Saturday, May 30, 2009

Butch Cassidy's Shangri-la

The more I see of Bryce Canyon country, Escalante, the Grand Staircase, and the San Rafael Swell, the more I think I know what drove Butch Cassidy into a life of crime.

The Cenozoic aged rocks of the Paunsagunt Plateau eroded into colorful and fanciful hoodoos, surrounding the plateau in horseshoe fashion. The Eastern slope of the plateau formed Bryce Canyon, a natural amphitheater. Headward erosion created exquisite scenery from Bryce Canyon around to the South end of the plateau, and back to the North along the Western Slope towards Panguitch. You drive through Red Canyon which is part of this formation as you climb up onto the Paunsagunt traveling toward Bryce Canyon. Butch Cassidy is rumored to have used Red Canyon for one of his super-secret get away trails.

Chantra, Sunnie, Preston and I took the Cassidy trail 10 miles up onto the Sevier Plateau toward Mount Dutton just North of the Paunsagunt for an overnighter. Preston claims it was his favorite campout, bragging to all who will listen about how he handled that 3 year old mustang all by himself.

It is not difficult to imagine how hard it was to explore these beautiful places at the end of the 19th century. Even if your farm or vocation allowed the spare time for it, riding your mount for days or weeks just to get there had to kill the leisure side of it. Robbing banks, trains, and payroll stages was about the only career that afforded one the opportunity to chase all over this incredible land. Butch had it pretty much to himself back in those days, and he knew it better than anyone else--a true professional. The lawmen who had real jobs only scratched the surface of Butch's haunts. Even today, some of his trails are very difficult to find.

Honest work and modern technology make much of Utah's remote country accessible these days. Checking eyes 4 or 5 days a week lets us load up the trailer and be there in hours. Sure glad we don't have to rob banks, trains or payroll stages to experience the majesty of Southern Utah.


Here at home said...

We were just up at Bryce this weekend and passed through Red Canyon. I was thinking of you guys the whole time. We didn't get to see the up close and personal like you guys did, but it was still beautiful.

Nicole said...

The mule project turned out pretty good.

Amanda said...

Utah sure has some magical moments.