10+ questions with Dan Neary, Senior Park Ranger at Paris Mountain

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This is a part of our Q+A series. Know someone we should interview? Nominate them here.

Profile: Dan Neary is a Senior Park Ranger at our closest SC state park — Paris Mountain. He comes from a family of 12 kids (and is No. 10 in the line up in case you were wondering); enjoys drawing, painting, and woodworking; and grew up in the city but has always felt more at home in the woods.

In honor of National Park and Recreation Month, we’re asking Dan some questions like what other parks he loves, what he never leaves home without, and what his favorite piece of local trivia is.

If you’re originally from the Upstate, why have you stayed here? If you’re not, what brought you here?

I am originally from Chicago but visited Poinsett State Park when I was in high school and fell in love with South Carolina. I was an intern with the SC State Parks in college and enjoyed not only the beautiful state parks but also the people I met within the park system. I have been in the Upstate for almost 16 years and have loved every minute of it.

Other than Paris Mountain, what’s your other favorite SC State Park? What’s your favorite National Park?

Table Rock State Park + Zion National Park — both parks are so beautiful in their own unique way, and we are lucky to have them.

Top 3 things you never leave the house without.

Water, pocket knife, and a cup of coffee

Hit us with your favorite piece of local trivia:

Did you know that the 4 lakes in Paris Mountain State Park once supplied the drinking water for the City of Greenville? Visit the Park Center to find out more.

What all do you do as a park ranger at Paris Mountain State Park?

We have a great team at Paris Mountain and help each other with a lot of tasks. We all clean bathrooms; pick up trash; fix water leaks; repair/maintain historic structures; maintain quality customer service; cut hazard trees; help injured animals; enforce park rules; manage/account for revenue; manage retail; manage the campground, trail system, and lakes — among many other things. It is a very interesting job in that no two days are alike. It can be challenging at times, but it is a great job.

What’s your craziest critter story?

This is more special than crazy, but we had been hearing owls around the park recently. My daughter loves owls, so my wife brought her and my son out and we walked up the trail listening for them. We kept getting closer until I looked over and saw one not only close, but on a low branch. My daughter was able to watch it, and take some pictures and videos of it. We were all really excited, because it’s not everyday that you get to see one, especially that close up.

What’s your favorite season in the park?

Fall — The park looks really pretty when the colors are changing, and it’s a great time to sit around the campfire.

What’s your favorite thing to do at Paris Mountain during your free time?

Get out and hike the trails — I like to take it slow and enjoy the experience. The park is so diverse and ever-changing through the seasons — you never know what is going to be around the next curve.

What are your sunscreen and bug spray recommendations?

Sunscreen — Limit direct contact for long periods, if not be sure to reapply, and wear a hat or swim shirt if possible

Bug spray — If the natural stuff works for you, go with that, but sometimes you have to up the ante. Check for ticks periodically during a hike and when you get home.

Any tips on utilizing “leave no trace” principles?

Plan ahead and be prepared. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and a bag or two to carry your trash. Have a map and stay on designated trails. There is a lot of really good info at www.LNT.org. PMSP is a LNT “Hot Spot” this year, and we are looking forward to working with those folks to help educate visitors and staff and learn new ways to implement LNT principles.

If you were taking someone on a tour around the Upstate, where are the three places you’re going?

I’m going for a hike at Paris Mountain State Park, a walk across the Liberty Bridge, and a cup of coffee or something to eat at any of the local places on Main Street. My sister is going to be visiting next month and that is exactly what we will be doing.

What’s an improvement you’d like to see in Greenville?

I give a lot of credit to those involved with taking what Greenville was during, say, the 80’s and making it what it is today. I love Greenville and am happy to be a part of making improvements to Paris Moutntain State Park to help make visiting the Greenville area an awesome experience.

Share a high + low from your day or week.

I appreciate the little things, like a young kid that is super excited to become a Junior Ranger. We also get thanked often for what we do, and I feel very fortunate for that. A low is having someone get injured, whether a child with a skinned knee or a mountain biker that has taken a fall.

Tell us about an obstacle you’ve had in life and how you overcame it.

I lost my Mom when I was 9 and my Dad when I was 19. I learned to appreciate day to day life and those I come in contact with. I still struggle from time to time but feel fortunate to have had the support from my family and friends throughout the years.

What three people (living or dead) would you like to share a meal with?

Mom, Dad, and Bruce Springsteen

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