My penultimate project took me back to Zion. I was really looking forward to this project as we had a great crew of just 9 of us, and it was in a stunning location, this time on the popular Emerald Pools Trail right in the heart of the park.
We arrived on Wednesday afternoon as usual and set up camp. We decided not to work the first day (or rather John our supervisor did!), so we chilled out at camp and relaxed. We needed all the rest we could get; the temperature was already really hot and we were in for even higher temperatures for the next week.
Thursday morning we started work. This first involved hiking all of the tools up to the work place on the trail, and generally getting organised and becoming familiar with the path and what we were expected to do to it. The trail is gorgeous; it's a loop path which takes hikers past the Middle Emerald Pools and the Lower Emerald Pools. They can then do a branch off to the Upper Pools if they want. It's really popular with hikers so we had no end of people to chat to as the days went by.
The work we were doing was mostly rockwork, making water bars for drainage and also creating some steps to aid the hikers and reduce erosion of the soil. It was hard work, finding the perfect size rocks, digging holes for them and moving them into place.
To say the weather was warm was an understatement and this made things even harder. The trail was south facing so we barely got any shade all day long. On several days we hit over 100 degrees (about 38 degrees c). Luckily there was a spring half way around the trail, and although we couldn't drink the water a helmet full of the cold stuff felt amazing down your back throughout the day! Within minutes it was dry though so we had to keep fetching more water to tip over us.
Zion is so beautiful, and I loved this project. In addition to the work and location, we also got to work with Matt Roberts (Flagstaff's chief) for the last few days which was great as he knows his rocks and we got loads of work done. Phil and I finally finished our steps (with a bit of help from Matt), and it looked great! I'm very proud of those steps! We met some great hikers on the trail (I spoke to one couple from Wokingham at one point) and we even had a day of mules riding up the trail to carry up equipment for a rigging course that was going on.
In the evenings after work we were able to go swimming in the park which was great - much needed after a day of sweltering work on the trail.
Also we obviously got the news about Michael Jackson while on project. A lady was walking up the trail on her mobile phone, and I was thinking 'why on earth are you on the phone in such a beautiful place...', then she came over to us and told us that news had broke 30 minutes ago. Crazy stuff, we'll never forget where we were when we got that news! We didn't hear anything else as had no radio or TV, and since returning to Flagstaff I've hardly heard anything as we don't have a TV in the house. Not that that's a bad thing - it's great being able to ignore the news (most of the time!).
After 8 days we returned to Flagstaff after an exhausting but rewarding week. This was definitely my favourite project so far. I'm really envious of the crew going to Emerald Pools this coming week, but I can't complain as I am off back to the Grand Canyon. I'll be on the South Rim this time.
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