Utah Commemorating 'Thelma & Louise' Anniversary

USA Today: Has it really been 20 years since Thelma and Louise lit out from Arkansas and landed in a suicide plunge off the Grand Canyon in what is certainly one of the all-time great buddy/road trip movies?

Most of the location scenes were shot in Utah and a couple of locales there are marking the occasion this week. In Salt Lake City, actress Geena Davis, who co-starred with Susan Sarandon, will appear at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in a conversation with Utah Tourism director Leigh Von der Esch. After a screening of the movie, producer Mimi Polk Gitlin will participate in a discussion about the film.

On Thursday, the show moves to Moab, where many of the film's memorable red-rock scenes were shot. A free screening is set for Thursday night at Star Hall, followed by a discussion including Gitlin and Von der Esch.

A number of promotions are tied to the anniversary, including a Girlfriend Getaway at Sorrel River Ranch in Moab. (Leave your guns at home, girls.)

The movie, about two friends who become accidental outlaws after one shoots a would-be rapist, earned six Academy Award nominations. It also helped put Moab on the tourist map, though the area had previously had its share of on-screen close-ups, from John Wayne westerns to Marlboro Man commercials.

More recently, the raw landscape played a starring role in 127 Hours, the true story of hiker Aron Ralston, who was forced to amputate his own arm in May 2003 after being trapped for five days in a remote slot canyon.

Echoes of that tragedy occurred earlier this month when 64-year-old Amos Richards fell 10 feet, breaking his leg in Little Blue John Canyon, the same area in which Ralston was trapped, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The Concord, N.C., man, equipped with five liters of water and two power bars but no map, crawled through the desert for four days and three nights. National Park Service rangers began a search after spotting his abandoned campsite. They rescued him on Sept. 12 and said he's expected to make a full recovery from multiple injuries, the Tribune reported.

Like Ralston, Richards had not told anyone where he was going. That, along with failing to carry adequate water and other essentials, like first-aid supplies, is a common misstep, says Kent Green, a former search and rescue worker in Moab.

"There are so many nooks and canyon crevasses, you could get lost out there forever," he said of Little Blue John Canyon, which lies in some of the region's most remote and rugged terrain. "You'd be surprised how many people come out here and they'll spend $2,000 or $5,000 on a mountain bike, but nothing on a fanny pack full of stuff that could save their life."

Green's No. 1 piece of advice for hikers and cyclists: Always tell someone where you're going. And don't change your plans.


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