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David Roberts: Finding Everett Ruess

Before Jon Krakauer brought the travels of Christopher McCandless to life in Into the Wild, there were, of course, other restless youth exploring pristine wilderness. Everett Ruess was 20 years old in 1934, the Depression era, when he rode a burro into Escalante, Utah, with another burro trailing behind, loaded with camping gear. He had been exploring the wilderness for four years. Shortly after arriving in Escalante, he began a solo expedition to Davis Gulch, where he disappeared. That enigmatic mystery—along with his passionate writings and the enchantment of his paintings and block prints—catapulted a cult following of Ruess for seven decades.

So when author David Roberts first visited Escalante in 1998 to uncover the mystery, he wasn’t necessarily alone in his quest. Aside from trying to physically find Ruess’ remains, Roberts delved into the wanderer’s writings to enter his psyche, to discover what compelled this young, passionate soul. Propelled by a looming Navajo legend and the chance discovery of a mysterious gravesite by a local construction worker, Roberts thought he had located Ruess’ body, wedged inside a rock crevice along Comb Ridge, 50 miles from Davis Gulch, in 2009. The DNA tests didn’t help solve the case, but rather convoluted it, which sent Ruess’ family, his cult following and the outdoor-adventure world into a state of confusion and uproar. Ruess’ disappearance might never be solved, but Roberts’ story of his hunt, woven with insight into the man behind the adventurer, prove to be a gripping read. (Austen Diamond)

David Roberts: Finding Everett Ruess @ The King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9100, July 21, 7 p.m., free.

Date: Jul 21, 2011
Time: 7 pm
Phone: 801-484-9100
Address: 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City, 84105
Where: King's English