Sunday, June 16, 2013


The second week started out well with my duties being the Nature Walk and Flashback for programs, then roving the trails and Visitor Center (V.C.) Duties. The Nature Walk consists of about an hour stroll from the V. C. through the Ponderosa Pine Forest here. Subjects covered are the characteristics of the ponderosa pine, and the forest, as well as some of the other plants seen here. This time we got to see a flicker flying in and out of a tree next, as well as the Kaibab squirrel. The importance of fire to the ecosystem is also discussed.

The Kaibab squirrel is a tree squirrel that lives only in the North Kaibab Forest, on the North side of the Colorado River. It is unique in that it has tufted ears and a bushy white tail. It gets a lot of its nourishment from the ponderosa pine tree by chewing off the tips of a limb, and peeling off the bark of young twigs to get to the phloem, a source of carbohydrate for the squirrel. It also loves to eat the fresh young pinecones when they develop, and dig up mycorrhizae that grow on the roots of the trees.
Its primary predator is the goshawk, which flies through the forest. The white tail is probably a defense mechanism for when winter is here and it wants to cover itself up and hide from the goshawk. When looking for it one looks for a white “handkerchief” running through the forest.

One of my duty days this week was to patrol the Widforss Trail which is 10 miles round-trip. The trail takes you West of the village to a viewpoint on the West side of the Widforss plateau. It goes through the forest with a number of ups and down due to small drainages, into a lovely area of lupine in bloom before going up one more time to reach the viewing area. The trail is named after Gunnar Widforss who was a Swedish watercolor artist of the early 1900s. He was asked by Stephen Mather to paint the National Parks and fell in love with the Grand Canyon and eventually made his home on the South Rim. He often traveled to the North Rim to paint. The trail is rated by Arizona Highways Magazine as one of the top summer trails in the state.

My third day of duty entailed going to the Scenic View Points along the East side of the Walhalla Plateau, roving the trail at Cape Royal, and doing the Archaeology Talk at the Walhalla Overlook and Glade. One of the things I do during the talk is demonstrate the throwing of an atlatl. The atlatl was an ancient tool used to throw a dart, and was used all over the world. ( It takes practice to be accurate, and I only get to use it once a week.  This first time using it this year, I actually stabbed a tree with the dart on the fifth throw, and the dart remained in the tree until I removed it! It is always a thrill to succeed like that. I have people from all over the world tell of its use in their countries.

My last day of the week was again doing the Nature Walk and Flashback. Flashback is a short, 15 to 20 minute talk done at the Lodge in the Sunroom. My topic is about the people who developed the North Rim area. These include Uncle Jim Owens, a big game hunter who supposedly killed 300+ mountain lions; Charles Jesse “Buffalo” Jones who brought buffalo to the area, and Teddy Roosevelt.

The afternoon was spent getting access to the Government computers, and taking the annual FISSA course and test. This has to do with computer security, etc. and one must pass the test with at least a 70%. I passed the test with a 92%. Then one has to be sure to print out the certificate of completion and fax it to IT!! I am happy to report that I am good for another season.

Our weekend has been pretty quiet this week with just enjoying mornings at the Lodge, doing laundry, catching up on e-mails, editing photographs and writing my blog. Oh yea, there were added naps as well.

Here are some photos for you:

Kaibab Squirrel

Star Solomon's Seal

Hairy Aster

Looking South from Widforss Point

Vishnu Temple, Cape Royal
Painted Lady Butterfly

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