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.
Scot Ward on Clingman's Dome. Photo from The News & Observer, courtesy of Eddie Ward
Scot Ward completed the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in North Carolina. Twice.
The trail runs from the Smokies to Jockey’s Ridge State Park, that little place in the Outer Banks famous for some sort of first flight or something.
Mr. Ward documented his travels in detail in his just published book, “The Thru-Hiker’s Manual for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail of North Carolina.” You can buy the book and learn more about Scot and this seriously awesome accomplishment at his Web site, www.thru-hiker.us.
You can learn more about the trail and how to support it either through donations or trail building days at its official Web site, located here.