(Trinity University Press, 2019)
A firsthand account of working and living in the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park has been called many things, but home isn’t often one of them. Yet after years of traveling the globe, Nathaniel Brodie found his home there.
Steel on Stone is Brodie’s account of a season living in the canyon and draws from the eight years he worked on a National Park Service trail crew navigating a vast and unforgiving land. Embedded alongside Brodie and his crew, readers experience precipitous climbs to build trails, search-and-rescue missions, rockslides, spelunking expeditions, and rafting trips through the canyon on the Colorado River. From Brodie’s chronicles of tracking cougars and dodging rampaging pack mules to adjusting to seasons spanning triple-digit heat and inaccessibility during the winter, we learn about the rarely viewed life cycle of this iconic park and its complex ecosystems.
Following in the steps of naturalists like John Wesley Powell and Edward Abbey, Brodie deftly weaves histories and tales from canyon aficionados into his own story. Over time he comes to realize that home is deeply defined by the people we encounter, including those who finally call us to move on.
Steel on Stone is a love letter to the Grand Canyon and those who have given years of their lives to work its trails so that we may enjoy its transformative landscape today.