Wanderings & observations


This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is “Beyond”.

In the fall of 1934, a young Californian turned his back on city life and set out into the wilderness. As he traveled he wrote vivid letters to family and friends,  and carved block prints of his surroundings, mailing them whenever he crossed paths with a post office. Sometimes he sold his prints for supply money.  A profound restlessness led him to explore deeper and deeper into the wild. In the Sierra Nevada he abandoned himself to the “utterly, wildly, tumultuously effervescently joyful” mountain scenery, and in Navaho country he learned to speak the language and sing the songs of people who had lived on that land for many generations.  Though he appreciated the stimulation of Los Angeles and San Francisco, he chose the hardships of traveling alone in the wilderness over the intellectual company of his  city friends. A true mystic, he often sensed “the brink of things”.  Every day contained surprises as he reveled in magnificent wastelands, unnamed canyons and long summer days in the high country with no people in sight.

His final trip, at the age of 20, was into the deeply wild, desert high country of southern Utah. He found his way into the small town of Escalante by trekking over the mountains without a trail. He saw a movie in town and shared venison with locals around a fire. He wrote that riding into the red rock country was like coming home again.

The last letter anyone received from him was dated Nov. 11, 1934 . He spoke of dwarf, twisted pines and towering orange yellow cliffs, a rough country of sage and brush and canyons so steep his burros could hardly stay, lest they all tumble. He wrote of strange tinges of unreality on what seemed like “the rim of the world.”  And he warned that there would be a gap of months between letters, because  “I am exploring southward to the Colorado, where no one lives.”

He was never heard from again. The gap was permanent, but Everett’s dream of going beyond lives on.

For close to eighty years people have tried to find him but every clue turns down a blind alley. He leaves us letters and prints; many are collected in a small, wondrous book by W.L. Rusho,  titled Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty, 1983, Gibbs Smith, Inc.

Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts, Broadway, 2012, is a newer biography of Ruess.
Ruess truly went beyond during his short life, and though many have tried to find some physical trace of him, he has moved beyond us.  But he is not beyond us in spirit.

These photos were taken in the general area where Ruess was last seen. Please forgive the poor quality – these are scans of old snapshots taken with a small camera when I visited southern Utah. If you have a chance to go there, do. If you have been there, you must know of the deep spiritual release that Everett Ruess found in this extraordinary country.

More about Ruess:



The WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/weekly-photo-challenge-beyond/

31 responses

  1. Fascinating…

    January 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm

  2. Wonderful story! Dont worry about the image quality, they matched perfectly with the words. both would have been less alone, but together this was a great post. Totally going to check out more about this fellow.

    January 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    • Thank you very much for your comment – I’m glad you’re inspired to check him out.

      January 23, 2013 at 11:06 am

  3. Perfect Beyond images, I love it :)

    January 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

  4. Ruess . . . his story sings the song of all free spirits . . . his art the bread-crumb trail . . . thanks for posting on this, it’s a beautiful life to be reminded of

    January 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    • Glad to hear your words – thanks for stopping by.

      January 22, 2013 at 9:53 am

  5. Gorgeous! I’ll be back when I have more time!

    January 22, 2013 at 9:32 am

  6. Thanks for your visit, and thank you for the reconnect with Everett Ruess. In his tale is an inspiration for all followers of dreams, whether they can catch up with him or not!

    January 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    • Yes, and I think he not only caught his, but lived inside it entirely. Thanks for the comment –

      January 23, 2013 at 9:47 am

  7. Pingback: Photo Project: 52 Bolivian Sundays [week 3, 'Beyond'] « 3rdculturechildren

  8. I never tire of hearing about Everett Ruess, and we’ve spent many summer days a stone’s from his trailhead. Thanks for posting this one Lynn…it’s a very warm tribute. As I’m sure you’d agree, wilderness protection for much of southern Utah would be the finest tribute of all.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:33 am

    • I’m happy to hear you’re another Ruess fan – that landscape really is unspeakably beautiful isn’t it? The stillness is so extraordinary – I remember being on the rocks somewhere in Capitol Reef where you couldn’t hear a thing – absolute silence – and yet the earth was ringing.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

      • I think I’ve been on that same rock. ;)

        January 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

  9. Wow. Great story and photos to go along with it. I’m going to read up on this guy.

    January 23, 2013 at 11:30 am

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I enjoyed your blog a lot –

      January 23, 2013 at 11:51 am

  10. Pingback: 1-24-13 Weekly Photo Challenge Beyond #3 (Going Beyond) « The Quotidian Hudson

  11. Pingback: 1-24-13 Weekly Photo Challenge Beyond #3 (Going Beyond) « The Quotidian Hudson

  12. This went Beyond the challenge…absolutely wonderful post. I couldn’t be more inspired. I feel that rapture. It’s always a pleasure to hear of another soul that understands. So glad you stopped by my blog today. Thanks for the appreciation, and for letting me know you saw the light. :)

    January 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    • Wow – thank you very much. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      January 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm

  13. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond « Dibbler Dabbler

  14. This is really nice.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:29 am

  15. Thank you –

    February 4, 2013 at 11:26 am

  16. SO interesting ! … having visited the Canyons and Utah ,Capitol Reef and other vast tracts of country reading about this makes it even more fascinating .

    February 7, 2013 at 1:18 am

    • I’m glad, especially since you were there. You must read about him, or read A Vagabond for Beauty.

      February 7, 2013 at 9:47 am

  17. thank you for sharing this story.. a wonderful post.

    February 9, 2013 at 6:30 am

    • Thank you very much – I appreciate your taking the time to look back & comment.

      February 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

      • you’re welcome :)

        February 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm

  18. What an interesting story, Lynn. That second image is fabulous!

    February 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

    • Thank you – it’s such an interesting place, so photogenic – I can’t wait to get back there.

      February 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

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