My Public Lands

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    9 posts tagged OSTadventure

    Discovering culture, beauty and history along Utah’s Old Spanish Trail

    Finding new, creative ways of connecting with an increasingly diverse audience of land users online can be challenging for land management agencies like the BLM.  On one hand, we understand the importance of engaging this often-overlooked audience of young public land users.  And on the other, we often face the limited resources and flexibility needed to launch campaigns that help us establish deep and meaningful connections between young people and the great outdoors.  As social media lead and webmaster for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah, and a millennial myself, I’m often faced with this conundrum.

    Fortunately, I work for an agency that is up for new ideas and willing to instill trust in talented young people.  That is why, when Gordo Wood, an American Conservation Experience (ACE) intern working under BLM mentorship, came to me with the idea of trekking 400 miles along the southern Utah section of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail (OST), I knew we had to share this incredibly unique experience, live online, through the eyes of a new generation.  Together we formed the framework for our #OSTadventure.

    “We know that when we connect young people to public lands, it changes them. It changes them for the better,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to the Outdoor Industry Association last month in Salt Lake City, Utah. With that in mind, and poised to meet Interior Secretary Jewell’s recent challenge “… to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors,” a BLM videographer and I headed out on the trail, to document the experiences of three ACE interns from Salt Lake City, as they explored and shared in discovery along the historic route.

    Joined by a BLM or trail association field expert at each juncture, we searched for traces of the past — sharing the adventure online, viewers experienced and engaged in the highs and lows of the trip. Each day our #OSTadventure crew connected the dots as we discovered Utah’s rich culture, history, and beauty. Whether on foot, bike, or horse, the crew worked with local field offices to highlight adjacent recreation resources as we visited cultural sites and landscapes associated with the historic trail.

    “For me I found out that I love connecting people with the landscape around them and the public lands that we have in Utah. I love mountain biking. I love rock climbing. I love enjoying the scenery around me, but it’s that much more spectacular when you can connect history to these landscapes, also, and connect with the people that came before we were here.”  -Gordo Wood, ACE Visual Resource Management Intern

    “For me the thrill of being able to do this through the Bureau of Land Management and explore our public lands and our National Historic Trails, was truly an incredible experience — very eye opening. I learned a lot historically and a lot about myself as a person, working in the field…That was a huge highlight for me, of the entire experience!” -Hannah Cowen, ACE Paleontology Intern

    “Getting the opportunity to travel along the Old Spanish Trail with seasoned BLMers was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes to all the fun that can be had on Utah’s public lands. I hope our story encourages everyone to get outside and start playing!” -Matt Martin ACE Planning Intern

    I am proud of the creativity and youthful spirit infused in this project and look forward to working with others to develop more products that reach out to those in search of adventure in America’s great outdoors. Together, we can get people excited and out enjoying their public lands!

    Written and photographed by Chad Douglas, BLM-Utah Public Affairs 

    Watch their #OSTadventure HERE!

    Embark on an Old Spanish Trail Virtual Adventure! 

    Recently, three American Conservation Experience (ACE) interns working for the BLM-Utah National Trails Program embarked on a truly unique adventure. Trekking more than 400 miles along the Old Spanish National Historic Trail (OST) in southern Utah, the adventurers set out to meet Interior Secretary Jewell’s recent challenge “… to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.” Joined by BLM-Utah’s new media lead and videographer, the #OSTadventure crew captivated a national audience as they documented their journey along the historical route, live on a myriad of social media platforms.

    Joined by a BLM or trail association field expert at each juncture, the crew searched for traces of the past — sharing the adventure online, viewers experienced and engaged in the highs and lows of the trip. Each day the #OSTadventure crew connected the dots as they discovered Utah’s rich culture, history, and beauty. Whether on foot, bike, or horse, the crew worked with local field offices to highlight adjacent recreation resources as they visited cultural sites and landscapes associated with the historic trail.

    Engaging more than a quarter of a million viewers LIVE online, the intrepid #OSTadventure crew found the perfect mix of substance and excitement.

    To commemorate their adventure the crew developed a video highlighting their journey. We are pleased to premiere it here for everyone today. It effectively captures the youthful spirit of the trip and is geared toward millennials in search of adventure in America’s great outdoors.

