A painting of a trail going down canyon through colorful cliff layers.


Behind the Scenery

Hidden forces shape our ideas, beliefs, and experiences of Grand Canyon. Join us, as we uncover the stories between the canyon’s colorful walls. Probe the depths, and add your voice for what happens next at Grand Canyon!


First Voices - Daniel Bulletts


Daniel: The name for the Grand Canyon means the world of energy, because it's so vast and big. The Colorado River, we call the big water in the Canyon. And so these, you know, these words, you know, come from the Canyon and they come from a place that that my people, you know, are visiting and still need to visit and still need to remember that where we come from is important, not only to us living, but it's also important to us in our afterlife as well. And if my people are hearing that that they know what I'm saying.

Jesse: Hey, this is Jesse for this episode of the podcast. I had the pleasure of speaking with Daniel Bulletts. Daniel is a cultural resource director for the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians as well as the director for the Southern Paiute Consortium. We recorded this episode sitting at a picnic table next to the rim of the Canyon, so you might hear some wind and other background noise.

Daniel: OK, hello, my name is Daniel Bulletts. I am a member of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians. I'm also employed by the Tribe. I'm their cultural resource director, and I'm also the director of the Southern Paiute Consortium for the Tribe and.

Jesse: Can you tell me about your duties as cultural resource director?

Danniel: So as cultural resource director for the Tribe, my job is to keep good working relationships with the Department of Interior agencies, the BLM, the Forest Service, the Park Service, even the state on cultural issues that they may have inside their park or inside or inside the state. And to help them problem solve certain things that are culturally sensitive to tribes and to different agencies.

Jesse: And for listeners who may not know what is the Southern Paiute Consortium?

Daniel: So the Southern Paiute Consortium is a group made out of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, which has five bands in it, and the San Juan Southern Paiutes and that was made in the early 1990s. And that was to give the Southern Paiute People a voice in the Adaptive Management Program that's going on with the Glen Canyon Dam, the Grand Canyon, and the Colorado River. To give us a seat at the table to share our issues and to share our knowledge of things that need to be shared during meetings.

Jesse: And as part of your role in the Adaptive Management Program you participate in monitoring river trips, right?

Daniel: Correct. Under that we do an annual river trip in June. It's one of the hottest months, the hottest trips in in the year and. And that's for a reason. I mean, you know sometimes as Southern Paiutes, you know, we get caught up in this modern-day lifestyle that we need to be brought back down to simple. The simple way of thinking, to the simple way our people used to be and when we're down there in the Grand Canyon monitoring, we're at the simplest that we can ever get. You know there's no air conditioning, there's, you know, no Wi-Fi, no cell service. We're cut off from the real world. So we have to learn to get along and share things and help each other throughout the 10-day trip. It humbles a lot of us that go there.

Jesse: When you're down there, what sorts of things are you are you looking?

Daniel: Under the Adaptive management program, when it first got started, the Tribe was asked, or the Consortium was asked to choose ten sites that are culturally significant to the Southern Paiutes and we couldn't. We said “no, we can't because the whole northern side is culturally significant to us.” The government wouldn't budge and so the elders at the time said “well, since we have to choose, we're going to choose these ten sites that we're going to monitor even though we don't want to. You know, they're providing a way for us to come down each year.” So, we chose 10 sites and that we have been monitoring since the early 90s.

Jesse: And you're just looking for kind of impact?

Daniel: Yes, the impacts to the area and impacts from not only from the natural things but from tourists and human caused things that do happen down there. And natural things. Sometimes the earth does shake and then you know, the rain does flood and it does, you know, erase some of the things that are down there, but you know, in, in a cultural aspect those weren't meant to be shared once they're gone.

Jesse: Yeah, that's really interesting. I think you know you gave a talk to visitors here just 1/2 hour or so ago. And one of the things that that you said in it was that you're, you know, you're able to learn from recordings from your tribal elders, more about your own culture. I'm curious how. Those like records are being used in in your Tribe and in in Kaibab Paiute.

Daniel: So those traditional recordings and stuff are archived. We have an archival place there on the reservation that we house all these things in and they're accessible to tribal members only. And so, if a travel member wants to come, they just go through my department and check out or sign a paper and then we take them there and we have them listen and they can't take anything, but we can make recordings for them to take home. But nowadays, a lot of people don't have the time to do that. You know, fortunately for me, you know I do because that's part of my job. And so that's one thing that I like to do is to go back and rehear past tribal members talk about certain things. And a lot of those aren't in English they're in Southern Paiute, so it kind of makes me want to learn more and understand what they're saying, which I can to a point. Hopefully one day I'll be fluent enough to make my own recordings and share. I always like to go back and listen to my predecessors talk in their interviews and try to keep what they say, “keep moving forward.” Because throughout the years, in the government, they always create the same issue but a different way. And so, we're constantly trying to tell them certain things and bring them back from creating more problems than needs to be created.

Jesse: Learn from the past.

Daniel: Exactly.

Jesse: What a novel concept!

Daniel: Yeah, learn from the past.

Jesse: I'm just curious, you know, your perspective on how the Park Service tells stories and talks about history.

Daniel: OK. You know, in working with the different agencies, you know everybody, even my tribe and all the tribes, I guess, everybody has their own perspective of certain things. So, when you talk to them one on one, you know, you get their perspective. And, you know, I tried to encourage that with with people because when you're talking from your perspective, you're being honest and open and you're comfortable and you're sharing things that you may have heard, or people may have shared with you. And that's things that need to be shared. You know, a lot of times, you know, we're coming from this mentality of that's mine. This is mine. I don't want to share it with you. And we can't be like that. We have to be open and honest and for people to share, they have to be open and honest. And so, I encourage Park Service staff, BLM staff, you know, Forest Service staff to share what they know with people. And then if they do have questions, you know, go to the tribes and say, “hey, I have this question, you know, am I allowed to say it? Am I allowed to share it? What's the answer to this question?” And sometimes tribes will shun you. And sometimes tribes will say, “well, thank you for coming and it means this, you know. It means that.” You know, we want that true knowledge to come out rather than being suppressed and not shared.

Jesse: Can you tell me a little bit about the first time or one of the first times you came to Grand Canyon?

Daniel: Man, that's... let's see, one of the first times I came to the Grand Canyon was probably in the early 80s with my grandparents. And, you know, as we were coming here to the North Rim, you know, we made stops along the roadway at certain spots. And they got out and you know, I got out too, but I was running around and doing kid things and not knowing that my grandparents were actually doing offerings and praying and collecting things as they were coming here, plants and other things that they wanted to use in making things back at home. And so, once we got to the North Rim, you know, walking out to the edge and seeing the colors and how vast it was and the different sounds of the wind blowing. I don't remember too much people back then just, you know, just us. And then my grandpa going off and being by himself and, you know, hearing him sing and coming back, you know, really happy and like recharged kind of like. That's my first impressions of the North Rim.

Jesse: And then as you've grown, and as you've learned more, how has your relationship with the North Rim and the Grand Canyon changed?

Daniel: So, as I grew, you know, things started to make more sense. I started to realize the importance of this of this area and the importance of our traditional Southern Paiute territories and how vast it was. And it made me realize that there was more people than what I thought lived out here. You know, all these people that made these rock writings and things that are here, you know, it's not called rock art. You know, we want to say rock writing because that tells a story. You know when we say rock art to people it gives them the idea of, oh, we could doodle on this rock, or we could paint this rock. You know, we want to stay away from that. And so, you know, as I got older, you know, a lot of things started to make sense. A lot of the stories that I was heard as a as a kid growing up started to make more sense. The circle dances that I know and sing start to make more sense. And just being out in nature, you know, and having that quietness and smelling and seeing and hearing and using all your senses to be a part, to make that connection with this land is very important now to me. And my birthday is tomorrow and I'm actually turning 50.

Jesse: Well, hopefully this is a good, good birthday visit for you.

Daniel: Right.

Jesse: What is important to you about having that connection about that peace and that that feeling that you get when you're here or when you're out in nature?

Daniel: So for me it's more of a spiritual connection and being out here and seeing things that I don't normally see, taking my mind off the fast pace of modern-day life and knowing that there's more to life than just what I see at home. There's more to life than the grocery store. There's more to life than you know than to driving here and there. You know, there's, there's this vastness that all of us as human beings should and need to go out and visit and see and share. All these places in nature have a special place for everybody that visits and that energy that’s there is so positive that a lot of us will get excited when we see those woods and we feel that coolness and smell that fresh air and it's like we want to go here, we want to go there. We want to see this and we want to do that. Slow down you you'll get there. It’s not as fast-paced. Pick up your feet when you walk. You know that type of thing. That's a hiking joke. The hikers joke.

Jesse: Well, Speaking of visiting special places is there one thing that you would like visitors to know before they come to Grand Canyon or as they're visiting the Canyon?

Daniel: So one thing I'd like visitors to know is to come with an open mind and come with the willingness to learn something that you're actually not going to learn by reading. You're going to learn by seeing. You're going to learn by feeling. You're going to learn by hearing. You may even learn by, you know, tasting when these monsoon rains come, and you can taste the wetness in the air. You know, come with the mindset to learn and also with the mindset to share what you have learned with your family, with your friends, and one day they may come out here and experience the same thing. Because it's hard to tell somebody about an experience when they're not there to actually experience it. So, I encourage people to come and experience, make that connection with nature and the land and even the people that are here that are helping provide certain accommodations for us here. You know, talk with them. They're people too, and they'll share. And you'll make that connection regardless of... the weather.

Jesse: Even if the Canyon is filled with fog.

Daniel: With fog or with snow or if it's raining cats and dogs. You'll still make a connection.

Jesse: Many thanks to Daniel for sharing his stories and perspectives. The behind The Scenery Podcast is brought to you by the interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. We gratefully acknowledge the native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant native communities who make their home here today.

Daniel Bulletts is the Cultural Resource Director for the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians and Director of the Southern Paiute Consortium. In this episode, Daniel shares his connections to the Canyon, his role in tribal monitoring river trips, and some of his trademark humor!

Dams Part 2: Damming a Sacred Space


Ceili: This episode is dedicated to the memory of Ronnie Cachini. We are deeply grateful for all he taught us during his many years of close partnership with Grand Canyon National Park.

Jan: Every year we would have these big floods that would just cover everything over and make a new flood plain. It's only when you stop the sediment supply did those things start becoming available to see, and that’s the legacy that we're looking at, is all of those things, all of those thousands of years. People living around along the river and every year they would come back. There would be a flood they’d come back, they’d plant, do whatever, whatever you know next year it would flood again, they come back there's a new flat surface because everything was buried in sand again. Everything was an annual cycle and it just kept happening for thousands of years until 1963 and then that stopped.

Kate: What stopped at the Colorado River in 1963 that was so important? Like rivers and bodies of water around the world people congregate around this river. For thousands of years it has been home to multiple native tribes. They watched the river, sat on the bank and listened to the water flowing. For over 100 years Grand Canyon has been protected as a National Park. The mission statement of the Park Service is to preserve and protect this place for future generations, but in the process some people's voices have been excluded. The people who have lived here for thousands of years. Hello I'm Kate, and this is the second episode in our two-part series on dams in Grand Canyon. In today's episode of Behind the Scenery we'll explore how the installation of the Glen Canyon Dam impacted Grand Canyon’s traditionally associated tribes and the sacred and ancestral grounds in the river corridor. One of the reasons I found this story is because in my job I'm a Ranger who lives at the bottom of the Canyon. I work several river miles below the dam. Every day I go on a walking patrol and I say hello to the Colorado River. One of my favorite spots by the beach is an archaeological site of Ancestral Puebloans. I like to imagine the families who used to have the Colorado River as their backyard. They took stones from the heart of the Canyon and beautifully crafted them into pink and black walls. Now we can only see the foundations of the plaza, living spaces, a ceremonial kiva. When the Pueblo was complete people would have been lounging on the roof. From there they would have been able to watch their kids playing on the beach. In today's world there are plenty of people still playing on the beach, but there are also river trips and blue, yellow, or orange rafts, sometimes even a small wooden boat, and they pull into what is now called Boat Beach. Once the dam was put in beaches like Boat Beach started eroding away. The Canyon was not only losing its beaches, but also the archaeological sites along the river became in danger of being lost forever. Jan Balsom was the park’s archaeologist from 1984 through 1995. She was in the field documenting how cultural sites by the river were being impacted. She has since filed several leadership positions in the park, including senior adviser to the Superintendent, and Jan is a lead advisor on cultural resources at Grand Canyon.

Jan: Recreational boaters on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon were sitting on beaches watching the water come up and down because they operated the dam in a way they call a cash register dam. When people turned on their lights they would let more water out and when people turned off their lights they would stop the water flows, so we had wide fluctuations that would be in the neighborhood of 20 to 30,000 cubic feet per second changes in a day. That would result in 10 or 15 feet downstream of stage change.

Kate: 10 to 15 feet is a huge change within 24 hours, especially if you're a boater and it's below where you made your home for the night. If you're new to the Canyon, think about narrow granite walls rising above you. On your side, sandy beaches line parts of the Canyon. You dock your boat and set up camp to sleep. What you didn't realize was the damn caused the river level to rise the height of a one to two-story building while you were sleeping.

Jan: As archaeologist for the park, I was most concerned about looking at the archaeological resources and how the dam flows were affecting the integrity of those properties.

Kate: Unfortunately, the dam was created before or key environmental legislation was in place. The National Environmental Policy Act wouldn't come about until three years later, and it requires federal agencies to complete an environmental review to assess potential impacts of a project. The dam was excluded from this environmental assessment until the Bureau of Reclamation had the need to replace the eight generators that powered the dam in 1982. Scientists, river runners, members of the public, and environmental groups began to push for scientific studies that could measure the adverse impacts of the dam. In 1989 a grassroots project pushed for an environmental impact statement.

Jan: So as the parks archaeologists, I then became a member of the EIS writing team for the Glen Canyon Dam environmental impact statement that was done. In combination with that we had to begin doing the archaeological inventory survey then of the Colorado River corridor. We spent the better part of nine months with the crews working under a cooperative agreement with Northern Arizona University to do the 100% inventory the river corridor that resulted in documenting 475 properties in the near shore environment from the dam down to the lake.

Kate: 475 remnants of homes, agricultural structures, religious sites, and petroglyphs of the people who had lived by the Colorado River. Jan was curious about who these places were important to, the people who felt that these places were in the family. Jan did something unusual for the Park Service and archaeology at the time. She looked at these places and realized that their descendants still live near Grand Canyon. She invited them into the conversation.

Jan: And a piece of that was bringing our tribal colleagues down onto the Colorado River so that they could help us design the research module, how we're going to do this, so that they understood what we are looking for and that we could understand from them things that we may need to be looking for. It was the first time, and I didn't realize this at the time, but it was the first time that we anybody had done a river trip where we had invited the traditionally associated people back into the Canyon and that led to a whole other legacy of the tribes’ involvement. We were doing a project to build a parking lot up on the East Rim and we had an archaeological site there. I knew enough from my studies and working at the state historic preservation office that we needed to contact the tribes. We sent out letters to the five tribes that we worked with, and the entire Havasupai Tribal Council showed up to the superintendent's office. And the Superintendent at the time was a fellow named Jack Davis. He looked at me and he said I think we need to have somebody who does tribal liaison, I guess that will be you. And so I added that to my portfolio of responsibilities. So we started working along the river and we knew that the archaeology was pretty extraordinary, even the limited amount that we knew about. We contacted tribes early on to let them know we're going to be doing this, got them engaged with at least that portion of the project, and also as we began moving towards the environmental impact statement (Luhan identified in 1989 we're going to do the EIS) we started having an EIS writing team. And upon the insistence of a couple of us we convinced Bureau of Reclamation that they needed to include the tribes as part of the cooperating agencies, part of the writing team, because these are resources of concern to the tribes not just to us as the National Park Service, or to the American public who we are all responsible to. But even at that time we knew the Hopi, for example, have significant histories in the Canyon. The Navajo border the river for 60 plus miles. The Havasupai and Hualapai to the West, we knew that they have ancestral areas. The Southern Paiute to the north. So, you know, we worked with Reclamation. It wasn't something they had ever done, and it challenged them a little bit to think about a different way of inclusion.

Kate: Jan found that the best way to assess the cultural impacts of the dam was to consult the direct ancestors of the people who had histories extending back sometimes thousands of years in the Canyon. Archaeologists learned more by listening to the tribes.

Jan: And certainly from a tribal perspective, only you as a tribal member can know if the traditional resource that you are concerned about is doing OK. Does it need help, is it still as functional as it was, are the spring sources that you rely on for traditional purposes still functioning the way they have or have there been changed? And only you would know that. So it's important for the traditional people to be able to come down and evaluate within their expertise how well specific resource is adjusting to this changed environment. When you think about some of the political discord between the agencies, the federal approach to Indian law and policy, the differences amongst the tribes in terms of land base and resources, and a lot of those things. But for whatever reason when you talk about the Grand Canyon everyone comes together because they all have common histories here. There's a recognition that everyone has a vested interest in ensuring that this place continues. So I think that because of the place, and the way in which we included the tribes from the very beginning with the archaeological survey, saying “we understand that this is your history we want you to help us preserve these things,” that it was a general opening to all of them to participate with us, and that followed through into the formal NEPA process as them being part of the writing team.

Kate: Six Native American tribes contributed to the environmental impact statement that was finalized in 1995. That didn't happen without hard work from certain tribal leaders. While Jan pushed or inclusion of tribal voices at a Park Service level, it was a greater challenge for tribes to become involved in projects that involved multiple federal agencies. We have an incredible opportunity to hear from Leigh Kuwanwisiwma. He is a leader in the Hopi tribe and director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. For 30 years he's been involved with adaptive management in Grand Canyon. Since around 1989 Leigh successfully led his tribe in playing a major part in the environmental impact statement. His success helping to manage the river had a challenging start.

Leigh: Well, to be frank, nobody came to the Hopi or to any tribe that is currently engaged with the oral history of the dam. I just happen to, I believe back around early 1990, I read in the Flagstaff Daily Sun there was a meeting on the Glen Canyon Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation. I was reading the newspaper and just out of curiosity, I didn't know really what it was about except the picture of the dam up there, but I never realized that it was dealing with the whole Canyon. but that was how I got a whiff of something happening, so I went to that meeting. It was an evening meeting. I sat there listening to it and there was a whole series of presentations on jump starting the EIS. As the initial introductions came around, all the federal agencies of course introduce themselves, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs was introduced from Phoenix. And I learned later that they were representing all 19 tribes in the state of Arizona. An I sat there, and naturally at that meeting I was probably the only Native person there, and I was kind of bewildered. That's when I began to say we've got to learn more about what's going on, this EIS, and so I've got a lot of handouts and some background information. I took home a whole bunch of that and began to read it. And it was indeed about the grand Glen Canyon Dam but what was interesting to me was that the whole issue was, again, the water releases and the effects on the ecosystem. And I said “this has to be of interest to the tribe,” I mean it is an interest to the tribe. And then the next meeting again was in Phoenix, so I went to that one. And by that time I had reasonable assurance that the tribe, meaning the Tribal Council, wanted to actively participate, so I finally had the floor give it to me and I introduced myself. At that that time I was still the only tribal representative, and I said the Hopi Tribe will engage in this whole EIS, but independent from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and their representation of other tribes. We’re, I believe, quite capable of representing ourselves. I went before the tribal council and got a resolution declaring that we could be a cooperating agency. We would have that status. So I remember at the next meeting I introduced that resolution, gave it to them, and they gave me a seat. The chairman wrote to them that I would be the Hopi Tribe’s voting member. So I became the first tribal voting member.

Kate: Leigh had established the Hopi tribe as a stakeholder in the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program. Different stakeholders submitted scientific projects that would work on collecting data, monitoring resources, and restoring the ecosystem. One of the solutions was starting river monitoring trips beginning in the 1990s. River monitoring trips were initially funded by the Bureau of reclamation to mitigate the damage that the dam had caused. Imagine that you've created as scientific proposal to study the Colorado River, and now it's your job to float down the river for days or weeks so you can do studies and collect data downstream of the dam. Maybe your study is about how sediments are eroding beaches or impacting cultural sites, or maybe you're studying how the changed ecosystem impacted wildlife populations.

Leigh: In the 90s I was trying to figure out what we're gonna do and then I finally said “well, looks like this EIS is going to require a lot of science, a lot of research, and by golly I gotta determine what are what our focus is gonna be.” And it was the whole gamut of all three sciences, you know, biological, natural, and cultural. Of course, our forte, even though I was just beginning the office at that time, was gonna be culture. Even though I kind of was already thinking they're all interconnected. I believe we have the most extensive scientific reports based on our research design and then later how we identify certain research areas as we traveled from the first time that we started going down there.

Kate: Tribal monitoring trips began to happen every year, and in order to monitor what happened on the river time had to be spent on the water.

Leigh: So by ‘91 I believe around that time we got our funding and we got our first river trip down there. That's about the time I began to know Jan Balsom, too. I think she was just getting started, as well, about the same time. I think she started with the Grand Canyon about ‘88 too, or there about. She went with one of our efforts was to investigate as many archaeological sites down there. Alright, so that was our first attention down there. And from Lees Ferry all the way to Phantom Ranch there's 300 plus archaeological sites. All the way from there. A lot of it clearly ancestral Hopi because the Hopi polychrome and yellow ware down there. It matches our traditions in there because the Hopi, they say they traded with other clans down the Grand Canyon from here, you know. And they say the Wupatki people from Flagstaff, they traded with the Grand Canyon people, you know. Things like that are traditions so when you go down there and begin to learn about archaeology, the archaeologists will tell us “Well, there's evidence of Hopi yellow ware here.” Could be trade items, could be actually visitations by people, probably both.

Kate: The Hopi helped archaeologists gain a bigger picture of the rich relationships that tribes had across Arizona, and the vast trading networks that were connected to the bottom of Grand Canyon.

Leigh: So over time our reputation grew that we knew so much about the history of the Grand Canyon - culturally, the archaeological sites, the petroglyphs we were interpreting left and right down there. Our values in terms of the erosion effects on burials, that causes us to have to now rebury only a partial of a remain, right? That was very emotional. For the old men, of course, we're learning and the Hopi trip just grew. Everybody wanted to be on the trips. After they go through the river trips and learning about what we do down there, and the science we're doing, the cultural resources down there. You know, coming out we have a better perspective on how those are being affected by the dam operations. But they're pretty consistent, and so I think that's an indication that the Hopi culture is this unwavering. You know, our villages are a thousand years old. The Hopi still have a full 12 month ceremonial cycle. Today we're going into the woman's ceremonies right now. So it never ends for us. It never ends, we're always in the Kiva. So, I think it's it reflects the vibrancy of the Hopi culture, and we're fortunate to be able to say that.

