Today we talk with Kaisi Grow and Camille Johnson-Taylor about Find the Spine, a treasure hunt hosted by Grow Chiropractic and other local sponsors. Discover what it’s like to participate in the hunt in an interview between Hal and Find the Spine Winner Shayden Troy, and why a great way to get to know the Kanab area!
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Hal Johnson: [00:00:00] You are listening to the Magic of Kanab Podcast, part of the Destination Marketing Podcast Network. Welcome to another episode of the Magic of Kanab. I’m your host Hal. Today we’re here with Kaisi Grow and Mark Grow and Camille Johnson-Taylor, the executive director at Visit Southern Utah. Kaisi is a native Canadian. She runs an event with her husband Mark, which is locally well-known. Mark is a local chiropractor and the event is called Find the Spine. And so, we’re just going to have a conversation here this morning. So, Find the Spine. Tell me about it, Mark, would you tell me a little bit about that? When it started? What’s up with it?
Mark Grow: [00:00:42] So we’ve been doing Find the Spine for five years and when we first came here six years ago, I really wanted to do something to impact the community focused around getting people outdoors, especially families. We like to go hiking with our kids, we take them camping, fishing, all that kind of stuff. So I’m from San Diego and I worked a lot with the high schools in San Diego as well. We have an office out there. And the big issue is kind of a nationwide issue and that we’re having a lot of people just getting locked indoors. I feel like we’re getting too used to living on phones, living on games, and so the whole focus was how can we get people outdoors as a family.
And so, we were spitballing ideas and there’s a similar event in Saint George where they do like a rock race, rock challenge or something like that. They throw us some clues and you try and go find a rock in the city limits. So, I want to try and get people more on trails and more out in the town. And so we just thought, well let’s throw out some money and give out some clues and make it so anyone can find this thing. So the kids aren’t too discouraged. So the whole premise is it’s somewhere on public land, BLM land, it’s wherever a four-year-old can get to it.
So, every year I’ll record my son. Now, he’s now five, so I haven’t recorded him in the last couple of years, I’d record him doing the whole trail from start to finish. Sometimes he’s in rain boots and it’s in the middle of July and he’s just checking around and recording him, but just so people couldn’t question that a kid couldn’t find it. It might be a couple of miles in there, it might be on something kind of technical, but as long as a kid could do it, then I felt comfortable that anyone could do it.
But the whole premise is to get your kids together and go in the hills. So instead of trying to help motivate them even further, we put goodie bags out on the trails with like candy or waters or hats, shirts, freebies from local businesses because the whole idea is it’s a community event. So, we try and just bribe people to get on the trails with freebies and goodies and that kind of stuff. And the whole premise was, yeah, let’s just try and get a big scavenger hunt together and get people outdoors.
What’s so cool about it, even the first year we do one clue every day and the first-year locals were saying, we’ve never been on this trail, we’ve never been on that trail before. And as you’re walking around town, you’re seeing people with the Find the Spine shirts on and it’s the whole family and a lot of them are people that you probably wouldn’t assume go out hiking very often, but they are because they’re motivated and the kids really want to get out there and they’re dragging the parents out. And then the first couple of years, probably my favorite part about it was people that had to work like a normal day shift, they’d be out there and you see a headlamp because every night we go out and we hide freebies on the trails, all the goody bags and so we’re hiking 15 whatever miles every night, just dropping bags on the ground and all the trails.
So, you’d see those diehards and there’s just a little spotlight up squad trail or bunting trail and they’re just out there trying to find this spine as hard as they can and using every resource possible to try and find this thing. It’s just really cool because it gets people out and get some passion about the outdoors and they see things they’ve never seen before. They’ll find out hideouts, they’ll find petroglyphs, all sorts of cool stuff. Then just gets them excited to get outside and then they’re getting their kids and their kids are liking it. I think the biggest issue today is just getting kids off devices and parents as well. We’re always on Facebook and social media stuff. And so if you can try and just find some way to get them excited about getting outside and at least be a catalyst for maybe start a new trend, that’s the big focus on it. And I think it’s done really well.
