Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Got Me There Didn't Get Me Here

In the mid 1990’s I was working as a Zone Manager for a manufacturing and distribution company in Salt Lake City, Utah. An outside company came and did a presentation to our territory sales reps for a group of evening seminars featuring well-known personal development and sales trainers. Only two people signed up, one of them was me. As a gift for signing up that evening we each received a set of cassette tapes of about a dozen previously recorded presentations.

One of the presentations was a two cassette presentation by Jim Rohn. I remember listing to the presentation once and didn’t think too much about it. Then I decided to listen again and by the time the second cassette tape was finished, I had a shift in my thinking that has changed everything.

Stephen R. Covey writes, ““Many people experience fundamental shifts in thinking when they face a life-threatening crisis or step into a new role (a husband or wife, parent or grandparent, manager or leader) and suddenly see their priorities in a different light. It becomes obvious that if we want to make relatively minor changes in our lives, we can perhaps appropriately focus on our attitudes and behaviors. But if we want to make significant, quantum change, we need to work on our basic paradigms.”
(Steven R. Covey; 7 Habits Calendar.)

So what was so significant that Jim Rohn said in that presentation that had such a profound affect on me to change my basic paradigms. I had reached the point that I was at in my career by drawing on my education and experience, but had felt like I was at a plateau. Jim Rohn was challenging his audience to never stop learning and to take personal responsibility for continuing their education by reading at least one book a month. After I graduated from college, I stopped studying up to this point. Now with a new paradigm, I became a student again. So what got me to the point of being a Zone Manager isn’t what got me to where I am today.

As a Zone Manager I remember thinking about how nice it would be to be able to only work five 10 hour days a week instead of the 60 to 80 hours a week I was typically working. As a “reborn” student I stumbled across a book entitled “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Another significant paradigm shift arrived in the prologue. I didn’t have to even get to the first chapter to benefit from my commitment to learn. Here are the words that created that paradigm shift for me:

“Once upon a time “earning a living” was the means to an end. The means was ‘earning’; the end was ‘living.’

Over time our relationship with money—earning it, spending it, investing it, owing it, protecting it, worrying about it—has taken over the major part of our lives.

Most of us spend much more than 40 hours out of the week’s total of 168 hours earning money. We must take time to dress for our jobs, commute to our jobs, think about our jobs at work and at home, “decompress” from our jobs. We must spend our evenings and weekends in mindless ‘escape entertainment’ in order to ‘recreate’ from our jobs. We must occasionally ‘vacate’ our jobs, or spend time at the doctor’s office to repair our job-stressed health. We need to plan our ‘careers,’ attend job seminars or union meetings, lobby or picket for our jobs.

We must spend money to maintain our jobs—job costuming, commuting costs, food bought expensively at the workplace. We must spend so that our neighborhood, house, car, life-style and even life mate reflect our “position” in the work world.

With all that time and money spent on and around our jobs, is it any wonder that we have come to take our identities from them? When asked, “What do you do?” we don’t say, “I do plumbing.” We say, “I am a plumber.”

When we are not taking our identity from our jobs, we are identified as ‘consumers.’ According to the dictionary, to consume is to “destroy, squander, use up.” We consider shopping to be recreation, so we “shop till we drop.” We want a good future for our kids, so we work harder or become a two-income family and relegate raising the kids to day-care centers or nannies. We buy them the newest toy to prove our love. We earn for their college educations but relinquish the opportunity to spend time with them during their formative years. We bemoan the influences of “bad company,” but we ourselves have never been in their company long enough to influence them. We are spending so much of our precious time earning in order to spend that we don’t have the time to examine our priorities.

Our old financial map, instead of making us more independent, fulfilled individuals, has led us into a web of financial dependencies. From birth to death we have become financially dependent—on our parents for our first financial sustenance, on “the economy” in order to get a good job after graduation, on ‘the job’ for our survival, on “unemployment” handouts to tide us over between jobs, on our corporate pension to pay our way in old age, on Social Security to supplement our corporate pension (or supplant it if the corporation or its insurer goes bankrupt) and on Medicare or Medicaid if we get sick before we die. The old road map has hit the end of the road. The material progress that was supposed to free us has left us more enslaved.