Kate: The Hopi people and other Grand Canyon tribes continue to go on monitoring trips on the Colorado River to this day, and this has helped the Park Service and tribes listen to each other's interest and concerns.

Ronnie: First of all my name is Ronnie Cachini. I am 54 years old, and I am the Head Rain Priest for the Zuni Tribe. We are federally recognized as the Zuni Tribe, but we call ourselves A:Shiwi, and I am the traditional leader for the A:Shiwi people. I'm also the head medicine man for my society. I’ve been a medicine man since I was seven years old. I was initiated back in 1972, and growing up with the elders in my society, staying in the medicine house, I learned a lot. I obtained a lot of knowledge that I hold to this day. I hold these prayers. They’re not written in a book. We're not taught with electrical devices like tape recorders and such. All the prayers are taught orally, and if you have the heart, you’ll pick up all the prayers word for word. And it’s really hard for some people because the language is in the old ancient language which our people were speaking in the time when they emerge from the Grand Canyon. Ribbon Falls, Grand Canyon. That’s the place of our emergence. Chimik'yana'kya Deya' referring to the Grand Canyon as the emergence place.

Kate: Although the Zuni People consider the Grand Canyon their emergence place, at that time federal agencies did not realize how central the Canyon was to the Zuni history. Ronnie: And back in the day like in the 50s, 60s at Grand Canyon Park, you know, “why are Zunis interested in this place? They live far away, they live in New Mexico.” No one told them until they started going on these monitoring trips. That's when it opened up the eyes of the park. Kate: At that time many archaeologists had the hypothesis that these people had abandoned the area maybe because of war or a drought.

Ronnie: These people that have left all these sites, their homes, they did not abandon them. They were used time and time again. Archaeologists believe that these were a group of people that came and built these homes and they left and a whole different group of people came and occupied these places and left. Actually, these were the same people on their great migration. All the pueblo tribes were on a vast migration searching for their destinations on mother earth. It was a very spiritual world back then. Spirits showed them things that we hold today as our religion, or our traditions. These places were never abandoned. We’re trying to veer away from using the word “ruins” and “Anasazi.” We’re veering away from those terms because that’s not the pueblo way. We call them “the first people who lived in these homes.”

Kate: The Zuni people started going down to view and monitor these sacred spaces, especially the religious leaders of the tribe. This first fell on Ronnie's grandfather, and when he passed away that leadership passed to Ronnie.

Ronnie: I had never seen the Grand Canyon until 1998, when I took my first monitoring trip down the river. It was the most humbling experience I've ever had in my life.

Kate: On one special site visit, Ronnie was able to look at the rock art and interpret what that history meant to his tribe.

Ronnie: At Tanner there’s 3 larger boulders there. There’s lines going around, zig-zags and squares leading out to places. I was looking at it and I thought “I think this is a map of the Canyon. See this is the river and these are ways to get to certain places, maybe a collecting area or a village.” As I was looking at it, it just came out as a map of the river. Three huge boulders with a constant line going across the boulders, and then there’s other petroglyphs on there that have the 2 individuals with their tails connected together. And in our prayers at the very end, no matter if you’re a Rain Priest, a Medicine Man, a Kiva Leader, all these societies, even the commoners, in our prayers at the very end we say to hold on to each other tight with a bond that will never be broken. Always hold on to each other. And these 2 individuals with their tails connected, that’s that part of our prayer. It’s talking about our prayer. And when we read history, we read it in a book, but our ancestors left it on boulders, on cliff walls, all over the Southwest, all over the United States. It’s not just the Zuni people, it’s other tribes that left their mark.

Kate: Ronnie talked about another rock art panel that is named the Whitmore panel. This panel tells the story of his people's origin in the Grand Canyon. This panel is a popular stop for river trips river runners would hike and narrow path from the river to the cliffs where there was a smooth rock face painted with red figures.

Ronnie: Those petroglyphs are telling us how our people came up from the 4th underworld, and we’re trying to change the name from the Whitmore Panel to the Zuni Emergence Panel. As you know, that takes a lot of time. It has to go through all these channels to make that change.

Kate: Zuni elders noticed that the trail was too close to the panel and people were causing erosion at the site. Visitors were also touching the paintings and the oils smeared from their hands were damaging the paintings. Over time Zunis communicated that this place needed more protection.

Ronnie: We asked the Park Service to move the trail. With the help of the Conservancy group, the Grand Canyon Conservancy group, they found an individual that donated a large portion of money to move that trail. So we were asked to be a part of working on the trail. We were there for, I believe, 5 or 6 days working on that trail, removing all the trail, placing rock along the old trail, then creating the new one down below, then having the stairway go up to a platform area where you could view the petroglyphs. We were there working and they had us planting rocks cactuses (laughter)…

Ceili: That’ll deter people from getting too close!

Ronnie: We were moving rock and we had to dig a trench and place a real big rock and bury it halfway so they couldn’t move it. And then put the cacti in certain areas. It came out really good. It came out really good. People weren’t going up and touching the petroglyphs no more. Park Service did an excellent job with all that – moving the real big old heavy rocks and making the stair steps that go up to the platform viewing area. It really was a great experience for me. I’ve never worked down in the Canyon like that before.

Kate: The story of the Zuni panel is just one example of how monitoring trips helped protect cultural sites along the river.

Ronnie: When you’re venturing into these archaeological sites, have respect. Treat it like you’re in a church. Don’t pick up pot shards and leave them, or pile them up on rocks. If you pick it up, put it back where you got it, or just leave it alone. Take a picture. Treat the place as if you’re in your church, your place of worship.

Kate: How did the Zuni people feel when the dam was put in?

Ronnie: I’m pretty sure that our tribe didn’t even know about it. There was no consultation at that time and once it was built it was built. And now, they come and ask us how we feel about it. I feel a lot of things about it, but what can we do? It’s already there, we can’t tell them to tear it down. And maybe one day they’ll take it back (chuckling).

Kate: Yeah! (laughter)

Ronnie: Yeah, we just need to adapt to what is displaced. It really messed up the whole cycle of the river. The Colorado River don’t reach the Sea of Cortez no more, not a lot. The Gila and the Salt River, they don’t reach the Sea of Cortez no more because of the dams that are built. Electricity is good. Electricity is good, but it has its pros and cons and we do not block our water ways from the headwaters all the way down to the oceans. We can’t, it’s not allowed. It’s like impeding the rains to come, you’re blocking out the rain when you do that. A big dam like that is holding back all the rain from coming in, because all that was supposed to go down to the ocean where our ancestors come back as moisture, as rain, any kind of precipitation that’s our ancestors feeding us with the gift of life, which is water. Building all these dams along the Colorado River is a “no-no,” we frown upon that. But at that time, like I said there were no consultations with tribes. They all just wanted to do whatever they wanted to do. Mother Earth was theirs for the taking, which we don’t see that way. A tribal Native American has never said that “this is my land.” We don’t own it we’re just taking care of it. When we pass away we’re not going to take it with us. We’re not gonna pack you in with your land and send you off to the spirit world. No. And like I said, they didn’t have any consultations with any of the tribes and they were places and now we have to deal with it. We’re helping the Park Service; we’re helping them to make right what they did.

Jan: Each group, each government, each cultural identity is represented somewhere different, but there's a shared understanding of the importance of Grand Canyon as part of all of the traditional landscapes for the native peoples of the area. I mean, Glen Canyon Dam was finished in 1963 so you've got 50 some years now of an experiment essentially, and many of our tribal colleagues will remind me that they’re patient people. They're just gonna wait. Every damn that's ever gone on the Colorado River has been eroded around, we just haven't taken a long enough perspective. But we also as federal agencies have responsibility to preserve in perpetuity. I mean, the National Park Service in particular we’re the, you know, we’re the forever people. You know, these resources are our responsibility forever. As long as the Park Service exists we will see ourselves as stewards for these lands and we’re stewards not for our own selves but for the American people and the tribal groups who have called this, again, this Canyon home for thousands of years. We take their responsibility really seriously.

Ed: When Grand Canyon was designated a National Monument in 1908 and a National Park in 1919, it was done without the support or consent of the people for whom the Canyon was home for time immemorial.

Ceili: Grand Canyon Superintendent Ed Keable.

Ed: Echoes of this painful and inequitable history still resonate throughout our park. We must acknowledge these injustices and face them head on. Today there is much we need to do to heal historic wounds, and we are committed to this work because it is both necessary and right. I know we can achieve these goals as Grand Canyon and the nation grapple with our past and progress ever forward towards building a more perfect union.

Ronnie: The most memorable experience I had down the river is uh, all the time! Everyday stands out. The wind may be blowing. you know. you may have sand in your breakfast, but you're down in the Canyon where our ancestors live, you know? You're happy, you know, having a great time!

Kate: My name is Kate, and thank you for joining us on another episode of Behind the Scenery. We gratefully acknowledge the native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant native communities who make their home here today.

“A big dam like that is holding back all the rain from coming in, because all that was supposed to go down to the ocean where our ancestors come back as moisture, as rain, any kind of precipitation. That’s our ancestors feeding us with the gift of life, which is water.”

-Ronnie Cachini, Head Rain Priest, A:Shiwi (Pueblo of Zuni)

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Ronnie Cachini. We are deeply grateful for all he taught us during his many years of close partnership with Grand Canyon National Park.

Hiking Misadventures with Nalini Ravindranath


Nalini: So I did the Rim to Rim hike at the Grand Canyon, and I hiked it with my sister. My sister it not the adventurous type and this was actually her first backpacking trip. And she came with me out of the kindness of her heart. And I could see how she transformed during the hike as she saw more people who looked like her and she had the ability to interact with them. So we were, you know, camped at the Phantom Ranch area and as we were sort of like hiking out there we met a mother and daughter, an Indian mother and daughter. I am of Indian descent. And my sister really just kind of like bonded with these two. In fact, like started hiking with them and I was hiking by myself for a while. But I think just that interaction made her feel more confident, and I think made her feel more like that she belonged in that space too.

Jesse: Hey this is Jesse. On this episode we’re featuring an interview ranger Jeff Caton recorded with Nalini Ravindranath. Nalini is the author of the blog “Hiking Misadventures.” She’s a great writer and a great storyteller. Enjoy.

Jeff: Alright, well let's just get started with the first question. When we had our preliminary conversation couple weeks ago you talked about how you went from kind of an urban person in Washington DC to hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Would you tell us about that experience?

Nalini: Yeah, so that is true. I grew up in DC and didn't really do any hiking or sort of like typically what's considered outdoors, any of those types of activity, and I had a like things that were big life changes that were happening. I had, you know, heard about the Appalachian Trail and I had seen a couple of movies and decided you know I was gonna take it on! This was the year that I was going to do it. So I set out on the Appalachian Trail without any backpacking experience and very little hiking experience. And the process of getting ready for that was really interesting. I'm somebody who has to do a ton of research before I take on something, particularly if it's something that I'm not familiar with. So this was a huge sort of, you know, like something really out of character for me, but to me it was also a really courageous life changing decision. So, you know, like my friends drove me down to Georgia and I started. The first couple of days were a little hard they were really really cold. I didn't know how to set up my tent, I didn't know how to make my stove work. So you know like the first couple days I was sort of like, you know, kind of like watching, making sure that this is really what I wanted to do, but I met such an incredibly wonderful group of people and everybody is so willing to help you. A couple of people that I met on the trail help me set up my tent probably about 3 or 4 days in and then I knew how to set up my tent, and then I knew how to work my stove. It was step by step. I learned how to do things you know while I was on the trail and that was a really, really freeing experience. It kind of got me out of my fear because I think a lot of the reason why I hadn't engaged in any outdoor activity was really fear. My family didn't necessarily do it and I didn't really know what it was about and so I'm really glad I had the opportunity to kind of experience the trail in the way that I did. And of course I just you know learned so much about myself and got to see some amazing amazing parts of the country that I you know had never thought to even visit. And, you know, at the end of it I was really proud of myself, and I think my parents who are kind of very traditional in what they think about as success. I think it also kind of helped pull them out of that traditional mode. The day after I had um summited Katahdin and I came back into town I called my dad and said “I summited!” and he was just so incredibly happy and yeah he said “I am just so proud of you. This is not something that I would have thought about doing. I didn't understand it in the beginning but I'm really glad that you kind of, you know, brought me along this journey and helped me learn about this trail as well.” So that was a really really awesome moment.

Jeff: How long did it take you to do the trail? Were you slowed down at all the learning curve or you did it in pretty Standard Time and didn't let any of that slow you down?

Nalini: Yeah I think I did it in pretty standard time. It took me 6 months. When I was planning it in the beginning I had always intended to go slow because I had read enough stuff online that like, you know, if I try to do too much I'll probably injure myself or you know something like that. And that was at the forefront of my head and being like don’t do anything too crazy, much crazier than what I was doing. I was actually ahead of schedule until towards the end when I entered into New Hampshire. I had developed plantar fasciitis on both feet and tendonitis on both of my knees, so just, you know, the act of walking was starting to become painful. I really had to rethink how I was gonna finish the hike, which meant I had to take a lot more breaks and then also you know sometimes do certain hikes as day hikes. So that slowed me down a little bit, but overall I still stayed that on schedule because I kind of like you know I had breezed through certain parts of the trail. So I finished September 17th. Started on March 15th and finished on September 17th.

Jeff: Wow that is so cool you finished up that trail with 2 banged up using 2 banged up feet and then and you still finish on time.

Nalini: I did! It sort of felt like I was like crawling into New Hampshire, right? And I was just like man, like what choice do I have? Am I really gonna go home when I have 2 more states left? And it was like “nope,” I'm gonna figure this out. Which I think kind of illustrative of my entire you know hiking experience, hiking life. Things don't always go according to plan and then my confidence gets shaken but then I kind of often have to sit down and have a talk with with myself and be like “OK, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna walk off the trail, or are you gonna figure it out?” And usually the answer is I'm gonna figure it out, and I figure it out.

Jeff: So we talked before you mentioned that, you know, naming your blog, there's a story there. How did you how did you name your blog? Because you just talked about how some things don't go as planned. Tell us how you how your named your blog.

Nalini: Yeah so, my blog is called “Hiking Misadventures,” and the story really starts from my first…I guess it was my second day on the trail, but the first morning after sleeping on the tail and waking up. I had filtered my water the night before so I could get an early start and I was just you know I had it all planned. Except, the thing that I didn't do is close my bite valve. It was open and I had set my pack unknowingly on top of the bite valve. I had packed everything into the pack and then I went I went to lift the hydration pack and put it in my backpack and it was pretty empty. And I was just like “what happened?” And I was just like looking around thinking there was a leak and then I kind of you know I had to be like “oh, that was a really silly mistake.” And then I re-filtered water, did the whole thing again and in that panicked moment I had taken my camera out and I had set it down. I completely forgot about it, started hiking, and then maybe about a mile in I realized I forgot my camera. I had to hike the mile back and pick it up. In those first few moments I was, you know, feeling like “gee, I'm probably not ready to do this, I'm completely inexperienced. I don't know what I was thinking.” But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. And then after I came home a lot of people that I would talk to would constantly say, particularly people in my family and other people of color, “I don’t think I could ever do that. I would never know how to figure out something like that, or problem solve on the go.” And when I decided to start my blog after the Appalachian Trail that was really something that was a driving force for me in even starting the blog - to emphasize this idea that you don't have to be an expert to experience the outdoors. And yes, there are some basic safety things that you have to think about, but really most of the time there are things that you can just learn how to do. And if you make a mistake you know correct your mistake and you get to keep going. And that fear shouldn't stop you from experiencing all the wonderful things about the outdoors.

Jeff: So I think a lot of us Rangers experienced those things where some days, you know, the most we get done is like you said putting one foot in front of the other and you don't need to be an expert for a lot of this stuff. You just have to do it and learn and fail sometimes, but continue after that failure.

Nalini: Yeah!

Jeff: So kind of building on that question, how has your you're hiking experience or your time in nature, how has that changed you from when you were starting out there in Washington DC, and now here you are with this awesome blog and all these experiences? How have you changed along that road?

Nalini: Yeah I mean, oh man! I would say the outdoors have given me so much confidence and the ability to believe in myself. Like I said, I was always one of these people who had to plan and really think through something before I did something, and I always kind of play things safe. So I only did things if I knew I could excel at it, so only things that I, you know, had a lot of experience in and I'm very averse to taking risk. And that part of myself has completely transformed. I am willing to experience new things. I don't let fears stop myself from experiencing new things. And I think you know one of the things that I've learned over the years of hiking and, you know most of the hiking that I do is by myself, is that sometimes the fear has to come along with you on the journey, right? And then you kind of go “OK, there's some fear there. That's OK you're coming along with me.” And then you know that can also make me you know stay alert and smart on the trail too, and you know like understand what my limitations are. So fear is not necessarily a bad thing. And then just, you know, I think in general being a more confident person that believes in myself and believes in my ability to do things whether it's on the trail or off the trail. So when I actually came back from the Appalachian Trail I kind of made career change from, you know like I have worked in nonprofits doing research, and then I kind of switched to a different role within nonprofits which was to be a grant writer, which involves a lot of sort of like you know being out front and having sort of like you know being like a face of an organization. And I don't think I could imagine doing something like that before my outdoor experience.

Jeff: You mentioned how your risk tolerance has changed and how you had, you know, those fears but you dealt with them. You let them ride along on your car trips and in your backpack when you were hiking. What were some of those fears starting out, and then how have those fears changed? Or have they changed?

Nalini: You know, I don't think a lot of those fears have changed. And you know one of the things that I would say is that I am not a natural athlete. Athletic endeavors never came easily. And I think a lot of times when you think about what the outdoors is, or what people are able to do in the outdoors I think there's a very kind of like specific body type that we have in mind, and I don't have that body type. I am a pretty tiny person. Really, really short. And so I think a lot of the fears in the beginning, and they continue to be, are just really doubting what my body can accomplish. So if I'm setting off on a backpacking trip I have all these doubts about whether I can carry the pack, whether, you know like I'm a little accident prone, whether I'm gonna do something to hurt myself and really injure myself. And then, you know, find myself not being able to get the help that I need. I think there are also just kind of fears around - a lot of the places that I travel to are rural, and often I hike alone and, you know, there are safety concerns. Those have never ever materialized, but I think those are things that just kind of like live with me or like, you know, that I carry with me. But then when I'm on the trail those things either sort of ride along with me or they kind of dissipate. Like, “oh, you know, this is fine!” And the part about my doubts about my body, or fears that my body will not be able to accomplish something, that is something that just constantly I carry. And then, you know, I will get to the top of the mountain and just kind of look back and go “huh, my body did that. Congratulations!” Like having appreciation for like being able to do this physically.

Jeff: So we talked about the fears that you have, and I think that's a pretty common thing for all of us hikers to have, whether you’re a ranger or, you know, that first time visitor to a National Park. The fears are different but they're always there.

Nalini: Yeah!

Jeff: What has been challenging about visiting national parks and the outdoors, and more specifically, you know, have you perceived any barriers to being in these places?

Nalini: Yeah, I will start off by saying I think where I am now, sort of financially, in terms of job-wise, I'm in an incredibly privileged place, right? Like I have financial resources and a really flexible work environment where they let me take off weeks at a time to do my little adventures. So I would say you know first of all those two things can be an incredible barrier, right, given sort of like you know how far away some of these beautiful, amazing places are. So I think you know just physical access can be a barrier for a lot of people. I think particularly people of color, especially if you're coming from a pretty urban environment where I think you know there's a lot of diversity. Both in terms of people, but also like diversity in terms of like transportation and things like that. So I think those are, if you will, like you know material barriers right? And then I also think one of their fears that I have is that it's not going to be a welcoming place. That I am not a super athlete and so therefore if I'm in a National Park if I make a mistake or you know like have some kind of accident, people are going to be judging me and not really accepting me. And I think over the years it's just going back and going back has kind of you know helped me sort of like temper those fears from the beginning, right, to say “OK, I know this is a fear that I have, but once I'm there I can create my own space.” Yeah, I think more can be done to create national parks to be a welcoming space for everyone, but then also individually I think having the courage to create your own space as you're going through these incredibly beautiful, wonderful places but that can sometimes feel really isolating.

Jeff: You mentioned there that when you, when you're in these in these big parks and you're concerned about you know possibly hurting yourself while you're on the trail and people judging you, would you tell us a little bit more about that? Are you concerned about other visitors, or rangers, the people who would come help you if you did get hurt?

Nalini: Yeah.

Jeff: Tell us more around that, I'm curious to hear.

Nalini: Yeah that so I think my fear is always judgment from sort of like everyone. Park rangers who might say “that was an obvious mistake that you shouldn’t have made. Your pack is too heavy. Why did you decide to carry a heavy pack like that?” Or even like you know other visitors as well. I think you know we live in a society where there are, whether intentional or unintentional, racist reactions, right? And being a very dark-skinned person that, you know, in a lot of national parks, particularly in sort of like in the backcountry there aren't a lot of people who look like me. So often I have this fear that somehow if I do something and I hurt myself like I am not going to get the help that I need because, people are going to judge me. And then I will say so last year I hiked the Wonderland Trail, which circumnavigates Mount Rainier and I did hurt myself. My pack was too heavy. I was carrying my entire like 11 day food supply with me so the pack was a little heavier than I anticipated it was going to be, and I think I was probably also a little bit dehydrated. So one morning as I was like heading out, it was I think you know day 4 or 5 of this 11-day trip, I was coming out of my camp area which was up this very steep incline, and I was coming down that incline and just kind of stepped the wrong way and turned my ankle a little bit. So I sat down for a couple of minutes. The pain went away, and then I was on my way. And I climbed up to the highest point on the trail that day, which was about one and a half mile climb. I was actually feeling really great. I was feeling really strong. And then I had to descend. And as soon as I started descending I knew I had hurt my ankle more than just turning it because every step was excruciatingly painful. And I have to say there were so many people who stopped. Visitors to the park who stopped, and you know like gave me some Advil and ACE Bandages. There was one person who even said “I'm going to the top now, but if you don't make it down, like on my way back I will definitely help you.” And then I ran into a park ranger who was just so incredibly helpful. And I remember like I kept saying “I can walk myself, I can walk myself, I don't need to be carried out of here.” And it was getting really dark and it was starting to, you know, thunderstorm and they kind of had to make the call to carry me out. And the ranger kind of sat me down and said you know “look, you don't have to prove anything to anybody. You have been incredibly strong right now. We're here to help you and this is going to help you, to carry you out.” And that's what they did. And I think it took that experience for me to, and for that ranger to explicitly say that to me, for me to feel comfortable, because otherwise I was just carrying this burden in my head, right? Like, oh they were just going to think that I was too stupid when no one really thought that. Everybody was just, you know, pretty impressed with me that I had been willing to do as much as I could. So feeling like all these people are going to judge me but in reality my experience was not that at all. And even to this day I feel like I owe an amazing amount of gratitude to the park rangers who helped me.

