Saturday, March 3, 2018

I think about Everett Ruess...

 a lot each and every time I meander off in the Southwest deserts. The region is wrinkled, contorted, tortured and beautiful. It’s an equal opportunity area. Fools or those who come prepared can meet the same dismal fate. America’s SW is a harsh land.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Who’s Everett Ruess? 

Everett wandered the SW from 1931 to 1934. Then the land wasn’t fenced in. There were few National Parks or Monuments. Towns had the feel of outposts rather than bastions of civilization. Roads were rudimentary. Everett’s means of transport was his feet and a few burros. One day he went into a Utah canyon and forgot to come out. He was last seen in Escalante, Utah. His body was never discovered. He was 20 years young. Mr. Ruess is a mystery that’s never been solved.

Everett gained fame after his death. There was poetry in his letters to friends and family. There was teenage angst in others. His love of Wild Places was palpable. He was a starving artist. He was sort of a slacker. He had no problem in asking his parents for a handout. Mr and Mrs Ruess supplied the cash for him to go along his merry way. Maybe this was their way of keeping their eccentric son from becoming a family embarrassment. 

In contemporary times, Everett would reek of cannabis, have dreadlocks and reside in Telluride. He would be a Trust-a-farian. 

So why do I think of Everett? 

I too venture alone into the Southwest canyons, mesas and cliff sides. It’s a is vast landmass.  There’s plenty of rugged terrain devoid of trails. The few that are out here might have been made by game, old miners or intrepid hikers. When I spot them, I follow them not knowing where they might lead. I tiptoe into mine shafts until the light fades away. This isn’t smart. Things can go wrong out there with no one to hear your cries of “HELP!” 

At times rocks which have been stationary for eons might decide to shift. This occurred to me on a cliff a few years ago. 

If you don’t believe me ask Aron Ralston. 

Mother Nature is a beautiful thing until she decides to maim or murder you. 

I take less risks now. I’ve become much more conservative overall. A twisted ankle or a sprained knee would be a bad thing. I don’t have a desire to hike into a canyon and forget to come out. I’m not sure if people would find poetry in my blogs or beauty in my photos. I might not ever get famous! 

I promise to be careful out here. 

Cheers from colder than average Tecopa Hot Springs,


  1. Have you read Michael Englehard's "Where the Rain Children Sleep: A Sacred Geography of the Colorado Plateau"? Mr. Englehard is a kindred spirit. Please remember to come out of those canyons - we're counting on you to run for President in 2020!

  2. Thank you, Jeff, for one more thoughtful and entertaining blog. And, yes, please don't ever forget to come out.