Each year, Labor Day Weekend ushers in a number of milestones at Grand Canyon National Park. The most noticeable is a transition in the visitorship from families to unencumbered adults. Replacing the stroller pushing parents and their squirrel-chasing toddlers are vacationing grandparents (secretly attempting to avoid the former), and serious Grand Canyon backpackers taking advantage of the cooler temperatures. In terms of sheer numbers, visitation all but falls over the rim, a mixed blessing for frazzled canyon residents having endured one more “high season.”
September also signals the departure of the seasonal employees, many from as far away as Malaysia and the Czech Republic, who return home after spending their summer months changing beds, scooping ice cream, wrestling luggage, and hopefully sneaking in a hike or two between shifts. Left behind are we thousand-or-so permanent locals, sad to say “goodbye” to newfound friends that graciously brought the “larger” world to our doorstep.
Farewells aside, this welcome change in pace (think Manhattan to Mayberry) suits most of us who call Grand Canyon home. It affords the chance to re-connect with the canyon on our terms as we coast into the holiday season. As if to herald in this new paradigm, the elk begin their lovesick “bugling” about now. Their plaintive sirens punctuate the dark nights and remind us all of our deep connection to the natural world; one that has been waiting patiently for us to take notice.