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Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty & Wilderness Journals

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  360 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Everett Ruess--a bold teenage adventurer, artist, and writer--tramped around the Sierra Nevada, the California coast, and the desert wilderness of the Southwest between 1930 and 1934. At the age of 20, he mysteriously vanished into the barren Utah desert. Ruess has become an icon for modern-day adventurers and seekers. His search for ultimate beauty and adventure is chroni ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published June 17th 2002 by Gibbs Smith (first published September 1st 1973)
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A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldWalden by Henry David ThoreauA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Best Nature Books
117th out of 424 books — 381 voters
Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyBeyond the Hundredth Meridian by Wallace StegnerEdna in the Desert by Maddy LedermanEverett Ruess by W.L. RushoDesert Images by Edward Abbey
Best Of The Desert Southwest
3rd out of 22 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

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Nov 06, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing
I picked up "Into the Wild" thinking that Christopher McCandless might have something in common with Everett Ruess, the subject of this book. The two couldn't be more different. McCandless and his journey both lack sincerity and commitment and as a result his death was more pathetic than poetic or tragic. Ruess, on the other hand was a graceful genius and an artist who really meant it. He was driven by some kind of spiritual pursuit deeper than I can even comprehend. The kid vanished in the dese ...more
Jun 26, 2007 desertmolly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who sees poerty in nature
Shelves: favorites
This book was/is almost too good to be true...I found a reference to it while reading Krakauer's Into the Wild. "In the mid-Depression year of 1934, Everett Ruess disappeared. His last known camp was in the Escalante River region of southern Utah, a place of bare rock, vertical cliffs, plunging canyons, and soaring mesas." Most of the book is made up of letters he wrote to his freinds and family, while pursuing his dream of oneness with nature. This guy wasn't even 18 when he decided to buy a bu ...more
Jan 22, 2010 Dan rated it really liked it
This is exciting I may actually finally have an opinion about a book!

I have a respect for Everett, but also a slight disrespect. His "life" as he called it, consisted of spending months at a time in the wild, at the mercy of the good people around him. He would meet people in the wild, and get invited to meals. Or trade paintings for meals or try working for food. He would also get money from Home, 15 dollars allowance here and there. He lived for months at a time in the national forest, or the
Nov 03, 2009 Christie rated it it was amazing
11/3/09--New update reversing the new findings reported in April on Everett's disappearance. Go to

LOVERS OF EVERETT RUESS, TAKE NOTE: If you have read this book, part of the mystery has been solved regarding his dissappearance. For details go to http://adventure.nationalgeographic.c...
Be careful--if you haven't finished the book, you may not want to check out this news story.

Must read. Great biography, travelogue and story of a budding conservationist.
Bill Brewer
Apr 19, 2014 Bill Brewer rated it really liked it
I read this book after it was referenced in Eric Blehm’s great book The Last Season. There are many people, doubtless thousands, who are not cut out for daily routine of life most of us adjust to and Everett Ruess was one such individual just as Randy Morgenson the back country ranger Eric Blehm wrote about in The Last Season. You could add to that list Willie Unsoeld chronicled in Ascent by Laurence Leamer, and Chris McCandless of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
Everett Ruess was one of the early
May 08, 2014 Kirk rated it liked it
This should really have been integrated into one book, rather than this stapled-together version. Vagabond often quotes the journal entries that appear in the second book, and the chronology would have been better established were they combined. Rusho would benefit from third-party editing for typos, of which there were several.

