Colin Fletcher Lives

Posted by: Lonerock

Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/21/16 03:38 PM

The book Walking Man: The Secret Life of Colin Fletcher by Robert  Wehrman is finally  out in ebook on Amazon Kindle and should soon be out in printed form. I know the author and had the privilege to read an early draft of the book. It tells the amazing story of a person often referred to as the father of modern backpacking. He backpacked the length of California long before the PCT was even a concept. He was the first person to backpack the entire length of the Grand Canyon National Park. In his late 60s he solo backpacked and rafted the Colorado River from its source to the end.  He also wrote the popular the Complete Walker series.The book is more than a listing of his feats. It is the very personal look at an unusual and often  very eccentric  person who went from serving in the army in Wales to various adventures in Africa  to his move to Canada and finally the U.S.  He was also an outspoken environmentalist. The biography is based on Colin's personal notes that he kept almost daily plus interviews with his book agent and close friend plus other friends and neighbors. By the end of the book you will feel like you were there with him through his travels and adventures. I highly recommed this book to hikers, backpackers and those who have a connection to nature. 
Posted by: aimless

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/21/16 03:55 PM

I have no doubt this would be a fascinating book about an exceptional man.

I would quibble with your assertion that he hiked the length of California "long before the PCT was even a concept". The earliest proposals for a long distance trail from the Mexican to Canadian border date back as far as 1926, while Colin's epic hike was several decades later. This doesn't detract from his accomplishments. The PCT still did not exist as a continuous trail when Colin hiked his Thousand Mile Summer, and he chose a demanding route of his own devising.
Posted by: Rick_D

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/21/16 03:57 PM

Will watch for it, thanks for the tip!

I'm one of millions who pored over The Complete Walker, the rare balance of technique, gear and yarns aplenty, all written with a certain twinkle in his eye. Have always wondered whether he and Ansel Adams ever crossed paths. A pairing for the ages, that would have been.

Cheers,
Posted by: shuddleson

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/23/16 09:02 AM

A fan since the early 70's. Just purchased this biography and looking forward to reading it.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/23/16 05:30 PM

Purchased it two nights ago, when I saw your post - I'm not disappointed yet. In fact, the biographer's writing style is quite reminiscent of Fletcher's. I'm not sure if that's intentional, or just something that happens when you read enough of Fletcher (yes, I drank the Fletcherade. smile )
Posted by: Lonerock

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/28/16 08:44 PM

Just an update to let everone know that the paperback edition is available for pre-order on Amazon. If you go to their site you can preview portions of the book through "look inside" feature.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/28/16 09:28 PM

I also noticed that Fletcher's books, which weren't on Kindle for a long time, are now available in that format, too.

So far, still an interesting book.
Posted by: Lonerock

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/29/16 07:46 PM

I know that there are several books that Colin wrote that never got published and are being stored at UC Santa Cruz. It would be great to someday see some of these published.
Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 07/30/16 07:20 AM

I enjoy his books but he is much more into navel gazing than I am. He will just sit in one spot for a few days to get in the proper mood and the proper frame of mind. Not my style at all.
Posted by: Opus

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 02/06/18 12:03 PM

The Complete Walker was the first thing I purchased after I got the backpacking bug. I have poured over it countless times.

I came across a copy of The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher in a used book store a few months ago and read it on a recent trip to the Pisgah range. Devoured every page and it was well on its way to becoming a favorite until I encountered the last chapter.

In it he is musing on ways to save the wild spaces we have all come to enjoy. He looks around after years of backpacking and sees those spaces starting to dwindle. He fears the encroachment of "civilization" on these spaces that we use as our refuge. He wonders aloud what can be done to stop this. Somewhere in that thought process he begins to wonder if a culling of the herd is necessary and that perhaps this newfangled AIDS will be the thing to thin out our numbers.

I closed the book at that point. I haven't finished the last 15 pages, and I don't think I ever will.

Oh well...We'll always have the Complete Walker.

Has anyone else read this book? We're you stopped cold by that passage like I was, or am I overreacting?

I'm curious about what others think about this.

Opus
Posted by: aimless

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 02/06/18 02:24 PM

Epidemic disease, along with famine and war, make up the Big Three causes of population decrease. Generally speaking, disease is by far the most effective one. So, it would be natural when thinking of "culling the herd" to think of disease as the culprit.

I get the idea that if he'd said "bubonic plague" or "dengue fever" instead of AIDS your reaction would have been far less horrified, not because those diseases are less horrific in their effects on the body, but because AIDS is associated in most minds with a specific minority group which is widely persecuted in the world, and this makes it appear that Colin was wishing death specifically on that group, not others.

I doubt this is where his mind was at. By 1989, when that book was published, anyone who kept informed knew AIDS was spreading rapidly into the general population and at that time AIDS was seen as nearly 100% fatal. It would have been the obvious candidate as the agent for the next human die-off. I'm sure he wasn't thinking about gays as the exclusive target of the disease; they were just the unfortunate vanguard in coping with what is a pan-human disease. But I can see why you experienced revulsion at the thought that he may have had such an idea in his mind.
Posted by: Opus

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 02/06/18 02:44 PM

I agree with your assessment. I see where he was coming from, and obviously the time period plays a part, but I just wasn't expecting the book to take that turn.

I do plan on reading more of his books though. Any recommendations?
Posted by: aimless

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 02/06/18 04:38 PM

What may have been his last book, River, about the Colorado River, was a pretty good one, as I recall it. He mixes hiking and rafting in that one. Maybe find a copy in a public library, so you can give it a try and see how you like it.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 02/06/18 05:20 PM

I wasn’t stopped cold at all. I’m very much intrigued with his concept of a “carrying capacity” - it’s a concept applied by conservationists and assorted others concerned with vanishing species all the time, so why shouldn’t it apply to humans?

We’re seeing the effects of climate change, and it seems to be getting worse, if you pay attention. We’re currently at 7 billion humans, and should be closing in on 10 billion in the next few decades. (Scientists recently announced that we’ve entered a new epoch - if that’s the right word - distinguished as the first time man can alter the physical world in a permanent way. I didn’t say that very well, but that was the gist of it.)

I don’t know what the carrying capacity is, but I’m fairly certain it’s considerably less than 7 billion. Assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s 4 billion. The most critical question our children and grandchildren wil face is “Which 3 billion have to go, and how do we make that happen?” My prayer is that we will come to grips with it in time to do it humanely (Negative Population Growth) and consciously over those next few decades - before nature and history conspire to do it dramatically in a catclysmic natural or man-made event.

Please finish that chapter. It will cause you to think about that which must be faced, sooner or later.
Posted by: tramp

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 02/07/18 12:49 PM

I have not yet read the book. However reading your post I now know why I enjoyed his books so much. We are a virus on the planet out of control. A careless oblivious creature stomping around w/o care what is stomped on. If you cannot see that I'm envious.
Posted by: shuddleson

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 03/02/18 10:54 AM

The Man Who Walked Through Time has been my favorite for decades. I have worn out two copies so far.
Posted by: Bill Kennedy

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 03/04/18 05:52 AM

The Thousand Mile Summer, The Man Who Walked Through Time, and The Man from the Cave are all excellent. I don't remember much about The Winds of Mara (I think that's the title)...I should reread it.

In The Complete Walker, Colin mentions "The Territorial Imperative" by Robert Ardrey, which IMO should be on everyone's reading list.
Posted by: shuddleson

Re: Colin Fletcher Lives - 03/09/18 12:00 PM

I haven't read Thousand Mile Summer since college.. Need to get a copy of that and revisit.