Adventure Hike with EE Ranger Amala this morning at Hermit’s Rest. We had about 18 people, parents and kids put together. The family program is geared toward 9-14 year olds, but we had some young ‘uns out there, one possibly as young as 6. They were troopers, crowding Amala up front with the parents trailing behind calling out warnings and reminders to, “let the Ranger go first!” Hermit’s Rest is only accessible by shuttle bus, being an employee on official business in an official vehicle, by foot, or by bike. It’s about eight miles from the Village. Mary Colter built Hermit’s Rest which has a stunning stone fireplace. It is named after a guy who lived on the west end of south rim, and yes he enjoyed his solitude. Amala lectured the group about hiking safely, drinking water, stopping to rest.
To the delight of the children she had a spray bottle filled with water which she periodically sprayed on anyone who asked. Delicious. At every trailhead I’ve been to there’s been an article about a Boston Marathon finisher who died in the canyon because she didn’t take enough food and water and tried to bite off more trail than they could do in current conditions. Her friend made it out alive. I like that they posted this (at the request of the deceased’s family) because it personalizes the concept of what may happen to you if you don’t go prepared. Just from the tiny section of trail we hiked today I decided that one cannot carry enough water below the rim. When they say it’s hot they mean that for every 1,000 feet you drop in elevation it gets 4 degrees warmer. If it’s already 85 on the rim at 7,000 feet and the river lies at something like 1,200…Well, there’s a story problem for you kids.
I submitted paperwork to stay in the employee bunkhouse at Indian Gardens (about 3,500 feet) in early July. There’s a regular kitchen with all the amenities so this is a huge weight off the sweaty ol’ back, or more room to haul additional water.
Back to the hike. Amala had us examine, pinyon pine, juniper, prickly pear, yucca, and agave. We also took a break at a fossil bed where the kids used wet sponges to highlight the ancient sea creatures, since it made them show up better in the piercing sunlight. It was the first time I officially went “below the rim,” so that was exciting. I was heartened by not seeing or hearing a single deadly creature. When I hike though, I’ll be starting at like 5am or before when it’s still cool. Scorpions and rattlesnakes like cool too…
Second half of my day I was back in the cool envelope of the library where I learned a few more new tasks, and reviewed how to handle ILL materials through the OCLC service. I guy came in asking about hiking by moonlight and wanting to know if we had a photocopy machine because he was too cheap to buy a map. There’s a full moon tomorrow night. He printed one off the NPS site for free, so that satisfied him.
I checked my PO box after work, USPS hasn’t come through for me yet. I visited the General Store for the first time and see why Betty doesn’t bother to drive to Williams or Flagstaff every week. It’s like a regular supermarket, granted, a higher priced supermarket, but with my magic green bag (just for locals) I got a 10% discount. I balanced hamburger meat for burritos, grapes, plums, apples on my cycle home, lamenting only that they were out of vanilla extract. I am fixed on making an orange julius with my borrowed blender. For now, water is gourmet. Ours comes from Roaring Springs on the North Rim piped across the canyon to the Village, where they keep a week’s worth at a time in supply tanks.
Now to some entertaining literature for the evening. Last night is was a tale about the first and last time anyone ever tried to herd deer. The famed western author, Zane Grey, wrote a book about it prior to the event, a film crew was on hand, and various authority figures were convinced that herding wild deer was possible. Why were they herding them? Well, men had killed off all their natural predators and so they were trying to “manage them.” Wildlife management. What a joke. Needless to say, the newspaper headline read, “Kaibab Deer Refuse to Herd Animals Become Wild and Stampede Riders’ Lines.” Really? They became wild all of a sudden? Yes indeed, the Great Kaibab Deer Drive was an astounding flop. In my next post I’ll tell you what really happened to Brighty, the famed burro of Grand Canyon.
Jenny Gapp, has eighteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.