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Adventure and Introduction to Bears Ears: "So, this is why they wanna save this place."

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Since publishing this article (BELOW) on May 9, 2017, an announcement was made that beginning May 12- May 26, you can share your opinion with Trump, Zinke and the U.S. Department of the Interior about why you think 27 of our National Monuments should remain National Monuments, be downsized, or completely sold off.  

"Should you be worried? If there’s oil, natural gas, or coal under the land or water of a Monument, you might have reason to be worried. The vast majority of critics of this order seem to be in agreement that this is all part of an effort to expand extractive industries for private profit on public lands."- Kathleen Morton

How to comment and details .  Comments related to Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted before May 26, 2017. Comments relating to all other National Monuments must be submitted before July 10,2017.

Another 'How to' from Justin Fricke: "All you have to do is go to the US' Regulations website and type DOI-2017-0002 into the search bar.

Wait a minute. That's a lot to remember. That's why I bought www.LoveMyPublicLands.com and forwarded it to where all of the above will take you.

When you're there, leave your pro, or con, comment and hit submit.

President Trump, Secretary Zinke, and the US Department of the Interior said they want our, the public, opinion on this matter. Let's give it to them, kindly and well thought out of course."

 

ARTICLE:

I created this photo essay to share the weekend spent in Bears Ears National Monument.  I would love for you guys to comment with your thoughts! If you get tired of reading about our adventure, don’t fail to scroll through the photos! 

PREFACE:

@LukeLeePhotography and I talked the past few months via Instagram, connected by our common photography interests/subjects and a mutual affection toward each other’s work.  Luke connected with @ConservationAlliance to help fulfill their need of acquiring landscape and recreational images from Bears Ears National Monument to use for marketing and awareness toward the #DefendBearsEars movement. Luke invited me, and others, to join and contribute.

 Photographer Luke Lee stands on top of his Tacoma to shoot the sun flare behind the six shooter at Indian Creek in Bears Ears. 

Photographer Luke Lee stands on top of his Tacoma to shoot the sun flare behind the six shooter at Indian Creek in Bears Ears. 

If you have been living under a rock, Bears Ears remains in the spotlight of confrontation after Obama declared its million acres a protected National Monument shortly before he left office.  Shortly after Trump came into office, he made a motion to give this public land back to the state of Utah (and that means the land is in danger of being sold to private investors- who are typically oil/gas/mining companies that would destroy the land and kick people off).  There are links to articles with more details at the bottom, if you actually don't know what's going on. 

Our weekend crew, consisting of five dogs and seven humans, aimed to shoot a variety of video and photo portraying the insane beauty of Bears Ears and people enjoying its many recreational uses. The humans: Luke Lee, @Andrew_Muse- a talented videographer, two @Backcountry gear heads/Indian Creek vets, two adventurous climbing women and me. 

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 Rochelle Dixon is a climber, base jumper and all-around adventure woman.

Rochelle Dixon is a climber, base jumper and all-around adventure woman.

 Indian Creek Climbing Guide Book

Indian Creek Climbing Guide Book

And now on to...

THE ADVENTURE:

Friday morning we left Salt Lake and stopped in Moab for a quick dip in to cool water with the dogs.  Later that afternoon, Andrew and I linked with Luke Lee in an "Instameet" scenario at the Mill Creek trailhead and caravanned to Milt’s for a pre-camping meal of burgers, fries and shakes.

 The line at the famous Milt's in Moab is alway strong.  The menu: burgers, fries and bomb milkshakes.

The line at the famous Milt's in Moab is alway strong.  The menu: burgers, fries and bomb milkshakes.

A short drive from Moab lies Indian Creek.  We turned off the main highway and I stood in the passengers seat, through the sun roof of my Prius to bask in Bears Ear's beauty.  As Andrew drove, I snapped photos of the vast, undeveloped area of land with grand red rock formations, mesas and the valleys lit by the falling sun. My brief introduction to Bears Ears, a place I have been hearing loads about for the past few months, quickly made me think “So this is why people are fighting to save this place”.

The Prius could not cross the creek, so Andrew and I, our camping/camera gear and our two sandy dogs piled in Luke’s Tacoma.  Luke impressed us with his 4x4 as we charged through the thigh-deep water crossing.

Andrew Muse's dog, Kicker, and my dog Boy played by the creek.  We made sure we got them exxxxtra wet and dirty before piling in Luke's super clean truck.