Jeff: Glad you stumbled on a Ranger, that's why we're there.

Nalini: Right! which is what they kept saying! “We are here for this. We are here to help you.” We can sort of be inside of our heads so much that we're not experiencing the reality in the way that it is really happening, right? And I'm just so grateful that he could identify that was the struggle that I was having and would be able to talk to me and say “look, like you don't have to prove anything. We're here to help you and you have done an incredible amount already.” And I think it's something that I constantly about too, like if I am doing other trips too. It's just like “I don't have to prove myself to be out here. I belong in this space just as much as other people.”

Jeff: Yeah, I'm glad you said that you belong in this space just like everybody else.

Nalini: Yeah, I mean I feel like it's not something that I maybe explicitly said in terms of barriers, but I think that's also part of it. I think, you know, the outdoor narrative has for a long time has been the idea of rugged, strong, men conquering nature. And really it doesn't have to be that way, right? You can define what your outdoor space is and how you're gonna interact with that space, and how you recreate in that space in the outdoors. And, you know, that space belongs to you and you have the right recreate in the way that you want to, right, in in in terms of you can take as long as you want when you're hiking up a mountain. It's how you define yourself with the outdoors and I think has to come from a place of you believing that you belong there.

Jeff: So going down that same road, what makes you feel more welcome in outdoor spaces? Or what do you think the Park Service could do to make more people welcome? You can kind of pick whichever question there you want to answer.

Nalini: Yeah, I mean I can probably answer both. I feel really comfortable when I see people who look like me around me, right? I think that's kind of a very human instinct. So I did the Rim to Rim hike at the Grand Canyon, and I hiked it with my sister. My sister it not the adventurous type and this was actually her first backpacking trip. And she came with me out of the kindness of her heart. And I could see how she transformed during the hike as she saw more people who looked like her and she had the ability to interact with them. So we were, you know, camped at the Phantom Ranch area and as we were sort of like hiking out there we met a mother and daughter. I am of Indian descent. And my sister really just kind of like bonded with these two. In fact, like started hiking with them and I was hiking by myself for a while. But I think just that interaction made her feel more confident, and I think made her feel more like that she belonged in that space too. So I think that’s an obvious one for me. And in terms of what can the Park Service do? I think, you know, I think we really have to think about how we can make our national parks more accessible to a diverse group of people. So it's not just maybe, you know, you get your backcountry permit and then you kind of go off exploring by yourself, because that might not be the first thing that somebody who's never experienced a National Park wants to do, right? I was listening to Lonnie Bunch, who’s the secretary of the Smithsonian Museum, a few days ago and one of the things that he talked about was how to make museums more accessible. And one of the things that he actually started doing when he was trying to make the African American Museum, like build it and how to make it a reality, he started sort of putting all these artifacts and making them virtually accessible. So it was it was really a virtual museum before it was actually a real museum. And that was actually like stuck in my head because I think a lot of times when people are not familiar with a certain place or a certain kind of environment, I think if they can experience it virtually then I think they become more comfortable, right? They can see themselves because they're experiencing it. And even for me the Appalachian Trail as a concept didn't really mean anything until I saw a movie about it about with through hikers hiking, and then it became a reality where I can picture it and I could picture myself there. So I think, you know, when we're talking about accessibility it's really offering more virtual programming so that people really feel a connection, feel welcome and they can experience it before they're actually physically there. And then I would also say having a diverse group of rangers as well, because I think that's also a sense of comfort, particularly if you're coming from a place that's probably not very diverse.

Jeff: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I mean, you see you want to see yourself reflected in the people visiting and you want to see yourself reflected in the people taking care of the park, running the park and enforcing the laws, and making those decisions. Yeah that makes that makes perfect sense. So that's all the questions I have, actually. There's one more thing we wanna ask you though, since we're still recording. Is there anything that you wanted to talk about that that I didn't bring up? What else do you wanna talk about?

Nalini: Oh man, I really think that outdoors is this amazing, wonderful space that really really helped transform who I am. I don't think I mentioned this during our pre-interview but I have I have a bunch of health issues. I'm diabetic, and I also struggle with anxiety. And both of those things I've been able to manage by having this amazing relationship with the outdoors. Being able to get outside and just having the time and space to just like, you know, not focus on anything else, right? It is such an amazing privilege just to be like “I only have to worry about putting one foot in front of the other. I only have to worry today about making it to the place where I'm going to sleep.” There is this amazing freedom in that and I want as many people as possible to experience that. I think it was like the main purpose of this blog that I created and all of that I do with Hiking Misadventures, it's really to kind of emphasize the fact that you don't have to be an expert and that your relationship with the outdoors can be anything. It doesn't have to be that you go you know do a hike like the Appalachian Trail. I live in DC and there is lots of National Park Service stuff all around us. There is the Rock Creek Park, which is just right like you know in the middle of DC which is an amazing park and you don't have to go that far to explore it. And I think those are all outdoors. I will end this by saying, you know, I describe myself as this transformation of somebody who was not outdoors to becoming an outdoors person, but I think that that narrative in and of itself comes from this notion that there is only one way to experience the outdoors. My mom, she taught herself how to swim in the Indian Ocean. She explored woods around her and it was actually kind of like you know a safe place for her when she grew up in Sri Lanka where civil unrest could kind of spark up anytime. And that was kind of the place that was a safe haven for her from that. So there's this long history of the outdoors in my family that we have never really talked about as an outdoor…that we are an outdoor family. As I've as I've become more interested in hiking and taking on more outdoor adventures I am discovering that even my own outdoor narrative is really much more complicated than it is, and that we all do have a connection to the outdoors. Whether it's gardening or you're climbing up Mt. Rainier. There's a connection there. There's a strong history there. And there's a story there and you just have to tap into that to be able to experience all the wonderful things that that the outdoors has to give.

Jesse: Behind the Scenery is brought to you by the interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. A huge thanks to Nalini for sharing her experiences with us. Check out her work at hikingmisadventures.com. We gratefully acknowledge the Native People on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who make their home here today.

Jeff: I'm in another Ranger 's office and I have an iPad that's recording this as a backup in my office. If you could only see our little bailing wire and bubble gum operation over here. Nalini: You gotta start from something right?

"The outdoor narrative has for a long time has been the idea of rugged, strong, men conquering nature, and really it doesn't have to be that way. You can define what your outdoor space is and how you're going to interact with that space...That space belongs to you and you have the right recreate in the way that you want to...I think has to come from a place of you believing that you belong there."

Nalini Ravindranath is an avid explorer and author of the blog hikingmisadventures.com.

Notes from the Deep - Hiker Reflections from Havasupai Gardens


Jesse: Hey, this is Jesse. Today’s episode was recorded before the name change for Havasupai Gardens became official, so you’ll hear it referred to as Indian Garden. Enjoy the episode.

Intro music plays.

Brendan: A While back a green journal was thrown into a backpack on the South Rim and hiked down the Bright Angel trail to Indian Garden campground. From there, it was put inside an old ammo can and placed underneath the shady tree. The only prompt was a request to take a minute and reflect. After two years, the journal very much looks like it's been living in a Canyon. It's covered in red dirt. The cover is warped, and it looks like it's been rained on a few times and has several stains on it, including one labeled ramen broth. Inside, the book is now filled cover to cover with hundreds of names, drawings, poems, and stories. Reading it is like opening a tiny window into Indian Garden. Hikers talk about how nice the Creek is, how much their feet hurt and how they are not looking forward to going uphill. People also share about their lives at home, how much they love their hiking partners and why they traveled all over the world just to see this Canyon. These are thoughts and ideas that are shared amongst strangers and are only found in this worn out log book. So let's look into the thoughts of people who for many different reasons found themselves in the middle of Grand Canyon.

Female Voice: Kind thoughts, kind words, kind actions. This is my favorite place in the world. Much love C L H heart peace smiley face 9/28/19

Male Voice: Thursday, October 10th, Joe, the sublime pleasure of connecting with our planet on such a personal and deep level. I am humbled by this experience.

Beware of the squirrel. They're getting frisky. I'm pretty sure they like men as they only started showing up after we took off our shirts, but don't let your guard down. Don't turn your back. We just barely survived a surprise attack from behind. They distracted us in the front while others moved in for the kill. They're surrounding us. We've thrown almost every rock we can find, but they run low. Their chitters are all we can hear, now. If you can read this run. Escape before they trap you, we won't survive, but maybe you can. Don't let them smell your fear.

My feet hurt, but I am happy.

Female Voice: A love story. 3/15/20. In the late 1980s, Wade and Jill were both on separate camping trips with their friends in the Canyon. The group set up camp close to one another here at Indian Garden. Wade and Jill met and started talking. The next day, Jill took off early and Wade's group missed her. So Wade got Jill's friend's number from the camping permit left behind. He called her, connected with Jill from there, and the rest is history. They had me in 97 and at the age of 22, this is my first time here. What a special place to be. You can feel and start to understand the powers of the earth and sky that made the place what it is. Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty of this point in time, how comforting it is to feel something bigger than ourselves. The river will keep carving its way through, even if we're not here to see it. And life can be serendipitous two East coasters meet in the Arizona desert and fall in love. It is so wonderful to be here with good friends. Love remains in my life. I am grateful for this moment to just take it all in. Love always, Ellen.

Once quatro dos mil y noventa. Hello America, I'm Chilean. Nuestras. Visitas son marvillosa. Nos Encanto estas a venturas. Se vasa Chile desos visitas Torres Del Paines. Chile!

Male Voice: I don't know who dug this hole, but they were very strong.

Day three in Grand Canyon. Highlight of the trip was the contents of my stomach yesterday. Biscuits, gravy, two IPA's, and loaded potato soup. Fuel for a great hike with great guys. Joe.

We took a trip and down, we went into the Canyon, deep. We've stepped and strode and striding stood with every guided leap. We made our way into the depth where water met the land And on the Colorado made our castles made of sand. So out we trekked our legs were wrecked, but slowly step-by-step, We'll make it out and smile about the memories we've kept.

Female Voice: 9/24/19 I'm with my dad and mom, bro. Smiley face . I never hike alone. I'm nine. And if you saw the other page with the people go upside down, don't judge him. He's my bro. I live in Alberta and doing a three-day hike. My dad did a long run. I come from Lefberg. It's really windy. Drink lots of water and eat salty. Stay hiking, stay wild. Little Sis.

Male Voice: 17 January, 2020. First time at the Grand Canyon. This place is absolutely magnificent. So incredibly humbling. I feel so lucky to be here and particularly lucky to get a last minute corridor campground permit from the back country office the morning after I arrived. This little mission was a bit spontaneous. This has inspired me to prioritize time in nature, even higher for my remaining four weeks in your beautiful country. Hiking through here by myself has given me a wonderful opportunity to think and reflect. A thought, which has come to mind is that if we pursue only our own self interests and well-being, we ultimately will not be fulfilled. When we devote ourselves in whatever shape or form to the wellbeing of others and contribute to something greater than ourselves fulfillment and happiness will come. Let our values, our core values, guide our actions. Happy hiking, William New Zealand.

Female Voice: 3/16/20 As someone who is a local and has hiked the Canyon a number of times, it never ceases to amaze. The world seems to be in chaos, but some truths do not change. The Canyon heals your mind and body if you allow it. The Canyon has stood the test of time. You will not. There is more in the grand scheme of things than you and I will ever comprehend. Be kind to all people. Much love.

Brendan: And that was the last entry. There’s more entries we didn't record it, but what stood out is this theme of kindness. People wrote so much about being kind to each other, to the Canyon, to themselves, with everything. Why do you think the hikers all chose to do that? What is a moment of kindness in your life that has stuck with you?

Jesse: The Behind the Scenery Podcast is brought to you by the interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. Music in this episode by Cooper-Moore. We gratefully acknowledge the Native People on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who make their home here today.

In 2018 a journal was hiked to Havasupai Gardens. A prompt asked hikers to take a moment to reflect. People filled the journal with drawings, poems, and stories. In this episode of Behind the Scenery, listen as visitors reflect on their experiences, what brought them to the Canyon, and what they will take away.

This episode was recorded before the Havasupai Gardens name change became official. Visit our website to learn more: bit.ly/3SZETOm

Music in this episode by Cooper-Moore: bit.ly/3mGOKwk

In the Backcountry with Rich Rudow


Rich Rudow: I spend probably 70 or 80 days a year below the rim these days. (Acoustic guitar fades in) Jesse Barden: That’s probably more than most rangers and you certainly get into some really remote wild places. Rich: It was probably 10 years of getting acquainted with the canyon, and hiking trails, and then we started to go off trail from there, and it just kept progressing. Kate Hensel: My name is Kate and you’re listening to an episode of Behind the Scenery, Canyon Cuts. Jesse joined me in interviewing Rich Rudow, a famed canyon explorer. (Acoustic guitar fades out) Rich: Rich Rudow, and I’ve been coming up to the canyon for thirty years now, going places and learning about things. My first experience with Grand Canyon was in 1989 my wife bought my uncle and I a river trip. We launched at Lees Ferry in June with Hatch and travelled down the river for a week and were pulled out by helicopter at Whitmore. Like a lot of commercial trips still are today up to Bar 10 Ranch. During that weeklong introduction you quickly realize, you do these side hikes, and we did all of the typical side hikes that most folks do that are on a river trip. Like going up Saddle Canyon in the Marble area, going to Elves Chasm, and Deer Creek, Havasu, places like that. So I had that customary commercial river trip experience. I was just enthralled with the place. Every time that we would hike to an attraction site I would be asking the boatmen “What’s up there? Can’t we go further?” And I always got this puzzled look. Ultimately at some point in that week the river guides at the time, I still remember them, said “you know you really just get Harvey Butchart’s book and learn about this place. Jesse: Just to give folks listening some context Harvey Butchart is considered the most prolific Grand Canyon hiker in the modern era. He hiked over 10,000 miles in Grand Canyon and pioneered or rediscovered many rim-to-river routes. Rich: And so when I got out of the canyon, my brother-in-law and I both had a real interest in hiking at that point. We were in our late 20s, I guess. So, we just started hiking the trails that everybody hikes. Starting with Bright Angel, and South Kaibab, and doing a rim to rim, down South Kaibab up North Kaibab. And ultimately as you scroll through the 90s I’m reading Harvey’s book about these routes and we started to get more interested in going off trail and doing some of these routes that Harvey had talked about in his very terse prose. Jesse: There’s often a moment when you realize just how meaningful each word in every sentence is for Harvey Butchart. Did you have one of those moments? Rich: (laughs) Oh yeah! I think one time…this is probably 2001, I’m kind of guessing on time frames here, it was close to 20 years ago. My brother-in-law Dale and I had the idea to go off Swamp Point and down Saddle Canyon into the Tapeats Amphitheater and we had never done that. George had actually talked about that trip. Jesse: George Steck connected horizontally through the canyon a lot of Harvey’s rim-to-river routes. Rich: But the idea was to go down to junction of Crazy Jug and Saddle Canyon and then exit this route that goes out of Crazy Jug Canyon up to the esplanade layer. And then traverse the esplanade level towards Bridger’s Knoll but go out this sneak route in between Crazy Jug and Bridger’s Knoll. So we had this grand plan, and it was a mixture of some stuff that George and Harvey had written about. And we were depending on Harvey’s terse prose for the Redwall break to get out of Crazy Jug and then to get up the rim break to get out between Crazy jug and Bridger’s Knoll. So we were following George’s instructions down Saddle Canyon and had a great time and found water. We’re sitting there that first night kind of reading Harvey’s sentence and a half on this exit out of Crazy Jug, of this Redwall break, near the mouth of Crazy Jug. And I was starting to get nervous about this whole enterprise because it was super hot. It was well over a hundred degrees. The thinking was, if we missed we’re probably okay and you know retreating a different way but really didn’t want to do that so we weren't having this debate about the meaning of six words and Harvey put in a sentence and a half. And so we finally decided we would give it a try and we tanked up with 8 liters of water to go up this Redwall break because it was hot we weren't gonna find water we knew once we Got the Esplanade so we found the Redwall break and scrambled up to the top of the Esplanade in a relatively straightforward way, we were pretty pleased with ourselves. But we realized you know that we're down to about 3 liters of water at that point and so we made a run for, we’re on Esplanade level at the edge of Crazy Jug Canyon and we’re going to traverse the Esplanade to a rim break, a break in the Coconino that Harvey had written about and so you know we’re traversing across its 105° probably and I remember its two o’clock in the afternoon we're both down to about a liter and a half, we’re sitting under a juniper tree trying to catch the smallest shade, trying to catch any shade at that point. Looking at the Coconino cliffs and having this debate about what Harvey's words meant because we weren't picking up the break. We didn't visually see the break and at that point it was like, well this is really a big problem if we make a guess at what Harvey really means, and we can get to the base of the Coconino and it doesn't go we’re really in big trouble. We don't have the water to make a try at it and then retreat any place we’d be in big trouble. So, we finally kind of cursed Harvey and decided the safe route would be to make our way around Bridges Knoll and connect with the Thunder River Trail and then go out the Bill Hall Trail to the rim. We did that, the whole-time kind of thinking oh man this is really long way, we could have saved ourselves hours and hours and hours of hiking in the heat had we had we had some certainty about what Harvey was really talking about. So by the time we connected with the Thunder River Trail we were out of water and it's I don't know 6 at night in the middle of summer it's still really, really hot and of course we remembered that people leave water caches on that route. We found a gallon jug of water that had a date that was 2 years old. We figured this one was fair game. We were both just so thirsty we were taken a swig, and the water was so hot water, it was like drinking water out of your shower as it comes out of the hot water spigot. But uh, that saved us, and we topped out of the Bill Hall Trail 9 or 10 at night or something in the dark. The whole time was hours and hours of discussion about what Harvey really meant by those six words. And of course, it bothered us so much that we came back a few weeks later bound and determined to find that Coconino break and we did. And it didn't turn out to be that hard. And so we would go do some of these routes and see more things and learn more things and we would just getting more interested, it was like this place had a magnetic pull that got stronger with each trip that you did. Jesse: It's funny like, you know, there's the puzzle of trying to parse those six words and then the puzzle of looking at the potential route and often in Grand Canyon there are things that look like from a distance there's no way it goes but actually are pretty easy and then the reverses is often also true where it looks like it goes and it's going to be pretty easy but actually doesn't go at all. Rich: Yeah that's right there a lot of these routes that Harvey found that from a distance just look like complete no goes, no way it's going to work, and when you get up and start climbing around -- and that’s how a lot of routes are. I mean, I found some routes in the canyon that are really really fascinating intricate routes that you would think had no way that they would possibly go. And you on these routes and you'll find a stick stuck in a crack or you'll find couple rocks stacked on each other and you immediately realize it was an ancient Indian route and it totally goes. One route in the western part of the canyon it took me four years to put it together and you know just poking at it from the bottom up from the river and poking at it from the top down for the rim. And the crux was between the Supai and the bottom of the Redwall, the rest is pretty easy so if it took about four years and maybe I don't know half a dozen trips to kind of piece it all together and realize that it really could go. And then, of course, you know you figure it all out you start to find signs that you know the Ancestral Puebloans were there and they use the route too. Jesse: Yeah, I think chances are if it goes somebody else has been there. Rich: Yeah, That’s right. (Canyon Wren song) Rich: You know we started doing things where, you know, Harvey would talk about well, you know, a hand line would be great or you know you need a short rope there to lower a pack. And George Steck talked about the same things. So we started doing these routes where you know, that were harder and where there was a little climbing involved and you're using some ropes either as a handline or to lower packs and ultimately we started to get more and more confident with that and started to do some things with short rappels involved and I guess some point maybe 1999 or 2000 my wife got nervous about hearing these stories about what me and her brother were doing. And she thought we were not educated enough to be doing hard things so she bought us rock climbing lessons, which turned out to be just another faster slide accelerating down the slippery slope because once we got some training on what to do with ropes and gear we bought longer ropes and more gear and would go do harder stuff. And so, ultimately, that kind of morphed into checking out some canyons that you know really didn't have good beta or that were hard and involved some anchors and some repelling. You know by maybe 2005 or 2006 I’d become acquainted with Todd Martin and Todd and I had lots of mutual interests and one of them was the idea that there were a lot of slot canyons in the in the Redwall Limestone layers that probably hadn't been seen before. And we got really interested in in these places because some of these canyons we were going into were just stunningly beautiful and so the more we did this the more we got enthusiastic about just finding more of these Canyons and we just kept going and going and going. Any given adventure that we take these days you know sometimes…we did one in October of last year so just about a year ago not quite and I ended up blowing out my rotator cuff on a climb in this Canyon but it was a canyon that hadn’t been done before and we had a 600 foot rope with us. You know it just seems to spiral deeper and deeper into the abyss and you discover the place is so big you never find the bottom. Jesse: A 600 foot rope is a pretty punishing load to be carrying through Grand Canyon. So in all your time exploring Grand Canyon what do you think is the most important thing to know or one of the most important things to know if you're traveling off trail in the canyon? Rich: Well by far the most important thing to know is where to get water. I think that’s the problem in the canyon. There have been instances where I have walked by a water source, you know, a hundred feet away and never knew it was there and found it four years later and like wondered how could I have missed this? But, it’s pretty easy to miss water. Jesse: Yeah sure can be, surprisingly, especially those potholes where there's not necessarily as much growing around it as there would be a spring. You can’t spot it from a distance. Rich: Potholes are interesting on the Esplanade. It’s not intuitively obvious which ones actually dry up first and which ones might have water longer-term. You know there are some clues that you can get but I've actually gone to some really big potholes that are eight feet deep, and you’d swear they have to be holding water for a long time and they’re dry as a bone and two hundred feet away there’s a pothole with 3 inches of water, It's very minor so it's not obvious where those you know where those potholes are that hold water either. Jesse: So you said you've been hiking and traveling in Grand Canyon for about 30 years in that time like what are some of the changes that you've noticed? Rich: The threats to the canyon seem to just increase year-over-year the threats from developers especially. The idea of Building a tram at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River for example. The threats from uranium mining are still ongoing. There’s a mine that has big tailings piles that are exposed to the elements in a bowl basically a breccia pipe bowl that feeds into Parashant Canyon that's kind of an open source sitting there today. And Parashant runs right into the Grand Canyon and into the Colorado River this particular mine goes down this drainage through the Supai and then it starts to cut a Slot Canyon into the Redwall and we call that slot canyon, it’s never been published, we call it Radioactive. It’s a beautiful canyon, it’s stunning, but when you go through that slot canyon you can look down in the water or in the gravels and you can pick up big pieces of copper. And so the mine’s called The Copper Mountain Mine and they first discovered copper there and mined it for copper and then in the 50s realized that there was uranium. It kicked into a full-blown uranium mine and they stop mining uranium there in 1974. To this very day there's been no remediation done at that site at all and so you know if I can look in in the waters and the gravels of this beautiful slot canyon and pick up copper, I'll guarantee you there’s uranium in there too, I just don't know what it looks like. There’re some old wounds, the Orphan Mine is another perfect example. No matter how much money they end up spending you know through the Superfund Site funds you know remediation of something like that once it's gone wrong is almost impossible, it's really hard, and they've been spending millions and millions of dollars at the Orphan Mine over years trying to remediate that site to keep uranium from leaching in the water and it's still an ongoing project. They haven't even started on this site that I'm talking about, probably never will, it's kind of far enough out there that nobody really thinks about it. So certainly some of these threats are kind of accelerating in there I guess maybe in the frequency or the audacity of some of the developers to do things whether it's mining uranium or building a giant retail shopping space and homes in Tusayan where a lot of water’s required or building the tramway at the confluence. The idea that something the size of the Grand Canyon is large enough that it can't be impaired by man is really a folly. We continue to demonstrate that we can impair that place in a lot of different ways. Jesse: So, Rich, the last question we have for you. What do you hope for the future of Grand Canyon? Rich: I really hope that we have status quo for the future. That the various crazy development ideas that come along don't happen you know we don't need more development of a canyon. There are very very few places where you got large swaths of undeveloped wilderness and the Grand Canyon is probably the preeminent place in the lower 48 where you can literally go get lost. And I think there's some real value in that and I think that the public deserves to have a place that lives up to the ideals of the Organic Act and when the Park Service you know, when Grand Canyon was selected to be a National Park and what the idea of the National Park is. So I hope there isn’t any development at the confluence and there isn’t development in any other part of the canyon. And I would hope that someday there's some more balanced ideas around the aviation tourism problem that’s ruining the western part of the park. That is a reversible problem that does not have to continue and I think, you know, if people start thinking about striking a better balance I think that there is a way for the Hualapai Trip to get the economic benefits that they desperately need. So, I hope for the status quo. I don’t want to see the canyon developed or improved anymore. I don't think we can improve it more. There are obviously a few exceptions. I think the pipeline that provides drinking water to the canyon really needs to be fixed. We ought to come up with the money to do some basic infrastructure things because people do have a right to come see the park and enjoy it and then they ought to have a right to see parts of it by automobile or public transportation or whatever. You’ve got to have drinking water as a basic piece of infrastructure that has to exist so certainly continuing to invest and improve the infrastructure of the park has in the corridor area I think it is important, but I don't think we want to have any other big developments in other parts of the part that don't exist today. (Acoustic guitar fades in) Kate: We gratefully acknowledge the native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant native communities who make their home here today. Thank you for listening to this episode of Canyon Cuts, a Behind the Scenery micro episode brought to you by the North Rim and Canyon District interpretation teams at Grand Canyon National Park. (Acoustic guitar fades out) Jesse: I really wanted to get that like dun-dadun-dun-dadun- dun Recorded phone music and message “Your passcode has been confirmed”