Conditions have changed, but we are still operating financially by the rules established during the Industrial Revolution—rules based on creating more material possessions. But our high standard of living has not led to a high quality of life—for us or for the planet. Remember that the old road map had nothing wrong with it—it was wonderfully useful in 1890 and for many years afterward—but the territory has changed. New tools for navigation are needed. What we need now is a new financial road map that is based on current global conditions and offers us a way out."
(Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin, Prologue xxvi-xxviii)

Wow! Here I was spending at least half of my 168 hours a week officially working or recovering from the work effort, and who knows what the real number was based on the definition from that prologue. I remember on the weekends struggling to stay awake long enough to experience a little bit of life away from work with my family. My children were beginning to grow up and I was missing everything. How do we measure the cost of regret and lost opportunities? So I decided to stop making a “dying” and start figuring out how I could make a living.

After a lot of twists and turns and an large investment of resources into my own personal development, I was able to discover what my life’s purpose is and find joy and abundance by being ‘on purpose’ in my career and business pursuits.

With each day of personal development I have many of the small shifts in thinking that continue to make a difference and occasionally have a significant shift in mindset and anticipate having many more as I continue to accept Jim Rohn’s challenge to be a life-long student.

When you discover a life of joy and abundance, a universal desire is to share that path of discovery with others. My work now is a culmination of that path of discovery. And it all started with a challenge from a person I’ve never met, but made it his mission to help others learn from his experience. My personal mission is living an extraordinary life of joy and abundance, and to help others to do the same. And from that mission DTE Consulting and Desert Toad Expeditions were created.

© DTE Consulting 2012 “Helping You Do The Extraordinary!”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Coyote Gulch - Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

One of the things I love about Utah is not only do we have five awesome National Parks, we also have some incredible National Monuments. And my all-time favorite is The Grand Staircase National Monument.

But long before it became a National Monument, I have the great fortune to discover it’s incredible beauty. In the spring of 1968 my dad and two of my older brothers came out from the San Francisco Bay Area and along with some other extended family headed out to a very little known area of south-central Utah near the little town of Escalante, UT. I didn’t get to go because of ear infections.

Fortunately, a year later we did the same trip again. The trip was to a canyon called Coyote Gulch. A perennial stream that eventually drains into the Escalante River and then into Lake Powell. We loved it so much that we ended up returning 3 or 4 more times in my early years. I also had the good fortune to hike Harris Wash to Twenty Five Mile Wash, as well as Twenty Five Mile Wash to Coyote Gulch before I was 16 years old.

The big dilemma of hiking Coyote Gulch is that everything else in the Grand Staircase doesn’t quite measure up. Sometimes I think people ought to visit a bunch of other places before Coyote Gulch. But fortunately every area is unique and wonderful. Fair warning though, it’s really difficult to top the 18 miles that make up the main section of Coyote Gulch.

The early years in Coyote Gulch have always held a special place in my heart. But even more memorable has been taking the next generation there. In the early years we used to camp at the Willow Tank Trailhead which accesses Coyote Gulch by way of Hurricane Wash. We would take two days to hike to the confluence of Coyote Gulch and the Escalante River and either layover near the mouth of Coyote Gulch or camp just across the Escalante River at a big sandy area called Packer’s Camp on the big bend in the river below the confluence.

After a few days of exploration from our base camp we would hike from the Escalante River all the way back out to Willow Tank in one day. A very long hike for a 9 year old boy, but always exciting to see the canyon walls start to drop and 50 Mile Mountain start to rise up in the west.

In the years since, Packer’s Camp has become very overgrown with Tamarisk plants, the scourge of the Colorado Plateau. Also, since the early years a different route into Coyote Gulch was discovered via the Crack-in-the-Wall trail.

