An Indelible Connection

A pair of controlled burns smear the sky near sunset on the North Rim. | Sinjin Eberle

I lived in communities and the outdoors of the Colorado Plateau for 10 years, 1971-1980; Flagstaff, Sedona and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. After graduating from NAU in ’76, I went to work in food service at the south rim. Six days on, one day off. We lived like college kids, 2-3 per a tiny room, lousy cafeteria food but…the walking commute to work a few hundred feet from the rim was amazing; indelible in one’s memory.

I hiked to the river that year several times. You had to trade days off to get 3-4 days in the row, well worth working 21 days straight. Visited Phantom Ranch off the Bright Angel Trail, Havasupai Falls off the Havasupai Trail, Grandview Trail, and camped at each one. Fished Bright Angel Creek in the winter for spawning rainbow trout.

I met my wife of now 32 years while working on the rim. Soon after leaving the “Big Ditch” as the locals called it, we honeymooned backpacking down & back up the steep, primitive Hermit’s Trail and camped on the river near Lava Falls. Again, indelible experiences imprinted on our consciousnesses.

There was an old Disney vinyl record/laser disc on the history of the canyon that the employees used to play at closing time of the south rim employee pub each night. The opening story line stated, “something shore happened here”, in a cowboy twang. Yes, indeedee it did.

We have been back a couple times to visit as tourists and reminisce about those times. As time goes by, you forget some of the people and some of their details.

But, you never, ever, forget the visual impacts and the natural spirituality you feel once you walk up to the rim once more.

My wife and I know that temporal things change; people, roads, buildings, for the benefit of humans. But, we must never let our natural wonders be altered for the short-term benefits of the pursuit of legal tender.

-Drew & Jill Irby