Grand Canyon Mules, Trail Guides and Packers
2003 - 2008

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Well into my lonely first year at the Grand Canyon, I moved into a second-floor apartment overlooking the forest, and I shared the landing with two of the trail guides who led people into the Canyon on the world famous Grand Canyon mules. These guys weren't the quietest neighbors I'd ever had, but they were irreverent, quirky and outrageous, and I liked them. Through them, I met the other trail guides, trail crew and packers, and after a while, I noticed I wasn't all that lonely any more. I also noticed that I was laughing a lot more than I had in quite a while, and that was a good thing.

Knowing good photo subjects when I saw them, I became a common sight at the mule barn, and at the Round Corral, from which they set off on their rides into the Canyon. Over time, they got used to seeing me there with my camera, and their attitudes changed from a shrugging tolerance to asking me to take photos of them they could send to the folks back home, if they had folks back home

The seasons came and went, and the men and women of the Livery came and went, as they tend to do. I learned not to get too attached to any of them, and the ones who stuck around got to know me pretty well. I ate with them at their frequent summer barbeques; I learned to play poker with them and shared their Thanksgiving dinners; I sat with them in the early morning hour before they went out to catch the day's mules; I brought them cookies - they helped me move ... some of them became good friends.

In November of 2005, after months of alternately hassling and encouraging me, my Livery friends got me to agree to take a mule ride with them to Phantom Ranch, at the bottom of the Canyon. After fribulating about it for weeks, losing sleep and all, I surprised myself by saying yes, and feeling pretty darn calm about it. It was an amazing and memorable trip for this lifelong city woman, and some of the photos in this gallery are from that ride.

After nearly 5 years at the Grand Canyon, I've compiled quite a collection of photos of the folks at the Livery, and the mules they work with every day. Through this selection of images, I hope to share with you the admiration and appreciation I have for them.

As always, your comments are welcome! (See "contact" page for email address.)

- Rosie McGee


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