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#77029 - 07/29/07 07:37 AM The Man Who Walked Through Time
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
Thought I'd read this--now posthumous--classic by Colin Fletcher, and I'm in the middle of it now. I'm not enjoying his style very much, as I prefer a more 'nuts-and-bolts' approach to climbing/hiking/outdoor sagas. Fletcher would devote a small paragraph to his actual hike, then several pages waxing philosophical on existential issues. Anyone have a similar [or opposing] take on this book?

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#77030 - 07/29/07 04:54 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
bigfoot2 Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Eugene , Oregon
Bored the heck out of me ! Typical of that generation , though...hippies and all.
_________________________
Hammockers aren't stuck up, they're just above it all.

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#77031 - 07/29/07 08:01 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: bigfoot2]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
I guess I'm kind of a former hippie-type myself, although younger...Guess we were a pretty self-absorbed bunch! Didn't take that factor into account while reading this book. But--yes! Boring is the operative word.

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#77032 - 07/29/07 09:40 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
Mountaineering books can afford to stick to nuts and bolts, because climbers are facing a variety of technical challenges at virtually every moment of a climb. Hikers spend very large amounts of time just walking. It is hard to make walking into a technical feat and very few bolts are required, even if there are a goodly number of nuts.

My point is that hiking books almost by necessity need to be about the hiker as much as the hike. In the case of Colin Fletcher, he was solo hiking in remote and untrammeled spots, so there can't even be the drama of interpersonal actions. No dialogue there but internal dialogue. So, you get philosophical refections as a matter of course. It has nothing to do with hippes.

I didn't mind and I wasn't bored. But then, I walk solo through remote places very often and am not bored then, either.

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#77033 - 07/29/07 09:46 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
billk Offline
member

Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 1196
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I can't even imagine being bored by this book. I've read it four or five times over the years, and will again.

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#77034 - 07/30/07 07:40 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Quote:
Anyone have a similar [or opposing] take on this book?


Yes. I have always enjoyed Colin Fletcher's ramblings on hiking. I am introspective by nature and found Fletcher to be a kindred soul. There are plenty of books available for the gearheads including several by Colin Fletcher. I appreciate someone who can intelligently share their thoughts on the philosophical side of "the green world". I feel that his books "The Thousand Mile Summer", "The Man Who Walked Through Time", "The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher" and "River" are interesting and worth re-reading. Our world is a poorer place in his absence.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#77035 - 07/30/07 07:53 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: aimless]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
I agree with you about not being bored on solo hikes--neither am I. I much prefer them. But I doubt anyone would be fascinated by what I had to write about them.

My original post had nothing to do with Colin Fletcher the man, who, by all accounts, was an accomplished and interesting fellow. And I'm glad many have enjoyed his books. Thank you for sharing your point of view.

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#77036 - 07/30/07 09:59 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
trailblazer Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 788
Loc: Menlo Park, CA/Sierra Nevada
I must say when I first started the book I had a similar impression - I think it was more like I wasn't expecting it rather than the writing itself. I warmed up to it pretty quickly though, and went back and started from the beginning again where I then thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. Have loved every one of his books he has written, and while its been a while since I've opened one of them, I do recall that Thousand Mile Summer had a different feel to it.
_________________________
Greg
www.naturefocused.com

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#77037 - 07/30/07 04:19 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: trailblazer]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
"The Complete Walker" is a how-to book, and arguably the best one around. However, Fletcher's other books are quite different.

I would compare Fletcher's books to Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance, another book that is more about the philosophical journey rather than about the technical aspects of caring for a motorcycle. I read that book for what it is; I bought a service manual to work on on bike.

I'm not sure what you were expecting, but I think your criticism of the book is unfair. It is what it is. I see Fletcher as following in the footsteps of people like John Muir.

NOTE: This post has been heavily edited. My original thoughts were fairly harsh. That is what led to the comments that follow, in case anyone is wondering what all the rest relates to. I'm a moderator and one of my jobs is to spank people who get out of line. I'm no exception.



Edited by TomD (07/30/07 09:47 PM)

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#77038 - 07/30/07 05:24 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: TomD]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
Well, thanks a lot Tom, for your objective and civilized entry. You are dead wrong about the books I have/have not read or even why I'm not enjoying Fletcher's writing style. No doubt you see it as an appalling lack of depth or sophistication on my part.

I was using the book forum to state an opinion on a book, which is---oddly---what I believed to be the purpose of this topic. Sorry if I stepped on your toes. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

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#77039 - 07/30/07 06:43 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
kevonionia Offline
member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX
I see we're headed for another [color:"red"]supernova[/color] here. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> I believe mockturtle referred to the books as hiking/climbing outdoor sagas not manuals or guidebooks.