Ever wondered what secrets are hiding way down in the depths of Grand Canyon? That curiosity has driven Rich Rudow to spend over 1,000 nights below the rim. On the latest episode of the Behind the Scenery podcast, Rich talks about getting his start in backcountry hiking, canyoneering first descents, and his hopes for the future of Grand Canyon National Park.

We are the Rangers (and Friends)


(Sung) We are the rangers, my friends And we’ll guard the park, till the end We are the rangers We welcome strangers No time for losers ‘Cause we are the rangers … of the park!

Overlayed quotes:

Doug: Because I like national park views, I like breathing national park fresh air, but mostly, I wanted the low pay. Emily It was a little bit of Eat, Pray, Love. I quit my job and I sold my house and bought a plane ticket to Europe (chuckle).

Jeffery Rocky Mountain National Park ruined my life it’s the least you can do is to hire me

Ron “…I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up”

(song ends)

Hannah: Hi there. I’m ranger Hannah. And welcome to our Podcast episode: We Are the Rangers, and Friends / What Do You Want To Be When you Grow Up?

I know for me, I wanting to be a violin teacher at one point which didn’t make sense because I have never played the violin, but I thought it would be cool. After that I tended to just want to be a teacher. And I know for a lot of people we get asked that question quite a bit even into our early twenties and later on. We constantly get asked what do you want to be when you grow up?

We talked to some park visitors, some kids and young adults and ask them what they want to be when they grew up. We’ve got some clips throughout this episode of answering that question.

I even talked to some of my co-workers that have changed career paths and became a park ranger later on. And when it comes to changing or being a park ranger in general there are some down sides to the profession that we’ll discuss within this episode. And as a park ranger you do tend to sacrifice stuff for your dream job. What would you sacrifice for your dream job?

I’m early in my career at the age of 25. And for me, getting into the Park Service I started with internships at two parks: Great Basin and Capitol Reef. And now I’m here at North Rim finally in the uniform. And I’ve met some cool people here, even my co-worker Doug.

At the age of 70, he celebrated his 50th season in the parks. Half of that time was in Oregon State Parks and the other half was with National Parks. Here’s worked at 14 different Parks. He’s the inspiration for this episode, so let’s bring in Doug.

Hey Doug.

Doug: Hey, how ya doing, Hannah. Thanks for inviting me to join you.

Hannah: My question for you is, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Doug: Well I wanted to be a park ranger. I figured that out pretty early in life, because I like National Park views, I like breathing National Park fresh air, but mostly I wanted the low pay!

Hannah: That’s not something people always want.

Doug: I know. Obviously, that’s a joke. But the listeners don’t know a lot about you and me. So why don’t we share a little bit about our background how we got into the parks.

Hannan: Oooo, how about we do that via song?

Doug: Okay. And I do have my guitar with me. I’m thinking of a John Prine/Bonnie Raitt song: Ranger From Grand Canyon. What do you think?

H: I’m totally in.

D: Let’s do it!

Doug singing:

I am on old ranger Been doing at this a while My hat is the flat one Worn with pride and with style

(Spoken) I Had dreams of rangerin’ Since being a kid, you know Now it’s 50 years later (sung) Yes, a long time ago

(duet: Hannah and Doug) Make me a ranger That works at Grand Canyon Make me a poster Of rangers at work

I just feel so grateful For all I hold on to This ranger profession It ain’t no hard way to go

H: (spoken) When I was a young girl I wanted a career I needed me some Nature to (sung) Always be near

First as a Intern Now I get paid As a real park ranger I’ve really, got it made

(duet) Make me a ranger That works at Grand Canyon Make me a poster Of rangers at work

I just feel so grateful For all I hold on to This ranger profession It ain’t no hard way to go

D: But now I’m much older Yes, still rangerin’ you say My old legs still can hike This Canyon today

H: How the heck can a ranger Not love the Grand Canyon When they think of the time Spent in this awesome career

(duet) Make me a ranger That works at Grand Canyon Make me a poster Of rangers at work

I just feel so grateful For all I hold on to This ranger profession It ain’t no hard way to go

This ranger profession It ain’t no hard way to go

H: It was a lot of fun singing that song. But I do want to some voices of the visitors that I mentioned earlier. So let’s hear what those kids have to say.

-My name is Luke and I’m 10 years old and I want to be a realtor when I grow up -Mattie, four, doctor -My name is Lyla, I’m 14 and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. -My name is Tyler. I’m 22 years old and I want to be an audiologist when I grow up. -Hello. I’m Logan. I’m 10 years old. I want to be a rocket scientist.

H: I’m excited to hear more of those voices throughout the episode from the kids. Hey Doug, Let’s bring in Emily.

D: Okay yeah, she is a park ranger here at the North Rim. But let me give you a little bit of her background because you’ll find she has a very compelling story.

She’s an amateur athlete and scholar. She’s completed three full triathlon races. Get this, she’s completed 40 marathon races in 25 different states all by the time she turned age 40.

H: Whooo!

D: I know. Impressive. She has won academic scholarships. I guess you could call her an honors graduate. She has one Bachelor’s degree and two Masters. Then, she had a mid-life career change.

H: That is a lot! On top of that, she has one of the best laughs here at the North Rim.

D: Yeah, I agree completely. So let’s bring her in and let her tell her own story. But be prepared for a National Park surprise at the end.

Emily: My name is Emily. I’m 43 years old and I’m a Preventative Search and Rescue Ranger here on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I came to the North Rim in 2017, after a career in finance and talent management. I was on a little break from my urban life where I had a career and a house and all the happiness and fulfilment you would expect from a corporate-type job. But after a series of events in my personal life, I just wanted to take some time off and travel. My Mom had been sick and I was just having a seize the day moment. It was a little bit of Eat, Pray, Love. I quit my job and sold my house. And bought a plane ticket to Europe. And started traveling. And I gave myself about twelve months based on how much money I had saved up. Thinking you know that I would have some fun. And then I would be inspired to pick a new place and set up my life in a different town but probably doing the something similar to what I had been doing.

I was a C.P.A for a while and then I also got a Masters in Organization Development. I worked in the field of talent management and leadership development. And it was really fulfilling. I just needed a break. And so I was actually living down in Tucson in an Airstream trailer working as an accountant and the job contract ended. And I saw an email for a job here at the North Rim with the Conservancy. And you had to live in your RV because that was the only housing up here. And it didn’t pay a whole lot. But you got to work in the Visitor Center and live in the park. And I just thought that sounded like the perfect little get away.

So I moved up here and it was only for about eight weeks at the end of the season. And I got to rub shoulders with all the interp rangers working in the Visitor Center. I hiked every trail. I was an Ironman triathlete at the time so just biked all over the plateau and ran all the trails and I hiked across the canyon. And just absolutely fell in love with it. But I didn’t know how to become a ranger you know, coming from a background in like accounting. So I talked to some of the interp staff and they gave me a little bit of guidance. And I went down and spent the winter as a volunteer trail crew worker because I knew I needed something more like outdoorsy on my resume for people to be interested in me as a park ranger.

So I ended up coming back that next summer again to work for the Conservancy because I hadn’t gotten any interviews with the Park Service. And I was all set to come back and live in my RV and a week before I was scheduled to drive back to the North Rim for the season I got a phone call from someone at Yosemite asking if I wanted to come work in one of their campgrounds for the summer.

So, I did like a quick pivot. I did come up here for like a month because there was like background check waiting period on boarding stuff. And so in July I left the North Rim, which I loved, to go work at Yosemite. And the staff here was so excited for me. They had a big going away party. They were just really supportive and knew that is would be a great opportunity. And you know, hopefully I could come back to Grand Canyon after I got in with the agency.

I spent a couple summers working in fees operations. And in the winter season, I kept trying to build that like outdoorsy resume. And I would go volunteer to work in the backcountry.

I got my EMT certification, ‘cause I knew that was something they were looking for to work in these remote districts. And finally, I guess the winter of 20/21, I got a phone call from the district interpreter up her who I was friends with. Cause I kept coming back. I had a lot of friends and I kept coming back all the time to do these volunteer jobs in the off-season. And she asked me if I want to come work for her doing interpretation down in the inner canyon.

And I just thought that was like the dream job to like actually work down in Phantom Ranch. Put on the uniform every day.

And I’m not going to say it was easy. I hiked 14 miles to Phantom Ranch every week and then back out every week. And we were super, super busy. The world had kinda like started traveling again after the pandemic. But I learned so much and the people that I got to work with down in the bottom of the canyon are like legendary. Some of the rangers down there have been doing it for decades and they are just so professional, and they are so savvy. And they were really welcoming. And you know, taught me everything I need to know about being a canyon ranger.

So I loved it and I thought about what I wanted to do because that summer we spent so much time doing like medicals, like search and rescue those kind of calls. And that was always when I got the most excited. And so, thinking about what I wanted to do the next season, I really wanted to focus on emergency services. And the park had sent me to firefighting school, And then I had an opportunity to get my advanced EMT certification. And so I ended up staying up here on the rim this summer.

It is basically like my dream job. I get to ride mountain bikes. I get to go hiking all the time. I get to go down the trail and help people. And then I work on the ambulance and the fire engine when we need it up here in the developed area.

But it wasn’t easy. It was like, really five years of very strategic moves to get the right kind of skill set to network with the right people. I definitely like started over kind of at the bottom coming from the place where I had a lot of master’s degrees, and you know job experience out in the private sector. It didn’t mean a whole lot trying to come and work here. I really kind of re-invented myself. And it was difficult, and it was a little bit intimidating. But I knew it was what I wanted. I had some really great people along the way who encouraged me and helped open some doors and provide opportunities. And really and truly, I can say I have my dream job now.

D: Now there are some downsides and challenges. Do you want to talk a little bit about those, being a park ranger at the North Rim?

E: Yeah, I mean we are very isolated. We are like 80 miles to the closest town. And you can’t like just run out to the store if you ran out of eggs or something. But we have such a tight knit community, and everyone really supports each other. I had no idea what to expect. When I moved up here, I was told there’s no internet, there’s no cell signal. Bring a lot of books. Like, there’s not a whole lot to do.

But like infrastructure has improved the last couple of years. And we do have pretty decent satellite internet these days. But that first summer I did. It totally got me outside. It got me socializing with my neighbors. So what kinds seemed like a downside, like the connectivity issue, it really just created a different bond than I was used to.

I’ve met some really wonderful friends and co-workers up here.

D: And Emily, what advice would you give to folks that are mid-career and are thinking of taking the drastic, making the drastic change?

E: You know, I was poised for something different in my life. Like I had enough kind of stressors that were like maybe you need a break. Maybe you need something to change.

And so if anybody is feeling like, they are just a little unsettled and want to try something on for size, coming and working at the Park Service is honestly really kind of low commitment.

The seasons are short. You can often get a volunteer job easier than getting a paying job. And so if you have some savings and can come and spend a month or two months you know just trying something on, and getting to know the community, it’s just a great networking opportunity. And it’s low commitment.

If you come up for a month or two and you hate it and you want to nope I want to go back to my life. Like, no harm, no fowl. But everybody is always so welcoming. Like I met a new volunteer this morning. And just like hopped on bikes and we went around on like an orientation tour and got to know each other a little bit. I think that’s exactly what this place is.

D: Now do you have any surprises you want to share with our listeners in your personal life?

E: Well, moving up here I certainly did not think there was not going to be a large dating pool.

D: There definitely isn’t!

E: I think that can be a little bit of a bummer. I was a single gal in my 30s and I was obviously I was you know open to a relationship. And luckily, I ended up meeting a super nice ranger man. And we have done the long-distance thing for a couple of years. And now that we are both working on the North Rim we actually got engaged and are planning a wedding.

D: Well, good for you. Okay, thank you very much.

-I’m Knox and I’m 7 and I want to be a coach for soccer. -My name is Landen, I am 6 ½ years old and when I grow up I want to be a skimboarder. -My name is Amy, I’m 13 and I’m really not sure what I want to be when I grow up. -I’m Coen. I want to be a police officer. I am 5. -My name is Hailey. I am 8 years old and I want to be a scientist that explores space when I grow up.

H: That was a great story hearing from Emily.

D: How about ranger Jeffery?

H: He also has a great story too how he became a ranger here at the Grand Canyon

D: Let’s bring him in to hear his story.

Jeffery: I’m Jeffery and I’m 39. I grew up in rural Kansas Hannah: What do you want to be when you grow up? Jeffery: When I was in 5th or 6th grade, we had a career day and one of the local district court judges came for career day and she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said I wanted to be a bond lawyer. That’s what my dad did and at the same time I wanted to be a solder. So I’ve missed both marks, by a fair bit. After I left high school, I went to the University of Kansas and I got an economics degree. And then I went to work at a public finance law firm in Kansas City, Missouri helping school districts and hospitals, county and cities with their bond issues. I took care of the bond issues after the bond had been issued. I helped them fulfill certain security laws and tax laws. And I did that for about ten years. Hannah: What got you into the park service? Jefferey: A buddy of mine that I ran with ask me if I wanted to go hike up Longs Peak that weekend. And I was like yeah sure. I’d never been hiking, I grew up hunting, but not hiking, anything like that. So off we went to Colorado from Kanas City. We drove all night. We got to the trailhead 5 or 6 in the morning and we hiked up to the boulder field and then we hiked down. And we came back to Kanas City the next day we slept for a couple hours and drove back. I had a really good time doing that and it was a lot of fun. Then a couple weeks later. I’m going to do that again. So I went back and I summited Long’s Peak. And later that summer I took a week off work and went hiking in different places in Colorado. And the hikes got longer, and longer, and further, and further, higher, and higher, and here I am working in a National Park. Doug: Well come on we need more than a little bit more details Jeffery: Well I kept working at the law firm I worked at for a couple more years. And realized I didn’t want to do that anymore. I worked with really good people, I had great clients, but the work was just boring. And I was done. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that point, but I was done. So I quit before I had a job. And I went hiking and climbing in Colorado for a couple of weeks to a month after I quit. And then I went to work on a contract position at H&R Block in their compliance group. I did not enjoy that work. So I went to work for a company, also in Kanas City, that did telecom taxation and that is exactly as awful as it sounds. And I did not enjoy it so I quit that job. But by that point I had the idea of becoming a seasonal ranger in my head. At the same time I wanted to be a teacher, and work with special ed kids. So I enrolled at Wichita State University. And went two semesters in their teacher ed program. And then decided I just wanted to be a ranger full time. And I got an email from Rocky Mountain National Park to work in the wilderness office. So I called who would become my boss and we had a wonderful two or three hour interview. It went on forever. And she goes well, “why should I hire you?”, “Well Rocky Mountain National Park ruined my life it’s the least you can do is to hire me” She like “What do you mean we ruined your life?” said, “Well I went for a hike here couple years ago and I climbed that mountain and I really haven’t come back off of it so it would be nice if the park could write me a check every couple weeks and give me a job.” And she said, “Your hired and we want to see you in two months.” And I lucked into working for a wonderful ranger and I fell into the wilderness. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the Park Service. I thought I wanted to be an interpretative park ranger. And I just backed into the wilderness and it just grabbed me. Heart and Soul and the next season I worked in the back country at Yosemite. And the next two seasons I worked in the wilderness at Rocky Mountain National Park. Taking care of the park that ruined my life. Doug: In a good way. Jeffery: In a wonderful way. Doug: Okay, so how did you end up at North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park? Jeffery: Well I was volunteering for the winter in interpretation on the south rim and I meet your guys boss. And she found out I worked in the wilderness. And she said “oh you should work for me on the north rim.” Hannah: Yes! Jeffery: She said “You’ll still be able to do search and rescue and all those things that you do, EMS,” “So well okay tell me more”, This was a ten minute conversation. This was not a long thing. And I asked her for a couple days to decide. “Yeah, I’ll come and work on the North Rim. I’ll give it a shot.” She said, “Come in the water is nice over here.” And that’s how I ended up on the North Rim. Hannah: So how do you feel about this career change and shift? ‘Cause I know you said Rocky Mountain ruined your life. Doug: in a good way Jeffery: It was very dramatic. And I was standing in wind swept on top of the mountain. It’s been a wonderful shift, I’m happier, I’m healthier, I make less but, I’m much happier it was a wonderful choice. And now I work in Facilities, maintenance so I am a janitor that drives a snowplow. And it’s wonderful. I mean I’ve been very fortunate to work in so many different divisions in the park service. Hannah: And you get to drive big cool vehicles. Jeffery: I do get to drive the snowplow, the loader, the backhoe, and the grader, the dump truck. I get to drive it all. Every little kid’s Tonka truck dream. Doug: Well there is lots of stereotypes and romanticized view of National Park Service life and working, and the lifestyle, so how does the stereotype romanticized view compare to reality from your perspective? Jeffery: It lived up to that romantic view for me. It really did. Doug: In what way? Jeffery: When I started at Rocky, we had two weeks of training in the beginning on the east side of the park with the main wilderness office. And for training a volunteer offered their enormous cabin outside of Estes Park for all of us to have two weeks of meetings. It had huge windows and it was snowing, and there was a herd of elk. We were, weren’t talking about how to use the software in the wilderness office. We were talking about why we want to take care of the wilderness, the philosophy behind the Park Service and we spent two weeks just talking about the mountains and the wilderness in this wonderful cabin. And that is how I started that was my first day of work. You can’t get more romantic than a herd of elk and the snowy Rocky Mountains. Hannah: Yeah Jeffery: And after that I worked in the wilderness for three seasons. So for my job I lived out of my backpack for 4-8 days at a time, wondering the hills. And helping hikers, search and rescue, I rode horses in the backcountry. It really was the kind of ranger that a lot of people have in their mind. I took care of the entire western half of Rocky Mountain National Park in the wilderness. That was mine. Doug: maybe some the challenges that you face living and working at place like North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Jeffery: Part of the biggest challenge working at on the North Rim, at Grand Canyon National Park, is, it’s an 80 mile trip to the grocery store one way and I usually drive further than that to get to St. George, instead of Kanab. That’s the most obvious hurdle. You know being out of milk, sugar, flour, or almond milk, whatever, it could be a while before you get some more. You know little things like that or I really want some pizza in January and it’s a long drive. And often I have to plow my way out to get groceries. I’ve driven the snowplow 45 miles to Jacob Lake got in my truck drove an additional 50 miles to the grocery store and then plowed my way back in. Hannah: What advice would you give to folks that want to become an employee at Grand Canyon someday? Jeffery: If they are not already working in the Park Service I would tell them to find the nearest national park to them or recreation area or preserve, or historic site, whatever and volunteer. That’s a great way to get started that’s how I got started. I volunteered at Tall Prairie National Preserve in Kansas. So go volunteer you have skills the National Park Service needs. We need interruptive rangers like Doug and Hannah. We need facilities people like me. We need law enforcement, we need firefighters, we need people to fix the copy machines desperately. We need IT, we need human resource, we need people who ran sewer plants. If a city has it we need it. It’s been a wonderful career change, I’ve been very fortunate. -Hi I’m Kennedy. I’m going to school to be a mechanical engineer. - My name is Caden. I’m 11 and I want to be an architect when I grow up. -My name is Mateo. I’m 10 years old and I want to be a vet when I grow up. -My name is Fiona. I am 10 years old. And I want to be a video game designer when I grow up. -My name is Katie. I’m 22 years old. And I want to be an environmental engineer when I grow up. -Ivy, 17 and a cosmetologist.

