Bill Priedhorsky Presents Talk To Mountaineers Jan. 20

Llama packer BJ Orozco and his staff, schlepping gear down the canyon of the Escalante River. Courtesy photo
Bill Priedhorsky, a local Los Alamos Mountaineers member, will present “Adventures in the Canyons: A Country of Puzzles” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20 at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos. Social time and reports of recent and upcoming events begin at 6:30 p.m.

Priedhorsky will share some highlights of his 36 years of exploring, focusing on the last few years of new adventures. What is it about this part of the world that keeps him, and so many other mountaineers, coming back again and again? For Priedhorsky, it is the puzzles that the country presents –that a hundred yards walk takes one to an entirely new point of view, that a goal half a mile away might take a half day to be reached, that a new mystery can appear any minute, and does.

Having attained a certain age, the rough backpack trips of youth are behind him, replaced by more comfortable outings where beasts of burden – llamas or horses – carry the load into camp. These recent trips ranged across the canyon country. A llama trip to Scorpion Gulch took him to a remote corner of the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, looking down up the Escalante River. A trip to the overgrazed Navajo Reservation, near Navajo National Monument, was less scenic, but took the group to undisturbed Anasazi Ruins like nowhere else.

Two explorations to the Waterpocket Fold explored the 100 mile-long monocline that defines Capitol Reef National Park. Llamas are banned in Capitol Reef, so a horse packer took the group to Hall’s Creek Narrows, a dramatic canyon that hooks through the fold, and Muley Tanks, at the mouth of Muley Twist, farther north along the fold.

After years of wanting to go, Priedhorsky made it to the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, the puzzle country into which fictional George Washington Hayduke disappeared in the conclusion of “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” In November, when it is uncomfortably cold to camp, the group establish a base in Moab town and spend the days exploring. Moab, famous for jeeps and mountain biking, is just as worthy for hiking adventure; for example, Arches National Park has not only well-known routes like Devil’s Garden, but nooks and crannies where hardly anyone goes.