The All-American Men Discover The All-American Man


Ed Webster and I chill out next to The All-American Man, a famous pictograph in Canyonlands National Park. Photo @ Stewart M. Green

In mid-April, 1978, Ed Webster, a climber who later made the first ascent of the Kanshang Face on Mount Everest, and I trekked down Salt Creek in Canyonlands National Park from the trailhead on the Beef Basin Road below towering Cathedral Butte. My wife Nancy and Jesse, our springer spaniel, accompanied us the first part of the trail, descending to the wide canyon floor before stopping for the day at a small waterfall and pool.

Ed and I continued north, crossing sandy sagebrush flatlands and splashing through the creek's muddy water. We passed Kirk Arch, high in a side canyon to the west, Wedding Ring Arch, and several unnamed arches. As we hiked, I related the entire script of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey to Ed, who hadn't seen the movie. After nine or 10 miles of hiking we reached our goal...The All American Man.

This famous pictograph, painted red, white, and blue, sits on the north wall of a narrow niche in a tall cliff on the east side of Salt Creek. The unique pictograph, created by an Ancestral Puebloan artist between 800 and 1,000 years ago, is a static shield figure painted with a color palette that wasn't used on any other Utah pictograph dating to that time period. Few people trek into the cliff-lined canyon and fewer still actually find the Man.

Here's an image of Ed and myself that I shot with a self-timer on a tripod with a Canon F1 camera on Kodachrome 64 film. Ed and I are sharing a smoky chillum beneath the archaic figure to induce the visions and trances undoubtedly experienced by ancient tribal shaman in the shallow cave. After visiting with The All American Man for a couple hours, the All-American Men reluctantly left the ancient site and began the long hike back to the trailhead, reaching my blue Datsun pickup as the sun touched the western horizon.

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