Mules to be banned from canyon?

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PaleoRob
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Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by PaleoRob » Jun 15 2009 8:28 am

Under consideration, along with restricting them to the S. Kaibab, an no tourist rides all the way to Phantom. KNAU did a story; you can listen to it or simply read the transcript like I did here:
http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?s ... mFa&ref=nf
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Jim_H
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by Jim_H » Sep 12 2010 12:18 pm

Seeing as I want to next hike the the S.K., I thought I would dredge this up. Does anyone know if there have been any updates to the situation? I'm no fan of the mules, but they are useful pack animals. I would rather they be on the BA, than the SK, but that doesn't appear to be the NPS feeling. I know it wouldn't do anything about the urine, but couldn't they have to wear diapers like horses do in cities? Maybe condom catheters that drain to five gallon bags to store their urine and keep the trail nearly ammonia free?
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Al_HikesAZ
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Sep 12 2010 12:35 pm

Two issues -
1) the SK is under repair - started May 2009. The repairs were scheduled to take more than 2 years so I don't think the repairs are finished. Check with BCO. Cargo Mules are being kept off the SK and rerouted on the BA until the repairs are completed. So no mules on SK. I went down SK in May and it was a pleasure. No big ruts between the braces like I complained about in the past. A lot easier on these old knees.

Once the repairs are completed and mules are allowed back on the SK
2) The Environmental Assessment was published March 16 for hearings and a final report was to be released Summer 2010. I haven't heard of any changes or court challenges, but I haven't seen a final report. As I understand it (emphasis added by me):
http://www.nps.gov/grca/parknews/nation ... l-park.htm
South Rim Commercial Stock Use
· Up to 10,000 commercial mule rides, including inner canyon and above rim rides would be offered each year. (current annual average use – 8,315 rides)
· On Bright Angel Trail, up to 10 rides per day would be allowed to Phantom Ranch. Plateau Point day rides from the South Rim would not be offered under this alternative.
· On South Kaibab Trail, up to 10 rides per day from Phantom Ranch; plus up to 12 pack stock would be allowed to Phantom Ranch each day (round trip).
· An above the rim ride from Yaki Point area east toward Shoshone Point would be allowed at a level of 40 rides per day (the concessioner would be responsible for maintenance of the rim trail through their operating plan).

· The current mule barn in Grand Canyon Village would house a small number of concessioner stock; the majority of concessioner stock operations would be moved to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
The way I read this (and I could be wrong): This seems to significantly reduce the stress on BA, especially with the elimination of the Plateau Point rides, but transfer a little more stress to SK. This lets the concessionaire have some Rim Rides of various durations which haven't existed before and will probably prove very popular. Most tourists took that Plateau Point ride on the BA so these Rim Rides are the compromise. I would guess there must have been 20(?) Plateau Point rides a day - up and down - and these will be eliminated. The changes don't seem to affect the total number of mule trips, but Rim trips will probably replace Plateau Point trips. Not a lot of tourists did the whole Phantom Ranch trip. I suspect that for several years there will actually be fewer mules on the Trails and tourists will opt for the Rim Rides. The cargo mules have always used the SK trail - except when the SK was under repair - so this isn't a change. Bringing the tourist mules out from Phantom on the SK will add 10 rides a day to SK.

3) After the SK is repaired, if NPS has the money they plan on some major repairs to BA. Mule traffic would be rerouted from the BA to the SK while the repairs are made. Those repairs could take a few years. That would put the 10 mule rides to Phantom Ranch on the SK each day in addition to 10 rides out and the 12 round trip cargo mules.
Jim_H wrote:. . .couldn't they have to wear diapers . . .?
I usually make it to those fancy solar outhouses they've built. Sure hope they don't make me wear a diaper on the trail, that would be humiliating. 8-[
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Sep 12 2010 2:29 pm

While we're talking about mules and the SK, it gives me this chance to share some history. When the Black Bridge - The Kaibab Suspension Bridge - was being built, SK was often gridlocked with cargo mules. If you think mule traffic is bad now, look at this photo from the NPS archives http://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_cany ... 739563814/

