After an eventful tour all through colorful Colorado, my next destination was quite a bit more urban. Salt Lake City is an enormous sprawling metropolis ringed by the Wasatch mountains; despite the gridded city streets and highrises stretching off to the horizon, with just a 20 minute drive you can be up in the Wasatch wilderness with plenty of hiking trails (or skiing, in the winter). One of my longtime friends, Chris, had recently begun working for Telsa just outside Salt Lake, and we kicked off my arrival there with a run and a hike east of the city.
I met the next day with an excellent nonprofit called Tree Utah, whose mission is to “improve Utah’s quality of life for present and future generations by enhancing the environment through tree planting, education, and stewardship”. As our first Green Footprints program, we met with a summer camp for inner city children out in the Redwood Nature area, a wetland and greenway that has been preserved from urban development. Many of these kids have had extremely limited exposure to anything outside ‘in nature’, and it was interesting to get to work with them to teach them about some of the different plants and animals that lived all around them.
Next, I picked up fifty Bog Birches grown at a native nursery in Salt Lake, and with the help of the Utah Conservation Corps, they were planted at the Steep Mountain Nursery just outside of Wellsville, Utah. After an excellent visit with Chris and collaboration with Tree Utah, I got in one last run up in the mountains (along with some young and curious coyotes) before heading south. Big thanks to the folks at Tree Utah for helping out with the project!
Of course, no trip to Utah can be complete without spending some time in Moab, one of the biggest outdoor meccas in the country. I meandered into the little town surrounded by towering rust-red cliffs and immediately began exploring. The week was filled with lots of hiking, climbing, fishing, and running throughout the Arches and Canyonlands National Parks; a person could spend years in either place and never exhaust the endless wonders they have to offer. Nowhere else in the country can boast the astounding array of natural architecture on display in and around Moab, with massive burnt-orange-and-red arches, thin oblong towers of rock, and narrow, winding canyons. Each evening I took Turtle into the backcountry to a ‘secret’ spot I had found, maxing out all 63 horsepower and rear-wheel drive to off-road up a steep, rocky face that led to a majestic outcropping overhanging the Colorado river. For a few evenings I was joined by an enormous grey dog named Wander (according to his tag) who was incessantly curious about our dinners cooking over a campfire. (I eventually met the owner, who informed us that other than the dog’s grandmother, which was half Alaskan Malamute, Wander was a domesticated wolf). I even ran into a crew shooting a nature documentary up in the hills south of Moab who were friendly enough to stop and chat. Tan, sandy and happy, at the end of the week Istarted heading south towards our next destination: Flagstaff, Arizona.
This week I challenge everyone to find a local urban area near where you live and to ‘green’ it up a little. Plant some trees, start a garden, or even just a few healthy bushes– in many area around the country, especially those that are lower income, kids have little to no exposure to the vibrant, living world just outside the fringes of their city or neighborhood. I think we could all benefit from a little more foliage in our everyday lives, no matter where you live. Until next time, keep making your Footprint a little more Green!