Each year it’s grown more and more and people get more excited about it. Each year people will reach out to us months before the event trying to plan their family vacations, they’re in town for Find the Spine. It’s actually cool to see that they’re prioritizing that quality family time, which is kind of a lost thing in my opinion, is just getting out with your family and doing family things that’s not just around a TV, which is alright because we like watching movies with our kids. But it’s cool to get outside and find new things, experience adventures and just get out of your comfort zone a little bit.
Hal Johnson: [00:04:34] Mark. That’s amazing. That’s great. I love that description and what a worthwhile thing.
Mark Grow: [00:04:38] Thanks.
Hal Johnson: [00:04:39] Yeah. Amazing. I’ve got to tell you quickly before we move back down. It was probably three years ago we were visiting, I was riding horses locally and this, I don’t know how to describe him, I guess a vagabond came up to us and he comes up with his dog in tow and he says, “Excuse me, do you know where there’s a body of water nearby, like within a mile or two here?” And I’m like, “Well, let me think. Are you thirsty? We have some water.” He’s like, “No, no, no, no. I’m trying to find the spine.” I did not know what that meant at that time. I’m like, I thought, what is he saying? Is he out of his mind? Find the Spine. Oh, it’s a local thing. Oh okay, Yeah, there’s some water maybe two miles back that way. There’s a little clay hole right there, a little clay reservoir. And he says, “Oh thanks.” He walks off, my wife’s like, “Wow, he’s on something majorly.” And both of us were very confused. But it was crazy in the middle of nowhere. You got this guy and we did ask him where he’s from. Ogden area. I remember that.
So, he came down from Ogden with his dog in the middle of nowhere. Looking for that spine. So how interesting. I know it was my first introduction.
Mark Grow: [00:05:44] I love that.
Hal Johnson: [00:05:45] Yeah.
Mark Grow: [00:05:45] I’d say probably my funniest story today is the first night of Find the Spine two years ago were down Pues Canyon, were down Tom’s Canyon right before you start to climb up the hill. And I’m out with Kate Glacier and we’re dropping freebies and we see a car parked in the very back of Tom’s Canyon. And I thought, “This is weird,” and you could see a flashlight and a car. And we walk up to it and there’s a guy. I said, hey, “Are you in trouble?” Like, how do you get your car back here? There’s no road back here. And it was this little Honda Civic, this old beat-up vehicle. And somehow, he made it back there and he said, “No, I just, I need to jump my car.” And I said, I don’t have a car with me to help you jump it. And he says, “No, I got it. I got a couple of AA batteries and I’m going to jump it.” And I thought this guy’s out of his mind.
He takes two AA batteries out of his pocket, sets them on the battery of his car, gets back in his car and tries to turn over the engine. To no one’s surprise, nothing happens. And so we hike up the top of the hill and I called dispatch and I said, “We got a loony back here, can you come help this guy out?”
Hal Johnson: [00:07:01] Well, based on our two stories, Mark, I’m wondering what kind of clientele are you attracted to this event?
Mark Grow: [00:07:05] Anyone with some energy will take it.
Hal Johnson: [00:07:08] That’s right, okay. Well, Kaisi, let’s bring you in real quick and Mark, you have to leave soon. So, whenever you need to. No problem at all.
Mark Grow: [00:07:14] Thank you.
Hal Johnson: [00:07:15] But Kaisi, let’s hear your take on this Find the Spine and what the origins are. What’s your perspective on this whole event?
Kaisi Grow: [00:07:22] Yeah. So, it just started out as an idea, you know, five years ago, six years ago now. And it’s really evolved into something that I don’t think that we ever expected when we started. I mean at first Mark; he was talking about doing freebies and stuff on the trail. That all started because we had hit it out in the hills and people are out looking and they weren’t finding anything. And we had a friend and we were driving around and I said, “Let’s go by Mark’s office and get the money that people are buying shirts with and go give it to the people out on the trails.”