Next time you look at Black Bridge, realize that those big suspension cables were carried down on the shoulders of Havasupai workers http://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_cany ... 738931187/

Before the Black Bridge was built, there was a cable tram and then a swinging suspension bridge http://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_cany ... 738929439/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_cany ... 739564462/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_cany ... 739564198/

Anchoring the bridge to the Canyon walls took some effort and engineering. http://www.flickr.com/photos/grand_cany ... 739564112/

Someday we will look back like this at the HAZ archives for all the changes to the trails.
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
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cathymocha
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by cathymocha » Sep 12 2010 7:08 pm

Thanks, Al, it always helps to put things in perspective...someone did the hard work and I love the history.

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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 12 2010 8:04 pm

A friend of mine gave me a t-shirt recently--he had 30 of them made up, with a cartoon of a mule. It says, "Grand Canyon AZ--I went down on a mule."

I haven't worn it yet........................................................................................
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by Alston_Neal » Sep 13 2010 10:27 am

:sl:
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 13 2010 1:38 pm

:D
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PLC92084
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by PLC92084 » Sep 13 2010 2:20 pm

We want a picture of Liz sporting her cool T-shirt!! :sl:

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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 13 2010 7:20 pm

Well, they may not ban the mules, but someone would probably ban my shirt!
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Dschur
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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by Dschur » Apr 08 2011 1:39 pm


National Park Service Rich Goepfrich
South Kaibab Trail during reconstruction

Date: March 31, 2011
Contact: Maureen Oltrogge, 928-638-7779




Grand Canyon, Ariz. – The National Park Service will reopen the South Kaibab Trail within Grand Canyon National Park to mule and stock use beginning on May 15, 2011, at levels approved in the park's new stock use plan, dated January 5, 2011. The trail had been closed to mule and stock use during a reconstruction project to improve the condition of the trail for both hikers and mule users alike.

Although the project, which began in March 2009, is not yet fully completed, the remaining work can be accomplished safely while still allowing the passage of hikers, mules and stock. Remaining work includes areas around Windy and Ooh-Aah Points, which should be completed by September 30, 2011. Upon completion of this project, the NPS will consider a similar project on the Bright Angel Trail, when funding becomes available.

The $3.5 million project on the South Kaibab Trail is one of the largest reconstruction efforts on a Grand Canyon trail since the mid 1960s.

"Grand Canyon has a total deferred maintenance of over $262 million, of which over $24 million is attributed to Grand Canyon trails," stated Barclay Trimble, Deputy Superintendent for Business Operations. "Funding through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has helped to reduce this backlog and significantly improve conditions on one of Grand Canyon's most popular trails."

Grand Canyon National Park is renowned for its trails. The park has more than 630 miles of trails, including 415 miles of inner canyon backcountry trails and 42 miles of inner canyon corridor trails. Corridor trails include Bright Angel Trail, the River Trail, and the South and North Kaibab Trails. Over 200,000 visitors use the corridor trails on an annual basis.

The South Kaibab Trail begins on the South Rim near Yaki Point and descends to the Colorado River. The distance from the trailhead to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles with an elevation change from the rim to river of 4860 feet.

The project includes resurfacing of the trail; rebuilding steps; stabilization and preventative maintenance to existing retaining walls; replacing retaining walls that had been lost to floods, slides, and erosion; repairing and aligning existing water features; and more. To date, approximately 1,300 square feet of retaining wall has been constructed, over 10,000 square feet of cobblestone trail tread and nearly 6,600 linear feet of liner rock has been installed. Crews also laid over 14,600 cubic feet of crushed rock sub-base, installed 82 stone water bars, replaced 291 retaining bars and over 575,000 cubic feet of dirt, and cleaned over 110,000 linear feet of trail and over 450 water bars.

Major reconstruction occurred at multiple sites along the South Kaibab Trail including critical sections of trail at Ooh-Aah Point (3/4 of a mile from the rim), Mormon Flats (approximately 3 miles from the rim), and an area known as the Red and Whites (approximately 4 miles from the rim). Additionally, the entire 7.5 miles of trail between the rim and Phantom Ranch was improved to maintain the rigors of livestock as well as pedestrian traffic.

