National Geographic : 1952 Jun
710 Scornful of Sagebrush, a Pilot Takes Off from Monument Canyon's Inner Rim Residents of Moab, Utah, were surprised when they learned that supplies were being flown to the Four Corners explorers (page 722). Never before, so far as the author could learn, had planes attempted a land ing on the canyon's rugged lower rim. Here the area looks expansive and flat. Actually, a rock ledge marking the canyon's brink lies only 500 feet in front of the plane (page 729). The station wagon plunged over a five-foot drop into the creek bed, smashing the springs down onto the axles and sending a wave of sand over the car roof. Jamming the hydramatic transmission into low, I gunned the engine. Like a frightened jack rabbit, the car shot forward, bowling over brush and six-foot junipers and leaping dunes and embankments with all four wheels off the ground. Chaotic Landscape "Reverses" Compass My one fear in that hub-deep sand was stopping. But I needn't have worried. The first mile zipped by so fast that it was all I could do to follow the vague and twisting trail. In less time than anyone had believed possible, we had barreled in to Squaw Spring, the site we had chosen for a camp. We awoke the next morning to make a significant discovery-the sun was coming up just where we thought it had gone down the night before. We weren't exactly original. Ross told us that a New York lawyer he had guided to the Needles one summer swore that "the sun rose in the east only once the whole time I was down there!" We were, in short, in country as confusing as a Coney Island fun house. For thousands of square miles the land was gouged into a maze of canyons and mesas, split by innumer able fingerlike reefs. In the clear, dry air, some 5,000 feet above sea level, cliffs miles away appeared to be within arrow shot. Com pletely mixed up, one could be sure of neither distance nor direction. To add to the unreal, lunar quality of the landscape, we saw no sign of human habita tion and scarcely any wildlife. An occasional range rider from Indian Creek passed this way, looking for strays. Ross asserted that coyotes, ringtail cats, lynx, bighorn sheep, and deer had been seen, but the only "native residents" we saw were snakes, lizards, and a few insects.