If you choose to start at “The Crack” trailhead, keep in mind there are some sections of deep, soft sand it’s advisable to have four wheel drive for that section.

My favorite way to hike Coyote Gulch now is to leave a shuttle vehicle at the Willow Tank trailhead and drive the 10 miles out 40 Mile Ridge to the Crack-in-the-Wall trailhead.

If you arrive with enough time, you can start your hike to Coyote Gulch after arriving. If you don’t have at least 2 to 3 hours of daylight left, it’s best to camp at Willow Tank, do your shuttle and start your hike in the morning.

The trail out from the trailhead to the “crack” isn’t very difficult, but much of the trail is over slick rock and the need to follow the cairns is essential to finding the “crack.”

When you reach the “crack” the view down to Escalante Canyon is awesome. And if you look closely you can see Stevens Arch just in the bend of the river as it turns southwest. The arch tends to blend in as your are high enough on the opposite rim that you cannot see any sky through the arch.

The route down through the crack isn’t very difficult, as long as you are not trying to take a full size pack through. We like to bring a 30 to 40 foot rope and lower the packs off the side of the crack and work our way down through the gap without the packs.

We chose to lower the packs in two stages. A short drop down to the opening after the first squeeze. Then the next drop was further, and this is where having 30 feet of rope or more is helpful.

There are two sections of the "crack" and the second section is the longest and would be very difficult if you had to hold your pack out in front or behind you while you worked your way through. Lowering the packs with a rope is much easier.
Once you get through the crack it’s a long downhill walk through deep sand. I remember as a young boy camping at Packer’s Camp looking up at that sand dune and wondering if there was a way to climb up to the rim. From a distance it looked like the sand went right up to the rim.

Once you reach the access point to Coyote Gulch, you have the choice to go upstream or downstream. We usually choose to head upstream a few miles to an overhang on the south side of the canyon and a hiker’s pit toilet up on the north side of the canyon. They are both just beyond a cascade that’s easy to walk up on the left side almost like a staircase.

This overhang is an excellent place to camp as it provides great shelter if a rainstorm passes through or if you are in the canyon during hot weather. Once we set up camp it’s nice to head back down the canyon and explore the lower section of Coyote Gulch. You can even make a full dayhike by heading up the Escalante River to Stevens Canyon, then to Elephant Arch. Or you could scramble up the canyon wall from Packer’s Camp right into the middle of Stevens Arch on the rim.

If you choose to head up Stevens Canyon, be aware that the entrance is overgrown with tamarisk and there is plenty of poison ivy on your way up to Elephant Arch as well. It’s also possible with enough time and some planning to work your way up Stevens Canyon and then cut up an over the top through Steven’s Arch and then down to Packer’s Camp in a long loop. This loop I have not done yet, but met two Glen Canyon rangers who had just completed the loop one of the times I was in that area.

Back at the overhang, from the camp you walk upstream a little ways to an excellent seep coming off the wall. It’s great place to refill the water bottles and use clear water for cooking. Some say it’s okay to drink straight from the seeps, but I prefer to be careful as I’d rather always filter rather than risk an illness. Bring a poncho or raincoat as you’ll get pretty wet filling your pots.

I remember in the early years dipping my Sierra Club cup right in the stream of Coyote Gulch without worrying about water-borne illness being an issue. Unfortunately, those days are gone, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of the clear-water seeps along the way. That should lower the risk of clogging your water filter.

Just beyond the first seep is one of the first waterfalls. There are two ways around this obstacle as you head upstream. One way is to go up on the rim via a small trail that goes right past the outhouse and up on the rim. The second way is to go almost up to the waterfall and then scramble up the left side. You’ll see some good size rocks there to make it easier to get up to the level of the top of the fall.

The high trail by the outhouse will also get you past the second falls as well. I personally like to take the route close to each waterfall on the left side as you can get some excellent pictures of each waterfall and it really is a spectacular sight.
Once you pass the two waterfalls, the going gets a lot easier with a lot of stream crossing and winding through the canyon, which is classic Coyote Gulch hiking.

