Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

Arizona Game and Fish Little Colorado River Fish Monitoring volunteer trip

LCR showing travertine formations

I recently had the chance to spend 10 days on the Little Colorado River near the Colorado River confluence. I had applied for a US Fish and Wildlife volunteer trip which was full. The US Fish and Wildlife person forwarded my info to Arizona Game and Fish which had a similar research trip. The trip lasted 10 days and we were sent in and extracted via helicopter.

There are three research camps on the Little Colorado River (LCR). I stayed in the Boulders Camp, the furthest downstream, only a mile from the confluence of the Colorado River.  With three to five people in each camp, and several sling loads of scientific equipment and food and water, the helicopter had to make many trips. When carrying gear the helecopter used a long line to lift slings, which are large cargo nets. The pilot had us limit loads to no more than 500 pounds.  When he was carrying the sling he took on no passengers and actually removed the side door in order to stick his head out and have a good visual with the sling load.

Gear in piles waiting to be transported

Hooking up sling load

The flight is quite short and the scenery is stunning. The flight is classified as a special use and I had to don a flight suit and complete an online training before the flight. It’s an extremely low elevation flight into the LCR canyon.  Commercial flights and general aviation flights are not permitted to enter the canyon.  The helicopter landing site is very small and is located outside Grand Canyon National Park jurisdiction on tribal land. The landing site is situated next to the LCR bank and a large boulder; it’s a very tight space.  If the helicopter landed at the wrong angle the tail rotor would impact a large rock.  As I learned in my pre-flight training module, even a small impact to the main rotor or tail rotor will cause the helicopter to vibrate into pieces and turn over on its side.

This might just be an optical illusion

The purpose of the trip was to continue a long term monitoring project of the humpback chub, an endangered native fish. The humpback chub monitoring and research is carried out by the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC). The GCMRC is a partnership that provides science for the Glen Canyon Dam adaptive management program. The US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife and Arizona Game and Fish all get logistical and other support from the GCMRC.

Baby Chub

Speckled Dace

Sucker with characteristic color. Either a flannel mouth or blue head I do not remember and I can see its head in the photo.

Each day Brian, a field biologist from AZGF, and I would haul in the nets and work up any fish caught. Then we would place the nets to be checked again the following day. While working up the fish, we would scan the fish for radio frequency ID tags. If there was a tag I would record it in the log. If the fish was new with no tag, Brian would use the tagging gun to inject a tag into the fish.  The tag is about the size of a grain of rice and gets injected into the fish’s belly (the specifics vary depending on the species). I also recorded the lengths and characteristics of each fish. The RFID tag is like an easy pass toll transponder for fish.  There is a permanent array of antennas from USGS that act like toll booths and read the tags as the fish swim by.  We also installed temporary antennas underwater for the spawning season.

I did have a decent amount of free time on the days when the nets were mostly empty. I got to hike down to the Colorado River confluence.  I also hiked upstream and saw Spider Cave, Redbud Canyon and the Sipapu. According to Hopi legend the Sipapu is their place of origin. It’s a very spiritually important location to the Hopi and I observed from a respectful distance on the opposite side of the river as the tribe requests. I will not be posting any photos of the Sipapu or its location. I did feel honored and privileged to see it.

This lizard was fearless and would get very close and just stare at you. It hung around our camp and ate globe mallow blooms. Watching it jump up and grab the globe mallow blooms was very amusing.

Jay’s Back and Experiencing “Post-Emphatic Wilderness Disorder”

Jay got home this afternoon from 10 days in the Grand Canyon.  The canyon is a surreal place to live.  Anytime you are in the wilderness for an extended period of time, it can be a difficult adjustment to come back to society.  One of our favorite podcasts, Dirtbag Diaries, recently had a story about exactly that issue, The “Post-Emphatic Wilderness Disorder”.  As Jay makes the adjustment, I thought I’d share that podcast with you to give you a sense of where here’s at.

Image

Photo Review 2 of 2: Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch and North Kaibab Trail / Bright Angel Creek

A continuation of yesterday’s post which showed photos from the South Kaibab trail and the South Rim, today’s photos are from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  We entered the canyon via the South Kaibab Trail on Monday and stayed at Phantom Ranch through Friday.  During the week we were working on tamarisk removal along Bright Angel Creek which parallels the North Kaibab Trail.

If you want to see past photo reviews, click HERE.

View from above of Phantom Ranch

View from above of Phantom Ranch where the Bright Angel Creek meets the Colorado River

Foot bridge over Colorado River

Foot bridge over Colorado River

Bright Angel Creek

Bright Angel Creek

View from North Kaibab Trail

View from North Kaibab Trail

view from North Kaibab Trail

view from North Kaibab Trail

View from North Kaibab Trail

View from North Kaibab Trail

Bright Angel Creek

Bright Angel Creek, with people (Jay in green shirt) for scale

Schist, the walls of the inner gorge

Schist, the walls of the inner gorge

View along North Kaibab Trail

View along North Kaibab Trail

Bright Angel Creek

Bright Angel Creek

The only red leafed tree we saw, probably a sumac

The only red leafed tree we saw, probably a sumac

Photo Review 1 of 2: Grand Canyon, South Kaibab Trail and Views from Desert View Drive

