Wow—what an amazing journey it has been over the past ten years. Little did I know then that I would be leading a small, outdoor adventure company in the remote, tiny little town of Hanksville, Utah—population 260.
No, I didn’t choose Hanksville on purpose—it chose me. More on that later…
I had just been laid off from my job as a city Public Works Director following the economic downturn in 2009. While at the time I assumed I would continue on in my pursuit as an engineer, and NASA astronaut candidate, that was all about to change. Following an extensive three day interview process for the City Manager position in Leavenworth, WA–I came in second, and a job offer from the City of Laguna Beach, CA for their Publics Works Director position–I turned it down, something life changing came over me. I had spent the last thirty years of my life on a journey to achieve one of life’s greatest adventures and become a United States Astronaut. This was all I knew. It was the first time that I came to the realization that I probably wouldn’t achieve this goal in my life. After all, I had applied to NASA three times already—the last one of 8500 applicants, our country no longer had a spaceship, and I wasn’t getting any younger. As I look back today, I consider this awakening my “mid-life epiphany”. With this new awakening, and the freedom it realized, my first ever business—Get In The Wild—was born.
The idea of starting an outdoor adventure company was easy. After all, from as early as I could remember I always had a passion for exploration in the outdoors. Throughout my youth I was always the one organizing trips and trying to convince friends and family to join me on wild, remote expeditions. Equally apparent was the types of tours and classes I wanted to offer as well as their location. I had become an accomplished alpine mountaineer in the Pacific Northwest and could never get enough of climbing and crawling through southern Utah’s amazing canyon country.
The specific location of where to guide in southern Utah was initially a bit more daunting. Everywhere within this vast and otherworldly landscape seemed ideal. Developing Get In The Wild’s mission is what made the process easy. I pulled out my maps and decided “where not to go”. I quickly eliminated all of the most popular and overcrowded destinations that already had plenty of guide services. Just about center of the Colorado Plateau geographically was this equally beautiful and amazing wilderness area that had just as much to offer with one small difference—there weren’t any people. Very few had heard about the fascinating landscape that comprised the Dirty Devil/Robbers Roost Wilderness. At the time I didn’t even realize it had an extremely unique quality that even fewer people knew about—solitude is protected here. Yes, you heard that right, solitude, the essence of untouched wilderness had a federally designated protection here. How cool was that? …and yes, the nearest town just happened to be Hanksville.
This past year I was looking to create GITW’s first professional, technical canyoneering video. As part of this process I looked at one of our wonderful partners—the Utah Office of Tourism (UOT). I knew the Visit Utah website was a treasure trove of wonderful travel information for the state of Utah. I recalled seeing a variety of professional, outdoor videos on the site and took another look. I quickly discovered that the state didn’t have a technical canyoneering video. This seemed to present a great win, win opportunity as the state of Utah is one of the best canyoneering destinations on the planet. I reached out to one of my contacts there, proposed a canyoneering video collaboration, and we were off and running. We spent five, long and very rewarding days filming at this incredible outdoor landscape that I am fortunate to call my office and my home. A requisite for filming was to keep specific filming locations private to protect this area’s unique and invaluable resources. Since the birth of GITW, it’s been our mission not to reveal specific locations that we travel in an effort to protect them for future generations of Americans. I hope you enjoy the new video as well as the new website pages that were created for the project. They do a great job of capturing this very special landscape as well as a few of the exciting activities we take in along the way.
Owner, Lead Guide
Get In The Wild