Heading downward from the Bright Angel Trailhead, when you take those first steps below the rim, you’re walking in the footsteps of ancient people. As you begin to descend, the layered bands of red rock reveal the wonders of an incomparable ecological and geological masterpiece. Whether your goal is to reach Phantom Ranch and return to the South Rim, or complete the Rim to Rim experience and hike up the North Kaibab trail to the North Rim, you’ll need to rely on the skills and determination of a dedicated trail crew to pull it off.
If you’ve had the chance to dust your boots with the red ground at Grand Canyon National Park (or for that matter, any established trail you’ve experienced), you’ll know first-hand how important performing robust trail maintenance is to this backbone of visitor participation in the outdoors. There’s predictable variables like the impact of human visitors, and unpredictable variables such as the effects of seasonal weather erosion on the trail system. Together, we’re left with an urgency for qualified, engineered manpower, and the financial resources it takes to put those efforts in motion.
Wild Tribute's 4 the Parks donations contribute to the Grand Canyon Conservancy's Trails Forever Endowment. Trails Forever and the Grand Canyon Conservancy work closely with the National Park Service to identify future projects and plan the resources and logistics that will be necessary to conduct repairs. The endowment also enables the recruitment and activation of Youth Conservation Corps workers, which adds a twist of irony to the mix. Many of the trails they help rebuild were first built by their predecessors in the 1930's, the Civilian Conservation Corps. Considering the number of annual footsteps coupled with the fact some trails have existed in the Grand Canyon far before the National Park Service, one can imagine the scope of this mandate.
Maintenance projects range from removing overgrown vegetation to clearing tons of rock debris from trails. Miles of drainage ditches must be cleaned and cleared for runoff (did you know Arizona has a monsoon season?), retaining walls built and rebuilt, switchbacks repaired, log and rock retaining walls installed, and miles and miles of trail surface to be rejuvenated. Daunting, right? Now imagine such endeavors facing limited accessibility where mules are your principal mode of brute strength and transportation, and your quiver of tools is only as deep as a shovel and a pickaxe.
The result of this hard work is better and safer access for both visitors and park staff, as well as quicker and more effective emergency response times. It's easy to argue this very work is core to the heart of the park experience. Explorers ourselves, having spent the night at Phantom Ranch, separately tackled the mighty Nankoweap, and now planning an expedition on the Escalante Route, the work of the Trails Forever Endowment is near and dear. We encourage you to also consider supporting this priceless initiative.
Grand Canyon Conservancy is the official nonprofit partner of Grand Canyon National Park, raising private funds, operating retail shops within the park, and providing premier guided educational programs about the natural and cultural history of the region. Its supporters fund projects including trails and historic building preservation, educational programs for the public, and the protection of wildlife and their natural habitat.