    Old Spanish Trail Adventure Video — http://youtu.be/xL7bVDnHf3M

    -Chad Douglas, Public Affairs Specialist for BLM-Utah

    Intern insights from the Old Spanish Trail adventure crew:

    "National Historic Trails are awesome because they encapsulate the entirety of public lands so well. Historic trails offer access to cultural, recreational, and visual resources. They also provide the opportunity to connect at a historical level to the landscapes that surround us. They tell the story of how the American continent was settled. After traveling along the Historic trails with modern conveniences I am convinced that the men and women that once traveled and forged these trails are the astronauts of today.”

    -Gordo Wood (American Conservation Experience, VRM Intern) 

    "While I could discuss the excitement I experienced from learning about the historical significance and cultural aspects the trail has to offer, my takeaways from our #OSTadventure were defined by the recreational opportunities available to us along the trail: climbing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, geocaching, and horseback riding were just some of the activities available on 400 mile journey. With more time and resources we could have done even more. Getting the opportunity to travel along the Old Spanish Trail with seasoned BLMers was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes to all the fun that can be had on Utah’s public lands. I hope our story encourages everyone to get outside and start playing!"

    -Matt Martin (American Conservation Experience, Planning Intern) 

    "As we traveled the Old Spanish Trail, I was struck by the vast historical time-line. From discoveries of rock art and inscriptions to glass bottles, medicine containers, and dinosaur tracks, we found evidence of traders, Ute Native Americans, railroad workers, ranchers, and dinosaurs. Despite these archaeological and paleontological finds, the history that "blew our minds" was the discovery of an old railroad culvert; all that remained of a railroad grade washed away by years of flash flooding. The sheer power of swiftly moving water, combined with the realization that we were most likely the first people to stumble upon the culvert in years, left us dumbstruck and eager for future discoveries. In the few days we had to follow the trail, our knowledge of the land and those who crossed it greatly expanded. The cultural opportunities are endless, and the discoveries are only just the beginning." 

    -Hannah Cowan (American Conservation Experience, Paleo Intern) 


    So what’s next for the #OSTadventure crew?

    They already have plans for a video or collection of videos of the trip that will be tied to QR codes and posted at kiosks on or near the trial. And the group has considered a longer high production video and a photo journal for use in traditional venues as well as social media /digital publication. 

    If you missed any #OSTadventure posts last week, read them all now using the hashtag #OSTadventure on Tumblr.

    Riding some single track in Moab, Utah near the Old Spanish Trail with Mike Adler, a local guide. BLM-Moab manages some of the best mountain biking trails in southern Utah.
Meet Pat, the last John Wayne of the West and his horse Dillon. Riding the Old Spanish Trail the way it was meant to be ridden...carries a bed roll and a dog on his shoulder, Inspired by our run in with Pat and Dillon, the #OSTadventure crew decided to saddle-up and mosey on down the Old Spanish Trail.

    OLD SPANISH TRAIL ADVENTURE: DAY 5

    All last week, we followed the daily journey of four BLMers traveling the Old Spanish Trail in Utah by foot, bike, car and horse. Today, we bring you a story from the last day of their journey. 

    For the better part of a week we had traveled 400 miles along the Old Spanish Trail, searching for traces of the past, in hopes of inspiring a new generation (ourselves included) to get outside and experience public lands first-hand. Ripe with culture, history, and beauty, the Old Spanish Nat’l Historic Trail provides ample opportunity for adventure… 

    Facing sensory overload the #OSTadventure crew rolled in to Moab, Utah for our final day of voyage. After a quick look around, we decided it was time to pull the bikes out and experience some of Moab’s world-famous single-track. Accompanied by Mike Adler, a local guide, the group rode along the Bar-M trail and then down along the highway toward town. 

    Passing a lonesome cowboy on horseback along the side of the road, we stopped to take a closer look. Here we met Pat, the last John Wayne of the West and his horse Dillon, riding the Old Spanish Trail the way it was meant to be ridden. He carries a bed roll and a dog (Bufford) on his shoulder, even makes his own bullets for the six-shooter on his hip. 

    Inspired by our run in with Pat and Dillon, the #OSTadventure crew decided it was time to saddle-up and mosey on down the Old Spanish Trail. 

