The Randy Morgenson - Harvey Butchart connection
Author Eric Blehm's 2006 book The Last Season profiles Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks Backcountry Ranger Randy Morgenson. Morgenson disappeared in California's unforgiving Sierra Nevada in 1996, the same mountain range Morgenson had explored since his earliest days.
This riveting tale is part biography and part adventure tale. "Just try to put down The Last Season. We couldn't..." is how Backpacker Magazine described this book.
So what does Randy Morgenson have to do with Harvey Butchart?
In 1960, Morgenson enrolled at Arizona State College (re-named NAU in 1966) in Flagstaff. He spent three years at the Arizona school, during which time he met Butchart and took at least one backpack trek with the math professor in Grand Canyon. In 1962, the two men descended into South Canyon and camped in Stanton's Cave in Marble Canyon.
Unbeknownst to Butchart and Morgenson, over 40 years later they would both have books written about their feats and tragedies. Though brief, their association remains intriguing.
Here is an excerpt from Butchart's hiking logs:
South (Paradise) Canyon
May 27, 1962 to May 28, 1962
Randy Morgenson and I turned off the main Buffalo Ranch Road at the right place, just south of Kane Ranch... The main object of the trip was to learn how [ river runner Robert Brewster] Stanton had left the river [in 1889]...
Randy was getting pretty tired about the time we came out above the river, and I thought I would encourage him by telling him we would reach a campsite by the river within 45 minutes if we were lucky and one and a half hours if we weren't. I had picked a notch in the Redwall that shows on the map as the one Stanton had used. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good break leading down to the river only about 200 yards upstream from the mouth of Paradise. At one place for about ten feet, both hands were needed but the rest was a walk down.
While Randy bathed in the river and sunned himself with my Time magazine to read, I went back to the top of the Redwall and continued upriver. I satisfied myself that there was nowhere else to go down to the water before you come to Mile 30.4 ...
I returned for a rest with Randy. We had our suppers in a slight drizzle. We thought it would be worth the effort to spend the night in Stanton's Cave. It was ideal except that there were some mice running around and nipping at my crackers.
There are three or four Indian ruins up on the terrace about 30 feet above the river near where you come down through the break from the top of the Redwall. There was very little pottery around, and one wonders what brought people into this small area with practically no farming possibilities.
We returned to the car by retracing our route.
For more information about Randy Morgenson and The Last Season visit www.thelastseason.com