Do rim-to-rim-to-rim runners give a crap about the Grand Canyon?

Trail through Roaring Springs Canyon in the Grand Canyon
On a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike last week I managed to have the latter seven miles of the Grand Canyon’s North Kaibab trail just about all to myself. I was accompanied on the soon to be crowded pathway by couple of ultra-runners who were taking a few hours to best the coveted route before the Canyon’s swelter season kicked in. This is clearly becoming an increasingly popular accomplishment for the high milage sect, as I passed four teams throughout the weekend.

Just above the Bridge in the Redwall, one of the runners stopped to squat behind a bush. His partner came to a rest with me on along the metal span. “No chance he’s going to bury that, huh?” I knew the answer.

I don’t expect these guys to carry trowels. Plus, where the hell would they bury it? It’s not like coconino sandstone is real easy easy to penetrate without explosives. I also know what ultra-running does to a body. I’ve seen elite runners broken apart into stumbling, incontinent zombies. It’s all part of pushing your body to such limits.

However, these guys were in control. This was an easy training run for them. Plus, there was a pit toilet just over a mile ahead at the Supai Tunnel.

It’s very possible I witnessed an isolated incident because I didn’t see any members of the other groups acquiesce to the processes of their digestive tract in such a fashion. If so, then the guy I watched bust a deuce on the North Kaibab trail is just an inconsiderate savage and not at all representative of his fellow Grand Canyon runners. Or, it’s pretty common and others do a better job of concealing it. I don’t know.

Still, I wonder what’s worse, the occasional trail dump or the trash left behind by ignorant hikers? Maybe I should ask that question to the teams of NPS workers and volunteers I came across working on the corridor trails that weekend.

What can’t be argued is that a lot of people still don’t give a shit about maintaining our national parks. Then again, I guess some people do.

Grand Canyon environment: 10. Coke: Zero

Yes, that headline is a serious stretch, but I had to find someway to jab Coca-Cola, the same global soft drink company that waves cuddly, soda-guzzling computer generated polar bears at us while pretending that its opposition to a bottled water ban at the Grand Canyon wasn’t about corporate wherewithal.

After a last-minute halt to the effort by the park service and a number of weeks of opposition-led petitions and public scrambling, the ban on plastic water bottles at Grand Canyon National Park will officially begin next month.

In the interest of full disclosure, Coke is a supporter of our National Parks, one of the most active, actually. While some may see that fact as justification for a benefactor to have influence in how its funds’ recipients handle operations, I see it for what it is: a corporate supporter of the environment lacking clarity in its philanthropic mission.


Weak: Grand Canyon ban on plastic bottles halted after Coke “registers concerns.” Tourists rejoice.

Rest assured Middle America, your mid-July tour of the Southwest is intact. You will still be able to venture into the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s deepest, hottest and most unforgiving wilderness environments, with your three kids in Sponge Bob sneakers sans sunscreen, a small bag of pretzels and a single, cold-vended plastic bottle of Dasani.

That’s right, thanks to the ever-vigilant environmental acumen of those sitting around the boardroom table of the world’s largest soft drink manufacturer and the twist-tie fortitude of Mr. Jon Jarvis, the head of our country’s greatest idea, that pesky ban on plastic water bottles the Grand Canyon was set to launch in January will no longer be an issue. Buy and drink all you want—even if you only need one bottle to get you to the bottom and back. After all, how hot can it really be?

Oh, and feel free to put your half-empty bottle down anywhere you like. That’s why we have Rangers.

Happy hiking!