The seed for BaseCamp37° was planted in July of 2016, as we leaned back in our chairs and gazed skyward . . .This is an experience we want to share, and we think others will want to enjoy it with us. Some people make a decision of this nature and wake up the next day and get right after it. Our version of that is talking, then debating, then talking, then debating over and over and over again until we wind ourselves into so many circles that we can’t even see the light at the end of tunnel. We don’t even know if trains run in this tunnel, that’s how far lost we can get.
We forged ahead, and peered through the murky waters and came out the other side with a plan that we liked and perhaps most importantly, a plan we could actually pull off. After going through all of that, there was no way these tents were going to be named 1,2,3,4 or A,B,C,D, we wanted something that would reflect our love of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Naming them after the local National Parks and Monuments seemed lazy, and potentially confusing to guests. “Hey wait a minute, you said it was the Grand Canyon Tent, and now you tell me the North Rim is 90 minutes away.” In the end, we chose characters of this region, both fictional and of the real variety.
Our first tent takes it’s name from the explorer, not the baseball player of the same name, John Wesley Powell. This guy explored and mapped the area over 20 years after the US gained possession of the Southwest from Mexico in 1848. *Until the 1870’s, the Colorado Plateau was basically a blank spot on maps of the United States. Powell was ahead of his time with his comments about water usage in the West, “Gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land.” Yep, I’ll say he had some solid vision on that one. Powell has a surprisingly small number of “things” named after him in the West, a giant manmade lake here, a point on a cliff there, but not that much. John Wesley Powell was an easy choice for us.
Our second tent takes it’s name from another explorer that you’ve likely never heard of, Silvestre Velez de Escalante. About three weeks after the The Declaration of Independence was signed, Escalante departed Santa Fe in search of a *route to the Spanish Missions in California. In mid October of 1776, this group came up the valley just below BaseCamp37° on their return trip to Santa Fe. In 2017, we don’t venture too far out in that valley with a satellite beacon and a GPS device, and we’ve yet to scamper down one side of Buckskin Gulch and up the other, and we most certainly haven’t crossed the Colorado without the aid of a boat or bridge. It’s hard to fathom how this group managed such a journey in 1776.
We also like a bit of fiction out here at BaseCamp37°, and that brings us to our third tent, named after one of the more famous, or infamous characters in Western Literature, George Washington Hayduke. The Edwards Abbey classic was published in 1975 and follows the exploits of “The Monkey Wrench Gang”. The vast majority of action in this masterpiece takes place in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. We don’t believe in everything Hayduke attempted to do, but we do applaud the attention that Edward Abbey’s novel brought to preserving the pristine beauty of The West. In Kanab, you will find valid arguments for both sides of the current debate regarding the National Monuments, and in this case, you can certainly put us in Hayduke’s camp.
Our fourth tent is named after the most well known resident of the ghost town of Pahreah, “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” We discovered this gem of a valley about 10 years and have been making an annual pilgrimage ever since. The drive down has a “Hell’s Backbone” feel to it and the palette of colors from the rock formations is breathtaking. A siltly, slippery, and sometimes bone dry river bed meanders from one end of the valley to the other. You may know it as the Paria River, an incredible diverse waterway that drains from Bryce Canyon, collects the outflow from Buckskin Gulch, then carves it’s own mammoth canyon before joining the Colorado river at **Lee’s Ferry.
*We fully acknowledge that this is written from a “European Explorer” point of view, and that for over a 1000 year before the Europeans arrived, Native Americans had already discovered and explored these canyons, rivers, and mountains.
**We will not be naming a tent after this guy.