And so, we like drove into his office and I remember running in and like, “Give me all the cash, I’m going to go give it.” And he was like, huh? What? And I was like, I mean, yeah, let’s go, let’s do this. And so we took it and we started like just literally taping it all over the place. Like we would tape it in the middle of the road and we would tape it to gas pumps because people were driving and we would tape it to like the car washes because people were having to clean their cars when they came in and at the start of Trailheads and we were just going out and like finding people and we’d tell them like, come find us and we’ll give you another clue. I mean like it’s really evolved since then quite a bit.
Hal Johnson: [00:08:29] Well, so I had a thought when Mark was talking, I just thought, and he said that you take your four-year-old out and if the four-year-old has to be able to get there and you’re having, is it he or she?
Kaisi Grow: [00:08:39] It’s a he.
Hal Johnson: [00:08:40] He. Go out on trails with as much interest as this and as much fascination that it’s drawn over time, I’ll bet they’re kind of watching for you guys to leave the door with videotape at a distance to see if they can just cut to the chase and find out where you guys are going to put that.
Kaisi Grow: [00:08:56] Yeah, we get that a lot. So like people are always, I mean, they’re joking, but they’re like, we’re going to put trackers on your cars and we’re going to follow you and stuff. It’s so much so that we like literally don’t even take our own cars when we go do it. This is kind of a funny story. So not this last year, but the year before. My husband had me go hide it and this is the first time that I’ve ever hidden it before. I’ve gone with him. But this is the first time I ever went by myself.
And so, we went out or I went out and I was so nervous. It was like during COVID time and I had like these sunglasses on and I was in my mom’s old beater car and I had like a hat on and I had a mask because it was like COVID and I was like out on the trail and I was so convinced that someone was watching me with binoculars somewhere. I was like walking and it was on the bunting trail and we put it right at the start of the trail. And so I waited until all the cars left before I got out of the car. And then I got out and I went over and I was sitting there getting ready to put it in this tree trunk is where we were putting it and we had decided. And this car drove up the road and if you know the area, there’s like an old road that you can go from one trail to the other trail. So the bunting up to the cotton one and this old car drove up to the cotton one and I’m thinking, “Okay, like they’re going to turn around and leave in just a second,” because it was dusk, it was dark or getting dark outside.
They went up there and it just like you couldn’t see because you can’t see the parking lot from where I was and it was just there. I was 100% convinced that somebody had watched me drive out there. They had gone up there, they got their binoculars out and they were like watching me from the — I was so convinced that they were I was like hiding in a ball on the ground and I was like calling Mark and I was like, “I need you to come up here, I need you to help me.” He’s like, “You just need to chill out and just hide this spine.” And I’m like, “They’re watching me. I know they’re watching me,” and he’s like, “You just need to calm down and do it. Just hide it and get out of it.”
Hal Johnson: [00:10:45] That’s too funny.
Kaisi Grow: [00:10:46] It was bad. I’m like, I’m never doing this again. Too much pressure for me.
Hal Johnson: [00:10:51] Right. Because the event starts maybe the next morning, let’s say you’re giving the clues out. People are out searching. And it was taken the night before by somebody who was staking you out.
Kaisi Grow: [00:10:59] Oh, I was convinced. I was convinced. And like we always hide it at different times. Like we’ve hidden it months before. We’ve hidden it the day before. We’ve hidden it weeks before. Like it’s always different and we have cameras on it and stuff. But yeah, it’s a little — when we hid it a few months before we were nervous like the weather like we got really bad rains and we’re like, we hope it’s still there. Like, let’s pull up the camera footage. So yeah.
Hal Johnson: [00:11:22] So it’s fun. It’s great. But there’s a few stresses involved. I can tell.
Kaisi Grow: [00:11:24] Oh yeah, for sure.
Hal Johnson: [00:11:26] How can families get involved in this? How do they find out about it if they don’t know already? How can they participate? Any words of advice you have?
Kaisi Grow: [00:11:34] Yeah. So, we post everything mostly online on Facebook and Instagram. I would probably say that Facebook has a little more like wiggle room of like giving information like that as opposed to Instagram, so that’s where the majority of the information is. We do have a website also findthespine.com that you can go to and get information from there. But yeah, we post everything and then also the participants that year can get text alerts. So like my husband said, we’re trying to get people off the social media so it’s kind of hard to like be like get off social media and then get on social media to find all the information.
