We came back from our road trip ready to take on the duties and chores associated with the end of the season. As soon as we started the week there were already questions and directives about the possible closing of the National Parks, and furloughing the staff. We tried to be patient with the visitors as we knew no more than they did. As Tuesday approached we were given a little more direction but it was mostly procedures.
On Friday, September 27th, I had the opening shift at the V. C. and then I was off to Pt. Imperial for roving, the Archaeology Program, and some more roving. I really enjoyed my time out there though it was cold and quite windy. The program went well, and I enjoyed walking South on the Ken Patrick Trail for about a mile. There are a number of places to photograph Mt. Hayden from a less well known perspective.
The next day I had the Condor Talk and my roving assignment was on the Transept Trail which is right in the village area but runs a good length of the Transept Canyon. The fall color has started and made the trip even more enjoyable. The windy conditions continued throughout the day. Regrettably my condor talk was not one of my best presentations, but it still was well received. This morning they had released three new condors into the Grand Canyon area.
Sunday I once again opened the V.C. which means being on duty by 0630. An advantage to that is the early morning walk to Bright Angel Point around the time of sunrise. Today I also roved the Uncle Jim Trail which starts near the start of the North Kaibab Trail, and when you get to the overlook area you look down on the Kaibab Trail and a number of the switchbacks descending into the Canyon. The cool weather has continued and a long sleeve shirt was most comfortable even in the middle of the day.
Monday was our last day of work to date. This time I got to rove a very favorite trail, The Widforss. This came after having 7 visitors on the Nature Walk, and a good crowd at the Flashback presentation in the Lodge. My Flashback program consists telling about the various people who first came to develop this area for homesteading, ranching, a game preserve, and finally a National Park. There were many questions about what would happen if the Park would close.
Well, all National Parks are now closed to the public, and all but essential staff, Law Enforcement and a few Maintenance Staff, have been furloughed with no pay coming forward at the present time. Almost all of the Interpretation Staff are seasonal which means that they are currently sitting on their hands and have no idea as to when they will get paid. They live on the edge with regard to financing. One has said he had planned that the last pay period would pay for his returning to his home in Pennsylvania. Another is going to school, and with little hope of work after the 15th has dropped out of her classes for this semester. The last visitors checked out of the Lodge yesterday, and the staff is now sitting and waiting to see if it will reopen before the end of the season. Some go on to other seasonal work in other Parks so they do not know what will happen next either. (This is just a little insight of how this political situation is playing out here.)
As we are retired, and volunteers, we are hanging around to help if we are needed. We are enjoying the quiet and slower pace at the present time. It has also given us time to catch up on various projects, and go out and explore some.
Tuesday we took off for a day trip to an area in the Vermillion Cliffs of Northern Arizona called “White Pocket”. We went with a photographer from Kanab who had the right vehicle for wilderness roads which can be good or bad depending on the weather. There were a number of spots on our way to White Pocket where the sand is quite soft, and if you are not careful you can get bogged down in it. As a matter of fact we had to give assistance to a German
couple who had come out in a Chevy Equinox and were bogged down to the axles. They were trying to drive in soft sand with a tire pressure of 40psi!! In this situation you need to deflate your tires to about 20psi.
White Pocket is a beautiful area and yet not very large. No matter the time of day there are many photo opportunities – formations, swirls, etc. We were only there about 4 hours, but we had a grand time. It would be ideal to go into the area and camp overnight so that you could get the better quality of light. The walk to the area is maybe a quarter mile before you start exploring the nooks and crannies of the area.
We will continue to stay here and speculate as to when and if the North Rim will reopen.
HAPPY TRAILS TO ALL.
|Mt. Hayden Close up|
|A Fungus Among Us|
WHITE POCKET, A photographer's playground
Sunset at North Rim: