Finding Remoteness

Finding Remoteness: A remote area in the Bear River Range Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
A remote area in the Bear River Range
Courtesy & © Josh Boling, Photographer
‘Remote’ is not a characteristic I would assign to the city center, a major metropolis like where I grew up. But I also remember summers spent high in the crown of our old magnolia tree, where my 8 year old self may have begged to differ. There, I found wildness—forgot about time and place and the civilization that occupied them. Finding Remoteness

What does ‘remote’ mean? Take a moment, if you will, and conjure a memory—to the most remote place you’ve ever been. Where are you? Why did that particular place come to mind? Was it the distance from cities and towns? Was it the absence of other people? Was it the darkness? The quiet? What makes a place “remote?”

This question has been tumbling around in my head for a while. So, naturally, I took to the internet for answers. A definition: ‘remote’—an adjective—“(of a place) situated far from the main centers of population; distant.” Seems straightforward at first, but the quality of remoteness is open for interpretation. I might argue, for instance, that Lhasa—the Tibetan capital of almost half a million people—is far more remote than the most isolated corner of Utah’s redrock labyrinth. Perhaps that’s an apples to oranges comparison, though.

Bear-shaped remote region in the Bear River Range Data and Photo Credit: Hunter Baldridge
Bear-shaped remote region
in the Bear River Range
Data and Photo Credit: Hunter Baldridge
The Means family from Florida is trying to quantify remoteness and document the most remote place in all 50 states. Project Remote, they call it, defines remoteness as “the point that is the farthest straight-line distance from a road or city [or] town.” According to the Means family, Utah’s most remote location is deep in the High Uintas Wilderness–9.5 miles from the nearest road; a two-day trek from the closest trailhead.

Project Remote inspired me. Their definition seemed reasonable enough, but I was curious about whittling down the parameters of ‘remoteness.’ I wanted to identify the most remote location in Cache County, where I live; so, I reached out to USU Geographic Information Systems instructor, Shannon Belmont, who has been working on this question with her students for several years. As it turns out, the general consensus from Belmont’s class projects produced a fittingly bear shaped swathe of canyons and peaks in the high country of the Bear River Range as the most remote region in the county. There were dozens of other definitions offered through Belmont’s project, of course.

‘Remote’ seems a relative term—relative to the perspective of a traveler and their perceived distance or isolation from the center of whatever world is familiar. When avalanche danger in my home range subsides, I’ll click boots into skis and plow my way to the heart of that bear-shaped expanse of peaks and canyons, trying to find what ‘remote’ means there. Then, perhaps I’ll redefine the word entirely— changing it by season, mode of transport, or state of mind. Until then, maybe I’ll find an old tree to get lost in.

I’m Josh Boling, and I’m Wild About Utah!Defining Remote
 
Credits:
Photos: Courtesy & Copyright Josh Boling, Photographer
Uintas Graphic: Courtesy Josh Boling & Hunter Baldridge, Copyright © Hunter Baldridge
Sound: Courtesy & Copyright J Chase and K.W. Baldwin, Utah Public Radio
Text: Josh Boling, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Josh Boling

Sources & Additional Reading

https://www.outsideonline.com/2314611/roads-around-nowhere

Project Remote, https://www.projectremote.com/

Utah’s Remote Spot in the High Unitas, Project Remote, October 3, 2019, https://www.projectremote.com/blog/utah-remote-spot/

Belmont, Shannon, Final Project – Identifying the most remote location in Cache County, GEOG/WILD1800, SJ & Jessie Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, https://wildaboututah.org/wp-content/uploads/boling.josh_.GW1800_Final_Project_RemoteLocation.pdf

Sacred Mountains

Sacred Mountains: White Pine Lake hike., Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart
White Pine Lake hike., Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Sacred Mountains: Devil's Staircase, Tony Grove, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart Devil’s Staircase, Tony Grove, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Sacred Mountains: False Hellebore/Corn lily (Veratrum californicum), Tony Grove, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart False Hellebore/Corn lily (Veratrum californicum), Tony Grove, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

White Pine Lake and Mount Magog, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart White Pine Lake and Mount Magog, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Police Car Moth on Rob Garrett's thumb, White Pine Lake hike. Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart Police Car Moth on Rob Garrett’s thumb, White Pine Lake hike.
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Elephanthead Lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica), White Pine Lake hike. Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart Elephanthead Lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica), White Pine Lake hike.
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

White Pine Lake and Mount Magog, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart White Pine Lake and Mount Magog, Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Rob & Jack & big tree, Limber Pine hike Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart Rob & Jack & big tree, Limber Pine hike
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Beaver Dam at USU Forestry Camp (LCFS hike) Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart Beaver Dam at USU Forestry Camp (LCFS hike)
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Jack in 560 year old Limber Pine tree 7/27/16 Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart Jack in 560 year old Limber Pine tree 7/27/16
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

I just completed teaching a 5 day Utah Master Naturalist course through USU extension on Utah mountains. The course allowed me to revisit the immense influence these lofty lumps in the earth’s crust have had on my life, and the life of so many others.

