikes of the John Muir and High Sierra trails through the Sierra Nevada.

Her books are available at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Big Trees Market in Arnold, at and from the publisher, Vishnu Temple Press, at

Here’s a bonus — if you buy the books locally, the author will most likely sign them!