The Grand Canyon National Park 2015

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The spring semester brought in a new cast of characters and shifted the focus from aquatic/tropical ecosystems to the Colorado Plateau and the Grand Canyon. This year marked the National Parks Experience’s 5th trip to the Grand Canyon. This was one of the most remarkable of all the trips. The canyon was in full bloom. Everywhere we looked, we saw blossoms of brilliant colors. Many of the students had prepared themselves to see a landscape dominated by rust and brown colored rock. For them to see the slopes of the canyon alive with red, purple, yellow and white flowers was an unexpected treat. Another unexpected treat was the site of Pueblo Indian ruins that the National Parks Service had recently opened for hikers to view. These large and well preserved ruins reminded us that we were just few in a very long list of travelers passing though this remarkable place. Students were also treated to the joy of a swim in the Colorado River. As a result of the water temperature, it was more of a splash than a swim.

Grand Canyon National Park

Above: Hiking along Clear Creek Trail.

Thanks to our guide, Jack Pennington, from the Grand Canyon Field Institute, the canyon became our classroom. And with each lesson learned, the canyon became more remarkable and alive. We were also provided with an opportunity to give something back to the canyon and help the people that work to protect this treasure. The students spent an afternoon removing an invasive species of plant, horehound, which is spreading through some of the campgrounds and damaging the fragile ecosystem. Our group removed over 150 horehound plants from Indian Garden Campground. Service projects like this provide the students will a sense of pride because they feel they have made a difference and helped preserve and protect a place with which they have developed a deeper connection.

Grand Canyon National Park

Above: Descending into the Canyon via the South Kaibab Trail.

Once again the canyon provided the students with opportunities to learn, connect with nature, develop friendships, and challenge themselves. The students that reached the top of Bright Angel Trail were not the same as those that started down the South Kaibab four days earlier. They have been forever inspired and touched by the spirit of the Grand Canyon.

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