H: We just heard two dropouts of the corporate world now working here at North Rim.

D: Yea. Now ranger Ron also has an interesting story as well of how he joined the “We Are the Ranger’s” club. And like Jeffery, he had a mountain top experience that changed his life. Cause when he was a little boy, he was in the Boy Scouts, maybe in his teens and his troop had climbed Mount Katahdin in Maine.

H: Isn’t that the end of the famous Appalachian Trail?

D: Yea. About 2200 miles long, it stretches all the way from Georgia all the way to Maine. And Ron had a chance encounter with an Appalachian Trail hiker on the summit of Mount Katahdin who had just finished her hike. And this kinda planted a seed in young Ron’s head. That maybe. Someday … Who knows, the whole Appalachian Trail????

H: Let’s bring in Ron and let’s hear his whole story.

Ron: Hi I’m Ron. I’m 48. I’ve been volunteering with the Park Service for a few years now. Home for me is Pennsylvania, at least that’s where I’ve got family at and what the license plate says. But I’m a full time RVer, so home is wherever I happen to be parked.

Doug: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Ron: It would have depended on when you asked me, I was one of those kids whose interest changed every couple months. At one point I might have said astronomer, astronaut, paleontologist, so really whatever I was interested in at the time I thought would be a career

Hannah: What was your life path before you entered Park Service and volunteering?

Ron: Well I went to college for a chemical engineering degree and after I got out of college I joined the Navy and did a career with them for 20 years.

I was what they call a Surface Warfare Officer, so I was on the officer side and that meant we were the people who were in charge driving and fighting ships, managing people and I finished up with my last job, I was the executive officer, the number two person for a training command over in Japan.

Doug: Wow, very good. So what happened after you retired from the U.S. Navy?

Ron: Went back to Pennsylvania started getting ready, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to do one of my lifelong dreams and hike the Appalachian trail. So I went and hiked the Appalachian Trail and by the time I was I done I decided rather than go back into the regular real world work force I would go ahead get an RV and start traveling and find volunteer opportunities.

Hannah: How did you end up at Grand Canyon?

Ron: It was mostly Park Service but I’ve also done some volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity while I’ve been on the road and with the Park Service it was just a matter of trying to get a position. Turns out it was harder than I thought it was, but I got my first position was with Fort Bowie. I actually worked at Jimmy Carter National Historic Site first just the way timing worked out. But from there I kinda jumped around parks. So I was at those two, I went to Fort Vancouver up in Washington. Voyagers National Park up in Minnesota, Everglades in Florida, and then found out there was a volunteer position open here at North Rim of Grand Canyon, so I put in for it.

Doug: And your life has gone downhill ever since you showed up, no I’m just kidding.

Everyone: Giggling/Chuckling

Doug: What’s some of the best parts and some of the more challenging parts for you to live the National Park lifestyle?

Ron: Some of the best parts is you get to live in absolutely amazing places and as opposed to just doing that quick trip you get to dig into the park and learn a whole lot more about it and explore it in a way you just can’t, even if you have a week that you spend at the park.

Downsides: beautiful areas often mean remote areas, so I’ve gotten to the point now that I would consider only one hour to get to the grocery store to be a short trip. And some of the stuff that you just get used to living near an area where you can go shopping easily you have to adapt to that. And of course, the other part it’s not a find one spot and that’s where you live lifestyle its move around all the time.

I’m one of those fortunate people because I did 20 years in the military that I’ve got a pension. So, by volunteering with the Park Service, I don’t have to work as much, and it changes it from being something where it feels like a job to it’s just for fun.

Doug: So, what would you say to other folks, if they ask you how can I get started in volunteer ranks?

Ron: Well I’ll always tell them to go to volunteer.gov so they can at least find out at least what kind of positions are out there. And if that they live near a park even if it’s a state park you know talk to them see what they need. Because it can be competitive getting these positions where you live at the park. So having some experience helps. And then just to keep on trying and find out what their interested in and take a look and see what is out there.

-My name is Davina. I’m 20 years old. When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress. I’m currently a student at Western Washington University to pursue a degree in management information systems. -I’m Nash. I am 10 years old and I want to be a scientist when I grow up. -Hi I’m Larrah and I am a junior in college applying to nursing school. When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a doctor so kinda the same thing, just a little bit different. -My name is William. Five. Cowboy. -My name is Noah. I’m 13 and when I grow up I want to be an architect. -Hi. My name is Theodore. I’m 9 years old. When I grow up I want to be an actor.

H: I really enjoyed listening to Emily, Jeffery and Ron’s stories. And they brought up the challenges of isolation and distance. But I’m pretty sure there are more than that.

D: Yeah. There are. I can think of several challenges and downsides. How about this one, Hannah? Look around here at the North Rim. Every single one of our National Park employees lives in a one-generation home. It’s artificial. There are no kids. There are no grandparents.

I grew up in a with parents in a two-generation home and at times we were three generation family.

H: I really hadn’t thought about it. Because it’s just the circumstances that just who is pulled into the park.

D: That’s right. And how about this one? You can work had as a repeat summer seasonal coming back every summer. But to be real about it there is very little chance of you getting hired into a career position. There’s just very few of them and the competition is really tough.

And then how about the uncertainty of winter and off-season work? You have to make money year round. So what are you going to do in the off-season?

H: I mean your not wrong there. As an intern a lot of my co-workers in the uniform would constantly tell me not to pursue a career in this because how difficult it was and they were personally experiencing. But obviously I was still interested.

D: And I’m a white male. But I can look around and see that there is very little racial diversity in the National Park Service.

H: That can be really tough. Do you have any examples that stood out to you that you experienced?

D: Well, you know actually, when I was an Oregon State park ranger, a local museum, this was in rural Oregon, a local museum had a Japanese American exhibit and my wife contributed some of her family artifacts for the exhibit. And the museum called for all the Japanese families in the three-county area to come and have a potluck for the grand opening of this Japanese American exhibit. And we, there was a total of 12 people that showed up. Twelve Asian people including our family that showed up for this grand opening.

H: Wow.

D: What the chances of doing some tiako drumming or participating in the New Year’s mochitsuki ceremony? You know, she just didn’t have a lot of opportunities to do that.

H: And I know these are just a few things, with isolation, distance, and one-generational families, uncertainty of true career path, and racial diversity here in the Park Service. But it’s still a place where I think it’s still one of the best jobs, but that’s from my personal experience.

D: I agree. We want to keep it real in here this podcast so we did feel it was important to mention some possible downsides. But the lesson I get is, you know, follow your dreams wherever they may lead you.

H: And there you have it. Several stories of how various people, my coworkers and friends, ended up joining the We Are The Rangers club at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

D: Yes. And even threw in a few stories of park visitor, their dreams and aspirations.

H: We gratefully acknowledge the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who make their homes here today.

I want to thank all the park visitors who contributed their dreams and stories, as well as ranger Emily, Jeffery, and Ron for sharing their stories.

And thank our listeners that dream of joining the “We Are The Ranger’s” club.

Thanks to ranger Dave for podcast editing. Thanks for my podcast partner, ranger Doug, for writing two podcast parody songs, with apologies to John Prine and Queen.

I think we need to finish this podcast off in style, Doug.

D: Okay, let’s invite in a bunch of our North Rim ranger friends for a very special ending song.

(sung) I wear the hat Its brim is flat I rove the trails I tell park tales

And the park views, I’ve seen a few I’ve seen my share of great sunrises and sunsets They’re here for you too!

We are the rangers, my friends And we’ll serve the park, till the end We are the rangers We welcome strangers No time for losers ‘Cause we are the rangers … of the park!

I’ve learned the rocks And I give the talks I lead park tours And so much more

And it’s been a lot of fun But I’m far from done The park ranger profession is the best It’s second to none!

We are the rangers, my friends And we’ll serve the park, till the end We are the rangers We welcome strangers No time for losers ‘Cause we are the rangers …

We are the rangers, my friends And we’ll serve the park, till the end We are the rangers We welcome strangers No time for losers

(Alrighty. I’m Nathan. I’m 21 years old and when I grow up, I want to be happy!

‘Cause we are the rangers … of the park!


Have you ever contemplated a mid-life or post-retirement career change? What did you want to be when you grew up? Join us for a fun look into some park ranger careers and life at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park including the benefits and challenges.

First Voices - Autumn Gillard


Kelli: Yá’át’ééh shí éí Kelli Jones yinishyé, Ta’neeszahnii nishłí Kinyaa’áanii bashishchiin Tábąąha’ dashicheii dibe’ lizhni dashinalí. Tse’dezhaa ei shi’ nasha ak’woodí Dine’e asdzaa nishlí

Jesse: and I'm Jesse I'm a park Ranger across the Canyon from Kelly over on the north rim. Welcome to the First Voices, a series designed to elevate the voices of people whose connections to Grand Canyon stretch back to time immemorial. In this episode we'll hear from Pipe Spring National Monument park ranger Autumn Gillard.

Autumn (Translated from Southern Paiute): Hello friends my name is Autumn; my mother was Delphina Edmo from the Cedar Band of Paiutes my grandmother is Nola Zuniga from the Cedar Band of Paiutes and my grandfather’s name was Nober Zuniga also from the Cedar Band of Paiutes.

Autumn: My name is Autumn Gillard. I’m a descendent from the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, descending from the Cedar Band on my maternal side, and my grandfather was Norber Tom Zuniga, also from the Cedar Band of Paiutes. And so, I currently work for Pipe Spring National Monument. I am in the interpretive division. So, some of the tasks that I focus on in the interpretive division at Pipe Spring is giving the history of the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians and the Southern Paiute People and their existence around the very large aquifer Pipe Spring. I also talk about the Euro-American introduction, the Spanish introduction, and the existence of the Ancestral Puebloan People who are ancestors that lived here around the spring. And so, through interpretation I give these histories by performing cultural demonstrations, doing star programs, I oversee a very large heritage garden that I use for ethnobotany information related to the Southern Paiute People. I work in the visitor center, so greeting people as they come in and just orienting them about their monument and the public lands and how they can enjoy the monument there.

Jesse: The history that Autumn interprets at Pipe Spring is so complicated.

Autumn: Yeah it is a pretty complex story. We touch on some very sensitive subjects, you know, so we talk about the history of genocidal trauma and what happened to the Southern Paiute People upon Euro-American introduction. We also touch on the big subject of water in the desert and how it is utilized, and how the aquifer is sustaining this community here on the Kaibab Paiute Reservation. We talk about polygamy in the desert, interaction with the government, and religious freedom. So some pretty big subjects we discuss.

Kelli: Having Autumn talk about the indigenous history of the area, and talking about colonialism, and maybe genocide, it's really interesting to listen to Autumn and just have her just be comfortable talking about this to the public. And I really appreciate that because not a lot of Park Rangers are comfortable talking about that.

Jesse: Yeah, totally inspiring. She's not only comfortable but she's excited to talk about complex issues.

Autumn: Yes, definitely. I think that what excites the most about the history is that, as the Native American woman, I think that it's very important to elevate indigenous voices and so being able to work at a place like Pipe Spring that has such a close connection with a sister band of mine that my ancestors are related to makes it that much more precious to me. I think that the American public and the other visitors that come to public land deserve to learn about American history in true form and not have any curtains placed in front of them. And so, that excites me, just teaching and passing knowledge along is something that I really find fulfilling. And I was born and raised in Utah and so I have a really good understanding of the Mormon pioneers and how they interacted with the tribes of Utah and the surrounding states.

Jesse: I met autumn the first time in 2018 when she came up with other Rangers from Pipe Spring to the north room for our Native American Heritage Days event. What I didn't know at the time was that that was her very first visit to Grand Canyon. Autumn: It was very emotional, and it was actually with Ranger Benn Pikyavit. He's been here at Pipe Spring for over 20 years, he's one of the tribal elders for the Kaibab Paiute People, and so he invited me along to come with him to work at the North Rim Heritage Days. Jesse: That was your first time here?

Autumn: Yeah, it was. He took me out on the rim and he explained some pretty important cultural stuff to me. One of the things that always stuck in my mind is that, you know, like when we sat there and we looked across the Canyon, he said that this place is so powerful and it's a part of Southern Paiute People’s power. And it's where we come to gather ourselves and gather our thoughts. And so, we must honor and recognize that when we're there, because just as much as that Canyon can give us it can take it away very quickly. And so, if you don't go there with respect in your heart the Canyon will show you a lesson. It will teach you. So every time I go there I always think that, honor this place, pay homage to it, and leave my traditional offering to the existence and the spirit of the Canyon

Kelli: And I totally understand what she means by that because I also hadn't experienced Grand Canyon until I actually was, you know, working here as an intern. And knowing that this place, you know, it has meaning behind it, that you know it always will call back to you to help. It's like calling for help, like it wants us to introduce it back to the people. Or, you know, it's like you have a sense of being a park ranger, a storyteller, to talk about these stories, being like we need you to tell the story about this place, talk about the story of our people that have this cultural connection to this place.

Autumn: Yeah, yeah so with Southern Paiute People, not a lot of people realize that the north end of the Canyon is really, really sacred to the Southern Paiute People. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a place of power. It is a place for us to go and kind of rejuvenate and refill our spiritual power, but also just ourselves. I’ve heard many Southern Paiute People refer to it as, the Canyon is our heart, it's a place where our heart is, it's where we belong. And so, even before I had went up there and stepped foot and looked across that Canyon, you know, I have that connection internally inside of me through past generations who have made pilgrimages there. So, you know, we have sacred areas there in the Canyon, whether it be through petroglyph sites, or just the river. The Colorado River is very, very sacred to my people. It's a life giving force and it's older than time. That’s something that we always honor and recognize. So I think that that would be the best interpretation or understanding of that. It's just that the multitude of power, if one could just grasp that through our physical eyes you would feel that spiritual feeling that I felt even before I ever went there.

Kelli: Yeah, and you think about all these tribes, you know, the 11 associated tribes that have this cultural connection to this place, and you know it's crazy because like the Diné knowledge, the tradition knowledge that we have, is like we put our umbilical cord when under the ground of our homestead within the reservation or where you think your home is at. For the Navajo people it is always within the Four Sacred Mountains. And the they say if you stay within the Four Sacred Mountains it protects you. And if you do leave it you always come back. And your umbilical cord wherever is buried at it knows that you've been gone for so long but you do have to come back to it. And, you know, the Canyon is part of that umbilical cord for a lot of the indigenous tribes, and it's like this is our homestead, and this is a place that we do have a connection.

Jesse: When we interviewed Mae Franklin she said the Grand Canyon is a lot of things to a lot of people so we asked Autumn what it means to her.

Autumn: I think one thing that visitors should keep in mind when they visit the Grand Canyon is that the Canyon speaks for itself, it doesn't need to be spoken for. When you go there realize that this place is very important to Indigenous People. Not just the Southern Paiute People, but all of the other tribes that have a connection to the Canyon. And I think just recognizing that we need to leave the Canyon as it is. It doesn't need to change. It doesn't need new technology added to it. It doesn't need you know all of this multitude of advertisement for tourism to it. This is a place that is meant, and set aside for people to come and totally enjoy and gain that psychological connection to the environment, and just to release. And so, I would say when you come to the Canyon release, and enjoy, and relax, and just taking in something as simple as a sunset across the Canyon can be fulfilling. So don’t change it, just leave it the same

Jesse: You know, one of the hardest things to hear when talking to Autumn was that she frequently gets comments from visitors that Native People should just get over the past.

Autumn: I would like people to recognize more of the Indigenous People that are connected to the Canyon, and not to so much think of it in terms as you know something negative. We as Native People, especially those of us that work for public land divisions, continually hear remarks that we need to get over the past and that we need to get over the past history, but history is what defines us. Every single person. It doesn't matter what walk of life that we come from. And so, just respecting that, you know, that this place does have a deep connection with Indigenous People. And that we are still here. We have voices. We do want you guys to come and learn about us and to see where we live and to gain an understanding of us. We're not so much different as everybody thinks that we are, we're just like everybody else.

Kelli: And when people do make that comment it's really hard to, you know, understand why they want to just leave the past as it is. A lot of these wayside exhibits talk about the past tense of a lot of the indigenous history here, so today we still have people who still don't believe that Indigenous People still exist. We cannot forget about the past in order for us to have a better future. We have to bring up the history.

Jesse: Yeah, well said Kelly. Last I asked Autumn to reflect on the link between protecting the Canyon and preserving Southern Paiute culture.

Autumn: In terms of cultural preservation within the Canyon, you know, I think one of the easiest ways to make people understand that they're outside of Native spirituality and Native culture is that you wouldn't want, if you are a religious person, you wouldn't want somebody to go in and desecrate your church. Or you wouldn't want anyone to go in and desecrate your way of prayer, or your way of gaining spiritual connection with a higher power. And so, that is how we view the Canyon, and that is how we view areas like Deer Creek. These places are very sacred to us, they create a bond between Southern Paiute People to the spirit world where our ancestors are, and where those of our family that have passed on. And so, when we get people that come into the Canyon and don't understand that or don't respect that, it's basically like treading over somebody church or sacred area. So for cultural preservation, I would like to see the Canyon to integrate more Native American People into CRM programs, even into resource management, so that we can have our own people there speaking, teaching how to protect, or taking those responsibilities upon themselves to protect it to preserve these areas, because they are very, very precious to us. And that goes back to the point of the power that we see in the Canyon is that if someone outside of our culture could learn what we see or what we feel in our hearts in these places, I don't think that they would feel comfortable just, you know, kind of traipsing around in there, or doing graffiti, or leaving garbage, or even urinating in these areas. We always need to be conscious that there is another point to our life, that everything that we believe in as as Native People isn't physically what we see in front of ourselves. There is a deep spiritual connection. And so, that does come into play with cultural preservation

Jesse: The Behind the Scenery podcast is brought to you by the interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. A huge thanks to Mae Franklin for sharing her stories and perspectives. We gratefully acknowledge the native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant native communities who make their home here today.

Autumn Gillard is a descendent of the Cedar Band of Southern Paiutes and has been an important voice in the Inter-Tribal Working Group. This group works very closely with Grand Canyon National Park and is made up of many voices from the associated tribes. They are responsible for helping the park with management decisions, Indigenous representation, and resource protection. Autumn also works at Pipe Spring National Monument where she helps to interpret Kaibab Paiute and Fundamentalist Mormon stories.

First Voices - Mae Franklin


Jesse: Let's just start by introducing ourselves.

Kelli: Sure like do you want me to introduce myself as like you know park Ranger or do you like introduce myself like how I usually do it?

Jesse: What feels right to you?

Kelli: Saying, well, how we introduce ourselves is usually by our clans. It is just a proper way of saying who we are. Not just to like people who are non-native, but also to our ancestors because they hear us introducing ourselves in our language and they know where we are.

Yá’át’ééh shí éí Kelli Jones yinishyé, Ta’neeszahnii nishłí Kinyaa’áanii bashishchiin Tábąąha’ dashicheii dibe’ lizhni dashinalí. Tse’dezhaa ei shi’ nasha ak’woodí Dine’e asdzaa nishlí So I introduced myself and my four clans from my maternal and paternal side of my mom and dad. That's how I introduce myself as a Diné woman, a Navajo woman. So, what I do here at Grand Canyon National Park is I work in the Interpretation Division.

Jesse: And where do you work?

Kelli: Um, I work at Desert View.

Jesse: And my name is Jesse and I’m a park ranger on the North Rim.

Kelli: Because I guess a basic question I get from the visitors is “where are the indigenous people? How come they're not working here?” My whole thought was like we do work here and we work in all different divisions. We take care of the Canyon from the river all the way to the rim on the south and north side of the Canyon. I really wanted to elevate the indigenous voices here at the canyon.

Jesse: And so in addition to other projects, we’ve started the First Voices podcast series so that listeners can hear directly from people whose connections to Grand Canyon stretch back to time immemorial. In this episode of the First Voices series, we’ll hear from Mae Franklin. Mae has worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the Cameron Chapter of the Navajo Nation, she works with the Grand Canyon Inter-Tribal Working Group, and she works on issues like food sovereignty and cultural preservation in her community.

Mae: Mable Franklin yinishyé Hashk’ąąn Hadzhohí Kiinyaa’áanii bashishchiin Tsé Deeshgizhnii dashicheii Lók’aa’ Dine’é dashinalí aa dóó na’nihah asdzaa dei ei’ya a’íís nasha. To’ni’łiní nani’jí ei’ji shíghan a’kwoo ak’ei dóó ni’tee aa dóó Dine’e nishlí ahe’hee kwee’eé da’eí na iigí.

My name is Mae Franklin. I am from Cameron. I shared my clans with those that are Navajo and want to know their connections to me. I am grateful for just opportunity I have to live in a very unique, awesome place. The Little Colorado River is just in my backyard, so I pay attention to migrations that happen along the river. This is the corridor the birds use to fly back and forth. It’s pretty loud in the spring when they're back, and then it quiets down the rest of the summer and winter is really quiet.

Kelli: Wow she's just an amazing person to talk to. Mae Franklin, she's a local within this area, and she's from Cameron, and she's really trying to preserve a lot of resiliency through languages, stories, and history of the Canyon. I think that just makes me understand, you know, if she's doing that, I want to continue doing that as well. I look up to her as like a role model in that way.

Jesse: We wondered what Mae remember from her first time in Grand Canyon.

Mae: You know, the earliest memory of being up in the higher area, sort of where the trees the juniper trees are, I mean I was small, and I remember those trees were like way tall. And so, a forest was sort of a scary place for me. So yeah, at that time I didn't know where I was as far as like, park and things like that. But I do remember taking a ride out to Grand Canyon, the visitation area, as a student. We went out there on a bus from Tuba City public school. All I remember and I remember feeling the same thing was just an awe, and like I hailed, you know, just stopping and seeing the view. It was the same thing I did when I saw the ocean, you know. It was just amazing - the span of landscape before me when I went to Grand Canyon as a little student. It demands to be looked at. When you walk away you've experienced something. You know that you have experienced something and that you're not the same person that you were when you got there, so you walk away different, feeling different. Some people, you know, if they sit there for a while and contemplate, they probably unload a lot of things, you know. When I was brought up my father used to do offerings and I remember going off on the side while he did his offering along the river. Those kinds of things just sort of have created like this spiritual connection. And the same thing happens when I go down the river with the tribes and they sing the songs and they offer the prayers and it's a just a continuation of what I was raised with. When that happens there's a lot of respect and reverence for what's there.

Jesse: Mae also speaks a lot about home and the things that connect her to it.

