Left Blanding and drove back west towards Natural Bridges but turned north before Comb Ridge for a reminiscent ride over Elk Ridge in the Manti-La Sal National Forest where Bill once headed the fire crew from Gooseberry Guard Station.
By 8:30 we were driving up Cottonwood Canyon, at first paved then gravel. Within 30 minutes we’d entered Ute Land where there’s a whole lot of NOs. In 1923 an allotment was taken out of the Manti-La Sal for long time Paiute residents. There land their rules.
Bill worked here with three other guys in the 70s when the place was off grid. They hauled water and used lanterns and an outhouse. Fuel for their 2-wheel drive long-bed Chevy pickup truck came from the old fashioned glass-topped fuel pump. After breakfast prepared on a wood cook stove they patrolled the many forest roads looking for fire. Often they sat on the porch during lunch watching storms and then went looking for smokes. Bill says it was one of the best six weeks of his life. He worked fire four seasons and was available for at least another four years while later working for BLM (Bureau of Land Management).
The first Gooseberry Guard Station cabin was built in 1919 but replaced in 1934 with a smaller cabin where Bill stored the beer. The larger cabin that they lived in was moved from Cortez, Colorado in 1967. Now it has solar panels and although not permanently staffed is still used by Forest Service employees when needed.
Finally came down the dugway and to Dugout Ranch before hooking a left to Canyonlands National Park.
All stories about Bill were shared by Bill and only slightly edited by me because Bill also says that at least 95% of what he says is Bullshit.
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