Seldom Seen

Seldom Seen Smith pops up in Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang as a crotchety, nimble river rafter. Read about the real Seldom Seen, Ken Sleight, who lives in Southern Utah and still does his best to confound bulldozers and drain Lake Powell. Abbey describes him:

Born by chance into membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Smith was on lifetime sabbatical from his religion. He was a Jack Mormon . . . what a jackrabbit is to a cottontail.

Sleight’s first river trip was Lodore Canyon, on Utah’s Green River, where in 1995 I very dramatically dumped myself, my dad, and a friend into a hole somewhere downriver from “Hell’s Half Mile.” It went something like this:

Dad: Great, Alan, keep rowing forward.

Alan: [rows]

Dad: Great, Alan, keep rowing forward.

River: scccchlllllurrrp!

Dad and Richard: Back! Row backwards! Row backwards!

Alan: Urrk!

Boat: [dumps human contents unceremoniously]

My hat floated gracefully through haystacks, right up to my dad, who calmly plucked it out of the water and put it on his head. We found his hat another quarter-mile downriver.