Edna Fridley was a good friend of the canyon country of southeast Utah for more than 30 years. Every year she returned to the slickrock from her home, back east, to wander and explore what was then one of the most remote and isolated parts of the United States.
In the fall of 1962, Edna set off on her last trip down Glen Canyon. The dam, 150 miles downstream, was almost complete.Within months the Bureau of reclamation would close its diversion tunnel and stop the free flow of the Colorado River.
Edna had been invited to join a party of friends to celebrate Harry Aleson’s wedding, which was to happen during the trip. She flew to Salt Lake City, then rented a car to Page, Arizona via Zion National Park. At Page, after checking in at the Page Boy Motel, she arranged a flight to the dirt airstrip at White Canyon.
She took thousands of photographs of her pack and river trips with legendary guides Ken Sleight and Harry Aleson. But she also kept journals, often scribbled in small spiral notebooks. Here are excerpts from that trip— Part 3 of Edna’s last journey down Glen…and, of course, these amazing, never-before-seen photos…JS
OCTOBER 11, 1962
Slept like a log 8:00 to 3:3o AM. Got up at dawn…Lunched in boat opposite the river mouth of the San Juan. Went to Music Temple for water in pool…Dellenbaugh 1871-1872 inscription here.
Hidden passage not too accessible so I stayed out—poison ivy. At Twilight Canyon..here a a petroglyph of elk with lotsa horns & figure with fingers. Then back into what Harry says is the largest cave on the river. Ceratinly seems to be tho’ I haven’t by any means seen enough to make a comparison. Curve of overhang is perfectly immense horseshoe.
Stuck in the West channel of river–got out. Pushed us into the east channel and out again…Getting late but Harry stopped to pick up some drift wood again–why, I don’t know. We were all too beat to sit by any fire…Camped at At Greene’s camp at Aztec Creek. Beautiful moonlit night but warm. A couple mosquitoes made my night miserable.
Well this is the last day. Up shortly before dawn–lovely pink clouds. Went for a walk. Even a little climb. EGADS! Back. Breakfast. Packed…we’re off. Too bad I don’t have more film.
Saw pregnant women petros again. And I swear some lizard was waiting around to have his picture taken….Day is good bit cooler–need sweaters and jackets on the river. Beautiful here but cloudy–almost complete overcast downriver.
Later…Has heated up some now. Navajo cliffs on both sides of the river with Wingate plus other (formations) set back and rising…Won’t be too long before the trip is over. Gunsight Butte now in view. Supposed to be only 14 miles. This last day has brought some spectacular formations into view…all sorts of castles in the air.
Rainbow bridge…a six mile hike from the river in October 1962
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