I'm into nautical fiction, and a writer, such as Patrick O'Brian who mastered the era, has had a few detractors who've slighted him on his perceived lack of nautical knowledge. Other writers, like the famous Forester, are just way too into the "nuts & bolts" or "shackles and blocks" for me. For many other NF readers, they live for that esoteric sailing detail. I think mockturtle was making the same analogy here, being one who enjoys more a "nuts & bolts" type of outdoor saga.

I do know that from what's been said on the forum about Colin Fletcher that I need to get some of his books and read what he's got to say.
_________________________
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)


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#77040 - 07/30/07 07:50 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Personally, I really enjoyed The Man Who Walked Through Time, and I would really recommend finishing it. The worst that can happen is you lose a couple of hours of time. (It's one of his shortest books after all.)

I liken some of his style to the "voyage as a vessel" style of Bill Bryson, who used a through-hike attempt as a vessel for passages that mostly dealt with Forest Service Policy or mine fires or other snippets of history. Fletcher's hike becomes a vessel for deeper transendental thought. However, I relate better to his thoughts that I do to Bryson's. (I DID enjoy A Walk In the Woods BTW; I just relate to the host of thoughts that wander through the mind on a long hike the way the Fletcher did).

To me, I really think I preferred the second half of the book better any way. Once he made it through the 3-mile scramble of unknown territory, Fletcher seems to mellow out and really relish the hike itself. I liked this one better than others like River , which seemed to drag just a bit. But he may not be for every hiker.

As for appealing to hippies, maybe so, but he also appeals to this older Marine turned teacher. I don't know that you could reasonably pigeonhole Fletcher's fan base.
_________________________
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#77041 - 07/30/07 09:25 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: Bearpaw]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
Of course I'll finish it! I bought it, after all! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Now, Bryson, I really do enjoy. It's hard for me to liken his style to that of Fletcher.

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#77042 - 07/30/07 09:25 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
My point was you are criticizing the book for not being what you want it to be, rather than what it is. I just think that is an unfair way to look at it.

My remarks have nothing to do with being sophisticated or anything other than what I stated. Of course you are entitled to your opinion. I am just disagreeing with your approach to the book.

You didn't "step on my toes." I don't take it personally. After all, I didn't write the book.

BTW, not everything I post here is objective and I don't pretend that it is. That is the very nature of opinion. I do, however think my comments were civilized.

Your complaint about the book is that it had too much philosophy and not enough technical info. That is probably true, but for many people, that is the attraction.

John Muir is another outdoor philosopher. We should remember it's people like Muir and later Fletcher who encouraged people to go hiking and camping and also to preserve nature for the rest of us to enjoy.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#77043 - 07/31/07 07:00 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
Hector Offline
member

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 325
Loc: LA/ARK/TX corner
I enjoyed the book, though I wouldn't rank it as one of the top 100 I've ever read. I enjoyed seeing how he dealt with the weight of the ages the canyon imposed on his psyche. He saw himself as at the spearhead of life and realized that in time he would join his cliff dwelling friend in the base of life past, and he found that acceptable. I rather agree with him.

And it was a cool place to walk, too.

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#77044 - 07/31/07 08:30 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
alanwenker Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 812
I enjoyed the first half to three quarters of The Man Who Walked Through Time a great deal, but felt it ran out of gas toward the end and I struggled to finish the book. Someone else mentioned Bryson's books (different writing styles and all), but I tend to have the same reaction to Bryson's books. I laugh outloud through the first half of Bryson's books and then struggle to finish them.

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#77045 - 07/31/07 10:34 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: alanwenker]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Put me down as another reader who found it tedious.

There are some very good moments of course, but the waxing philosophical gets very tiresome. For me, it's not the presence of philosophy but the presence of such embarrassingly bad, sophomoric philosophy that was more distracting than helpful.

I much prefer something like The Last Season where themes like respect for the land are quietly woven into the narrative. Fletcher tries to hit his reader over the head too much.

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#77046 - 08/04/07 12:59 PM Re: TMWWTT: Finished & reconsidered [Re: mockturtle]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
Finished The Man Who Walked Through Time today and must admit I enjoyed the last few chapters. The encounters with canyon creatures were delightfully told and I found even his musings evocative. His immense relief at recapturing his solitude [after his hiking companion of four days had to leave the canyon] was an anthem to the solo hiker which I shall keep etched in my mind as a reminder that I'm not the only one who feels as he did--a relief tinged with guilt [for feeling relieved]:

"All I knew was that I felt frustrated and angry--and that after Doug had gone it was a relief to be able to move on when I wanted to move on, to stand and stare when I wanted to stand and stare, to do absolutely nothing when I wanted to do absolutely nothing. To be able to think my own thoughts in my own way at my own pace and convenience, without fear of interruption. And to exist, all the time, in silence."


While I don't consider it a particularly well-written book, parts of it are truly memorable. I do appreciate the writer and would like to have known him in person.

To all who contributed to this thread---thank you!

