By John Hales
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Additional info for Shooting Polaris: A Personal Survey in the American West
The canyon walls were already crowded with pictographs painted and chiseled by citizens of the long-departed Frémont culture, themselves probably not the first inhabitants of our township, markings that, in addition to representing the sun and moon, might well be translated as some kind of Neolithic call to arms, an indigenous version of the stars and stripes, a pre-Columbian statement of nationalistic fervor, perhaps even the prehistoric equivalent of a survey marker. S. government surveyors. Larry came up with a plan to get us through the swamp without chaining.
Although I was still a beginner, I’d proven on peaks in the Tetons and the Wasatch that I was capable of some pretty good moves on rock. I wasn’t especially coordinated or agile, but I had balance and what I thought was a good sense of friction, a sensitivity to just how sticky my boot’s grip was on a specific piece of rock. I remember thinking the day before that I’d probably go a little farther down this spine of sandstone if I had the rope belay I’d come to depend on in my more recreational climbs.
I finally managed to get my name on the right list and was offered a job with the Bureau of Land Management, working on a survey crew. One of my college roommates had worked as a surveyor, and he told me it was a great job: it’s the kind of work you take turns doing, he said; you work your ass off for an hour, then you wait for the next guy in the crew to do his job and work his ass off, and you do all this amid some of the prettiest landscapes in Utah, which has a lot of world-class scenery. You make okay money by the hour, and you get paid per diem, a twelve-dollar daily stipend, most of which you can pocket by eating cheap, and it’s not even remotely like forklifting crates of napalm into cargo planes headed for our clients in Vietnam.
Shooting Polaris: A Personal Survey in the American West by John Hales