Luke charging the creek.

When arriving at 6pm on Friday and finding NO ONE else; empty pre-established camp areas on a perfect desert Spring weekend, we speculated the creek deterred others. We set up camp, took some golden hour photos, built a fire, cooked dinner, got to know one another, and fell asleep under the stars.

All three of us had our cameras out and ready during the late afternoon drive to our campsite in Bears Ears National Monument.  Luke Lee (left) and Andrew Muse (right).

My cozy tent set up.

Andrew Muse lighting fires around the world, coming to a campsite near you.

The seven of us rose with the sun, Saturday morning, and to the sounds of the dogs playing in the red dirt.  The light filtered through the phenomenal Indian Creek landscape. Sam made a huge French press coffee.  Luke and I played a game of Sequence after the other five drove to the toilet to take their morning dumps.   After the group lost a few pounds and returned to camp, we cooked a pretty impressive group breakfast (chorizo, eggs, dank veggies, cheese, tortillas, avo and spinach) and packed to go climbing for the day. 

The crew flipped through the Indian Creek climbing guide and decided on a climb called “Potato”.  A 10+ crack-climb with a thirty minute, steep uphill and rocky approach.  Thunderstorms were predicted on Saturday and we could see them traveling in the distance.  We welcomed the cooler desert temperatures and the sun shone through epic clouds (great for taking photos). 

The gang packed sunscreen, climbing and camera gear, snacks, water and some beer since we planned on hanging out by the cracks for the majority of the day.  We swung by "the note board" to leave a message for a few others who might later join.  Saturday morning squad tally: seven humans and five dogs.

When we neared the end of our approach of the crack, we took a moment to gaze over the vast landscape at Indian Creek. Sadly, we joked about how much more majestic the landscape would be if it included oil rigs and fencing that would f*ck up the sacredness of the tribal land and its pristine valleys.  

Amongst our cynical antagonizations we realized, if we hadn't realized it before, that we must be the stewards of this land.  Because if we don't join the long and hard fight to save Bears Ears, it will be forever desecrated once it is foraged and exploited for its finite resources.

This weekend was my first time to ever try crack. Yeah I'm 31, but I got a late start.  It was very different from the kind of climbing I’m used to, and it was hard.  I primarily took photos and hung out under the shade of a tree with the dogs, while listening to tunes, eating snacks, practicing my witty banter and watching the storm near.

 My dog, Boy, napped nearby me in the shade.

My dog, Boy, napped nearby me in the shade.

The storm arrived late in the afternoon near the end of our climbing session.  After watching it creep miles and miles closer, for hours, it somehow snuck up on us. Everyone hustled down, back to the cars, but Andrew and I could not budge.  

The allure of capturing lightning with our cameras was too strong.  We took tons of photos while getting wind blown and rained on.  We got rocked by the god-sized thunder and I felt threatened by my exposure to the lighting bolts.  It wasn’t the safest place to experience a storm of that magnitude, but the views were insane and not something one gets to experience often- so we stuck it out. The storm passed pretty quickly and made for some sick photos.  Andrew caught a lightning sequence in slo-mo with his Lumix Gh5and if you look closely below, you will see I caught my first bolt too!

Click image to enlarge and see "the bolt".

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Andrew ducking, dodging, diving, dipping, and dodging rain drops.

 Kicker gazes over the valley after the storm passed.

Kicker gazes over the valley after the storm passed.

After hiking down to meet the rest of the crew at the cars, we enjoyed a nice group après session. We compared our fresh scratches and splotches of raw skin the crack gave us, while the dogs caught their second wind in the cooler temperatures the weather brought.  I shared my bag of chips.  Chips weren't going to do it so we decided to pursue dinner.

We hopped in the trucks and went back to camp, lit a fire, opened the wine and cooked dinner.  We warmed our bare feet by the fire and talked.

Camping with friends always seems to include campfire, beer, wine and whiskey, and cooking some awesome food.  It also comes with ridiculous banter, laughter, climbing things, and moments of silence and gratitude.  I fell asleep in my tent earlyish after a physically demanding day. 

We woke in the morning, cooked an amazing group breakfast and I cut watermelon.  We chatted about our plans for the day.  Some were going climbing, I wanted to go swim in the water in Moab and play with my camera water-housing.  We hung for an hour or two and then did a deep sweep of the camp ground.  Leave no trace, pack out what you pack in.  

