Ranger Kathryn's Arches

January 9, 2012

Early exploration of southeast Utah

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rainstorm, Needles District, Canyonlands NP, Utah. May 20, 2011. "Worthless and impracticable region."

It was 1859 — two years before the Civil War. The official maps of the United States were utterly blank in much of Utah, with the word ‘UNKNOWN’ penned largely across these latitudes. An expedition led by Captain John Macomb was scouting the region for a wagon route from New Mexico, looking earnestly for the supposed confluence of two great rivers. “I cannot conceive of a more worthless and impracticable region than the one we now found ourselves in,” he noted, thwarted in his attempt to find that critical map point.

Oh, John.

This “worthless and impracticable region” is now Canyonlands National Park. It holds me prisoner with its myriad delights.

I suspect Captain Macomb was discouraged, and morale among his men at a new low. Trying to imagine the 19th-century challenges of exploring this unforgiving land is difficult for me. In the 21st century, we have everything to make such journeys safer and easier: accurate maps, down sleeping bags, coolers, Vibram-soled boots, 4WD vehicles, satellite radios, freeze-dried foods, synthetic fibers, sunscreen, GPS, water filtration, helicopters for rescues.

I bet that expedition 153 years ago would have given anything for cold beer at the end of the day. The desert has a way of sucking the life out of everything that breathes; it is merciless and pitiless in its opposition to comfort and complacency. My highest respect and admiration go to its early explorers.

2 Comments »

  1. Seriously beautiful photo of Needles.

    I also do not envy early desert explorers. I would take freeze-dried veggies over hunted lizard meat any day

    Comment by modapolis — January 11, 2012 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  2. I always bring my satellite radio wherever i go because it is great listening to music.”

    <a href="My personal blog
    http://www.homeimprovementstuffs.com/diy-or-not-diy-ink-cartridge-refills/

    Comment by Leatrice Lamunyon — November 21, 2012 @ 2:51 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: