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 ever had the chance to get your boots on the ground at Grand Canyon National Park (or for that matter, any established backcountry 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. Combined, we’re left with an urgency for qualified, experienced manpower and the financial resources it takes to put those efforts in motion. At Wild Tribute, we see the necessity to facilitate both, as we ourselves take full advantage of a good hike at every opportunity we can.
Our financial support of the Grand Canyon Conservancy enhances the 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 the repairs. The endowment will also enable the recruitment and activation of Youth Conservation Corps workers, which is appropriate as some of the trails they’ll be working on were actually built by their predecessors in the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930’s. With the Grand Canyon in particular, there’s trails that have been there for thousands of years. You can imagine the scope of time that has had its opportunity to “adjust” the landscape over that time frame, and these teams go to work to help the park trails adapt to the changes that Mother Nature has laid on them as well as fill in where man has tread a bit too hard.
Maintenance tasks range from removing overgrown vegetation to clearing tons of rock debris from the trails. Miles of drainage ditches must be cleaned and readied for more water (ever been to Arizona in monsoon season?), retaining walls built and rebuilt, switchbacks repaired, log and rock checks installed, waterbars cleared and reformed, and miles and miles of trail tread to be replaced. Sounds daunting, right? Now imagine facing this task with limited accessibility, where mules are your mode of transportation, and your quiver of tools goes only as deep as a shovel and a pickaxe.
The result of all this hard work is better and safer access for both visitors and park staff as well as quicker and more effective emergency response time due to improved trail conditions. Improved drainage and restored retaining walls also help protect the trail against erosion, preserving the trail for a longer period of time for canyon explorers to enjoy into the future. The Wild Tribute team fully intends to be among those explorers, and we’d be happy to have you along for the journey.
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. Our supporters fund projects including trails and historic building preservation, educational programs for the public, and the protection of wildlife and their natural habitat.