Bears Ears is a Place, Not an Opinion

Interested in exploring Bears Ears? Check out some of the adventures it has to offer. Or download the Bivy app in the iTunes Store and go find your wilderness perspective in your own area.
Polly Canyon
Big Man Pictographs
Hotel Rock
Butler Wash Ruins
Gooseneck Overlook Trail
Eagle Plume Tower
Valley of the Gods
Arch Canyon
Lower Mule Canyon
Mule Canyon
North Mule Canyon
Indian Creek
Bullet Canyon
Kane Gulch

Wilderness is something that a lot of us long for without even realizing it. We spend the majority of our time indoors with photos of wild places hanging on the walls. Our computer screens are plastered with images of incredible vistas. We scroll through social media liking pictures of people in places we could only dream of. We daydream about those quiet moments away from everyday life; the places that make us think, the vistas that make us feel small. There are locations we go to in our minds when we just can’t sit through another meeting or answer another text message. There is something that feels great about using all our energy just to reach a place that most people won’t. Those places that we long to share with our best friend, our child, even our future grandchild. That is wilderness.

We rarely get opportunities to experience wilderness. But just knowing that it is out there gives us hope, something to dream about, and an escape when we need it most. Wilderness is our gateway to adventure. Where we find wilderness, we find adventure. Where we find adventure, we find inspiration. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to adventure. For some it is a never ending night spent shivering on a ledge, waiting for the sun to rise, others a short afternoon hike is enough to spark that feeling of exploration. I am lucky to work for a company like Bivy where the goal is to help connect people with their own type of adventure. So, when our newsfeed was bombarded by opinions about Bears Ears National Monument it sparked conversations in the office. We decided the best way to form our own opinion of the area was to go there and tune out the views of other’s and see for ourselves. In an instant our weekly staff meeting where we usually discuss coding, user experience and bug fixes, we chatted about gear, adventures and weather. One week later, the office was dark, desk chairs were empty and we were headed south.

We spent the early days of March just skimming the surface of all the adventure possibilities in the 1.3 million acres now designated as Bears Ears National Monument. From the thousands of perfect desert crack climbs in Indian Creek Canyon to the expansive landscape and vistas of the Valley of The Gods. The Bivy team is small but ambitious. Every member is a hiker, but we also have a mountain biker, a climber, a river rat, a trail runner, a photographer and everyone gets excited about new adventures. Bears Ears offered more than enough to keep us all stoked. The hardest part was choosing from the thousands of potential adventures. We wanted to understand what makes this place so special and why people from both sides are so passionate about its future. Climbing, mtn biking, canyoneering, hiking and camping is everywhere. But more abundant than the recreational opportunities are the ruins and historical artifacts telling the story of the area. Every dirt road we travelled down and every canyon we explored revealed what made this place so magical.

One early morning we explored a few side canyons of the Grand Gulch area. After a slightly treacherous unmaintained dirt road, we spent most of the morning scrambling around on steep canyon walls, walking and hopping back and forth over a small creek. We found ourselves in a place that looked the same way it has for the past few centuries. We spotted a small village of ruins up high in the cliffs a few hundred feet off the ground. We stopped and stared, baffled at how the inhabitants even accessed their homes. We explored and scrambled up some semi-technical ledges and eventually found ourselves standing next to intricate craftsmanship that was thousands of years old. We saw ancient fingerprints in the dried mud, pieces of pottery and crafts, and of course a view far better than any computer desktop image. This place was wild. This place was wilderness. It was at that point, completely isolated, seeing something that not many people get to witness, that we realized the importance of protecting this place. For thousands of years, people have known that this place is unique, different and special. The amount of ruins and beautiful vistas far outnumbered the amount of people, infrastructure, and signs of modern life. You want to keep looking around the next corner and daydream about what you might find. If we protect places like this, in 40 years, maybe my granddaughter will be able to have the same experience I had and feel that drive to keep going, keep exploring, and keep adventuring.

We live in a time of opinions. Whether you like it or not, it is hard to escape the views of your fellow human beings. This is a good thing. It is okay to share yours, listen to others, learn more about what is happening. But as we have all learned, sometimes opinions make it hard to get the whole story. The Bears Ears National Monument has been one of those topics that has generated a lot of opinions. Especially here in Utah. It has caused quite the division. Spending just a few days in the area, it truly helped us to see both sides of the argument. Opinions were softened, concerns were expressed, and the discussions were productive. I guess that is one of the effects of wilderness and adventure. It gives you the opportunity to see the big picture, to be humbled, observe and think before you act. It gives you a wilderness perspective and that is worth preserving.

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