Mae: We still heat our home with the stove and so I go out there on an annual basis. We go through the park and now I have like these boundaries in mind, you know, we go through the park and thank goodness we don't have to pay for a fee. I just feel like it makes it so that it's one continuous thing. You get into the Forest Service to pick up your firewood or sometimes when Grand Canyon makes firewood available. Pinyon picking, too. You know, those are resources that we use on an annual basis, and as far as pinyons it's like we never we have it available. Those connect me and it’s all part of the home experience at that I've always known and I've heard stories of.

Jesse: Mae also expressed a sense of loss of connection to home at the creation of Grand Canyon National Park.

Kelli: This is home and we should always call it home, and I understand the feeling of a sense of loss, you know, and a sense of self loss in traditional knowledge and traditional ways.

Mae: When the fence went up, obviously, there are people that were forced out of the park. And then the same thing happened for the vendors when they went in to sell their wares. They were escorted out by law enforcement. And those are some things that my community has not forgotten. It's still somewhat fresh.

Jesse: Another barrier Mae mentions is the barrier to employment. Mae: The gates haven't opened up to employment, still. We have this whole barrier of having to compete for these positions and here it’s in our own backyard. There's a sort of a certain number that they're willing to bring on and those are filled and so therefore you even though you compete you're probably not going to get those positions. And so, that was, I guess, one of the drawbacks. Anyway, I hope that being that the Superintendent is a lawyer that, you know, he's willing to be open to maybe taking a look at that some of those employment laws, or whatever they're called, that are barriers.

Jesse: Mae has invested a ton of time working to remove these kinds of barriers through her work for the Inter-Tribal Working Group and also other avenues, as well.

Kelli: She's part of this huge change that's going to happen here at Grand Canyon, and she's been really strong in this working group for several years.

Jesse: Yeah, she's seen some positive change through the years. Mae: And I've grown to understand, sort of, the employees - their passion, their desire to make the wrong things that happened to make them right. And one of the other things that happened was when Grand Canyon renovated the homes over at Supai Camp. I just thought that was a really, really profound effort on the part of the park to do that and to address those needs. And then, just taking some of the trips down the river and just the interactions that you see with park employees and the tribes. I felt like there was some genuine effort to really understand and connect and as they were being told the various stories. It's not like they just blew it off, they were actually engaged and so I thought that was, to me, a real good thing to go forward with. It gave me a lot of confidence about the actual desire to mend things with the tribes.

Kelli: Her saying that really gives a sense of hope that she does believe in Park Service here at Grand Canyon. To know that we are moving forward and she's really wanting to be part of this and I know that she's really hoping it is moving towards that way you know to a better future for Grand Canyon National Park.

Jesse: Yeah, she has hope but also recognizes there's still a ton of work to be done.

Mae: I guess I just, I'm very much wanting to restore things that have been made void. Maybe people now, even though the young people they don't know what we've lost, some of us still do. I hope we can come forward and make known some of these things that are that are missing, that we can we have an opportunity to put back in place so that we have as much of what we enjoyed in the past, like the trails. I hope that the tribes have enough information to share. I mean, I go down the Canyon and there are new English names coming up with sites. Which, you know, I think those things evolve but there is also the tribal names that the tribes can, you know, share with their youth so that those stay in their memory. And if they go there, you know, all the more. But those kind of things I guess I really would like to see to the tribes, but they have to have access. Right now I want to see folks down along the river telling their stories. There's Navajo stories of crossing the river and just the connected stories there. I think people have just sort of stopped telling those stories, or maybe it a lot of them have gone with the elders that knew the land so well, and because of the English and the kids going off the reservation that some of those things didn't transfer.

Kelli: She lives really close to a place that has really high volume of tourist attraction, and not being allowed for a lot of reasons to be even traveling this way for doing traditional things like she does, or just even walking through. But I think that what she said is just like it's just not here at Grand Canyon, it's pretty much everywhere. It’s not just us Diné people dealing with it, but all the tribes.

Jesse: Yeah, and Mae's really fighting for rights for all associated tribes. Let's give her the last word.

Mae: Our Inter-Tribal group that keeps meeting we want to move toward being home. We want to feel those connections without any kind of barriers. We want our children to come to know the park and be involved. To not be invited, but to say this is what we want, this is how we want our voices to be heard.

Jesse: The Behind the Scenery podcast is brought to you by the interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. A huge thanks to Mae Franklin for sharing her stories and perspectives.

We gratefully acknowledge the native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant native communities who make their home here today.

Mae Franklin has worked for the U.S. Forest Service, the Cameron Chapter of the Navajo Nation, the Grand Canyon Inter-Tribal Working Group, and she works on issues like food sovereignty and cultural preservation in her community. Learn more about Mae and her connection to the Grand Canyon in this episode of Behind the Scenery.

Cruzando el Cañón


Cruzando el Cañón – Español

NARRADOR: Hola, me llamo Carmen. Soy segunda generación latina, y trabajo en el parque nacional del Gran Cañón del Colorado en Arizona. Recién caminé de un borde del cañón al otro, y esta es mi historia.

"Sácame una foto, Kate: necesito ser una turista".

La guardaparque Kate y yo estábamos en la cima del “South Kaibab Trailhead”, uno de los dos senderos que descienden desde el borde sur del Parque Nacional del Gran Cañón hacia las profundidades del cañón. Estaba a punto de comenzar mi primer esfuerzo por cruzar el cañón, desde el borde sur hasta el borde norte, una distancia de treinta y cuatro kilómetros, en tres días. Era el atardecer, pero el sol todavía estaba caliente. Hice una lista mental: ¿tengo todo mi equipo? Bastones de trekking, comida deshidratada, agua en abundancia, una rodillera, una camiseta para el sol, un sombrero e incluso una sombrilla. Sólo quedaba una cosa por hacer antes de descender: un buen remojón. Admito que estaba un poco escéptica mientras me contorsionaba bajo los grifos de agua, mojando cada centímetro de mi ropa. Pero la diferencia fue inmediata: ¡Sentí frío!

Acomodé mi mochila de 11 kilos en los hombros y empezamos a descender por el sinuoso sendero hacia el cañón. Mis bastones de trekking levantaban pequeñas nubes de polvo. El ala ancha de mi sombrero se me metió en los ojos. Mis dos litros de agua chapoteaban a cada lado de mi mochila. Sonreí: estaba de nuevo en el camino.

No pude evitar pensar en mi último viaje con mochila, más de un año antes, en marzo del 2020. Había planeado recorrer el “Appalachian Trail” desde mi estado natal, Georgia, hasta el estado de Maine, más de tres mil quinientos kilómetros. En realidad, sólo recorrí sesenta y cuatro kilómetros antes de que todo paró por COVID. Llovió los cinco días que estuve en el sendero, y mi rodilla sufrió la mayor parte de ese tiempo. También fueron los cinco días más felices de mi vida. La niebla que se enroscaba entre los árboles parecía un paisaje de cuento de hadas. Sentía que me fortalecía físicamente, y por fin dejó de dolerme la rodilla. Conocí a personas increíbles y vi paisajes hermosos. Lo único que tenía que planificar cada día era la distancia que debía recorrer, qué comer y dónde poner la carpa.

Agarré los bastones de trekking con más fuerza y me quedé mirando las coloridas rocas del cañón, mi visión superpuesta con el “Appalachian Trail” de Georgia. Había investigado mochilas, ropa, comida deshidratada. Me había entrenado físicamente. Me había preparado mentalmente. Había comprado 11 kilos de frijoles negros deshidratados. Pero no estaba preparada por abandonar el sendero. La caminata por el “Appalachian Trail” era mi sueño de 10 años. La decisión de abandonar el camino fue muy difícil, aun cuando sentí que era lo correcto. Pero eso no evitó que me doliera: una aventura que quedaba inconclusa.

Hoy era la primera vez que me ponía la mochila desde entonces. Mis ojos estaban húmedos, parpadeé rápidamente y miré el cañón. Estábamos avanzando a través de una sección conocida como la Chimenea, un segmento empinado donde las paredes del cañón enmarcaban las majestuosas vistas lejanas. El borde norte, al otro lado del cañón, se veía borroso por la distancia. ¿Podría realmente recorrer todo ese camino en tres días?

Lo haré. Además, mi cabaña de trabajo de verano estaba allí, en el borde norte.

Kate y yo caminamos por el sinuoso sendero, descendiendo hacia el cañón. Nuestros bastones resonaban en unos adoquines y nuestras botas se hundían en el polvo suave llamado "polvo de luna" que ya se había metido en todos los poros de nuestros calcetines. Cada vez nos cruzamos con menos personas subiendo por el sendero, hasta que en “Skeleton Point” caminábamos solas. Las paredes del cañón subían sin cesar mientras nosotras descendíamos, hasta que las formaciones del cañón se elevaron sobre nosotras. Me quedé mirando maravillada: nunca había sentido realmente la inmensidad del cañón hasta que estuve en su interior.

A un lado teníamos el precipicio del cañón, y al otro la pared de rocas de colores. Toqué su superficie con mis dedos. Los colores del cañón cambiaban a medida que descendíamos, al atravesar las diversas capas que forman las enormes paredes. Los impresionantes acantilados blancos de la arenisca Coconino, reliquia de antiguas dunas. Los minerales de hierro de las capas de “Supai” daban a toda esa sección unos encantadores tonos rojizos. Y pasamos junto a fósiles de un periodo remoto. Ondas congeladas en la piedra y huellas de una antigua criatura desaparecida hace millones de años.

Me sacaron de mi ensueño otras marcas en la pared: muchos grafitis. ¿Por qué? ¿Acaso el cañón hace que la gente se sienta tan pequeña que tiene que demostrar su existencia a los demás, marcar su lugar en la inmensidad? Descansamos brevemente y aproveché para limpiar las marcas con mi bandana y agua.

El sol poniente enviaba largos rayos hacia el cañón cuando llegamos a los últimos tres kilómetros después del “Tipoff Point”. Un aire notablemente más cálido me envolvió mientras descendíamos hacia la última sección del sendero. Los bordes del cañón se perdieron de vista; estábamos demasiado abajo. Las rocas metamórficas e ígneas, negras y rojas, forman esta área, y las empinadas y oscuras paredes atrapan e irradian calor. Estas antiguas rocas son rugosas, con hermosas estrías de color en sus escarpadas caras. Estas rocas, anteriores incluso a la vida, irradian algo más que calor: irradian una sensación de intemporalidad.

El poderoso río Colorado, arquitecto del cañón, centelleaba bajo nosotras, bajo los últimos rayos de luz. Con nuestro objetivo a la vista y el sol poniéndose rápidamente, aceleramos el paso hacia el Puente Negro. Un túnel de roca nos separaba del puente, la oscuridad era total en ese corto espacio. Recuperé el aliento por un instante, imaginando la antigua roca que me rodeaba por todos lados. Luego, la luz – y salimos al puente, como si estuviéramos entrando a otro mundo.

Las maltrechas tablas crujieron cuando caminé sobre el puente. Ahora que estaba lo suficientemente cerca como para ver la espuma y los remolinos agitados por la feroz corriente del río Colorado, me di cuenta de cuán lejos que habíamos llegado. En una sola tarde habíamos descendido un kilómetro y medio en vertical y habíamos recorrido once kilómetros de sendero. Sentí un gran respeto por el río, cuyas rápidas aguas habían descendido esta misma distancia durante millones de años, tallando el cañón que habíamos descendido. También respeté su rápida corriente y me caminé por el centro exacto del puente.

Me dirigí al campamento, cansada, contenta y ligeramente nerviosa: ahora que había entrado en el cañón, tendría que volver a salir. Pero esa era la tarea de mañana. Por el momento, el camping Bright Angel me llamaba.

Kate continuó hasta la estación de guardaparques y yo elegí un lugar para acampar junto a la pared del cañón. El aire caliente y seco me rodeaba en un abrazo entrelazado, haciendo sentir su presencia en todo momento. Con gratitud, me quité los zapatos de mis pies adoloridos y me puse sandalias. Sin ningún otro cambio en mi ropa, bajé por las rocas hasta el arroyo que bailaba y parloteaba en el campamento. Parecía tan tentador, y al mirar hacia arriba y hacia abajo del arroyo, vi que otras personas ya habían aceptado su chispeante invitación.

Acerqué tímidamente un pie, ¡el agua era como el hielo! ¡Pero que rico! Me senté con delicadeza en la corriente y observé cómo el agua fluía a mi alrededor. Me refrescaba la piel y hacía que la ropa se me pegara al cuerpo. En la calurosa y árida sequedad, este centelleante arroyo parecía aún más especial.

Después de un rato delicioso sentada en el arroyo, volví al campamento y cogí mi contenedor de cuscús al curry, que había rehidratado durante la bajada. Le eché una buena cantidad de aceite de oliva para añadir grasas a mis carbohidratos y me senté en una roca calentada por el sol para disfrutar de mi festín. Ninguna comida sabe tan rica como la comida después de una caminata extenuante.

Acampar en el cañón fue muy fácil: puse mi colchoneta sobre la mesa de picnic, coloqué mi delgado saco de dormir encima y ¡listo! No hacía falta una carpa, y hacía demasiado calor para un grueso saco de dormir. Me acomodé sobre mi colchoneta, moviendo los hombros para encontrar el lugar más cómodo. Apoyando la cabeza sobre mis brazos (la única almohada que tenía), observé las estrellas que emergían del cielo. Era un sitio glorioso, pero no pude mantener los ojos abiertos por más tiempo.

Unos ruidos y las luces de las lámparas de cabeza me despertaron brevemente a las 4 de la mañana, la mejor hora para salir y vencer el calor del día. Opté por salir a las 4 de la tarde, cuando la sombra empezaría a llegar de nuevo al cañón. Observé somnolienta desde mi cama en la mesa de picnic cómo el amanecer se adentraba lentamente en el cañón. Primero como un suave resplandor, luego como cintas de luz que encendían las formaciones rocosas más altas. Un crujido cercano me hizo saltar, pero era una familia de ciervos que venía a mordisquear el follaje alrededor de mi campamento.

Tuve la experiencia completa del cañón interior: me uní a Kate en la estación de guardaparques y vi una evacuación médica en helicóptero. Dejé mi mochila sudada a la entrada y volví para encontrar una ardilla metida hasta los hombros en un hueco que había mordido en la tela. Vi cómo los guardaparques cuidan con cariño los árboles que rodean el campamento, ayudándolos a crecer para que los visitantes tengan sombra. Me sumergí en el rio Colorado, que estaba aún más frío que el arroyo. Recorrí el sendero del río, excavado en la roca sólida hace muchos años. Tomé una foto del termómetro, que marcaba cuarenta y dos grados centígrados a la sombra. Me tomé una limonada en el “Phantom Ranch” y envié postales de "correo por mula" a mi familia. Me senté en el arroyo mientras pececitos mordisqueaban los dedos de mis pies.

A las 4 de la tarde, Kate y yo nos pusimos de nuevo en marcha, iniciando nuestro ascenso hacia el borde norte. No sabía qué esperar de este sendero, un sendero dos veces más largo, pero lo haría en dos días. El calor seguía envolviéndonos, pero estaba disminuyendo poco a poco. Volví a colocarme la mochila sobre los hombros, ajustando las correas para que me resultara más cómoda. Con los bastones en la mano, estaba lista para salir. A los cinco minutos me di cuenta de algo: había estado tan ocupada disfrutando del arroyo que había olvidado ponerme la rodillera. ¿Debo parar y ponérmela? No, ya estábamos caminando. Pero es algo que me preocupaba. Era una caminata intensa, ¿volvería a dolerme la rodilla, como había ocurrido en el “Appalachian Trail”?

El sendero se abrió paso a través de las empinadas y sofocantes paredes del cañón interior, siguiendo el arroyo “Bright Angel”. El susurro del agua, el calor que cubría el camino y el paisaje extraño hacían que la caminata fuera surrealista. Casi esperaba ver una nave espacial o un dragón volando por el estrecho pasaje que atravesábamos. Esta sección se llama simplemente "La Caja", pero sentía que debía ser una caja de tesoros. A menudo me quedaba atrás para observar o sacar fotos, aunque ninguna imagen podía captar la sensación de aquel lugar mágico.

Seguimos caminando hacia arriba, aunque este tramo no era tan empinado. Al salir de La Caja, empezamos a subir de nuevo por las coloridas capas de roca sedimentaria. El sol que bajaba proyectaba un resplandor dorado sobre nuestro sendero. Como seguíamos al arroyo, las plantas y la vegetación lo bordeaban. El agua que fluía y caía por las rocas servía de canción para nuestra aventura.

A medida que descendía la noche, me di cuenta de que no llegaría al campamento con luz. Cambié el sombrero por la lámpara de cabeza y seguí adelante.

De repente, mi lámpara alumbró una señal, alertándome de que estaba entrando en el Camping “Cottonwood”. Cambié mi luz de blanca a roja, una cortesía del camping, ya que la luz roja preserva la visión nocturna y no molesta a la gente que duerme. También me despedí de Kate, ya que ella siguió adelante para pasar los siguientes días en la cercana estación de guardaparques.

Llegar al campamento al anochecer me presentó un nuevo problema que no había considerado: cómo encontrar un sitio vacío sin molestar a la gente. Me acerqué con cuidado a las entradas de los campamentos y pasé la luz roja brevemente por el suelo para comprobar si había carpas u otros indicios de que estuvieran habitadas. En poco tiempo encontré un espacio vacío. Lo reclamé dejando caer mi sudorosa persona y mi sudorosa bolsa sobre la mesa de picnic.

Uf, estaba cansada. Con gran alegría me quité los zapatos y calcetines y moví mis dedos en el cálido aire de la noche. Metí la mochila en la caja metálica a prueba de animales y saqué la cena. Lo mismo que la noche anterior, y siguió siendo una delicia. Lo diré de nuevo: la comida siempre sabe mucho mejor después de una larga excursión.

Me senté en la caja de seguridad, sintiendo el aire cálido de la noche. Podía ver débiles luces y oír murmullos mientras la gente se iba a dormir. A lo lejos, vi una luz que iluminaba la cara del acantilado: la lámpara de alguien que seguía bajando, el camino que tomaría en la mañana.

De repente, volteé la cabeza. ¿Qué era eso? Algo se arrastró sobre mi pie. Algo que se movía en la oscuridad, y supe que no estaba sola en mi campamento. Desapareció tan rápido como llegó, y decidí terminar mi comida en la mesa de picnic. Con los pies metidos debajo de mí.

Tiré mi colchoneta sobre la mesa y fui a llenar mi agua para la mañana. Cuando volví a mi sitio, unos ojos brillantes me miraron desde la oscuridad. Un ratoncito, sentado en la caja de seguridad. ¡Qué fresco! Lo ahuyenté, pero creo que no se fue muy lejos. Definitivamente un punto a favor de dormir encima de la mesa de picnic; ¡no me gustaba la idea de ser inspeccionada por un ratón en la noche!

Me metí en el saco de dormir. Unas finas nubes ocultaron las estrellas. Oí un movimiento a mi izquierda: el ratoncito estaba en el árbol. Suspiré y me di vuelta. La pantalla de mi celular casi me ciega mientras puse la alarma: tres y media de la mañana, para poder salir a las cuatro. Esperaba que fuera lo suficientemente temprano para vencer el calor.

Las luces ya se movían alrededor de “Cottonwood” en las primeras horas de la mañana. Mi preparación fue más lenta de lo que esperaba, y finalmente empaqué todas mis pertenencias a las cuatro y quince. Ajusté las correas de la lámpara de cabeza y me puse en marcha.

El aire de la noche seguía siendo cálido. Podía ver la silueta del borde del cañón a lo lejos contra el suave resplandor de la luz del amanecer. De hecho, el resplandor era suficiente para que apagara mi lámpara por completo. El sendero, de color ligeramente más claro que el suelo circundante, me llevó hacia adelante. Una llamada etérea entre enormes paredes de roca.

Con la mirada en el sendero, seguí adelante. Esta era la parte más difícil, subir novecientos veinte metros verticales para salir del cañón. Pero también me iba a casa, de vuelta a mi cabaña en el borde norte.

El amanecer se deslizaba por las paredes del cañón cuando entré en la casa de descanso llamada “Manzanita”. Me paré a desayunar, aunque sólo comí la mitad de la comida que había preparado. Un grupo de excursionistas me ofreció puré de frijoles. Saludé rápidamente a los guardaparques, que empezaban su día. Una rápida bajada por la ladera hasta el arroyo, para mojar mi ropa. También mojé mi bandana y la metí en una bolsa de plástico, para más tarde. Luego me puse el sombrero y la mochila y volví al camino.

Esta sección es la más empinada - ¡y dura casi diez kilómetros! Bastón, paso, bastón, paso, subiendo y subiendo y subiendo. La luz seguía bajando por las capas del cañón con el sol naciente. Una vista impresionante, un sitio precioso, y uno que me hizo acelerar mi ritmo. Ojalá pudiera ganarle a la luz, y a su compañero, el calor, en el camino.

No lo hice, por supuesto. La luz me alcanzó alrededor de “Roaring Springs”. En un recodo del sendero descansé a la sombra de un árbol, apoyándome en mis bastones. Una cascada caía por la pared del cañón; un espectáculo poco común, sin duda. Menos común aún, las líneas eléctricas y una estructura de cemento. Un momento de reverencia al manantial, la fuente de agua de todo el Parque Nacional del Gran Cañón.

Luego, hacia adelante y hacia arriba.

Curvas y rocas, girando y retorciéndose por las empinadas laderas. Vistas a cada paso, y la cima no parecía estar más cerca. Pero la vista valió la pena. Preciosos rincones de sombra. Pequeños hilos de agua que se filtran desde la roca, alimentando delicadas comunidades de plantas. Lagartijas que se escabullen a mis pasos.

Las curvas del sendero me llevaron del sol a la sombra y al sol nuevamente, y me di cuenta de la marcada diferencia entre los dos. Algo se movió en mi mochila y me refrescó la memoria: ¡mi sombrilla! Este era su momento de brillar. Literalmente, ya que está recubierta de pintura plateada reflectante. La saqué del bolsillo lateral de mi mochila, la abrí, y pasé casi cinco minutos intentando colocarla en la correa del hombro de mi mochila. Ya que tenía dos bastones, ¡no podía sujetarla también! Finalmente conseguí atarla y me quedé contemplando mi sombra. Parecía un octágono con patas. Sonreí un poco cohibida: estaba segura de que me veía ridícula. Pero después de unos minutos, no me importó. ¡Qué diferencia! Me crucé con un grupo de excursionistas que comentaron mi sombrilla y les dije: "¡es mejor sentirse fresca que estar a la moda!" Subí por el sendero, con los bastones oscilando y la sombrilla brillando, lista para afrontar la siguiente parte del camino.

