Well, our second month on the North Rim was certainly anything but boring…let’s see, we had a solid 4th of July parade, a little drama in the workplace and even a large forest fire that threatened evacuation for a moment. Who said life was quiet on the remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon? So let’s dive right into it.
Fourth of July Parade
Apparently every season the North Rim, unofficially I think, puts on a poor man’s version of a 4th of July parade. We witnessed this year’s version and we were not disappointed. Forever Resorts' employees put on costumes, decorate company vehicles and arm themselves with water-squirt guns. Joining them were the mule wranglers, the folks who take visitors into the canyon on mules. The wranglers of course joined the parade on mules. The fire and rescue personnel also joined in – what would a parade be without a fire truck or two with horns a-blaring. Luckily for us all, we were able to capture a few photos and a video of the event…enjoy!
So, you quit your office job, you know, your 20 year professional career…buy a motorhome, sell your bricks & sticks ‘dream’ house and find a simple seasonal job on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World BTW!! Are we dreaming, I mean how can life get any better? Well, after a few months living and working on the North Rim, life really cannot get much better, we are loving it. That said, anywhere there are people there is drama. We were used to the drama in the corporate office jobs, but sort of thought, naively I must add, the drama was all in the past…not so fast my friends. Last month we experienced employee turnover, new management, schedule changes, and the typical ‘office drama' that happens from time-to-time’. Nothing too crazy, I guess it is just par for the course. Oh well that’s right, it’s a seasonal job in a beautiful place and we really enjoy the lifestyle. Sure we have some long days, get asked the same questions over-and-over again, get tired and even bored on some days, but overall it has been a fantastic experience.
Fuller Wild Fire
In a time when we are becoming more accustomed to gigantic wildland fires; burning swaths of land out West, as well as record setting temperatures with each passing year being hotter than the previous year, it should not be a big surprise that there was a forest fire here on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (GCNR) this summer. Yet, when it impacts you directly it seems to become more real than just hearing about another fire in a National Park on the evening news or what we can think of as the “new normal”.
On June 29th a lightening strike started a small fire in the Kaibab National Forest, north of the GCNR park boundary. Lightening is very common in this area, over 100 fires occur in the forest annually with most being caused by lightening. So it started out as a non-event, the small teams of fire personnel in the forest and in the Park would manage the fire, allowing it to burn itself out or so we thought.
Fire can actually be a friend and foe to our National Parks. Naturally occurring, managed fires are healthy for the forest; allowing the undergrowth and fossil fuels on the forest floor to burn resulting in new growth. Yet as we all have seen on the evening news, fires are also very destructive to human made structures and can be deadly.
As we drove into the park after one of our bi-weekly ventures into town to re-provision, we noticed lots of smoke in the forest really close to the park boundary. It was unseasonably hot, very dry and windy, all of which contributed to an expanding fire. Named the Fuller Canyon fire for its proximity to the Fuller Canyon area, an area famous for its incredible scenic overlooks reachable by automobile (all too common a mode of transportation in the parks these days), was now a major threat to the Park.
The Fuller Fire started as a small fire burning a few acres and quickly became a large fire burning 14 thousand acres resulting in the closure of the most popular parts of the Park (aka The Scenic’s) during a very busy time – the 4th of July holiday in the Centennial Year of the National Park System. To say visitors where not happy is an understatement.
The Scenic’s, Point Imperial up to Cape Royal, were closed for about a week while over 500 fire personnel including several Hot Shot crews where brought in to manage the fire and prevent a complete Park closure and evacuation. It was quite a story for a few weeks but it was finally brought under control. The fire still smolders as of this writing but it is well north of the Park and non-impacting.
A few days after the roads to the scenic overlooks were reopened, we took a drive eager to see what the fire did to the beautiful landscape. Below are a few photos that show proof that indeed a fire was recently in the area.
The good news is the amazing views of Grand Canyon are untouched and the forest will recover and thrive.
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