END:

Bears Ears offers so much to do… biking, hiking, running, climbing, bouldering, swimming, camping, site-seeing, photography, adventures with dogs, spending quality time with friends, etc.  I hope that through my photos you guys were able to experience the beauty of this place and feel inspired to do something to save it.  

Share articles like this one, vote on state politicians who make the kind of policies that are needed to protect the land and our rights to use it, send letters and make phone calls to the politicians who don't.  Make your voices heard and with enough noise, we can really potentially protect Bears Ears from being damaged and its use restricted. 

I only saw a tiny fraction of this place, but the impact on me is huge.  I appreciate Luke Lee for getting us together to make this effort a reality and I hope to see some good come from it.

Please leave comments, suggestions, politician contact information, or links that you think I (or anyone else reading this) should see.

Thanks for following along!

-Jo Savage

 

 

Check out these articles:

Will Bears Ears Be the Next Standing Rock? Source: Written By TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS on MAY 6, 2017 for the NY Times

Monumental decision: Outdoor Retailer show leaving Salt Lake after meeting with governor over Bears Ears  Source: Deseret News

UTAHNS TAKE SIDES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT  Source: Salt Lake Magazine

The Long History and Uncertain Future of Bears Ears National Monument: A Timeline  Source: Men's Journal

THROWBACK: Salt Lake Climber's Alliance takeover story

This month I did a takeover on Instagram for Salt Lake Climber's Alliance.  I wanted to collaborate with SLCA because they promote stewardship of our canyons here in Salt Lake and they help unify our strong family of the climbers in our community.  Below is the full eight-part photo essay I contributed with these goals: to tell the story of people enjoying Little Cottonwood Canyon, vandalism in the canyon, and to further strengthen our sense of stewardship responsibility in the community as a whole.

“Throwback to Little Cottonwood Canyon.” 

It’s only been a little over a month, but the nostalgia for times with our friends on your lovely features is heavy.  A month before the snow filled your canyon and covered your boulders, vandalism and protecting you became more of a hot-topic then our typical day-to-day consciousness.

The following photos by @savagedangerwolf (aka Jo Savage) during her takeover the next four days will tell a story of quality time spent with good friends in our beloved canyon doing a sport that we love. 

It will also tell the story of vandalism in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  The urge is to further unite the community by stirring up stronger feelings of stewardship for the canyon for the upcoming season.  

In this photo, part of the @locals_project crew experiences all dynamics a day in LCC can bring, including building stronger friendships.

@Kati_hetrick is former competitive climber and new resident of SLC.  In this photo she is on Digger V6 in the White Pines area.  This is her first time climbing at the Party Pit and she is blown away by the natural wonders Salt Lake has in its backyard.  She reconnects with a boulder, and a past time, that helped build her as a person.

This photo is an intro to vandalism in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Some don’t think much of their actions, but as stewards of the canyons we must protect its natural features to prolong its lifespan and our privilege of enjoying it.  Please take a look at this link.  It is a photo essay and interview with @mikebbeck and Steve Maisch, two pillars of the Salt Lake Climbing community, two days after someone took what seemed to be a hammer to several holds on several different boulders in LCC on Halloween night.  Does anyone remember when this happened?

Mike Beck spent hours going to the boulders he has been climbing for decades, re-stablizing holds as carefully, and as close to the originals that he could, on November 2, 2016. See the link  for the full story.  Little Cottonwood Canyon was a victim to vandalism when someone smashed holds (with what seemed to be a hammer) that were connected to an estimated 20 problems.  How does this make you feel?  What can you (and we) do to prevent things like this from happening again in the future?

New day, new vibes.  If you haven’t read the link in the bio to bring awareness to vandalism in Little Cottonwood Canyon, it is still up!  @earth_to_milo smiles at the creeping photographer on a LCC route.  This day brought perfect temperatures during #rocktober and many smiles, along with scrumptious beef jerky.

This is photo 6/8 from our beautiful backyard, Little Cottonwood Canyon.  @kati_hetrick had the Party Pit all to herself.