    Saving the best for last to close out our #OSTadventure, we met up with BLM Moab Paleontologist Rebecca Hunt-Foster at the Poison Spider Trailhead to look for dinosaur tracks near the Old Spanish Trail. After a short hike up from the hillside, we stopped at a fantastic location where we found part and counterpart tracks of three toed meat eating dinosaurs. 

    Did you missed any #OSTadventure posts last week? Read them all now using the hashtag #OSTadventure on Tumblr.

    While exploring in the San Rafael Swell we found mind-blowing inscriptions and a culvert built for an early 1800's railroad grade, washed out by flash floods. Historic Old Spanish Trail sign marking the trail in the San Rafael Swell.

    OLD SPANISH TRAIL ADVENTURE: DAY 4

    What an adventure it has been, and we still have one more day to go! Traveling northeast along the Old Spanish Trail from the Hurricane Cliffs in southwest Utah to the San Rafael Swell in central Utah, our #OSTadventure crew presses forward… 

    At first light we met up with our field experts Amber Koski, Archaeologist, and Matt Blocker, Recreation Planner, from the Price Field Office for a day of fun and exploration along the Old Spanish Trail. 

    A quick stop at the Wedge Recreation Area along the Green River-cutoff brought smiles, and cheers for more. “The Wedge, something everyone should see!” said American Conservation Experience interns Gordo Wood, Hannah Cowan, and Matt Martin. 

    Continuing on our journey, we traveled south along the trail. Exploring within the San Rafael Swell, we found mind-blowing inscriptions and a culvert built for an early 1800’s railroad grade that had washed out by flash floods. 

    A hike led to stunning images of rock art panels and beautiful fall colors. Further down the Old Spanish Trail, one group member discovered an intact bottle from the early 1900’s, and another found what “he” believed was a medicine container. 

    Follow the group this week on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #OSTadventure 

    15 below freezing at Paiute State Park. Things to do at state parks near the Old Spanish Trail; camp, boat, fish, hike, and start each morning with a little airYoga. Jen Evans, BLM Richfield Recreation Planner took us Geocaching today near the Old Spanish Trail in Kingston Canyon. Guess what we found in the cache! Strolling down the Old Spanish Trail, Abbey Road style! Bob Leonard, USFS Archaeologist, identifies a 160 year old blaze (trail marker), just 1 of 100 in the area. Risking life and limb for an #OSTadventure...well sort of, but we would follow Bob Leonard anywhere. Primitive rock structure, believed to be a Spanish shrine, found near the Fish Lake Cut-off.

    OLD SPANISH TRAIL ADVENTURE: DAY 3

    We have reached our turnaround point. It’s 4 a.m. and after a bone-chilling evening under the stars at 15 below freezing, we’ve all been humbled by mother nature. All of us agree that, without modern day equipment, we would be heading back to Santa Fe or really anywhere with promise of warmth. Nothing a little sunshine and airYoga can’t fix… 

    According to Fish Lake National Forest Archaeologist Bob Leonard, the Old Spanish Trail is described as the “longest, crookedest, toughest pack trail in North America.” And since the mule was, at the time, the hands-down choice for beast of burden and as riding animal, we thought we would re-enact the caravan in action at the Kingston Canyon, Old Spanish Trail interpretive site. Here, Jen Evans, BLM Richfield Recreation Planner, joined our #OSTadventure crew, and we headed up a side-canyon in search of a BLM geocache stashed along the trail. 

    Further northeast, in central Utah, the group met up with Bob Leonard (mentioned earlier) who was kind enough to show us his passion – a section of the trail known as the Fish Lake Cut-off. This small section crosses public lands administered by the Forest Service and is packed full of traces of the past. 

    Follow the group this week on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #OSTadventure 

    Chad Douglas, BLM Utah Webmaster, takes in the beauty of the Baker Dam Recreation Area. We won't let a little frozen grass slow us down. We'll soldier on like those who walked before us! Photo taken near Mtn Meadows Memorial Southwest Utah. Gordo Wood and Matt Martin celebrate the completion of fun-filled trail ride in Three Peaks Recreation Area, just outside of Cedar City, Utah. Al Matheson, Old Spanish Trail Association Member, points out traces of the trail -- Our journey led us to this SWEET Old Spanish Nat'l Historic Trail marker near Enterprise, Utah, built by trail association members in 1957. Giant naturally casted dinosaur tracks, rock-like pachyderms, and massive conglomerate boulders sited near the Old Spanish Trail.

