There exists a special connection between the collective CC soul and the greater canyon lands region. Whether you enjoy backpacking, canyoneering, climbing, mountain biking, or are just a rock-gazing enthusiast, Utah has something for you.
Between block breaks, while we sit in class, our red sister-desert waits patiently on the other side of the Rockies. The red dusts of Canyonlands and elsewhere in Utah have provided many of us with memory-packed, soul-cleansing experiences. But how many of us have thought of doing something in return for that place we hold so dear?
This spring break, the Southern Utah Stewardship trip set out to do just that. Beginning in Moab, a crew of CC students led by juniors Haley Leslie-Bole and Dan Butler explored a variety of realms within the region with an emphasis on giving back.
The trip partnered with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) to conduct trail work, discuss the importance of stewardship and conservation, and investigate threats to greater Canyonlands.
The group also experienced crack climbing and backpacking in the area.
Chris Dickson of CC Outdoor Education and trippee Angela Kong focused on documenting the experience to gather material for a short film on protecting greater Canyonlands.
For many, accomplishing all these tasks would probably represent a fulfilling couple of months’ work. For this ambitious crew of CC students, also including Elena Foraker, Eliza Densmore, Gabriela Rodriguez, and Alicia Danielson, this was just spring break.
The trip began by engaging with RMFI in Indian Creek to discuss stewardship and conduct trail maintenance. While many of us were driving or flying to other spring-break destinations, the CC stewards were busy improving access to Pistol Whipped Wall. They focused on building stairs to make accessing climbs on the wall much less treacherous.
Last Monday, after finishing their work with RMFI, the group moved on to meet with SUWA. Freshman Angela Kong describes this experience as “a block in a day.”
The group visited oil rigs in another area to see the impacts of opening up land in greater Canyonlands to drilling for resources. Then, they participated in a roundtable discussion with stakeholders about protecting the greater Canyonlands. Kong reports that this was a valuable experience in “making these issues more tangible.”
After finishing their work with SUWA and RMFI, the trip was scheduled to conclude with a five-day backpacking trip outside Moab. But as most seasoned spring breakers of the backcountry know, such plans do not always pan out.
The group began their intended route hiking down Hatch Wash, where they encountered the consequences of neglected trails.
“The trippees weren’t really down with bushwhacking for days, so we spent a night in the backcountry and hiked out the next morning,” said Leslie-Bole.
It is ironic that the CC stewards of Utah’s trails came to such an end. With the seventh block break mass-exodus to Utah fast approaching, give thanks to the people on our campus who helped make our experiences there possible. For more information on protecting greater Canyonlands, visit http://www.suwa.org/.