A few miles up is the last major waterfall. Also, up on the north side of the canyon is Cliff Arch. Since I was a kid we always referred to it as Jug Handle Arch, but that was before there were any maps of the area.

In the past few years we have chosen to work our way up around the waterfall on the right hand side and up along the canyon wall and then back down again further upstream. I’ve heard you can stay low and closer to the water for an easier route, but I haven’t used it yet.

As a kid I remember using a route on the opposite side of the canyon as well, but there have a been some significant flash floods through the canyon since the late 60’s and early 70’s which seem to have changed this section dramatically. I vaguely remember scrambling over a big log jam above the falls, but the log jam no longer exists.

After more winding through the canyon Coyote Natural Bridge comes into view. Arches tend to be the predominate rock feature in canyon country. So it’s always nice to encounter a natural bridge once in a while.

Another interesting section comes along when the stream works its way through a very narrow gap in the wall. As a kid I really don’t remember this in the four or more hikes in and out of Coyote Gulch. I assume it was there all the time and it just never made a significant impression on me back then.

Just past this narrow gap is a really nice little narrow section. The easiest way to go is to just work up onto the ledge on the right hand side and go around it. This is a spot we like to stop for lunch and enjoy the cascade for a bit.

Just around the corner from this section is one of the more photographed but lesser known sections of the canyon. This section I do remember as a kid and I’ve always been fascinated by the flukes created here and once you’ve seen them you’ll recognize them in any picture where they are featured.

The next major point of interest is Jacob Hamlin Arch. You’ll know you are getting close when you can see up on the top of the north canyon wall a white mark in the shape of a letter U.

When the arch is in sight, if you look to your right you should see a trail up to a second outhouse. There is also a way to work your way up the canyon wall and out to a cross-country trail that will take you to the trailhead parking about half way out the 40 Mile Ridge Road. This is the same trailhead you would use to hike to Sunset Arch. There is also a big water tank on top of the hill where the trailhead parking is located.

A few years ago I hiked out from that trailhead to the rim overlooking Jacob Hamlin Arch. If you decide to hike out to Jacob Hamlin Arch from that same trailhead, you can find your way to the right section of the rim by aiming for that same U shaped mark on the opposite rim.

After doing that day hike I decided when coming up Coyote Gulch it would be more desirable to spend an extra day and go out to the Willow Tank trailhead instead. Plus I didn’t think climbing up the canyon wall with a full pack would be the safest way to go without some kind of safety rope.

The area around Jacob Hamlin Arch is another good area for camping. Besides having the outhouse, there some nice seeps on the north side of the canyon. In fact, even when I plan on staying at the confluence of Coyote Gulch and Hurricane Wash I like to take advantage of a clear water source and fill up here.

From Jacob Hamlin Arch to the confluence is more of the classic meandering stream and high canyon walls. I’ve heard there are pictographs and other features along this section, but I’ve never been able to find them.

The confluence of Coyote Gulch and Hurricane Wash isn’t as obvious as you might think. When the canyon takes a right-hand turn and you see a small stream coming in on the left, that’s Hurricane Wash.

There are some really nice camping areas on the right hand side of Coyote Gulch and the confluence with Hurricane Wash. One year this area was already taken so we just walked upstream along Coyote Gulch and found another excellent spot to camp.

You can go all the way out Coyote Gulch to a trailhead called Red Well. I prefer the hike out Hurricane Wash as it goes dry within a couple of miles of Coyote Gulch and I really love the changing scenery from Coyote Gulch to Willow Tank.

One year I hiked a few miles up Coyote Gulch towards Red Well to see how it looked and decided I still like the Hurricane Wash exit in comparison.

If you go out Hurricane Wash be sure to fill up with all the water you’ll need for an eight mile hike out to Willow Tank. Hurricane Wash tends to dry up pretty quickly and there is typically no water until you reach your shuttle vehicle at Willow Tank.