Work to date has been completed by Grand Canyon National Park's Trail Crew with significant help from crews with the American Conservation Experience (ACE), Coconino Rural Environment Corp (CREC), both located in Flagstaff, Ariz., and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), based in Charleston, New Hampshire. Additional support was provided by Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C. through their trail maintenance program and livery barn.

"A significant amount of hard work has been completed to improve conditions on the South Kaibab Trail," stated Trimble. Adding, 'We appreciate the efforts of our trail crew and those from the American Conservation Experience, Coconino Rural Environment Corp, the Student Conservation Association and Xanterra. Their work contributes to the preservation of this world renowned resource and deserves our recognition and encouragement."

As outlined in park's the new stock use plan, the South Kaibab and other stock use trails will be monitored to assess conditions and impacts to resources. Cost of trail work, amount of work completed, and amount of stock and hiker use will be tracked to determine impacts and whether additional management actions are needed.

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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by nonot » Apr 08 2011 6:17 pm

Any concept that they have kept their word in keeping mules off the S Kaibab until May is pure lying. There were plenty of mules on the S Kaibob this last week.

Hard to hide the evidence as well. Landmines ahoy!
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by BrettVet » Apr 09 2011 3:43 pm

I have to admit that I am biased toward keeping the mules in the Grand Canyon. I have both hiked and ridden my mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.. Mules are responsible for building the Bright Angle and South Kaibab trail. First as a mining claim and then as the original Grand Canyon tourist attraction. Theodore Roosevelt frequently rode to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a mule which is well documented in photographs. He was so impressed; he preserved the Grand Canyon by making it the first national monument. The National Park Service soon followed. Mules maintain these trails by hauling dirt and trail building materials down the canyon. Mules carry people down the canyon that would otherwise be unable to get there. Like myself with arthritis. Is the canyon experience limited to only those who are able? They also perform search and rescue and frequently carry a hiker with a broken ankle up and out of the canyon. Mules supply Phantom Ranch with food, repairs and workers that maintain the trails and campsites. Mules do not destroy trails, that mantra has been repeated over and over with no science behind it for years, Most science points to erosion as the primary cause of trail damage along with the 200,000 hikers a year. OK I’ll give you the mule poop in the trail argument, but if you step in it, it will not kill you and may make you a real westerner and a little tougher. The last argument for preserving the mules in the Grand Canyon is history. For the last 162 years the mules have created and preserved the Grand Canyon experience and for history alone they should be allowed to continue. Quite simply the mules created the trails and were kind enough to let hikes use it, now because a few hikers find stepping over some manure objectionable the mules must go. When I hiked the canyon as a youth I talked to very few hikers and was just another sweaty face on the trail. When I rode my mule Rosie with a pack animal in tow everyone wanted to talk and take a picture because they could see that I represented history. History will be lost. This park compromise is the first in a plan to eliminate mules from the park. Can’t we all get along.

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Re: Mules to be banned from canyon?

Post by azbackpackr » Apr 10 2011 8:39 am

I too like mules. I believe the Park should continue to have a limit on them, which they do, but I enjoy seeing them. I think they are really cute, in fact. I know I would really enjoy riding a mule down the Canyon, also, and plan to do it when I get old. (Which seems to be a condition that is approaching too quickly... :( ) Actually, I will do it anytime soon, if BrettVet will invite me! :D

I have to take this opportunity to say, once again, for the millionth time, why the heck do you people hike the Corridor anyway? I never backpacked the Corridor for the first 10 years of hiking the Canyon, and when I did finally hike S. Kaibab and Bright Angel it was a bit of a letdown compared to Bill Hall, Hermit, Grandview, South Canyon, Tanner, New Hance, South Bass, Boucher, etc. etc. The Corridor is never as pretty, and is always too crowded, is not wild, is not at all like wilderness, etc. The Park does not let mules on those other trails, so if you don't like mules, hike the other trails. Seems pretty simple to me.

Another plus for mules: If you have hiked the Corridor in the snow you have probably realized that mule poop actually adds a bit of traction, too! :D
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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