Just got back from a weekend exploring Utah’s Comb Ridge, which is now entirely protected within the Bears Ears National Monument, well for now it is. I’ve been trying to put into words my feelings about the Monumental Utah War over Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, but this is a very complicated issue and I am struggling to see both sides of the issue. Upon arriving in Blanding, Utah, the first thing you see is a billboard plastered with #RescindBearsEars posters and American Flags and I can’t help but wonder how differently I would feel about this issue had I grown up here.
Politics aside, I am happy to report that there is now a coffee shop in Blanding. Some brilliant local decided to actually capitalize on the increased tourism to the area and their need for coffee, but perhaps they are actually trying to kill us with fatness considering my 12 ounce latte was made with half and half and only one shot of espresso. I had 2 sips and called it good tipping extra as a donation to the community.
So many things to think about lately, this piece on how Instagram is Loving Nature to Death struck a serious chord. The Colorado River’s Horseshoe Bend visitation is up from only a thousand or so a year to an inconceivable 4,000 a day and the Instagram selfie takers are to blame necessitating new parking lots, a guard rail, and several other visitor amenities to be built. I’m just happy I got to see Glen Canyon Recreation Area’s Horseshoe Bend before the crowds during the Antelope Canyon Ultra years ago. On one hand I find it great that Instagram is inspiring people to get out and explore beautiful places and I am hoping they can channel some of this energy into help protecting these natural places, but sadly as the article states, these crowds are literally shitting all over these places.
There’s nothing wrong with seeing a cool space on the Internet and deciding to go there. It’s just, maybe, don’t start fires there, and clean up your poop. ~Brent Knepper, travel photographer
Speaking of Glen Canyon, the Colorado River lost its biggest lover and advocate last week. Folk singer, writer, and river defender extraordinaire, Katie Lee, spent her entire life protesting the loss of Glen Canyon to the dam on the Colorado River. She was often quoted as saying the only thing that kept her from blowing the dam up was actually knowing how to do it. The obituary of Katie Lee in the New York Times is a beautiful tribute to a life so passionately lived. “I hope we get mad. And I hope there’s a fucking revolution,” said Katie Lee and I am pretty sure we are getting close.
On a lighter note and if you need a little motivation to kick you in the butt this time of year, meet Bob Hayes, an 89-year-old trail runner who races at least 30 times a year and cuts all of his firewood by hand insisting on going about life doing things The Hard Way.