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#77047 - 08/08/07 09:47 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
GrumpyGord Online   content
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 847
Loc: Michigan
I generally enjoy his books but he certainly has a different makeup than I do. He is much more introspective than I am. For instance on one of his last books "River" he started of at the river sources and sat there for a couple of days to get the feel of the river. He also stopped a couple of times along the way to get the feel of the place. I either do not have an inner self or I am looking in the wrong place but I could not imagine doing something like that. If I were going to follow a river, the longest I could picture myself sitting there would be until the next morning so I could get an early start. I guess that it just points out that it is a good thing that we are all different.

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#77048 - 08/04/08 10:00 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
scottyb Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 278
Loc: Texas Hill Country
I just finished this book and I liked it a lot. At times his philosophical wanderings would get a bit lengthy, but I never got bored with it. The references to our ability to comprehend the time frame of GC was very enlightening and is a subject that has puzzled me for years about matters like these. I think it will make me look at and appreciate what I'm seeing just a wee bit more on my GC trip later this month.

Two thumbs up.
_________________________
Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you.... Pericles (430 B.C)

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#77049 - 08/04/08 10:27 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
Quote:
Thought I'd read this--now posthumous--classic by Colin Fletcher, and I'm in the middle of it now. I'm not enjoying his style very much, as I prefer a more 'nuts-and-bolts' approach to climbing/hiking/outdoor sagas. Fletcher would devote a small paragraph to his actual hike, then several pages waxing philosophical on existential issues. Anyone have a similar [or opposing] take on this book?


The book is about the title, "the MAN who walked ......."

The title wasn't "The HIKE through Time", which would be somewhat restrictive.

Other than a half dozen or a dozen tricky spots, there was nothing that unusual about the hike. Other than the extensive use of game trails and the topo maps. And the episode of ultralight clothing - nude hiking.

Most of the hike was being alone and thinking and observing and even some meditating.

I enjoyed that 25 years ago, and enjoy that now.

If you want to know about solo hiking, the book is a treasure of at least one man's solo hiking adventures. A little action, and a lot of reflection.

If you want "nuts and bolts" of hiking, all there are are some short books of tips and perhaps Ray Jardine's older stuff.

Ray Jardine doesn't bore you with philosophical reflections and introspections of nature, so it is probably your best "Nuts and Bolts" read. Jardine's book doesn't hold up well on the sixth reading, or even the third, in my experience.

Plain old "how to" isn't full of interesting human insight, no matter how great the "how to". No one would ever call that sort of stuff "literature".

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#77050 - 08/06/08 02:02 PM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: Roocketman]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
I guess by using the term 'nuts and bolts', I failed to make my point. No, I wasn't looking for a 'how to hike' kind of book, at all. If you've read any of William Least Heat Moon's adventures or Jon Krakauer's accounts, you know what I was looking for: Good writing about an adventure, with both detail and perspective. I found The Man Who Walked Through Time lacking in all of the above. He might as well have been strolling through Hyde Park.

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#77051 - 08/07/08 05:45 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
Quote:
I guess by using the term 'nuts and bolts', I failed to make my point. No, I wasn't looking for a 'how to hike' kind of book, at all. If you've read any of William Least Heat Moon's adventures or Jon Krakauer's accounts, you know what I was looking for: Good writing about an adventure, with both detail and perspective. I found The Man Who Walked Through Time lacking in all of the above. He might as well have been strolling through Hyde Park.


William Least Heat Moon wrote, initially, from his life troubles and resulting adventures. His adventures involved other people. He wrote about these other people, giving interest to those who find other people interesting.

Finally, however, you have made your point clear with a little detail and perspective.

Not all readers place a high requirement on other people, and IIRC there were lots of minute details and perspectives in the Fletcher work, but perhaps not of the type which interest you.

I never treated the "Walk Through Time" as an "adventure" in the classic sense.

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#77052 - 08/07/08 07:51 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: Roocketman]
mockturtle Offline
member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 251
Loc: WA
You are right in stating that this book is about the man, Colin Fletcher, not about a hike through the Grand Canyon. I was wrong to judge it on that false assumption and I thank you for pointing that out.

I don't--as you have implied--consider the inclusion of people any more desirable in an adventure account than in my own adventures, which I prefer to be solo. It's about good writing as much as about subject matter. The writers I mentioned--Moon and Krakauer--are both skilled at relating adventures, solo and otherwise. They are good writers.

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#77053 - 08/07/08 08:53 AM Re: The Man Who Walked Through Time [Re: mockturtle]
Roocketman Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 203
Quote:
You are right in stating that this book is about the man, Colin Fletcher, not about a hike through the Grand Canyon. I was wrong to judge it on that false assumption and I thank you for pointing that out.

I don't--as you have implied--consider the inclusion of people any more desirable in an adventure account than in my own adventures, which I prefer to be solo. It's about good writing as much as about subject matter. The writers I mentioned--Moon and Krakauer--are both skilled at relating adventures, solo and otherwise. They are good writers.


AND?

Let's stop here and agree that we have different tastes in backpacking literature.

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