Story and photo by Murray Schneider
Glen Canyon’s new Saddle Trail witnessed plenty of activity on Wednesday, June 5. Dozens of Silver Tree Day Camp children trooped up new box steps, sharing the recently completed steps with a group of bird watchers and volunteers from Friends of Glen Canyon who pulled invasive Italian thistle adjacent to fencing that surrounds habitat-friendly California native plants.
The box steps and stringer steps, on the other side of two chert rock outcroppings, were put in place this spring with grant money written by Rec and Park’s Natural Areas administrators. While visitors ascended and descended some 100 steps, rock climbers scaled the chiseled rocks above them and hikers angled between them.
This trail improvement, meant to increase access to Glen Canyon as well as safeguard shrubbery and plants, complements a 2008 $900,000 Park Trails Reconstruction Program scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013.
These improvements include handicap access at the front of the canyon and trail restoration throughout the 70 acre natural area.
Notice the Italian thistle lining both sides of box steps. This invasive plant is ubiquitous throughout the canyon. Its thorns are only thwarted by thick leather gloves, which Friends of Glen Canyon Park used on June 5 to protect their fingers. Pictured here are several bird watchers marching up the box steps, and at the crest of the hill, sandwiched between the saddle’s two chert sentinels, are children enjoying a Silver Tree Day Camp exploration.
Scores of California native plants, many planted by volunteers from Friends of Glen Canyon Park, are surrounded by green fencing. Planted earlier this spring, the shrubs are threatened by the same thistle, which recognizes no Rec and Park Natural Areas Program boundary. Not seen in this photograph is a Shelter Belt Builders worker watering the native plants, which are being usurped by the encroaching thistle.
On other Wednesdays and Saturdays Friends of Glen Canyon volunteers continue their efforts to protect Glen Canyon environs.