So, like we send out text alerts so that people don’t have to constantly be refreshing and stuff so they just get like a reminder like as soon as it’s found they get an alert that says, it’s been found.
Hal Johnson: [00:12:14] That’s great. So you’ve made it quite easy.
Kaisi Grow: [00:12:16] We try.
Hal Johnson: [00:12:17] Yeah, get off social media kids, but actually get back on. Okay, well let’s bring in Camille. So Camille Johnson-Taylor is the executive director, Kane County Office of Tourism. So Camille, what’s been your experience with this event? And how do you think it’s impacting the community? What are your overall thoughts?
Camille Johnson-Taylor: [00:12:34] Oh my gosh, I love Find the Spine. We do a lot of events, the county puts on events, but this is totally private. I love that Kaisi and Mark created this and it has created so much enthusiasm in our community. Even my daughter. So my daughter’s family just moved back. I’m a grandma. So Kaisi has young kids, I have young grandkids and I love that they get out on the trail. It’s kind of hilarious that my three-year-old grandson is like, “Nana, we’re looking for the spine. Can you help us find the spine?” So they were even out on the trail.
But even beyond that, we had tried so hard for so many years to try and get our locals to be better ambassadors of what we have here locally. We created adventure maps. We even did familiarization tours with the frontline staff at businesses to take them to places but this event has taken us ahead light years of people getting aware of our local assets and being enthusiastic about them. I was just going to tell you everyone has like this connection to Find the Spine so everyone thinks I’m more of an expert than I probably am. So I get texts and calls all the time about their clues, “Do you know where this would be?”
And so I have been right a few times, but it hasn’t helped anybody find the femur or the spine. But one time I was going to tell with Kaisi here, so we were clear on Johnston Canyon, we were probably, I don’t know, chasing a red herring. But I was looking at the lighting. It was like beautiful lighting. I was taking pictures. I’m like, this is so pretty and Marley’s like, “Mom, focus look for the spine.” But I think that’s probably part of their intention is just to get people outside and excited. So I didn’t even care really about the spine. I just was enjoying the hike and being outdoors.
Hal Johnson: [00:14:14] What a great excuse to get out and hike.
Camille Johnson-Taylor: [00:14:16] Seriously, they’ve done such an amazing job. Everybody looks forward to it. It’s grown every year. It’s been a great community event. So I’m super excited and we love that they do it.
Hal Johnson: [00:14:25] I love it. So in all of this exploring of where you might hide the spine covertly at nighttime when you have a mask on after you’ve dyed your hair and you’ve got a black trench coat on, whatever it is that you’re doing. What are some of your favorite hikes you’ve discovered through this process? Maybe one or two that you just think, oh what a jewel and you’ve got to go there if you can?
Kaisi Grow: [00:14:44] Yeah, so it’s kind of interesting if you know the area at all like Camille was saying people will ask questions as to like where things are and what you’re looking for. It’s so interesting to hear people break clues down to me and say like, oh like you said this and this and this and that sending me directly here. I’m thinking holy crap, they’re totally right. Like that is dead on, but that’s so not right. Like that’s also not — and you learned so much more. I even learned from other people so much about the area that like I didn’t know because they’re telling me things that they know and then they’re talking to their friends who were telling me things that they don’t know and like she said, people are learning so much about our area that you didn’t know before.
But through this, I had never been up the grand off-trail. That’s probably my favorite hiking Kanab now. We found that on year two the ace people were out there, we had hidden near the creek and they were creating the trail on the other side of the creek. And so everybody thought that it was on the other side and I didn’t even know that was there at the time and it’s my favorite trail in Kanab now. Yeah, and my kids love it. I remember we hiked up that year with our four-year-old at the time or maybe he was three. Anyways, we hiked up and he forgot socks, he didn’t bring socks and I remember Mark had to carry him on his shoulders the whole way and he was like dripping sweat, and like I just love it.