Yesterday we hiked out of the Grand Canyon after spending four nights at the bottom.  As I mentioned earlier this week, the Grand Canyon is where Jay’s and my relationship was born and by now it feels like a second home to me.  This was my first time staying overnight at Phantom Ranch and it was an amazing week.  These pictures are ones that I took from the South Rim and from the South Kaibab Trail.  Tomorrow I will add a series of pictures that I took from Phantom Ranch and the North Kaibab Trail along Bright Angel Creek.  Of course these photos do not do justice to the wonder of the canyon, but I hope they can share some of its beauty with you.

view of Grand Canyon from Desert View Drive

view of Grand Canyon from point on Desert View Drive

sunset at Grand Canyon, view from point on Desert View Drive

sunset at Grand Canyon, view from point on Desert View Drive

view from South Kaibab Trail

view of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

View of Colorado River from point on Desert View Drive

View of Colorado River from point on Desert View Drive

View of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

View of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

View of Colorado River from South Kaibab Trail

View of Colorado River from South Kaibab Trail

view of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

view of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

view from South Kaibab Trail

view from South Kaibab Trail

sand blowing on South Kaibab Trail

sand blowing on South Kaibab Trail

view of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

view of Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

41st Week in Review: Back to the Beginning, Inside Grand Canyon

side canyon in grand canyon

Side canyon in Grand Canyon

Jay and I first started flirting at the Grand Canyon.  It was October 2003, we were part of NAU’s Grand Canyon Semester and although we had been in class together for several weeks, we hadn’t really noticed one another until we got to the canyon.  After 10 days on the South Rim we got to the highlight of the semester, a 10 day white water rafting trip on the Colorado River from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch.  And now, eight years later as you read this we are back at Phantom Ranch.  This time, we came down from the South Rim along the trail on foot and will be going back the same way on Friday.  We are working as volunteers for the National Park Service, removing tamarisk, an invasive plant that runs amok in along the Colorado River.

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

After leaving the canyon this coming weekend we will be working our way south to Phoenix, our western headquarters.  We are really looking forward to time with family and desert living.  We will probably be putting the blog on hiatus during Thanksgiving week as we make some changes to it, so stayed tuned for a new look and more stories from the road.

Hours volunteered:  48 hours (combined) removing tamarisk in the Grand Canyon

States: 2 – Colorado – Ridgway, Ouray, Durango, Cortez; Arizona – Grand Canyon National Park

Budget: under

People Visited: Bob and Kay

Nights under the stars: 4 – Grand Canyon National Park

Best meal: Reuben sandwich and huevos rancheros at Kate’s Place in Ridgway, CO

Best beer:  Winter Ale from Durango Brewing (Sharon) and Hoperation Fresh Hop Ale from Ska Brewing (Jay)

The Rainbow Rim Trail … Believe the Hype

While Sharon and I were between our Grand Canyon Trust trips in Utah and the Arizona strip, we had the opportunity to camp on the North Kaibab National Forest. We were very fortunate that we also got to ride part of the Rainbow Rim trail. The Rainbow Rim trail is relatively new and goes from Parissawampitts point to Timp point.

parissawampitts Trail head

Where we started our ride

As far as I can tell this is the only trail with significant Grand Canyon rim view portions that is open to mountain bikes. There are a few places on the north rim where the Kaibab National Forest goes right to the rim and the National Park starts right below the rim. The Kaibab National Forest seized the opportunity and created a trail built for mountain bikes that is largely right on or near the rim that also encompasses several points.

view from along the rainbow rim trail

An early Canyon view along the trail

The whole trail segment is a point to point totaling about 18 miles. Sharon and I started at Parissawampitts and went to the next point, Fence and back for a total of 11.5 miles of sweet single track. The trail has a fair number of twists and turns and ups and downs and nothing too crazy.  It’s mostly fast flowing single track of the sort that induces grins on most if it were just simply out in the woods somewhere and not on the rim of the Grand Canyon. But of course it is right on the rim much of the way.  The trail leaves you breathless in more ways than one since it’s at over 9,000 feet of elevation.

Sharon and Jay at Fence Point, overlooking Grand Canyon

Sharon and Jay at Fence Point, overlooking Grand Canyon

Sharon adds: The photo above was taken by this awesome man, Frank, who we met at Fence point.  Frank had come all the way from Hollywood California to ride the Rainbow Rim Trail.  He had a long grey beard and was in his early eighties.  He was just loving the trail, taking it slow and doing different parts everyday.  He was a great inspiration to me as I struggled to both breathe and ride at 9,000 feet.

Rainbow Rim Trail

a view of the trail itself

I will now be thinking about going back until I actually get the chance to. There is also lots of nice primitive camping to be had along the trail at various points.  I would think that a whole week here would be better than a long weekend.  It also seems well suited to lightly supported bike packing trip with all the great camping along the way and in the area and the Arizona Trail being so close. The possibilities for adventure on this part of the North Kaibab seem endless.

Fence Point

Another great view from Fence Point into the Grand Canyon

Photo Review: northern Arizona

Granite Dells, Prescott

Granite Dells, Prescott

Granite Dells, Prescott

Granite Dells, Prescott

Grand Canyon, Mohave point

Grand Canyon, Mohave point

Grand Canyon girl at geology center

A girl checking out the view from the Geology center at the Grand Canyon

bird at Grand Canyon

Bird near Kolb Studio on the South Rim

Grand Canyon at sunset

Grand Canyon at sunset

visitor watching sunrise on South Rim of the Grand Canyon

visitor watching sunrise on South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon sunrise

Grand Canyon sunrise

couple at sunrise Grand Canyon

couple at sunrise on the South Rim

bird taking flight south rim

 

Sunset at Mohave point

Sunset at Mohave point