    OLD SPANISH TRAIL ADVENTURE: DAY 2

    Frozen, yet determined, we emerged from our frosted tents at Baker Dam Recreation Area ready to continue our journey along the Old Spanish Trail. We broke camp and headed over to the reservoir to take in the sunrise and snap a few photos. Below the dam lies a picturesque riparian overlook, filled with fall colors… 

    Joined by two employees from the BLM Cedar City Field Office and Al Matheson, OST Association Member, we continued north along the trail. Stopping at the historic Mountain Meadows Massacre Grave Site Memorial, we discussed how this area was also a significant stop over for Spanish traders, looking for consistent feed and water. 

    Throughout our day of exploration, we relied heavily on the knowledge and expertise of our field guides to point out traces of the trail, explain the cultural significance of each area, and provide valuable insight on the recreational opportunities nearby. 

    Follow the group this week on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #OSTadventure 

    Surrounded by cholla cacti, and with the expanse before us, we were struck by how difficult the journey must have been for the Armijo party in 1829. Most of the group suppressed their fear. Iris, on the other hand, took the safer route…on foot. 
Found this old Dominguez Escalante Trail marker put in by the Boy Scouts of America back in 1976! Steve Heath, Utah Old Spanish Trail Associate Director, provides BLMers Gordo and Iris a historical account of the area. Gordo Wood, BLM Utah State Office ACE intern, and Iris Picat, BLM St George Field Office Land-Use Planning Assistant, test out the trail marker/cattle rubbing post and were pleased with the result. Gordo Wood couldn't help but get into character by prowling the area. Gordo Wood jazzed for an Old Spanish Trail Adventure.

    Old Spanish Trail Adventure: Day 1

    The adventure begins on the Arizona-Utah border, atop a drainage of the Hurricane cliffs, which provided the only historic access to Warner Valley below. It follows the Honeymoon Trail, used by Mormon pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries to have their marriages sealed in the temple at St George, Utah. Although somewhat treacherous, we rode the rocky switchbacks to more stable ground.

    Surrounded by cholla cacti, and with the expanse before us, we were struck by how difficult the journey must have been for the Armijo party in 1829.

    We initially spotted some cow hair intertwined between the splinters and were informed that the cows grazing nearby like to use these trail markers as rubbing posts, known for knocking them over with their massive force.

    Next stop was the interpreted Warner Valley Dinosaur Track Site, which was remapped in 2010 and found to have approximately 400 tracks, including both Eubrontes and Grallator tracks.

    Follow the group this week on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #OSTadventure

    The Old Spanish Trail Adventure!

    Today, four BLMers from Utah will embark on a unique adventure, traveling over 400 miles of the Old Spanish Trail in Utah. The team will document their travels as they hike, bike, drive, horseback ride and camp along the historical route, and you can follow along Tumblr as, well as on Twitter and Instagram using #OSTadventure.

    The journey will begin in southwest Utah on Monday, Nov. 4, and conclude in southeast Utah on Nov. 8. Throughout the trek, the team will be accompanied by Old Spanish Trail Association members and BLM archaeologists, rangeland specialists and recreation planners. Together, they will visit historic inscriptions, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes associated with the Trail.

    The trip aims to inspire the next generation of public land users (ages 18-35) to experience the Old Spanish National Historic Trail for themselves and discover its rich culture, history, beauty and adventure. 

    The team will highlight recreation resources adjacent to the Trail such as the Kokopelli bike trail in Moab, Cottonwood Canyon in the San Rafael Swell, historic inscriptions from early Utah explorers, petroglyphs left by Native Americans and historic traces of early Utah travel routes. The trip is planned with the help of multiple BLM field offices and the Utah chapter of the Old Spanish Trail Association.

    The Old Spanish National Historic Trail, designated in 2002, served as an important trade route from 1829-1850, linking Santa Fe and Los Angeles across six states and 2,700 miles. The trail passes through red rock mesas, below snow-capped peaks and skirts the continent’s harshest deserts near Death Valley. The Trail is jointly administered by the BLM and the National Park Service.

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