Subí y el sol se deslizó por las paredes del cañón. El calor aumentaba, pero ya me estaba acercando. Miré hacia adelante, buscando un lugar para descansar unos minutos. Una curva por encima del puente de “Redwall” proyectaba largas sombras sobre el sendero, y me senté en una roca para descansar. Había llegado el momento de coger mi última parte del equipo: la bandana mojada de la mañana. La saqué empapada de su bolsa de plástico y la até al cuello. El agua resbalaba por mi espalda. Apreté mis hombros hasta las orejas, tratando de tener el mayor contacto posible con el agua. ¡Qué delicia después de una calurosa caminata!

Cuando llegué al túnel de “Supai”, a tres kilómetros del borde, mi ropa ya estaba totalmente seca. Pero había un grifo de agua. Llené mis botellas y me volví a empapar. Me miraron raro, pero ellos tenían calor y yo no.

Sólo tres kilómetros más. Agarré los bastones con firmeza y seguí adelante. En el borde me esperaban una ducha y un sándwich. Ducha y sándwich - repetí como un mantra.

Menos de una milla. Pasé por “Coconino Overlook” y por muchos excursionistas que olían a jabón. Yo no olía a jabón. Sin embargo, pronto tendría mi ducha y mi sándwich.

Subí a duras penas las últimas curvas, con la cabeza baja. Un pensamiento cruzó mi cabeza y me tropecé. Ya casi había llegado. Realmente, ya casi había llegado. Y eso significaba que iba a terminar un viaje con mochila. No tan largo como el “Appalachian Trail”, es cierto, pero sí un sendero sólido. Una sensación, no de clausura, pero sí de logro. Parpadeé para evitar un repentino ardor en los ojos y subí la última parte del camino. Y mi rodilla nunca me dolió. Lo había conseguido, con mi equipo del “Appalachian Trail”, mi comida deshidratada y mi amor por el excursionismo.

Me desplomé sobre un muro de piedra al final del sendero y reflexioné sobre lo lejos que había llegado. Otros excursionistas estaban descansando allí, agotados, pero con una actitud de triunfo.

Le dije a uno de ellos, "¿Podrías sacarme una foto con la señal del sendero? Necesito recordar este momento".

Reflexiona sobre este último año. ¿Cuál fue tu momento más emocionante?

El equipo de Interpretación del Parque Nacional del Gran Cañón se encarga de la presentación de "Behind the Scenery".

Agradecemos a los pueblos nativos en cuyas tierras ancestrales nos reunimos, así como a las diversas y vibrantes comunidades nativas que hacen su hogar aquí ho

How does it feel to cross the canyon? In our first episode of this podcast in Spanish, listen to the experience of a ranger who hikes across Grand Canyon from rim to rim. When have you fulfilled your dream? ¿Qué se siente al cruzar el cañón? En nuestro primer episodio de este podcast en español, escuche la experiencia de una guardaparques que recorre el Gran Cañón del Colorado de lado a lado. ¿Cuándo has alcanzado tu sueño?

Tales of a Water Bottle - What sticks with you?


Running water sound at water fill station Hannah: Hi this is Ranger Hannah. Jesse: I’m Jesse. Hannah: And this Behind the Scenery. Jesse: Hannah when you visit a national park or a new place, how do you like to commemorate that? Hannah: I mean if I could I would definitely try plants Jesse: *chuckles* Hannah: But what I typically do is a sticker and I add it to my water bottle, truck, or laptop, trying to find that special place. Jesse: Yeah, I think stickers are a nice way for people to take a piece of their experience home with them, that’s not illegal or damaging to the environment. Jesse and Hannah: *Giggling* Hannah: yes… even through that flower would look really pretty pressed and dried. Jesse: Yeah, yeah, you know its for science, but its really for you. Hannah: Yes! Jesse: Yeah no, the stickers are nice. I think my favorite sticker I have that commemorates last season on the north rim its, a, maybe you have seen it. It is a Kaibab Squirrel, so like the only squirrel that lives here on the north rim of Grand Canyon. Umm, dark body, white bushy tail and in the sticker it says, ‘North Rim 2020’ and the squirrels tail is on fire because we had a massive wildfire and it’s wearing a mask, umm, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you have a favorite sticker or memory like that? Hannah: I mean I have tons of sticker memories that’s why I collect my stickers, like all of the stickers especially on my red Hydro flask have a story of how I got into the park service. Jesse: oh, okay Hannah: How I figured out what I wanted to do. Jesse: Yeah, I’ve been admire your stickers on your hydro flask all season. So maybe we can get into it a little bit, and you can tell me your story through the stickers of your water bottle. Hannah: Yeah, umm, one that I think is important to start with is the national park geek one. It’s a common sticker that most park gift shops have. And it has the Teddy Roosevelt glasses along with a ranger like hat, because Teddy helped create the park service system and got that going. And I like that one because most people identify with that one when they come to the parks. Yeah, I love the parks I want to support it. So I commonly see it like on my water bottle and other peoples vehicles and I’ve seen many different formats of this sticker. Sometimes it’s pink, sometimes it’s all green, sometimes it’s a white silhouette on a vehicle. It’s interesting seeing how different parks decided to buy the sticker and what different ways visitors want to show that their apart of supporting the parks. Jesse: What was your introduction into national parks, like how did you become a national park geek? Hannah: *sigh* I mean growing up my parents definitely took me to a lot of parks and everything, but I never knew that you could be a park ranger. I don’t what I was thinking as a kid, there were just people there. Like I didn’t think, like oh they get paid to be here. There Rangers, they’re just there. *giggles* But after my first year in college my Dad was like ‘hey you need to find a summer job’ and I was like ‘oh yeah, I got this Dad, pssh, don’t worry about it.’ So I went to up to Dixie State University Career Lab and the advisor there, ‘like what can I do for a summer job?’. And he looked at me, and was like ‘What do ya want to do?’ Jesse: It’s a pretty broad question. Both Jesse and Hannah: *chuckle* Hannah: Yeah, he’s like ‘what?’ I know I wanted to something with the outdoors and that’s what I told him, so he pointed me to IIC. Which is the sticker. Jesse: Oh yeah Hannah: I have here. It’s a red outlined sticker and it has Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative. It has a quill and shovel creating an X with the letters IIC in three of the quadrants and the last quadrant has a pine tree that looks like a flash driver. And he pointed me in the direction of their website and their website had jobs with BLM, Park Service, Division of Natural Resource, just a lot of jobs for people to figure out if they wanted to something with the outdoors. So I looked at it and only found one job I was interesting in because it had free housing. Jesse: *chuckles* Hannah: I was like I don’t what I’m doing, and applied to that one. Even through that’s not the best thing to do (*giggles while saying that*). Jesse: Yeah, usually at you want at least, especially in the park service most people are applying to 30-40 jobs sometimes. Hannah: Yep, I was that crazy person applied to one and was in the interview process and didn’t know what I was doing. Because they were talking about public speaking and I’m like I don’t know if I can talk to 20 people right in my face for an hour to an hour and half, like that sounds insane. Jesse: Yeah, but weren’t you, didn’t you do theatre and stuff in high school? Hannah: Yeah, but that’s completely different. Jesse: Hmm, that seems way scarier to me. Hannah: I mean it’s easier being on stage, because you’re in a whole new world and the bright lights are on you and no ones there. Jesse: ah, so you can’t see the audience? Hannah: Mhmm Jesse: I see, okay. Hannah: So you don’t know that they’re there. Then with park service you’re giving a program and they’re right there. And I was like no way could I do this. I was that honest in my interview ‘Like I don’t know, but I’m willing to try.’ *chuckles nervously* And Nicole the supervisor at Great Basin was like ‘I’m really loving this, like I think you’d be a good fit.’ And she was excited because she hadn’t hired people in a while. And next thing I knew, the next day she give me the job offer. And I was like ‘okay I guess we’re doing this.’ Jesse: *chuckles* That’s awesome. Yeah so, went from kinda, you know here you are sitting in the community room on the North Rim of Grand Canyon in your National Park Service uniform in your first season as a ranger. So this kinda IIC sticker is the entry way into your career as park service ranger. Hannah: Oh most definitely. Jesse: Yeah, okay Hannah: Wouldn’t be here without it. Jesse: So you went to Great Basin, and then I see that you have a Great Basin Sticker but what is kinda the next step for you in that journey? Hannah: Definitely getting out to Great Basin and I was terrified. Jesse: Oh yeah? Hannah: It was my first time away from home. Jesse: oh yeah. Hannah: I had no idea what I was doing. I was like ‘oh my gosh what if they just hired me and decided they’re going to murder me and leave me there. Middle of nowhere, no one knows what’s going to happen. *chuckles* Jesse: Yeah, Great Basin is way out there, for sure. Hannah: Yeah, but when I got there, I just felt a little excited I was like ‘lets see what happens’. Like next thing I knew like working with the other rangers, learning about giving cave tours, roving out in the campgrounds and the different sections of the park. I fell in love with it. Like I didn’t know that I would passionate about talking to people about what I’m passionate about. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: It like that excitement you see it the second you start talking to people. They know your passionate about it so they want to get excited about it. And it just starts this whole flame of excitement. Jesse: Yeah, it’s really fun to share your passions with other people especially. Sometimes they glaze over and can tell they don’t want to hear about it. Jesse and Hannah: *Chuckling* Hannah: Yes! Jesse: But that’s not always the case most the time. Yeah, so that whole thing worked out for you even though you only applied to one job. That’s excellent. And being away from home for the first time how quickly did you kinda adjust to the new life style like being on your own and out there is such a remote spot? Hannah: I was in the honeymoon stage for a long time. Like I did not know I was missing home. I was enjoying everything getting my own groceries, making my own food, having a roommate that wasn’t my sister was amazing and getting to know new people. It was a different social life, I got more of my “college experience”. Jesse: Hmm, at Great Basin. Hannah: At Great Basin, yeah Jesse: Interesting. Can you describe that Great Basin Sticker for me? Hannah: Yeah so, It’s has Great Basin National Park Gold Tier International Dark Sky, because their dark sky is one to envy. And that’s like one thing you cannot miss when you go to the park. And its got a bristle cone pine tree and those live up to 5,000 years old right now and it’s got The Wheeler peak mountain range like you really can’t go anywhere without seeing that mountain range in that area. Jesse: Expect in the cave. Hannah: Yes, *chuckles*, if you would have told me that I was going to give programs to visitors in the cave for an hour to an hour and half, like I would not have believed you. Because its like scary to think because most people fear is public speaking and next thing you know like… Jesse: Lot of people are scared of caves too. Hannah: Yeah Jesse: Confined spaces, yeah that must have been a challenge. But you certainly overcame it. Would you say that was like that opportunity to go out to Great Basin was a turning point for you? Hannah: I mean most definitely. ‘Cause when I started college all I knew is that I wanted a degree in Botany, I knew I was going to do something with plants. To know what my dream job was after my first internship at Great Basin and just fell in love with the idea of hopefully someday getting the full uniform and the cool hat. Jesse: Yeah, yeah, its so cool to get that experience so early on, ‘cause I didn’t know what I wanted to do until years after college. To have that near the start of college is pretty great. So tell me about another sticker on your water bottle. Hannah: I think the next important sticker would be Outdoor Leadership Academy, they’re the ones that actually helped me get my red hydro flask through them. And I started working with them throughout college and Outdoor Leadership Academy is a program to help get diverse students into the park service that you normally wouldn’t find. So it was fun attending those programs. I got to go to all five Utah national parks, the big five. Jesse: Sure yeah Hannah: during a spring break field trip for free. Jesse: Wow, that’s awesome. Hannah: Yeah, and learn about Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument and how its run by park service and BLM, got to go the Lead Mead National Recreation Area. Learn about all these different units in the park service. That people normally don’t know about like Jesse: Yeah Hannah: Who knew the national park service and BLM worked together to run national monument. Jesse: And for folks listening BLM is Bureau of Land Management. Hannah: *snaps* Yes Hannah and Jesse: *Chuckle* Jesse: in this context Hannah and Jesse: yeah Hannah: To get back to describing the sticker. Totally missed that. At the bottom it says Outdoor Leadership Academy and on it has a prickly pear cactus and then the St. George mountain range with the red rock behind it. Jesse: Yeah, it’s a really nice sticker and it sort of emblematic of where you came from, like right? Hannah: Yeah Jesse: That’s what St. George looks like. Hannah: Oh yeah, most definitely Jesse: yeah that sounds like an excellent program. And really exciting that you got to be apart of it. But where did it take you after the big five national park and all that? Hannah: One of the last trips I did with them was after I transferred and it was different for me, because instead of being a student. I was more of a teacher. Jesse: oh uh-hu Hannah: It was back at Great Basin. So I got to travel back for a Fall break during my university and I got to show students I had learned so much with, about the park and help them learn about this place I had fallen in love with for three years. And it was just crazy being like oh I know this stuff and your learning it from me and like normally I’m with you filling out the paperwork, like this is weird. Jesse: You were kinda the expert in that context, huh? Hannah: Yeah Jesse: Yeah, because you had spent so much time there. Was it a challenge to be kinda the teacher for all your peeps or did it come fairly easy to you? Hannah: It felt a little natural, because I had been a park ranger there for three summers. So it felt like I was just stepping in to park ranger mode. Jesse: Gotta ya Hannah: But it was still weird because it was people my age. Jesse: Yeah, yeah totally, did you take them on any tours or anything? Hannah: One of my park ranger friends lead the tour, but I was also on it I was the tail light. But I took them out to Stella and Teresa Lake and out to the bristle cones and we explored that area just talking about it. Jesse: Yeah, What do you think that experience, that leadership experience among your peer group did for you? Hannah: I think it’s a moment of being like you’re going down the right path, even though its like weird having that transition. Because like at Great Basin there were plenty of cave tours were I was leading college groups of people my age during those summers. Jesse: Sure Hannah: But it wasn’t strange because it wasn’t people I knew, it was just people that thought I was authority figure was like we’ll listen. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: But where it was peers I worked with it felt a little causal because like I still could have a causal conversation with them. Jesse: Right. Hannah: But it was still like I know this stuff and you guys are learning from me. Which is really cool. ‘Cause its fun having that with friends and everything because a lot friends will ask me about the different parks I’ve worked at, ‘cause they want to know before they go. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: It’s like hey I know this, Ranger Hat on lets talk about it. Jesse: Yeah, your sort of the ambassador to the parks that you have worked at. Hannah: Yes! Jesse: And then what was it like when you left Great Basin for the last time, well not for the last time because I’m sure you’ll be back, many times. Hannah: Yeah, I mean after that trip it was kinda a bummer. Jesse: Yeah? Hannah: ‘Cause I didn’t know what the next steps would be. I didn’t know what my next park would be. I had an idea what it would be. Before I transferred to Utah Valley University. I had seen this internship through their Capitol Reef Field station. That was with interp, they had an interp internship or a resource management and I was interested in both, but I knew interp was definitely my gig. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: And so like I was getting ready to apply for that before I transferred and I was reading through it and have to be student and I wasn’t a current student. So I was like okay we’ll figure this out. And my first semester at UVU. I actually got in a class with the professor in charge of the internship and the field station and everything. And so I talk to him a little bit and was like so this internship, like got to know a little bit more about it. But I was like this is my next place I’m thinking. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: like Capitol Reef National Park, don’t know what’s going to happen. But I know interp. Jesse: Yeah. Hannah: Like we’ll go through there Jesse: What was it like when you finally did make it to Capitol Reef Field Station? Hannah: I was first at Capitol Reef Field Station, for my plant ecology class, so the professor that was teaching that was also director of the field station. And it was interesting being in that building because I didn’t know parks had field stations. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: And it was cool because we got to see the petroglyphs there and got to hike around the field station and see the renewable energy and how they’re keeping the buildings warms the solar panels and how effective the field station and a great learning resource in the park that not many park units have. And I do have a sticker from the field station and it has Capitol Reef on it with a petroglyph of a desert goat with Utah Valley University underneath it. But explore that area I was like yeah, I could be here. Jesse: Yeah, that’s an incredible landscape, I mean all that red sandstone. Hannah: Yes. Jesse: Canyons Hannah: It definitely felt like home Jesse: oh yeah Hannah: because growing up in St. George with the red rocks, Jesse: for sure Hannah: Then Great Basin just spending all those summers in a more mountain green area, than going to Capitol Reef I was like was yeah this could be another home. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: Like its similar. Jesse: Yeah it is, how often did you get pies at the little pie shop there? Hannah: Oooo, I think I got cinnamon rolls more often, because their cinnamon rolls are also famous. But I think I got three or four pies and then I couldn’t tell you how many cinnamon rolls. Jesse: If I worked there I would probably eat like a pie per day there. The pies are so good. Hannah: They really are good. And what’s nice about living there is we got our own microwaves at our houses Jesse: oh yeah Hannah: so we could take them home and warm it up. Jesse: That’s the only sad thing as a visitor you don’t get a warm pie. *giggles* Hannah: Yes, *giggling* Jesse: Yeah no, that sounds amazing. So what’s the next sticker that’s the next step in your story here? Hannah: I mean finally made it to Capitol Reef, so I got the Capitol Reef sticker. I knew I was, I just had so much confidence, I’m gonna do it was like the first interview that I had so much confidence. I was like yeah, I’m a shoe in. I got this like nothing is holding me back. But like most people you still have this hesitant nervousness. Jesse: I was going to say, where do you think that confidence came from? Hannah: I think just three summers at Great Basin and knowing like I was finally finding my path and finding what I wanted to do. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: But it was interesting because day of the interview it was my birthday and like no one knew that, and I got the call the next day from him and with all the paperwork they eventually found out the interview day was my birthday and they were like, if we would have know we would have told you that day. Jesse: Oh Hannah: And I was like, hold on you knew the day of but decided to wait until the next day. Jesse: Rude Hannah and Jesse: *giggle* Hannah: Then my Capitol Reef Sticker is in the shape of an NPS Arrowhead and it’s got the red rocks of Capitol Reef and the different formations there. And across mid- lower section of it says Capitol Reef National Park. Jesse: Is that a Condor on there too? Hannah: I don’t know Jesse: Its probably a turkey vulture, but it looks a lot like a condor. Hannah: yeah, Its so faded at this point. Jesse: It’s clearly been loved a lot. Hannah: *chuckles* Yes Jesse: How long did you spend at Capitol Reef than? Hannah: I spent a summer there and I was at the Ripple Rock Nature Center and I was working with little kiddo’s. It was so much fun because I gave a nature talk for kids and a geology program for kids, because Capitol Reef has a Geology Junior Ranger Patch you can get if you attend the program and so like I would give the program and how I would do that is I would string out a tape measurer and we would walk along the timeline talking about when different items would appear and different rock layers in the park and we would get down to like barely anything and show like when humans appeared and all the kids would be like wow. Jesse: *chuckles* Yeah, Yeah, that’s always pretty mind blowing to do like the physically timeline like that. Hannah: Yes Jesse: And then from Capitol Reef, what’s the next sticker? Hannah: I mean after Capitol Reef, there was a gap year because Covid hit and I wanted to finish school early and there’s not really a sticker for that. Jesse: No Covid-19 sticker on it and that’s probably fine. Hannah: *giggling in the background. * yeah there is not a sticker for that. Jesse: *chuckles, yeah* Yeah Hannah: So I was heavily in my books, Jesse: Mhmm Hannah: And then October 2020, is when I started applying to NPS Jobs, and its just waiting and hoping and not knowing what I was doing, it was a whole new hiring process Jesse: Yeah it’s really different Hannah: Yeah, I knew I already had the federal resume, ‘cause I had talked to so many coworkers at Great Basin and Capitol Reef and them telling me about how it has to be very detailed and its multiple pages and you list everything and anything and I was like ‘oh boy’ Jesse: Huh yeah, Federal resumes are general ten or more pages. Hannah: Yeah. Jesse: Which is different from most and rest of the world. Hannah: Mhmm Jesse: Yeah, so what was that application process like for you, was it kinda nerve wracking, did you apply to only one place? Hannah: *Brust into Laughter* I didn’t only apply to one place which I’m proud of. I think that would be hard with how the applications work. Jesse: Yep Hannah: ‘Cause with USA Jobs their have multiple listings and select into one and they’ll have like multiple regions in that area, and it might be like, there is 75 and your allowed to select 25 of these. Jesse: Yeah, Its pretty odd. Hannah: Yeah, *chuckles*, and so like every Monday of that October was dedicated to specifically to turn in my application, like I didn’t do any school work. I was like were getting my resume in. Cause it did take a little bit of time like I don’t know if our Wi-Fi was bad, but it was taking the time getting it in. And when I was done, I was like I don’t feel like anything else. Jesse: Yeah, when you like going through this whole process, starting as an intern at Great Basin being there for three years. Being an intern at Capitol Reef National Park and than moving on to applying National Park Service positions. How, did you get support from your family in that or were they pushing you towards other things or what was that dynamic like? Hannah: Oh my parents were definitely my number one supporters. Jesse: Oh Awesome Hannah: In all of this they were the first people I called when I got availability check emails. That’s like the first step in the application process in figuring out what parks are interested. And I know a lot of people tell me don’t get too excited, it may end up being nothing. But I was like first step Woo! Jesse: ha,ha, yeah, yeah Hannah: Like called my parents, for me the first park that got to me with three districts was actually Grand Canyon Jesse: uh-huh, yeah Hannah: I was so excited because I hadn’t thought about that park, you really, I mean I don’t specifically, think this is the park I want to go to because I never know what is going to happen. I didn’t know Great Basin exist, so its like one of those things I was like yeah, Grand Canyon, close to my hometown it would be a great place. So I called my parents up yeah I got my first availability check, I think it was Desert View, Jesse: Mmm, Yep Hannah: That had first sent out a message and then quickly after that Village followed and then North Rim. I was like Grand Canyon like woooo! Jesse: *chuckling* Hannah: Don’t know what’s going to happen. Jesse: Yeah Hannah: And with all of it my parents were very excited like I would call them about every availability check email and they would look into it to see what the area was about. ‘cause there were definitely areas never heard of. *Chuckles* Jesse: Yeah, yeah Hannah: So we were researching these places figuring out would it be a good option. Especially since I’d just be finishing school would I have enough money to move out to this new place. And with all of it me going to Great Basin, and to Capitol Reef, going on my OLA Trips they were right there and supportive and excited about it. ‘Cause I know seasonal life is a little rough and you never know what’s going to happen. Jesse: Yeah, it can be a challenge. Hannah: yeah, and my Dad I know he has had like a little worry about that. But he was definitely excited when I got my interview with north rim and then when I was able to accept the position. He was so stoked he went bought a sticker pack that had a bunch of parks in it and it had the NPS arrowhead. I have on my water bottle. Jesse: yeah Hannah: because of course I’ve got the internship program I worked with I got to have the NPS on it. Jesse: Of course, yeah. Hannah: He was just so stoked and even had a Grand Canyon Sticker that has had some wear and tear this summer, but it’s a view from the bottom of the canyon looking up. But just his excitement was so cool to see like ‘yeah we’re going somewhere’ Jesse: *chuckles* Yeah, what has your season been like now its coming to a close here, how has it been in your first official park service season? Wearing the green and gray, and badge. Hannah: I mean it has definitely been an evolving season. Like at first I had imposter syndrome even though I know with the Capitol Reef one I was like confident and knew I had that stuff. Jesse: yeah Hannah: But coming here seeing everyone, getting ready to wear the official uniform was definitely intimidating. I was like what am I doing, like why was I selected especially for North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I had friends that wanted to work here too and I was like ‘oh my gosh here I am’ But like over the season it was cool hearing visitors get excited with me Jesse: yeah Hannah: and talk about how its my first season in the uniform with the cool hat. And everyone would give a giggle, and yeah the hat is cool. Jesse: yeah the hat is cool Hannah: And just talking about it and seeing different visitors faces throughout the season ‘cause for some people, when I just saw rangers as being there, but for some people its like a movie novelty and walk up to me be like ‘Are you a real park ranger, like can my kid take a picture with you.’ It’s like this surprising thing that they don’t know, but its like your real, you’re a real thing. Jesse: yeah Hannah: and seeing the faces of kids that want to be Park Rangers when they grow up. It’s like this realization, *snaps* you can do it at any point. Go for it. Jesse: Start putting those stickers on your water bottle. Hannah: Yes! And just like trying to encourage people to start at any point. ‘Cause I have had geology professor or people about to retire, that are always like ‘I wish I would have done that when I was your age’ Jesse: yeah Hannah: what is stopping you? Jesse: I know, right? Yeah cool. What do you think will be the next sticker that you put on this bottle? Hannah: Umm, *chuckles* I don’t know if it really has space for too many more. Jesse: Not a lot of room on there. Hannah: So I’m thinking I may need to get a second one Jesse: yeah Hannah: Cause I have been looking for a second ‘cause I think it would be cool to continue on. ‘Cause visitors do ask a lot of questions about it. ‘cause I do have it out with me and they’ll be people my age that are trying to figure out how to get into the park service. And I’m like I have the story for you. Jesse: yeah, these are the steps, right here. Hannah: *giggles* Yes! Jesse: Yeah, it is true that most people start in a kinda of similar way to you. I started as an intern. I started after college as an intern. Ah yeah most folks do that in order to get the experience. Learn how to write your ten page resume. Hannah *giggles* *snaps* Jesse: Well Hannah thanks, is there anything else you want add? Hannah: I mean I think the biggest thing is to thank all the programs and my parents for helping me get out there and like the college advisor that gave that like what do you want to do question that was definitely a big step. The Outdoor Leadership Academy and IIC for both for showing the outdoors as a possibility and just my parents being there and especially this summer wanting to show off their own little ranger. Jesse: yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. Well you’re doing an absolutely incredible job in your first season and hope you have many more to come. Filling up metal water bottle with water Hannah: Now talking to Jesse about my stickers I quite enjoyed it, but I didn’t want to be the only person talking about the stickers I have. So I went around and asked coworkers and visitors what their sticker story are and I got some neat ones I would like to share with you: Jeff: I’m Jeff Caton, I’m one of the park rangers here on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. And I grew up in Kanas. My favorite sticker is on my coffee cup and it’s a painting of the mountains behind my cabin, when I worked at Rocky National Park. And my nephew Mason painted this is school and had a coffee cup made for me. And it’s got two mountains, Bone and Baker, and the Never Summers with a small rise between them. And a green meadow which is where I use to live at Rocky and that’s my sticker story. Lisa: My name is Lisa and I’m from Southern California in north Tustin. And I’m traveling here with my brother, sister and husband and our spouses. And you want to know about my stickers? Hannah: Yeah! Lisa: Well my sister got one of these passport to your national park books, where you put a stamp in for each park you visit at the visitor center. And I’ve been to lots, lots, and lots of national parks in my life. And so I thought I’m going to buy one and start now. I’m sixty years old and then after I bought mine and put the stamp in it. I think it was Zion or Bryce, umm, I saw a packet of stickers on the wall for twenty dollars with all the national parks. I bought special ones for Zion and Bryce Canyon and put the stamps in. But then I started going through the sticker books and started putting the stickers for the parks I visited in my past ‘cause I did not know if I would ever back to some of these again. And that’s the story of my stickers and I love all of them, because they bring memories back. You know seeing this Glacier National Park, up in Montana is cool, because we saw bears there just like the sticker shows. And Mesa Verde was just last year and it was neat to see the Native American Cliff Dwellings, so on and so forth. Lauren: Hi my name is Lauren Cisneros. So we are talking about stickers today and on my water bottle I have plenty of stickers. One of the ones I wanted to chat about was I have a sticker that’s says image a world without ALS, cycle to conquer ALS. ALS is a disease called Lou Gehrig’s disease and a few years ago I helped video an event called the Death Ride Tour, which help benefits ALS research, currently there is no cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, umm and so these stickers were given out to try and remind people this diseases does exist and raise awareness for it. Umm, I have a friend I lost recently to the disease unfortunately and I have another friend with it. Umm, so I have a sticker on my bottle to remind me of that. Continuing around the corner I have a sticker with what’s called a mono skier. With Enabling Technologies on there, Enabling Technologies is a company that creates mono skis, for adaptive skiers that are usually paralyzed from the waist down and usually have good upper body strength. In the winter months I teach adaptive skiing and I have a lot of athletes that I teach that use this equipment and they shred down the hill and that’s pretty fun. And then one more that I’ll share; I have a sticker here that says Island Cycles, ride the sand bar. That is a sticker I got when I worked as a bike mechanic last summer, umm, in Hatteras, Cape Hatteras North Carolina. And its kinda fun and the biker is riding the wave like a surfer would, umm, Which is funny because everything there rust including plastic and every bike that came into the shop was just a rust bucket. So kinda pain to work on but a really fun experience. And I really like the shop and the people I worked for. Kathleen: I’m Kathleen Gardner, I’m from Kanab, Utah, I’m a professional photographer out of Kanab, Utah. Umm, my I own a two thousand, 2021 CrossTrek, uh I came up with the design for mountain goats and desert goats, I actually am, my family has always referred to me as the goat and yagi is the name I came up with to put on my car its Japanese for goat. So on the one side I have yama yagi and on the other side I have sabaku yagi, which is desert goat and on the hood I have a mountain goat again. So, an it took me a little while came up with the design. Had to find a wrap place in St. George to be able to cut it out and put it on there for me. Someone was daring enough to do it for me and of course they didn’t guarantee anything. They said don’t wash it, it should stay on there for a few years and I was pretty happy with it. Its very unique and one of a kind. Dave: Hi this is Ranger Dave, umm, and I’m here to talk about the stickers on my Nalgene, umm, and I have a lot of different Nalgene but the one I’m thinking about is one I just broke. Umm, and it was covered in superhero stickers, umm, and so what I did I had a group of kids that I mentor through entire ski season, umm, I teach adaptive skiing in the winters and at the end of the whole trip, the whole season I ended up giving them like goodie bags. And in these goodie bags were stickers. So the kids had all different ones and one of the kids didn’t show up so I kept his stickers. Umm, And so I took those stickers and put them on my bottle in different ironic places around the other larger stickers about skiing. Umm, and that’s kinda a fun little touch that I added. But that Nalgene just broke, I didn’t know you could break Nalgene, but you can. And umm, so yeah that’s my sticker story its all superheroes, umm, doing funny things. Ron: My name is Ron I’m from Portland, Oregon and my bottle with lots of beer stickers all over my bottle. This bottle does not contain beer. It does contain H2O and it is water, but beer very, I’m very fond of the beers of the great northwest and umm it reminds me every time I take a drink out of my water bottle it reminds me of the second best drink I have is beer, back in Portland, Oregon, so. I have carried this with me all over the place. I use to be an elementary school teacher and I would take it to school until someone pointed out, ‘you probably shouldn’t bring a beer laden to school’, you know you’re probably right. But I’m so use to just toting this thing around it just like my left arm or my right arm. So any way that’s me, and my beer, but water. Doug: Hi my names Doug and I have a vintage 1949 pickup truck and if you have a old truck, then you have to have an age appropriate bumper sticker. So I have a political bumper sticker that says ‘Give them Hell Harry’ and it says ‘Truman for US President’. I made this up myself, stars and strips, just to kinda have something to date from 1949 the same year as my pickup truck. I also have nine vintage reproduction national park stickers, uh, mostly from the 1930’s. These are stickers that are eight sided and they are about 2-3 inches across and based on historic windshield decal that park rangers would issue to vehicles when they came in through a check in station and entered the park. I have a Grand Canyon one for some reason has a beaver on it of all animals probably the less likely animal I would associate with Grand Canyon. I have a General Grant sticker with a squirrel on it. I have an Olympic National park with a Roosevelt Elk on it. Natural Bridges National Monument with a picture of Owachomo bridge and a rattle snake. Canyonlands National Park with a big horned sheep image. Yosemite National Park with half dome and a mountain lion. Grand Teton with a mountain view. Yellowstone with a bison on it. And Mesa Verde National Park with a coyote on it. And these stickers are all from National Parks that I have worked in over the years. Basically I have a resume that drives sixty miles an hour down the road with these stickers that I have worked in. Quick on and off at water filling station Hannah: Hearing everyone’s sticker story and collecting them was a ton of fun. I just wish I could spend hours collecting everyone’s story. In addition to spending hours on telling all my sticker stories. I appreciated the people that were willing to open up about a sticker or a whole theme of stickers that mean a lot to them. While I was recording other people stories I couldn't help but wonder about the memories or the value we give to objects. I know this episode was based on stickers, but we all have objects in our lives that help narrator our own stories. I love learning and hearing these stories as I talk to visitors and coworker. And I hope my joyfulness to tell my story with water bottle never stops, along with my curiosity to hear other peoples story via stickers or other objects. My question to you is what objects or items do you have in your life that helps narrator your life story? I'd thank Jeff Caton, Lisa Fiefe-Kollman, Lauren Cisneros, Kathleen Garder, Dave Kent, Ron Bagwell, and Doug Crispin for all telling their sticker stories. And a special Thank you to Jesse Barden for taking the time to sit down with me and record my sticker story. Behind the Scenery is brought to you by the Interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. Audio production is done by Wayne Hartlerode We gratefully acknowledge the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who make their home here today.

