Jay and I first started dating at the Grand Canyon. We were both students in a University program called Grand Canyon Semester in 2003. We had been taking classes at NAU in Flagstaff for two months but hadn’t had much interest in one another. It wasn’t until we got out of the classroom and into the great outdoors that we took a liking to one another and discovered we make a great team. October 2003, we spent living in the Grand Canyon, first on the South Rim, then rafting on the Colorado River, and finally backpacking on the North Rim. By the time I got back to campus I had found a second home in the Canyon walls and had found my partner in life.
The first organization on both of our lists to work with during Service Driven is Grand Canyon Trust (GCT). Both because of our connection to the Canyon and our first hand knowledge of the great work that GCT does, we are thrilled to get a chance to participate in their volunteer trips. Their trips are very similar to the American Hiking Society‘s Volunteer Vacations, (which we also hope to volunteer with), but they are free of charge to participants. GCT is one of the only organizations I know of that runs free “voluntourism” trips in the United States.
The first trip that we hope to take with GCT is the March trip, Vegetation Program Days at the Toroweap Campground in Grand Canyon National Park. The Toroweap region is in a remote part of the Arizona strip, only accessible through Kanab, Utah by 4-wheel drive vehicle. We were lucky enough to go there with Grand Canyon Semester as part of a geology field trip. The experience that you get from exploring the remote edges of the Grand Canyon is worlds away from what most tourists experience standing behind the guardrail at the South Rim. Camping at Toroweap challenged my understanding of natural beauty as I was both awestruck by the dramatic landscape while also craving a drop of green plant life in the endless panorama of rock. We can not wait to get back out there and help protect this incredible habitat.