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Know the West

Everett Ruess lives!

  I was delighted to see your story about the Udall clan (HCN, 10/11/04: The Coyote Caucus Takes the West to Washington). The story made me think about the time I first met Mark Udall. It was May of 1976, and my two buddies and I were camped on a bench above the Escalante River across from East Moody Canyon. We were a couple of days in; we hadn’t seen a soul; and we were thrilled to be there. We were standing around after dinner, talking politics. It was primary season, and we thought it was exciting that Mo Udall was doing so well. But we hadn’t the courage to leave our vehicles parked at the remote trailhead with "Udall for President" bumper stickers. This was, after all, the year Robert Redford was burned in effigy in Kanab over his opposition to the proposed coal mine on the Kaiparowits Pleateau.

Along about dusk, a lone hiker came walking along the river, traveling light, looking very comfortable out there by himself. This seemed a little strange, and we weren’t so sure that we wanted to see anybody in our personal wilderness. The bearded fellow came over to talk with us. Said he was scouting for an Outward Bound course, looking for a good route for the group to follow. And as we chatted, we turned back to politics. We spoke of our hopes for Mo but wondered whether he could actually win. And the solitary hiker — Mark Udall — finally grinned and said, "That’s my Dad."

At last, we have found Everett Ruess, and he turns out to be Mark Udall. Mark has a fundamental understanding of our relationship with the land that is crucial to making enlightened decisions about public policy. His land ethic is as solid as bedrock. I find it incredibly heartening that Mark and Tom Udall are in Congress to represent us all. What a gift.

Stephen Trimble
Salt Lake City, Utah