It was mountains that drew me here from the flatlands of Michigan. They have become my main source of spiritual renewal, of aesthetic pleasure and recreation. I run, ski, and hike their trails, explore their hidden canyons and forests, revel in the rich tapestry of wildlife and wildflowers that adorns their slopes, and at present, need I say, seek relief from summer’s heat.

Having served 11 seasons as a seasonal Wilderness ranger for the USFS, I was able to explore much of the backcountry in the Bear River and Wellsville mountains of N. Utah. Beyond these, I’ve been atop Kings peak, the Lasals, Abajos, Cedar and Pine Valley Mountains, the Raft Rivers, and many of our high plateaus. But this is small potatoes considering Wikipedia lists 65 others yet to be explored in our state.

Mountains are what we are. Without them, Brigham Young and the Saints would have continued their exodus on to other parts of the west for the rich resources they bless us with.
Mountains = water. This liquid gift provides over 80% of Utah’s water as they do for most other western states. In the early years, they offered timber and rock for structures, including temples, tabernacles, and other historic buildings. Cool breezes followed canyons down to give relief from intense summer heat, and grew forage for cattle and sheep. The Oquirrh mountains on the west edge of Salt Lake valley are host to one of the world’s richest mines yielding approximately 25 percent of the country’s copper, 12 tons of gold, and 120 tons of silver each year.

Going beyond Utah and the west, it is water from mountain glaciers that support over 2 billion people in India, China and several middle east/Eurasian countries. With rapidly receding glaciers from a warming planet, this has become a grave concern.
On a lessor note, I recently accompanied a group of college students on a YNP pica inventory to follow their population trends as they are being impacted by a changing climate.
I’ll conclude with an 1877 quote from early American naturalist John Muir upon first entering the Salt Lake valley.

“The mountains rise grandly round about this curious city, the Zion of the new Saints, so grandly that the city itself is hardly visible. The Wasatch range, snow-laden and adorned with glacier-sculpted peaks, stretches continuously along the eastern horizon, forming the boundary of the Great Salt Lake basin; while across the valley of the Jordan southwestward from here, you behold the Oquirrh Range, about as snowy and lofty as the Wasatch.

The glacial developments of these superb ranges are sharply sculpted peaks and crests, with ample wombs between them where the ancient snows of the glacial period where collected and transformed into ice, and ranks of profound shadowy canyons, while moraines commensurate with the lofty fountains extend into the valleys, forming far the grandest series of glacial monuments I have yet seen this side of the Sierra.”

This is Jack Greene reading and writing for Wild About Utah.

Sacred Mountains-Credits:
Images: Courtesy and Copyright Hilary Shughart
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon Society
Sacred Mountains-Additional Reading:

Wasatch Mountains, History to Go, Utah.gov, http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/the_land/wasatchmountains.html

Geology of Utah, History to Go, Utah.gov, http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/the_land/geologyofutah.html

Logan Ranger District, USDA Forest Service, http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/uwcnf/recarea/?recid=8985

Hylland, Rebecca, What are Igneous, Sedimentary & Metamorphic Rocks?, Glad You Asked, Utah Geological Survey, https://geology.utah.gov/map-pub/survey-notes/glad-you-asked/igneous-sedimentary-metamorphic-rocks/

Sacred Mountains-Top

Wilderness 16 Feb 2015

Wilderness. The word conjures up romantic images of wide open landscapes teeming with birds, beasts, and plants. I imagine places untouched by human influence – truly wild and free. Places that are exotic and far away.

High Unitas Wilderness, Utah, Courtesy Wilderness.net, Copyright 2009 Cordell Andersen, Photographer www.cordellmandersen.com
High Unitas Wilderness, Utah
Courtesy Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2009 Cordell Andersen, Photographer

Red Butte Wilderness, Utah, Courtesy Wilderness.net, Copyright 2011 Paul Gooch, PhotographerRed Butte Wilderness, Utah
Courtesy
Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2011 Paul Gooch, Photographer

Wellsville Mountain Wilderness, Utah, Courtesy Wilderness.net, Copyright 2011, Dusty Vaughn, PhotographerWellsville Mountain Wilderness, Utah
Courtesy Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2011 Dusty Vaughn, Photographer

Paria Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Courtesy Wilderness.net, Copyright © 2011 Mike Salamacha, Paria Ranger, BLM, PhotographerParia Canyon
Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Courtesy Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2011 Mike Salamacha, Paria Ranger, BLM, Photographer

 

But wilderness exists much closer than you may think.

The United States Congress adopted the Wilderness Act with a nearly unanimous vote in 1964. Ours was the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas – lands valued enough to be set aside for the purpose of protection.