Little Cottonwood is not only home to those of us who love to climb, boulder, hike, and camp, but also to playful slackliners who enjoy “sketch-lining”.  @dave.burleson

The last photo 8/8 in the takeover story “Throwback to Little Cottonwood Canyon” by Jo Savage is of Tyler Jette epitomizing the way the canyons bring incredible joy to our lives.  Tyler, a Salt Laker, has been climbing in the canyons for a decade.  He still cherishes the moments when he is flourishing within them.  The goal of this takeover is to bring more awareness to the vandalism threat our precious backyard canyons are under and to instill desires of strengthening our stewardship efforts as individuals and as a community.  Please leave comments to discuss any ideas that can contribute. 

SLC BOULDER VANDALISM: Halloween night in Little Cottonwood Canyon

On the evening of October 31, 2016 an unknown person attacked several boulders in Little Cottonwood Canyon with what seemed to be a hammer.  They broke several holds on routes that are beloved, have been climbed by thousands and established decades ago. Kati Hetrick and I went into LCC two days later after news of the attack spread through Salt Lake City climbing community like wild fire.  We met with Steve Maisch and Mike Beck to get the inside scoop.  Article below written by Kati and myself.

 Mike Beck cleaning and re-stabilizing the affected holds on Super Fly that were damaged by what appears to have been a hammer

Mike Beck cleaning and re-stabilizing the affected holds on Super Fly that were damaged by what appears to have been a hammer

Mike Beck and Steve Maisch talked amongst themselves, dipping their hands in and out of the their chalk bags while touching and analyzing the broken hold. After a lengthy discussion, some brushing, re-stabilizing and a few quick laps around the boulder they determined it was as close to feeling like the original hold as it was going to get. Satisfied, Beck and Maisch packed their gear and prepared to move to the next damaged area.

This isn't the way Beck or Maisch prefer to spend their Wednesday afternoon at the crags in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Halloween morning, news rapidly spread in Salt Lake City that one of America's oldest and most iconic bouldering areas had been brutally vandalized (with what appears to be a hammer) the previous night. Beck and a small crew of respected local developers immediately jumped into damage control.

  Super Fly boulder in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Super Fly boulder in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

"I think when I last counted the holds damaged are connected to roughly 20, or so, problems," Maisch leaned against a tree and pointed to the hold most damaged on one the most historic problems in Cottonwood, Super Fly (V8). "That hold alone connects to about five different lines.  If you wanted to do some damage, that’s the hold to destroy."

 Steve Maisch trying out different routes on Super Fly after re-stabilization efforts. 

Steve Maisch trying out different routes on Super Fly after re-stabilization efforts. 

Who would rampage around a canyon and pound away at beloved bouldering routes that have been climbed for decades?  Why would someone do that? The Salt Lake climbing community is dumbfounded and saddened by the destruction.  Although local authorities have a few leads, concrete answers surrounding the incident continue to go unanswered. What is known is that sometime on the evening of October 30th an unknown person went on a destructive spree severely damaging several key holds on half a dozen boulder problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon outside Salt Lake City, UT.

 Beck checking one of the main holds on Super Fly that is used in five different lines.

Beck checking one of the main holds on Super Fly that is used in five different lines.

Beck's history with the area goes all the way back to the beginning "I went on a trip to Fontainebleau when I was 18," said Beck, "when I came back I saw a lot of potential in Little Cottonwood so we immediately started putting up boulders.”  From that point on Beck and a small group of friends started exploring new areas in the canyon and have continued ever since.  To date there are over 3000 problems in the canyon at over 25 distinct areas.

According to Maisch and Beck, none of the damage from Sunday night  went above eye to chest level and only seems to have affected three zones: The Gate Boulders, Secret Garden and Five Mile. Among the many boulder problems affected were Twisted V4, Copperhead V9, The Standard Overhang V3, Smiley V6, Lances Dihedral V6 and Superfly V8. All of the problems affected are still climbable, and most of them became easier with the breakage, though they are definitely different than before.

 Mike Beck climbing routes on Super Fly to test out holds.

Mike Beck climbing routes on Super Fly to test out holds.

Something to consider through this unfortunate time is the attention it’s raised to the complicated issues facing this and many other great urban bouldering resources available to the climbing community. The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance posted some of the first news of the vandalism, and their social media channels have received thousands of views and supporting comments.  It is the hope of the local community that people would be encouraged to get more involved with the work the SLCA is doing in some of the climbing areas around Salt Lake and promote better stewardship of these areas other climbing areas around the country.