Let’s see, I’m trying to think of the other trails that I really like. I like Tiny Canyon that’s behind the gun range. If you stay away from the gun range that people always, whenever we hide things over there, they’re always near the gun range. It’s never, ever ever going to be in some place that you’re going to get hurt right? But there is a trail just to the left of it that if you stay on that trail and go back behind it, it’s really beautiful back up in there. Then I’m a favorite of like man third and Bunting and the Dino Tracks. The Dino tracks is great for little kids. I mean like all the kids can go on all of them if you take enough breaks and stuff.
Hal Johnson: [00:16:40] At this point you could actually take Camilla’s job over because you know the trails so well.
Camille Johnson-Taylor: [00:16:44] She’s really good. I actually didn’t know about Tiny Canyon. I’m like, well I just learned it. Actually sometimes too we don’t know the names. We know there’s a Canyon, but I didn’t know it was name that. That’s great.
Hal Johnson: [00:16:51] So I’ve actually heard it called Tenny Canyon.
Kaisi Grow: [00:16:52] Yes, so Mark was going to be like, don’t you dare call it — Mark calls it Tenny. It’s spelled like Tiny. I call it Tiny Canyon. We’ll wait till the Office of Tourism names and then we’ll start calling them that.
Hal Johnson: [00:17:03] Yeah, there’s nothing official, who knows who’s right?
Camille Johnson-Taylor: [00:17:08] Yeah. I think my naming of canyons or assets has been revoked since I named the belly of the dragon, belly of the dragon.
Hal Johnson: [00:17:14] That’s funny. Well, big thanks to Mark and Kaisi Grow who spent some time with this morning. It’s been fascinating. To find out about the origins of the event, that Find the Spine event and how it’s gone, how it’s evolved over the years. It’s actually been really, really interesting. And boy, nothing creates as much local pulse as a bunch of people out in the hills trying to find the magic spine and the accompanying $5000. Right, Jim?
Jim: [00:17:42] Yep. Actually, when I found it, it was 2,000.
Hal Johnson: [00:17:45] 2,000? okay, we kind of jumped again, they’re a little bit, but I have Shayden Troy with us today and Shayden and found the spine in the very first year, they started this in 2018. He was the treasure hunter extraordinaire. So Shayden, first of all, tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you lived here in Kanab?
Shayden Troy: [00:18:02] I’ve lived here all my life. Born and raised here. I really just love it here.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:07] Nice and you graduate from high school just this last spring, correct?
Shayden Troy: [00:18:11] Yes I did.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:11] And you’re working here locally.
Shayden Troy: [00:18:13] Yep.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:14] And although this isn’t a visual, I can tell you, he’s a fine strapping young man here I’m looking at. So yeah, just launch in and tell us about your search, how you kind of narrowed down the process. From your perspective, how did that go?
Shayden Troy: [00:18:26] It was kind of a chaotic year for me. There’s just a lot of it was the first year they did it so I wasn’t really sure what to expect how hard they’re going to hide it or anything. I went out a lot of times with friends, I’d go with different people all the time but most of the time it was with my mom, I go searching for it and that’s how who I found it with, it was with my mom.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:47] Well you can’t beat that.
Shayden Troy: [00:18:48] Oh no you can’t.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:49] I can’t believe she didn’t claim that she was the one that found it.
Shayden Troy: [00:18:53] She didn’t claim it. But I split the money with her.
Hal Johnson: [00:18:56] I love it. That’s only fair. Right?
Shayden Troy: [00:18:59] Yes it is.
Hal Johnson: [00:19:00] So there were a series of clues even that first year right that you had to interpret?
Shayden Troy: [00:19:03] Yep. There was. There was a couple of secret clues we also got in addition to just the ones that gave out previous. But yeah that was one of the funnest parts was trying to figure out what to like interpret out of the clues because you can read them one way or people can read them the other way and you just never know.
Hal Johnson: [00:19:23] So true. So true. I’ve talked to a few people about that have searched including family members and friends and what clues send one person north and east and the other south and west.
Shayden Troy: [00:19:32] Exactly people are looking everywhere still.
