Becoming an Explorer

by Capt. Ray Golden

I have been in the guided business for over 27 years, and to me, there is nothing more exhilarating than exploring. When I read the accounts of Shackleford, Hillary, Roosevelt, and Goodall, my wife knows a big trip is coming up. Before I finish the read, I am already excited and plotting the next place to go and what we’ll see and do.

Imagine the early explorer’s who were faced with life and death situations. They had no guidebooks, no firsthand knowledge, and set the stage for exploration that we endeavor to pursue even to this day; however, with the mad rush of traffic and life’s chores upon us, many people can’t just take off and explore, so they are relegated to going places and doing things they find on TripAdvisor, or The Travel Channel. Although we all find reward in whatever passion we pursue, there is nothing quite like breaking from tradition and becoming your own explorer.

Utah is a perfect example of where to go to become your own explorer. This state is full of some of the most beautiful places on earth, and many of those places have become overwhelmed with traffic, which leads to most people feeling as if they haven’t explored anything at all. I recommend you break away and explore the areas that few have gone – you’ll see the same beauty, and you’ll learn something about the past cultures, natural history, and a little about yourself.

Think of something that intrigues you. Perhaps the ancient civilizations of the “Anasazi” people? You can drive from Hite, Utah, to Blanding, Utah, and only see two signs on the highway alerting the general public to as many sites, and one is reconstructed. Did you know there were hundreds of really interesting sites along that highway that leads you to incredible structures built over 800 years ago? Rock art sites exist that will make you sit and ponder their meaning for hours. All you need to do is conjure the idea in your head of what you want to do, and a little research will steer you in the right direction.

On a recent exploration trip, my wife and I decided to summit Black Table, one of the numerous peaks in the Henry Mountains. The Henrys have five major peaks, and they rarely get any traffic, so Black Table is not on anybody’s bucket list, but that is what exploring is all about. On our hike up, while following a little wash, I found a beautiful point that was chipped from purple agate. It wasn’t perfect, as two points were broken off, but it goes to show that no matter where you go, exploring on your own can find many treasures.

To become a modern-day explorer, think about something that is of interest to you well in advance of your intended travel date. For example, I recently decided that I wanted to follow in Lewis & Clark’s footsteps through Montana. Next, try to get something that depicts the actual sites and sounds that the party found on their exploration, in this case, journals of the travels. Then, immerse yourself in the writings to make sure it is something you want to do, and if so, then you have a ground floor to build off of for your trip. Purchase a few guidebooks, check out the NPS and BLM websites for information, and begin planning your trip. You don’t have to know every aspect, otherwise, it really wouldn’t be exploring. Then, lastly, just do it!

Modern-day exploration is easy if you put time into your travels. In other words, you can’t wait to the last minute and decide you want to go somewhere, and then expect good results. Begin planning your trip now for next year, read books about the areas, research sites and information, and follow your heart into the unknown. That is how the real explorer’s found fame and fortune, and you will, too!

About the author: Capt. Ray Golden is the president of  Ticaboo Management, LLC, Offshore Marina, Inc. and Lake Powell Adventures & Hite Outpost. Prior to his position with Ticaboo, he and his wife Amy left the office environment and started a whitewater rafting company in Costa Rica. They have since managed lodges, rafting companies and have owned successful fishing bait and tackle businesses in North Carolina and Georgia.