Currently, the Wilderness Act protects 757 individual wilderness areas across the United States – totaling more than 109 million acres. Thirty-three wilderness areas are found in Utah, and they protect a variety of unique landscapes from the red rock desert found in Red Butte Wilderness to the alpine forests of the High Uintas Wilderness. While the landscapes may look incredibly different from one wilderness area to the next, these lands share a number of qualities which can be described by adjectives such as peaceful, quiet, untouched, and pristine.

These areas protect some of the most unique and incredible landscapes that Utah has to offer, but that doesn’t mean they’re off limits. Our wilderness areas are just that – ours. They are public lands, accessible to anyone who wants to visit – so long as you tread lightly.

Areas that fall under its protection are described in the Wilderness Act as “lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition…” which “…shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic use.” These amazing lands were set aside in 1964 with an eye to the future and because of it, should still be around for your grandchildren’s grandchildren to enjoy.

There is an ongoing effort to educate Americans about the immense value of preserving wilderness areas. For without education, they may one day be selfishly reclaimed and lost. One of these educational opportunities is coming to Logan on April 13th and 14th. The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center will be hosting a teacher training workshop in conjunction with the Stokes Nature Center and the Utah Society for Environmental Education. The workshop is aimed at teachers in grades 5-8, though anyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact the Stokes Nature Center at www.logannature.org

Not a teacher? The best way to learn about wilderness areas is to go visit one! Information, and photos of Utah Wilderness Areas, can be found at www.wildaboututah.org

For the Stokes Nature Center and Wild About Utah, this is Andrea Liberatore.

Credits:

Photos: Courtesy Wilderness.net, Steve Archibald, (Individual Copyrights noted)
Text:    Andrea Liberatore, Stokes Nature Center, logannature.org

Additional Reading:
The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center:
wilderness.net

Wilderness Investigations teacher training workshop:
logannature.org/wi_workshop

Wilderness, Much Closer Than You Think

Wilderness, Much Closer Than You Think: Courtesy Wilderness.net and Copyright 2009 Cordell Andersen, Photographer
High Unitas Wilderness, Utah
Courtesy Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2009 Cordell Andersen, Photographer

Wilderness, Much Closer Than You Think: Courtesy Wilderness.net and Copyright 2011 Paul Gooch, PhotographerRed Butte Wilderness, Utah
Courtesy
Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2011 Paul Gooch, Photographer

Courtesy Wilderness.net and Copyright 2011 Dusty Vaughn, PhotographerWellsville Mountain Wilderness, Utah
Courtesy Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2011 Dusty Vaughn, Photographer

Courtesy Wilderness.net and Copyright 2011 Mike Salamacha, BLM, PhotographerParia Canyon
Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Courtesy Wilderness.net
Copyright © 2011 Mike Salamacha, Paria Ranger, BLM, Photographer

 

Wilderness

The word conjures up romantic images of wide open landscapes teeming with birds, beasts, and plants. I imagine places untouched by human influence – truly wild and free. Places that are exotic and far away.

But wilderness exists much closer than you may think.

The United States Congress adopted the Wilderness Act with a nearly unanimous vote in 1964. Ours was the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas – lands valued enough to be set aside for the purpose of protection.

Currently, the Wilderness Act protects 757 individual wilderness areas across the United States – totaling more than 109 million acres. Thirty-three wilderness areas are found in Utah, and they protect a variety of unique landscapes from the red rock desert found in Red Butte Wilderness to the alpine forests of the High Uintas Wilderness. While the landscapes may look incredibly different from one wilderness area to the next, these lands share a number of qualities which can be described by adjectives such as peaceful, quiet, untouched, and pristine.

These areas protect some of the most unique and incredible landscapes that Utah has to offer, but that doesn’t mean they’re off limits. Our wilderness areas are just that – ours. They are public lands, accessible to anyone who wants to visit – so long as you tread lightly.

Areas that fall under its protection are described in the Wilderness Act as “lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition…” which “…shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic use.” These amazing lands were set aside in 1964 with an eye to the future and because of it, should still be around for your grandchildren’s grandchildren to enjoy.

There is an ongoing effort to educate Americans about the immense value of preserving wilderness areas. For without education, they may one day be selfishly reclaimed and lost. One of these educational opportunities is coming to Logan on April 13th and 14th. The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center will be hosting a teacher training workshop in conjunction with the Stokes Nature Center and the Utah Society for Environmental Education. The workshop is aimed at teachers in grades 5-8, though anyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact the Stokes Nature Center at www.logannature.org

Not a teacher? The best way to learn about wilderness areas is to go visit one! Information, and photos of Utah Wilderness Areas, can be found at www.wildaboututah.org

For the Stokes Nature Center and Wild About Utah, this is Andrea Liberatore.

Credits:

Photos: Courtesy Wilderness.net, Steve Archibald, (Individual Copyrights noted)
Text:    Andrea Liberatore, Stokes Nature Center, logannature.org

Additional Reading:
The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center:
wilderness.net

Wilderness Investigations teacher training workshop:
logannature.org/wi_workshop