The Disappearance of Everett Ruess
Canyonlands NP, UT
Thaddeus "Chico" Farrell
The Disappearance of Everett Ruess

At night next to the campfire, at various times during day apropos of nothing except maybe a change in the wind, or when stopped for a moment on an ancient packhorse path for water and to watch eagles watch rabbits, Thaddeus talks about Everett Ruess: a writer, artist and explorer last seen at the age of 20 leading a burro into Davis Gulch11See page 23 for access information (NPS PDF) in 1934. Ruess, whose body has never officially been Discovered22A body found in 2009 at first appeared to be Ruess’, but later examination of dental records proved otherwise—Wikipedia, and whose death has never been satisfactorily explained, has over the years become a Western myth and wildman legend. This in part because of his pre-Instagram handle, Nemo, which handle he carved into the walls of various caves in the middle of Utah’s otherworldly nowhere. In Latin “nemo” means no one or nobody. It’s believed by some that Everett was referencing Homer's Odyssey33After the Trojan War, Odysseus sets off for home, crossing the land of the Cyclops (the one-eyed giants). One of them, Polyphemus, takes Odysseus and his crew captive. Odysseus begs Polyphemus to let him and his crew go. When Polyphemus asks his name, Odysseus replies, “Nemo”. when he chose it: fitting, as while Ruess was apparently seeking to lose himself and become nobody in a metaphoric sense, he literally disappeared in the Canyons of the Escalante—one of the least accessible and most un-mapped area in the contiguous United States (especially at the time).

Charlie Fowler

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