Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Bones of Everett Ruess

Walk into a gas station or roadside cafe in any small Southern Utah town and look for someone who is old enough to have great grandchildren. He or she will probably have an opinion about Everett Ruess and, if you're lucky, might have even met the guy.
These opinions will probably range from "he was such a nice boy" to "he was bum who lived off of other people's labor and gave nothing back but third-rate artwork and poetry." If Everett were alive today, he would be 94 this year, but he disappeared when he was only 20 or 21 years old.
I remember last November when we looked for the only pathway to the bottom of Davis Gulch, where they found Everett's belongings and his two burros tied up, but not Everett. We were running out of water and might have shared his same end if not for three small pools of stagnant desert bilgewater hidden right on the edge of the gulch's cliffs. It tasted awful, but I think we're all still alive. The iodine helped, and I think I even had some Tang to add to it.
We found the path, and dropped into the gulch where he was last known to have been. Inscribed in the wall of a cave down there is "Nemo 1934", whatever that means. Davis Gulch also contains petroglyphs and two natural arches, if you ever find yourself wandering through it. It is also partly occupied by one of Lake Powell's many greasy appendages, so don't walk too far down or you'll be underwater.
Anyway, a bunch of his art and manuscripts were just found in someone's shed somewhere in California, and they are making the journey to SLC along with a lot of his stuff that we already had. They will be on display at Ken Sanders Rare Books from March 15th to March 30th. See you there.

"I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities."

From the last letter written by Everett Ruess (11/11/1934)

1 comment:

B. said...

Fascinating. I was just reading about this guy somewhere.