Having been called out by Corfman, I'll confess that the Ruess story has intrigued me for a while now. Read both Vagabond for Beauty and Searching for Everett Ruess years back. I've visited Escalante a few times, though the locals aren't real Ruess fans since one of the theories is that he stumbled into a cattle rustling operation run by some of the hamlet's citizens. Kept up with the various "discoveries" and even written a few things myself about his legend and legacy. A few partial excerpts below if you care to read.
From the description of a geocache hidden in Ruess' honor:
"Wherever poets, adventurers and wanderers of the Southwest gather, as inevitable as smoke from the night’s campfire, the story and legend of Everett Ruess arises. His name conjures far horizons we wistfully wish to visit. Everett left Escalante, Utah, November 12, 1934 to write, paint and explore among a group of ancient Indian cliff dwellings. He never came back.
In his last known letter, Everett wrote to his brother, “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.”
One of my favorite Ruess quotations embodies my philosophy as I travel alone. “There is a splendid freedom in solitude, and after all, it is for solitude that I go to the mountains and the deserts, not for companionship. In solitude I can bare my soul to the mountains unabashed. I can work, or think, act or recline at my whim, and nothing stands between me and the wild.”
The disappearance of Everett Ruess is one of the enduring mysteries of the Southwest. The romantic notions of his life have also endured and touched many who possess an adventurous soul. Occasionally, I squint into the sun hopefully scanning a distant ridgeline for the young traveler with his two burros. He’s not there of course, but often I find him, and myself, in the embers of my campfire or the sunrise over a far mountain range."
From an email to Linda, 4 June 2013 regarding “Finding Everett Ruess”
"Interesting story. Seems these kinds of characters are never what you think. Everett was not the kind of person I'd ever accompany into the wilderness, though I have stumbled upon and rescued a few like him. But then I am not the artistic type and not prone to throwing caution to the wind as he did. Frankly I'm surprised he survived as long as he did given his lack of experience, the length of his different expeditions, and the territory they covered.
While some of his writings have endured for their lofty thoughts, much of what he wrote was childish and churlish. He was only 20 when he disappeared after all. At least he sought beauty and adventure and tried to capture it as best he could. Transferring those feelings, observations and perceptions to another who has not had similar experiences is most difficult.
I guess the value of the book was that it made me think. Is there a balance between Everett's emotional and careless artistic zeal and my practical, properly planned, equipped, and executed approach (to the wilderness and perhaps life as a whole)? Would I be more with less of me and some of him? Would he have grown older and seasoned and produced a great novel or painting had he been a bit less of himself and a bit more of me? And would people care as much had he succeed? And what does his fame say about us? Why do we exalt the fool who dares beyond his ability, yet know so little of those who actually accomplish what they set out to do?
As far as recommending the book, well, I'll leave that to your judgement. As for me, I'll still look to see what Everett saw, but through my own practical eyes. And thus I’ll likely not be remembered, but I can live with that."
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach