I'm sitting here in a park cafeteria that won't open for another hour, the lights down low and a couple of staffers puttering about. Five for Fighting's "What Kind of World Do You Want?" is coming out of the ceiling speakers. Seems entirely appropriate.
Day 2 of SCA's Grand Canyon ASB was pretty spectacular, especially considering it wouldn't have happened if not for heavy snow cover at the planned reveg site. The team -- 29 in all with another 30 due the week after next -- split into thirds. One squad returned to Kaibab to continue snow removal; another ventured a mile and a half down the trail to remove graffiti, while another graffiti group hiked three miles down Bright Angel Trail. I hung with them.
The first mile was insane. Whereas Kaibab's first quarter mile or so had been covered with hard packed snow, Angel's entire first mile was slick with thick ice, compacted over a winter of mule and hiker traffic and largely shielded from sunlight. It was slow, careful going for the first hour.
Eventually, we reached a small pavilion where visitors tend to take a break on their way to Indian Garden or Phantom Ranch. Of course, this wilderness experience can only be enhanced by carving your name into a rock. So the SCA team -- about eight in all -- began roaming around, on the lookout for unauthorized messages.
To be honest, I was expecting we'd find bulletin boards worth of hand scratched text but we discovered only a few Mike's and Ashley's. The team, using water, wire brushes, sandpaper and elbow grease, quickly relegated these misguided bids for immortality to obscurity. The work done, there's was only one thing left to do: head back up. And that's where we found The Motherload.
About halfway to the rim, a rock outcrop simply begged for attention. It offered plenty of room to stretch out, the renewing warmth of the sun, and a particularly awesome view. Kerry White, a UNH Conservation major, and Geoff Toy, a history major from Kenyon, strolled over and found the site had been turned into a billboard. Mostly names and dates, though one witty scribe etched "Turn Back Now!"
Geoff later told me that after visiting numerous national parks, he began to think about how many people it takes to maintain them. "You know: staff, rangers, search and recue teams," he said. "And I thought I get so much enjoyment from the places they support, it was time for me to give back. So, here I am."
That is clearly the outlook of this entire ASB team. They're unphased by the change in work plan, happy to be here and eager to do anything that needs doing.
What kind of world do you want? Think anything. Let's start at the start. Build a masterpiece. Or, given that this is already a masterpiece, let's just all chip in and help take care of it.
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