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November 18, 2009

"Everett Ruess and the Canyon Country:

A 75-year old disappearance remains a mystery"

by Vaughn Hadenfeldt - Bio

In 1934, Everett Ruess departed from Escalante, Utah for a trip in the canyon country of the Southwest, at a time when it was even wilder than today. The Los Alamos Mountaineers launch many trips into this country, and they all come back. Everett Ruess did not. The 20-year-old explorer, poet, and artist was never seen again. In the last three quarters of a century, he has become an icon for the unspoiled canyon wilderness, thanks to his art, and to poetry like the following:

"As to when I revisit civilization, it will not be soon. I have not tired of the wilderness. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar, and the star-sprinkled sky to the drool, the obscure and difficult leading into the unknown. It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty. This had been a full, rich year. I have left no strange or delightful thing undone I wanted to do."

Canyon adventurer, poet, and artist Everett Ruess disappeared without a trace in 1934. The search for Ruess is the focus of this presentation by Vaughn Hadenfeldt.

Ruess seemed to vanish from the face of the earth. For 75 years, there has been not a single trace of him, not a single item of physical evidence. Recently, a major effort to solve the mystery was sponsored by the National Geographic. The expedition included Vaughn Hadenfeldt of tiny Bluff, Utah.

At the November meeting of the Los Alamos Mountaineers, Vaughn will tell the story of the expedition's discoveries. National Geographic Adventure claimed to have found the final resting place of Everett Ruess. But recent DNA evidence disproved their claim, and Ruess' fate remains as mysterious as ever.

In addition to the search for Everett Ruess, Vaughn will share his stories and images of the landscape and archeology of southeast Utah. That area holds the most abundant concentration of rock art and ruins in the country. The mesa and canyon scenery is spectacular wonders of flora, fauna, and geology abound; and hidden around every corner are sites of the Anasazi now termed Ancestral Puebloans, but to the Navajo, who donated the name to our language, the "Ancient Enemies".

 Adventure guide Vaughn Hadenfeldt explaining ancient imagery
on a panel near Bluff, Utah.

Vaughn Hadenfeldt has been guiding in the Four Corners region for over 25 years. While owning and operating a mountaineering store on the western slope of Colorado, he traveled with a friend to the canyon country in southeast Utah and was captivated by the incredible archaeological treasures of the region. Vaughn made use of his studies in anthropology and his passion for hiking in the backcountry to create a guide business that specializes in sharing his knowledge of the cultural and natural histories of the area while providing a fun and fascinating backcountry experience for his guests. Named as one of the Best Guides in the World by National Geographic Adventure Magazine in 2009, he is widely renowned and has been written about in books and magazines published around the world. Vaughn and his wife have lived in Bluff for 13 years.

To quote David Roberts' "In Search of the Old Ones", "Nuances of canyonscape, vestigial Anasazi ruins, all-but-vanished panels of prehistoric rock art, mountain lion tracks, inscriptions scratched by cowboys with bullet lead on sandstone walls a century ago all these prodigies of the outback Vaughn manages to discover in places where I would have passed them blithely and ignorantly by."

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