A message from the SLCA:  What can I do to protect the places I love to climb?  Get involved with local and national climbing advocacy grounds. This is why they exist. To ensure we can all go climbing. It takes the greater climbing community (that means all of us) to protect these valuable climbing spaces. Join the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance and the Access Fund (AccessFund.org). Contribute to the effort to make climbing area environments sustainable for the growing population of climbers by volunteering at an Adopt a Crag, donate and help to replace aging fixed hardware (i.e. bolts and anchors), attend a climbing festival or fundraiser, or join a board or committee for your local climbing organization. It's not about what the climbing community can do for you, but what you can do for the climbing community. Oh yeah, and if you see vandalism in the Cottonwood Canyons of Salt Lake City, be sure to report it to UPD at 801.743.7000 & try and get a license plate number if you see the vandals on the run.

THROWBACK: 2016 Perseid Meteor Shower at Bonneville Salt Flats

The night of August 11, 2016 the Perseid Meteor Shower rained tiny bright lights above our heads for hours and hours.  My friend Russ and I went to the Bonneville Salt Flats (two hours west of Salt Lake City, UT)  to camp under the stars and watch the meteors fly across the sky.  Scroll down to see the photo essay of our 24-hour adventure.

 As Russ snored in his bag, I woke up with my alarm at 2:30 a.m. to take a 20 second photo during the meteor shower.

As Russ snored in his bag, I woke up with my alarm at 2:30 a.m. to take a 20 second photo during the meteor shower.

 We arrived to the Salt Flats around 4pm and decide to take this long, very bumpy road out into the middle of nowhere.  We didn't actually know where we were going.  This road summoned us.

We arrived to the Salt Flats around 4pm and decide to take this long, very bumpy road out into the middle of nowhere.  We didn't actually know where we were going.  This road summoned us.

 As we drove at 4-6mph in my Prius down the road the sun began to set.  We drove incredibly slow because rocks were popping up and hitting the underside of the car. We did not pass any other cars or people for the entire time after we turned off the main road.  We came across abandoned, salt encrusted objects however.

As we drove at 4-6mph in my Prius down the road the sun began to set.  We drove incredibly slow because rocks were popping up and hitting the underside of the car. We did not pass any other cars or people for the entire time after we turned off the main road.  We came across abandoned, salt encrusted objects however.

 Russ sat in this old chair with a bottle of sake to ponder life's deepest secrets.

Russ sat in this old chair with a bottle of sake to ponder life's deepest secrets.

 When we arrived it was dark, so we set out our   T  herm-a-rests   and put our sleeping bags on top.  We had some witty banter before we decided to lie back and listen to the music while watching the meteors.  If you look closely at the left side of this photo....that is a meteor my camera caught!

When we arrived it was dark, so we set out our Therm-a-rests and put our sleeping bags on top.  We had some witty banter before we decided to lie back and listen to the music while watching the meteors.  If you look closely at the left side of this photo....that is a meteor my camera caught!

 After waking up twice to take some long exposure shots like the one above, I tried to catch a few short hours of sleep.  Here is a photo of the sun rising over the horizon as we laid in our sleeping bags (and Russ still snored).

After waking up twice to take some long exposure shots like the one above, I tried to catch a few short hours of sleep.  Here is a photo of the sun rising over the horizon as we laid in our sleeping bags (and Russ still snored).

 Once we got up for the day, packed our camp gear and had bananas doused in peanut butter.... we shot some funny perspective photos Russ was dying to try.  I call this one "House of Birkies".

Once we got up for the day, packed our camp gear and had bananas doused in peanut butter.... we shot some funny perspective photos Russ was dying to try.  I call this one "House of Birkies".

 I was shooting some product for   Uinta Brewery   and incorporated one of their brews into our perspective shot playtime!  After we shot many a photo, we hopped back in the Prius and headed back to Salt Lake.  

I was shooting some product for Uinta Brewery and incorporated one of their brews into our perspective shot playtime!  After we shot many a photo, we hopped back in the Prius and headed back to Salt Lake.  

The Bonneville Salt Flats are a great place to visit!  They are a little less than two hours due West of Salt Lake City. Check Trip Advisor's tips and directions if you want to know more about how to have a successful camp trip here.  Or, comment below if you would like to have another blog dedicated to getting to the Salt Flats and having a successfully fun time!