Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West

b.1916

Jack West

But one of the guys hiked back up (I think it was Lloyd) and brought the flatbed back down and met us at the top of these ladders. So that was quite an interesting deal, and that’s all been changed. Then Lloyd took us into the Fiery Furnace. On that trip Mel Pimpell, who had a CJ-5, went along and we camped, or just parked, down off to the side of the road into Salt Creek. Nothing had been improved. There was just a dirt road into that area and then we hiked up to the head of the Fiery Furnace area and let ourselves down on a rope. It was about a twelve foot drop and we all went down. Cap was there, as I recall, and Frank, and Lloyd, of course, was guiding us. We got down into the Fiery Furnace and Lloyd knew his way around in there. We saw the whole thing; it was really interesting. Then we came out through the bottom where now the guided tours go in. But that was a beautiful spot, and Jim and I were in there just last year again; the only time I have been back.

Then the next trip that Lloyd took us on was into the Maze. Those longer trips were where the flatbed came in real handy because the CJ-5’s and even the utility wagons were really small. You just couldn’t carry enough equipment and food to take more than one person. So I would take the flatbed and load all the stuff on it and go to a base camp as far as we could drive it. Then we would go from there on day trips in the four wheel drive rigs. So the flatbed served its purpose, really did its job. I felt that I wasn’t imposing.

So we got into the Maze, down into the Barrier Creek, that big gallery situation. We drove down in, which you can’t do anymore, and out of the East Side. Boy, that was rough going. But we circled back around to where I had left the flatbed on top and then we went on down and camped. In any event, I didn’t get the flatbed down in, we used it as far as we could and then I went with them. We got down into the bottom of the Maze and Lloyd, of course, knew the way. So that helped. Then, it might have been before the Maze trip, but we went over Elephant Hill for the first time. I think there were about four CJ-5’s on that trip. I took the flatbed out as far as I could towards the bottom of Elephant Hill. It was Lloyd that guided us there, but that Elephant Hill was just a disaster. There were ten, twelve inch jumps as you went up and no automatics, everything was shift work. So, boy, what a job that was. But, within the first two or three years, with Lloyd’s guidance, we had really started to cover the country, and it was just fabulous.

In 1965, I quit depending on the flatbed because we bought a 1961 Jeep utility wagon of our own, black and white. In all of our future conversations, it was referred to as the “Black and White.” So we were on our own completely then. We just packed our own stuff and by then everyone had graduated to larger vehicles so that they had plenty of room. Really, we didn’t need the flatbed as a back-up.

During the years that I was in Rotary, we started having Rotary Safaris. It would be a three or four day trip with the Rotary Club and guests from locally or out of town would come along. We had a lot of fun on those. We didn’t go into any of the real back country, but we made trips into the Needles, White Rim, places like that. Those were really good, those Rotary Safaris, and in every case I helped spearhead that and chaired the situation. I think the last one we had was at Davis Canyon. It was a real good one.

Somewhere about this particular time, Babe Foy, who I mentioned earlier was a real good friend of mine with the BLM, had worked all this country and out in the back country, putting in fences and reservoirs, stuff like that, and so he really knew it. He introduced us to Beef Basin and Dark Canyon Plateau. In fact, he went on a couple trips with us out there and showed us where to go and where the interesting points were. When I say “us” I mean the guys from Provo and Ray and Sam. So we spent a lot of time out and we camped in Beef Basin many, many times, and then out on Dark Canyon Plateau at Sweet Alice Springs a number of times. That is my favorite place. There is a BLM cabin there and you are close to a spring.

Mentioning the places we have camped makes me think that I can just sit and think of over 50 separate places that I have camped around the area, from the Book Cliffs to the Bridges, the Maze, and up in the mountains… at least fifty places. We went into the Needles when it was still open. You could get in there with a vehicle, over the Elephant Hill, into the Needles. From that point, we hiked up to Druid Arch and then, of course, all the main points up Horse Canyon, up Salt Creek, all that area into Angel Arch. We pretty well covered the Canyonlands National Park long before it was designated as a Park, and we had some fun experiences. One time, I remember was when Sam and I traveled together. We traveled together a lot because, in those days, he brought the paper out on Thursday and he couldn’t leave until Thursday evening or Thursday afternoon. The rest of the guys were down and usually took off Thursday morning. Sam and I would sometimes go out early Friday morning, ( he had an old Land Rover) and it made it handier for me. I could spend that extra day at the plant and still meet the guys and have a good time.

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