Ok this will be brief…..we thought we were going to the south rim of the grand canyon to do trial work but we ended up at the north rim doing a wee bit of trail work and a whole lot of hiking and raking pine needles….
Ok so 8 days and lucky we packed for all weather since we originally should have been warm and the place we ended up at was -7c the first night! We were camping but luckily had the use of the ranger’s cabin to cook in and sit in at night. It was cold at night but beautiful during the day once the sun had a chance to heat up, and there are worse things to do than hike through ponderosa forest near the north rim of the Grand Canyon. On the first day we hiked up to the top of Mt Dellenbaugh and then did some work on the trail on the way back down, Jim the ranger was very patient with us and as you can see we managed to get group photos for everyone at the summit looking out over the Grand Canyon.
The rest of the project was mainly raking, basically what they do is set fire to vast tracts of forest to burn out the unwanted growth at ground level so that the ponderosa can flourish, but to protect the old ponderosa trees from fire damage we had to remove all the material from the base of the trees so that there would be no fuel for the fire to feed on. Sounds very simple but then add to the equation that you only have to remove the “duff” (yep just like Homer says) from the old growth trees, which are few and far between, and the area you’re covering is the size of Scotland (well almost..ok not but it was big) and the process can take a while! We walked the area in sections and had to play hide and seek with the old growth – you can spot them from their bark as its pink and they have a flat top while the younger trees have black bark and a pointy top. Bet you didn’t think this was going to be educational! Anyway that was what we did…as well as go and visit some old deserted ranches in the area that are designated “historical”, even the trash left lying round them is “historical”….this led to much discussion as they were probably less than 100 years old and if they’d been in europe they would have been pulled down for being an eyesore but in America these are old and can’t be touched!
Our other main “skive” was a surprise trip to the rim of the grand canyon – 40 minutes hair raising drive in the van with Ian insisting that everyone close their eyes for the last 2mins and out we popped of the bush right on the north rim….wow! I think it made everyone’s trip. The north rim may not be as spectacular as the south rim but its still massive and very beautiful and even better its not full of tourists…we were the only people there.
Due to the weather we left the day before we were supposed to and just as well that we did since it had only rained for a few hours and we still were very lucky to get out of the park – 80 miles on dirt roads that were nice and hard when dry but turned into slidey clay shutes when wet did not make for an easy drive and as you can see from the pics the nice white van did get a lil bit on the muddy side!