Hal Johnson: [00:19:35] Right. And as they unveil those clues they get closer and closer to kind of hone in their more specific I guess. Right?
Shayden Troy: [00:19:42] Yeah.
Hal Johnson: [00:19:43] Yeah. So how many days did you spend out in the field looking for it?
Shayden Troy: [00:19:48] It’s been a while but I think it was about 11 days I spent out looking for it. I think it might have been 12 even.
Hal Johnson: [00:19:55] Wow.
Shayden Troy: [00:19:56] Yeah. Almost two weeks.
Hal Johnson: [00:19:57] And did your mom just happen to be with you on that particular day and she spent a lot of time with you?
Shayden Troy: [00:20:02] She spent a lot of time as well. She was yeah I probably went with her more than anybody but I also went with all my friends. But yeah she just happened to be there on that day.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:11] Man did she help with the clue interpretation? Was she helping you kind of sleuth that together, piece it together?
Shayden Troy: [00:20:18] Yes she did. She was working part-time at the middle school at the time and that’s where I was attending. So during breaks, I’d go in there and we’d read the clues over when they’d come out and yeah we just try to give each other input on where we thought it was.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:35] So I’ve got to ask you did you spend much time with your mom hike in the hills before the search began?
Shayden Troy: [00:20:40] Oh yeah that’s yeah that’s what me and my mom do for fun. We like to go out hiking all the time and stuff.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:47] You can’t beat that. My goodness.
Shayden Troy: [00:20:48] You cannot.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:50] That’s some good bonding time parent-child. Right?
Shayden Troy: [00:20:52] Yep.
Hal Johnson: [00:20:53] I love it, the fact that she was willing to do that. So Shayden I got to ask, what did you do with the money? I mean that’s been three or four years now but is it long gone? Did you put a little away?
Shayden Troy: [00:21:03] So I put I think a grand of it away because so I split with my mom so she had the other money. I don’t know what she did with her half but I put grand of it away and that left me with $1,200 about and so I had $200 of free money I could just spend on whatever treats and stuff and then the other thousands went to savings.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:23] I’m guessing you were already popular at school but you all of a sudden became far more popular.
Shayden Troy: [00:21:27] Yes. That’s one thing I did also with some of the money. I bought the whole middle school some treats and stuff.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:34] Wow. Yeah, wow. I think it would be me and I decided to do that would have been a penny candy, jolly rancher each. I’d have kept that budget pretty small.
Shayden Troy: [00:21:42] I think I got like Gatorade from all or something. It wasn’t super big.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:45] Yeah, that’s so awesome.
Shayden Troy: [00:21:48] Just something to give back.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:49] That’s so awesome. And so Shayden you’re now, I’m assuming 18, right?
Shayden Troy: [00:21:53] Yep.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:54] And for our listeners Shayden is heading off to, was it North Carolina?
Shayden Troy: [00:21:58] Yes sir.
Hal Johnson: [00:21:59] He’s going to be serving a church mission. So, locals and family are extremely proud of him and his willingness to put self aside and help other people. How awesome is that?
Shayden Troy: [00:22:08] It’s great. I’m so excited.
Hal Johnson: [00:22:11] I can hear it and I can see it. Well, thank you so much. Appreciate you coming in. It’s been a pleasure having Grows in here who started this as well as yourself.
Shayden Troy: [00:22:21] Thanks for having me.
Hal Johnson: [00:22:23] One of the finders. One final question. Have you been looking every year since?
Shayden Troy: [00:22:27] Yes, I have. Not as much, but I’ve been looking.
Hal Johnson: [00:22:30] Yeah?
Shayden Troy: [00:22:30] Uh-huh.
Hal Johnson: [00:22:31] Got you. Well, thanks to our listeners for tuning in to another episode today. We really appreciate your attendance and your support. Please like and subscribe and we will look forward to coming to you soon with another episode of the Magic of Kanab. This has been another episode of the Magic of Kanab Podcast, part of the Destination Marketing Podcast Network hosted by Hal Johnson and produced by Relic.
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