There is one place along Hurricane Wash where the streambed seems to split and you can go either left or right. I’ve found bearing right is the better route and will keep you in the correct wash to reach Willow Tank.

On one trip out, I met a hiker who had come in from the Sunset Arch trailhead and was going into Hurricane Wash on her way to Coyote Gulch. So I suspect that you may find yourself off-course if you bear too far to the left (south.) Just keep in mind that you should be heading generally west directly towards 50 Mile Mountain.

In this area the walls have started to come down and the wash widens out, There is an interesting section that narrows down quite a bit, but the walls aren’t very high compared to Coyote Gulch. Then just as fast as the narrow section appears, it spreads out again. You start to think you’re almost there, but you’re really not.

It isn’t until the wash really opens up for good and you start seeing the evidence of a lot of cattle activity in the area.

When you reach the Hiker's Maze and the sign-in kiosk you will be within a mile or so of the Willow Tank trail head.

50 Mile Mountain in the background.

Once you arrive at Willow Tank then it's time to run the shuttle back along 40 Mile Ridge to the Crack-in-the-Wall trail head.

Once your shuttle is completed and if you have some extra time, there are some excellent detours along the Hole-in-the-Rock road or out on 40 Mile Ridge. You can hike out to Sunset Arch from the trailhead mentioned before. A very popular day hike is to Spooky and Peek-a-Boo slot canyons just off of the Dry Fork of the Coyote road. A brief exploration of Devil’s Garden is also interesting, especially if you are there around sunrise or sunset. The most popular hike in the monument is to Calf Creek Falls.

More on these areas in a future blog posts. Keep in mind these trip reports are informational only and are not to be relied on as accurate. Canyon country and can change dramatically and everyone should always use their best judgement in the outdoors.

Additional Photos:

Above: Near the Overhang Camp

                         Jacob Hamlin Arch

Lowering the packs down at Crack in the Wall.

Downstream in Coyote Gulch, near the confluence with the Escalante River.

Looking at the Overhang Camp from the Outhouse.

                     Another look at the Crack in the Wall.

© DTE Consulting 2012 “Helping You Do The Extraordinary!”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Searching For Artifacts

One of the most fascinating parts of exploring the desert southwest is the personal discovery of the ruins, petroglyphs, and pictographs of the ancient cultures that previously inhabited the area.

Scientists have been able to figure out in many cases the age of the archeological sites and the cultures that left them behind. Archeologists speculate regarding the meaning of the symbols and what may be the meaning of the drawings or etching in or on the rocks.

In most cases the meanings are still a big mystery. I sometimes wonder if the people who left these artifacts behind had any idea that people would be looking at them hundreds and thousands of years later wondering who left them behind and what it all means.

Then it gets me wondering if we ever consider what artifacts we could and should be leaving behind for the future generations. I know we’ve had time capsules placed in building cornerstones and other projects to leave information behind.

But what about our individual “artifacts” that we might leave behind for future generations? I’ve been very poor at recording my activities in a journal, but what a great artifact that can be. Or perhaps we can write our thoughts down in a format similar to a blog posting, or perhaps an autobiography.

But we could even go way beyond those simple ideas. What about building a business that can be passed on to another generation? What about creating and funding a charitable foundation? What about writing an inspiring story or invent a product that relieves human suffering in some way?

Your most important artifact may just be the difference you make in one individual. I’ve challenged myself this year to be more compassionate and supportive to the 12 and 13 year old Boy Scouts that I volunteer my time to serve. At such an impressionable age, they need all the help they can get. Who knows what kind of artifacts will be created as they grow and take their place in the world. I may never know, but I’m energized by the thought of giving it my best shot.

What are the artifacts that you’re working on? If nothing comes to mind, perhaps it’s time to start thinking of some!

© DTE Consulting 2012 “Helping You Do The Extraordinary!”