Last updated: April 3, 2014
This past weekend, I was at an event in Salt Lake City where I met an older couple who, when they learned where I worked, shared a story of a recent hike they took to the cave.It was two summers ago, on a very hot day, when they brought an out of town visitor to hike the cave trail and take a tour. Unfortunately, the heat and the climb were more than they could handle that day, and they turned back.They really wanted to tell me how much they appreciated the help they received from our volunteer trail patrol, a group of dedicated hikers who freely give of their time and talents to dispense advice, provide first aid, answer questions, handle emergencies, and much more.
Their story prompted me to take this opportunity to not only thank our volunteers, because we cannot do that loudly or frequently enough, but also to encourage others to consider volunteering with us this year. There are many ways to help, and we will post more info on the park website and Facebook page, but let me highlight just one or two.
Many people have, over the last few years, come to realize that the cave trail is a great place for fitness walking, especially in the cool, early morning hours. It is not uncommon to find hikers on the trail before the sun comes up, trying to put in several miles before starting the rest of their day. In case of an injury or accident on the trail, we try to use “early morning hiker” volunteers to help us manage this activity. These fitness fans agree to arrive early, be responsible for opening the trail gate, and carry a park radio in order to call for assistance if needed. Ideally, we would have a cadre of five or more volunteers who would take turns during the week. We also have several volunteers who patrol the trail throughout the day.
If power walking up the trail is not your thing, but you would like to spend some time in the canyon each week, consider a few hours in our visitor center meeting and greeting visitors, answering their questions, or providing them a safety briefing before they head up the trail. Are you a gardener or just enjoy plants? We have a small greenhouse and grow our own native plant seedlings to re-vegetate disturbed areas, and a few extra hands would be helpful from time to time. If growing plants isn’t your thing, we can also use help killing non-native invasive plants.
The bottom line is that we just can’t do all of the things we need to do without our wonderful and amazing volunteers, just like those who helped my friends down the trail safely that afternoon. Volunteering is a great way to spend time in a beautiful place, meet new friends, gain new experiences, or just give back a little of yourself to the community. Whatever motivates you, we would welcome the chance to talk with you about it. Every unit of the National Park Service has a volunteer program coordinator. Ours is Shannon Stephens and she would be happy to give you more information. Thanks!