How do you remember important life moments? People often of preserve memories through physical objects like stamps, photographs, artwork, stickers, or other collectibles. The stickers on ranger Hannah's water bottle commemorate the experiences that lead to her first Park Service job on the North Rim of Grand Canyon. Listen to her story in the latest episode of the Behind the Scenery podcast!

Favorite Layers of Grand Canyon


CEILI: So here we are, sitting at the bottom of Grand Canyon surrounded by Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite. And most people when they come to Grand Canyon National Park to visit, they immediately have questions about the geology. Today someone asked me: What's all that green rock? How would you answer that? KATE: Yeah so, that green rock is the Bright Angel Shale layer. Um...The depositional environment for the sediment, when it lays down, it has to be able to form glauconite. So glauconite is the reason that it's green, but what's interesting about that layer for a lot of people is that it's rich with fossils. And when you're hiking across it or moving across it, there's a lot of worm tracks and tunnels and you can find trilobite track fossils out there pretty regularly as well. And when you're actually on that layer and looking at it, there's often a lot of different colors that you can see because of that shallow sea depositional environment that was present. CEILI: What other questions do you get on the trail about geology? KATE: I get a lot of questions about how old things are like, how old is this rock that we're standing on? CEILI: When people ask me that I usually just tell them they're really old. And that some are older than others. Another nice answer is that the newest rocks are on the top and they are 270 million years old. And then the oldest rocks are at the very bottom and they are between 1.8 and 1.6 billion years old. So we've got a whole spectrum here. Kate, can we find any dinosaur fossils here? KATE: The layers here at Grand Canyon predate all of the dinosaurs. So on the very top layer we see some sharks and we found shark tooths and things like that, but a lot of the fossils that we find in Grand Canyon are, um, other marine life. So we have a lot of trilobite fossils. We have shell fossils. We have different plant fossils that we can find in the Canyon, like ferns. And then we also have fossilized tracks of different animals that actually predate what we currently think of reptiles. So Ceili are these the same rocks that We see at ZIon here in Grand Canyon? CEILI: Oh yeah, were you just at Zion National Park? KATE: long pause with an unconvincing “yeah” (both laugh) KATE: sorry, I can't even lie when it makes sense to lie. CEILI: Yeah, most people come, or a lot of people come from Zion to the North Rim. So often people are comparing their experience to their experience at Zion and it's an interesting question to answer because the rocks in Grand Canyon are completely different than the rocks that you see at Zion Canyon at Zion National Park. But the very bottom layer of the Zion Canyon rocks is the very top layer of Grand Canyon’s rocks so Zion is essentially stacked on top of Grand Canyon, and that's because they're all part of the Grand Staircase, kind of geologic formation. So you can even see the full staircase from some parts of the Kaibab Plateau. Yeah, it's hard to remember common questions that people ask about geology, 'cause we've worked in the Canyon for a couple of seasons. And when people are hiking in the Canyon the questions are usually about: Where's the next water station? How do I fix my blisters? How do I hike out of here with success and how might I survive the day? But the cool thing is, all those questions do relate to geology. The geology of Grand Canyon determines every part of a hiker's day down here. Sometimes at the end of a work day at Phantom Ranch some of the Rangers find themselves on the porch eating dinner and sometimes we talk for hours about our favorite rock layers in Grand Canyon. And there's a lot of funny stories and experiences and emotions that are attached to different rock layers in Grand Canyon for different people. (Music) KATE: Inspired by these porch talks, we decided to go around and ask our coworkers and friends what is their favorite geologic layer here at Grand Canyon and why? DOUG: My name is Ranger Doug. I'm a second-year summertime seasonal ranger at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. My job is to meet and greet the public, answer questions, hand out information. KATE: So my question for you is what is your favorite layer here at Grand Canyon? DOUG: Geologic layer? KATE: Geologic layer. DOUG: My favorite is the Coconino, because it's so distinctive. I can point it out to folks at our outdoor visitor centers, prominently seen there. Last night I was out at the veranda behind the North Rim Lodge watching the sunset and somebody asked where the village was and the Bright Angel Trail and you can actually see the offset of the Coconino where the Bright Angel Fault has uplifted the west side and that's kind of a landmark that I look for, for trying to find where the trail goes in and out of the Canyon as well as the, the village area just to the east of where the Coconino’s been off set. So that's my favorite layer. (Music) MATTHEW: My name is Matthew Baldwin. I work in the Backcountry Office out of the Flagstaff Office, and we issue river permits and Backcountry permits and patrol the backcountry. My favorite rock layer here at Grand Canyon is going to be the Coconino Sandstone because when you're hiking out from the bottom of the Canyon means you’re almost home and just those big beautiful white cliffs with the cross bedding and the sandstone. It’s absolutely beautiful. So I lost my hat one time during a blizzard as I was hiking out it got blown off a cliff and it was just gone. So if you’re ever near the South Kaibab Trail and you look over a cliff and happen to see a green hat, its mine, bring it back please. (Music) CEILI: How many miles of under the rim Grand Grand Canyon hiking have you done? Just so we know that like this is really the best and the worst layers. JEN: Overall, or at one time? CEILI: Yeah, just whatever number you have. JEN: It would be impossible to say how many, um, if I had to estimate, it's probably upwards of probably in the 20,000 range. Well, the Esplanade is an easy favorite for so many reasons. It just feels like a different planet really. (Background radio noise “Dispatch, Canyon 20”) You know, like it really I feel like paints an amazing picture of the people who lived here before us because it was a very common layer for them to live in. You know, much like the Tapeats, but yeah, the Esplanade’s got so much history and just so much beauty. And it's really like nothing else in the Canyon. Maybe somewhat comparable to parts of the Supai. You can get some sections of the Supai, particularly at its ends that are very, very similar, but uh, the Esplanade is just amazing to me. It just feels like walking on Mars like just a whole untouched planet. CEILI: And is it like also because it's easy to walk on like is that, is that part of it you think? JEN: Actually, it's really not easy at all. It's actually a lot of switch levels, switch leveling and upping and Downing. And you know one of the challenges of the Esplanade is that you know there's a ton of cryptobiotic soil and can be very difficult to avoid the crypto. Like very difficult, yeah. So it gets very tedious. Now if you don't care about cryptobiotic soil – yes it would be easy walking, but if you're you know, protecting the Canyon as we all do, it's a lot of sidestepping and rerouting and switch leveling and then like you might be going on a level and it gives out and now you have to like scramble up slickrock which can be challenges as well. (Music) MICHAEL: Yeah, my name is Michael Wichman. I'm a backcountry guide for the Wildland Trekking company. I've been doing so for going on 13 years now. Worked for a couple other companies as well, but Wildlands is my primary gig. I often say that this is a difficult place to have favorites in because every layers got their own story to tell with different chapters at each, uh different location that they appear in the Grand Canyon. Uhm, off the top of my head. I typically say the Redwall Limestone's my favorite layer for several reasons, one, it has the most karst like systems in it. The most caves. Limestone is very porous, and water tends to percolate through it and so we get beautiful cave structures. The condors tend to like to roost in those caves. Laying their eggs there with the fledging - fledglings, first flight coming off the huge Redwall Limestone. It can be 1000 feet thick at times in certain places. Also, most of the water features tend to, like the waterfalls and such, tend to occur at the bottom of the Redwall, when the water that seeps through tends to hit the impermeable shale, Bright Angel Shale below it. So I love the Redwall. My other thought as I was talking about this is the...If I get to pick 2. The Chuar formation over up in the Lava Chuar Canyon area, kind of by Unkar Delta further upriver than here. It gets really beautiful. Teals and turquoise like beautiful wavy U-shaped features in it. And it's a more unusual layer that you only see in that area. So I've only ever seen it on a couple few river trips and by foot only twice. Once my partner and I, we hiked from Nankoweap to Phantom off route and that was one of the highlights of that trip. The Redwall for its commonality, or how often you see it, and so every time that we're out here guiding or hiking personally. You're almost always going through the Redwall. And so it's fun to see the different ways that it takes shape and the different members of it. Seeing the coral bed fossils and whatnot inside it. So it's nice to see the Redwall as often as we see it. JESSE: My name is Jesse Barden. I am the North Rim interpretation seasonal supervisor and I've been at the Canyon for like 6 years now. But the ones, the ones that stand out to me the most are the Redwall and the Muav limestone layers. They're kind of stacked right on top of each other, and I think they're just like they, they do the coolest things. They have all the cool caves. They have all the cool slot canyons. The Muav has all the flowing water, not all of the flowing water, but most of the major springs comes out of the Muav. Yeah, they're both just so excellent. A memory of a route through the Redwall. It's called the Red Slide Route, and it's probably the first like really challenging off trail route that I've done in the Canyon and me and my friend Darrin, we're on a river trip, you know, and he and I decided to do this canyoneering route. Down in Western Grand Canyon. And so we climbed up the Red Slide Route to get to the canyon and the route description was only a few sentences. And it said, you know, look for these things. You'll find some hoodoos. It's a little bit scrambly. Made no mention of the 5th class climbing that we'd have to do on the way up, so we started our trip at about 6:00 in the morning. In the dark, it was January, so it was pretty dark for a while. And we made our way slowly up this really steep slope and it's all like crumbly rocks barely held together. Like kind of like Pebble sized it seemed like and so many, many of the points going up the first bit we were on all fours, like using our hands, using our feet. And then we get to the top of this big kind of debris cone, and we're just sort of looking around and looking at each other. Like trying to figure out where the route goes, 'cause we're really just hoping that we don't have to go up the 15 foot vertical cliff that's right in front of us and then Darrin spots a cairn at the top of that Cliff and we’re like ughh, guess we have to go up there. (laughter) And so, yeah, there ended up being three or four of those kinds of like short, fairly easy climbing, but like unprotected and fairly high consequence like cliff bands that we had to navigate with heavy packs and it was a tremendous relief when we finally got through that Redwall section into the Supai where the walking is pretty easy. (Music) JEFF: I'm Jeff Caton and I'm one of the lead interpreters on the North Rim. JESSE: You’re the lead interpreter on the North Rim. JEFF: I am the lead interpreter. Yes, the only one. My favorite geologic layer is the Bright Angel Shale for a couple silly reasons. One reason is I like the way it sounds when it crunches under my boots. A weird, a weird reason, but I like the way it sounds. Another reason is when it was the second time I came to the Grand Canyon backpacking trip that went not terribly wrong, but pretty wrong. I got sick. I ignored everything the Ranger said, like I went out of my way to just check off like and not do what the Ranger said not do. And I woke up and I was sick and this isn't good and I remember the sound of it under my boots. I stopped maybe at Salt Creek, so I stopped somewhere for the hot part of the day. And then about three or four, I started hiking again. There were a few clouds, and I promptly started throwing up so I remember that the sound of the Bright Angel under my boots. And kneeling on it to puke several times. (Music) ELYSSA: My name is Elyssa Shalla and I'm a Park Ranger here at Grand Canyon. My favorite geologic layer is by far the Tapeats Sandstone. I think it, just being able to look at and touch and see all of those sediments in that layer gives you the opportunity to really kind of transform yourself back in time and think about all the different ancient landscapes that the Canyon has been through throughout its lifespan. When I think of the Tapeats, I think of all of the years that I worked down at Indian Garden as a Ranger and all of the times we went down into the Tapeats Narrows. You know getting to talk with people, people that were just excited to be down there. Some people that were struggling to get through that section and up to the Indian Garden campground. I think it's, it's packed with beauty and suffering. (Music) KATE: Behind the Scenery is brought to you by the interpretation team at Grand Canyon National Park. We gratefully acknowledge the Native peoples on whose ancestral homelands we gather, as well as the diverse and vibrant Native communities who make their home here today.

Never take this place for "granite" again! Geology impacts every part of the human experience of Grand Canyon. People as diverse as the colorful cliffs have discovered secrets in stone. Come listen to their discoveries within layers of Grand Canyon. Are you open to being rocked by the canyon?

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