Leave No Trace at the Grand Canyon

An AmeriCorps service member enjoying food outdoors. This fall I had the privilege of going to the Grand Canyon to take a Leave No Trace Master Educator course. The purpose of me taking this this course was to better understand the 7 principles of Leave No Trace, as well as to communicate these guidelines effectively to folks using the outdoors. I had some anxiety about leaving Vermont for the desert of Arizona, since it is a landscape unfamiliar to me.

The first day of the course, I learned I was the only person there who didn't live west of the Mississippi. Some of my classmates were rangers at the park who couldn't care less about being in the class, while others paid for the course with their own money because they wanted to learn for their own personal gain.

Once we descended into the Canyon, I was awestruck by its beauty and humbled by its difficult terrain. Traversing past cacti and on loose ground is much different than the ferns and mud of the northeast. My classmates seemed equally affected, however. We all became really close and learned a lot from each other; even the gruff and standoffish rangers seemed to enjoy the company. We bonded because we all love the outdoors, want to protect it, and want others to enjoy its beauty. In a dangerous place such as the Canyon, where several people have died, we were all having fun and felt at home after a few days traversing its mesas. I believe I had an impact on my classmates, because they all left a mark on me.