ITWASSOOTED: The Horseman of Abbey Road

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Horseman of Abbey Road

By Christopher Ketcham Almost all the country within their view was roadless, uninhabited, a wilderness. They meant to keep it that way. Keep it like it was. — Edward Abbey, “The Monkey Wrench Gang”

Ken Sleight is 77 years old, lean, dusty-booted, hard of hearing, wears old jeans and long-tailed shirts untucked. It is said that as a younger man he was the model for the lapsed Mormon renegade Seldom Seen Smith in Edward Abbey’s novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” which itself became the incendiary model for eco-saboteurs such as Earth First. Sleight owns a horse farm called Pack Creek Ranch, up on Abbey Road, outside Moab, Utah, in the high red desert of the canyon country, where for the last five months I’ve been renting a cabin 33 steps from the door of his lodge. I see him every day in his old blue Ranger pickup, or tending to his Appaloosas and Arabians with his wife, Jane, or laying gravel with his tractor and shoveling manure for shade trees.

“The deep canyons, the meanderings, the quiet of the water, the great beaches,” he begins. “I could show you all down those canyons the silhouettes of a woman’s attributes, her body. The sandstone was petrified dune.
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