Production complaints aside, Ruess' story is an interesting one. Through his letters, poems, journals, and woodblock prints, we become well-acquainted with him and his c
Sep 27, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
Just a fantastic first-person look into the life of a true wanderer. Reading Everett's letters was a joy. I would like to have known him.
Through this combined volume of letters and personal journal entries, the last few years of Everett Ruess's life is partially revealed. Ruess was a dreamer who reveled in nature, travel, and being outdoors. He was also an artist, writer and adventurer who spent much of his latter teenage years exploring the Sierra Nevada region of California and the desert wilderness of the Southwest. He often traveled alone. In November 1934, the twenty year-old Ruess left Escalante ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I could not put this down. The focus on the letters, diary entries and artwork with only occasional remarks by the editor to fill in the blanks gave this real pace and immediacy. A very thought provoking read on a number of levels.
Erika F
Dec 01, 2012 Erika F rated it it was amazing
There's a song Nat King Cole made popular called "Nature Boy." This is that boy. Ever since reading this book, he's haunted me. An artist, a truly free spirit, at one with nature, he disappeared into the wild never to be seen again. His story is often seen as tragic. I see magic in it. I imagine him always in wonder, never dying, always young at heart. This is a book to hold close, to read and reread. In it you might a way to live a life unfettered by convention, or raddled by possessions, or to ...more
Aaron York
Mar 07, 2011 Aaron York rated it it was amazing
Don't know if there's anyone I associate with more than this cat. Everett was the pioneer back in the early 1900's who set the tone for the adventurer in all of us. He's the reason Chris McCandless ever set out to Alaska in, "Into The Wild" - A brilliant philosopher, an amazing writer, a great poet, a wonderful human being, an explorer, adventurer, and seeker of life, truth and happiness.
Aug 14, 2008 Ranee rated it it was amazing
an intriguing figure,with a glimpse of the the early 1920s and 30s. if you think you would enjoy reading about the travels of a young intelligent man, exploring the wilderness, this is a great book for you.
Mar 22, 2010 Ryan rated it liked it
Everett was a great writer for his age and education. His story is interesting. I didn't, however, like just reading his letters. I wish that there was more to the book.
Jul 08, 2013 Queen rated it it was amazing
In his journals, Everett gets angry and frustrate with people more often than he shows. His mother erased things she didn't like such as smoking and atheism.
Nov 27, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Perhaps my alltime favorite book, a great tale of an adventurer going out and putting together a trip most of us can only dream about.
Apr 14, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing
Add this book to your essential desert rat book collection....
Jun 20, 2009 Susie added it
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Totally cliche, but. . . 1 32 Aug 14, 2008 07:02PM  
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  • On Zion's Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape
  • Thuggin In Miami (The Family Is Made : Part 1)
  • Down the River
  • Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer
  • The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest
  • Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
  • The Secret Knowledge of Water
  • Where Rivers Change Direction
  • Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War
  • Good Morning Midnight
  • Winter: Notes from  Montana
  • The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States
  • The Ecological Indian: Myth and History
  • Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart
  • Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest in Pursuit of Coronado
  • Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs

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“While I am alive, I intend to live. (Everett Ruess to his friend Bill, Mar 9, 1931, p 31)” 10 likes
“Du fragst, wann ich meinen nächsten Abstecher in die zivilisierte Welt machen werde. Nun, ich glaube nicht, dass dies sehr bald sein wird. Ich bin der Wildnis noch lange nicht überdrüssig, genieße vielmehr ihre Schönheit und das Wanderleben, das ich führe, mit jedem neuen Tag mehr. Ich sitze tausendmal lieber im Sattel als in der Trambahn, und auf ein Dach über dem Kopf verzichte ich gern, wenn ich nur unter einem besternten Himmel sitzen darf; der einsame, unwegsame Trail, der mich an einen unbekannten Ort führt, reizt mich mehr als jeder asphaltierte Highway, und auch bin ich lieber vom tiefen Frieden der Wildnis umgeben als von der Unzufriedenheit, die in den Städten herrscht. Kannst du es mir verübeln, wenn ich bleibe, wo ich m ich heimisch fühle, wo ich eins bin mit der Welt um mich herum? Es ist wahr, mir fehlt zuweilen der gute Freund, das geistreiche Gespräch. Doch es gibt kaum jemanden, mit dem ich mich über die Erlebnisse, die mir soviel bedeuten, austauschen könnte. Ich habe daher längst gelernt, darauf verzichten. Es reicht mir vollkommen, von Schönheit umgeben zu sein…
Auch wenn du’s mir nur flüchtig geschildert hast, weiß ich, dass ich den Trott und die Eintönigkeit des Lebens, das du zu führen gezwungen bist, nicht einen Tag aushalten könnte. Ich kann mir nicht vorstellen, meinem Wanderleben jemals abzuschwören. Ich bin zu tief in die Geheimnisse des Lebens vorgedrungen und würde so ziemlich alles einer Rückkehr ins Leben der Mittelmäßigkeit vorziehen.”
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