Garret brought this sad fact to my attention
Colin Fletcher, whose ornate prose and prosaic tips on subjects like choosing the right hiking boots helped start the modern backpacking movement, died June 12 in Monterey, Calif. He was 85. ( )
First published in 1968, the book [The Complete Walker] has sold more than 500,000 copies and remains in print. So, too, have two of the seven other books that Mr. Fletcher offered as paeans to soul-restoring and solitary strolls through the hinterlands. Hiking, he wrote in “The Complete Walker III,” is a “simple, delightful, intended-to-be-liberating-from-the-straight-line-coordinates-of-civilization pastime.”
I read The Complete Walker for the first time in 1971 and own both the II and III editions of the book. I quickly fell in love with his style of writing and eagerly sought out his other books The Thousand Mile Summer and the Man Who Walked through Time. I also read The Winds of Mara and The Man From the Cave when they were published. Chuckwalla Bill, who was The Man From the Cave, left his trunk in a cave in a mountain range just south of here, in fact.
My first encounters with Fletcher’s work coincided with my initial readings of Desert Solitaire, A Sand County Almanac, John Wesley Powell’s Grand Canyon exploration journals, John Muir’s writings and Walden. In my mind they are all intertwined and resonate equally.
Fletcher informed me about being a self-sufficient biped and helped me see how to camp with quite a bit less impact than the various methods I had picked up in my adolescence from several organizations. cough Boy Scouts cough.
I worked in the requisite backpacking and bicycling store near the Land Grant University for three years during my undergraduate career (I think that was my Junior years) and we could all quote from his books. I don’t know that we deified him, but you had to make a good case for deviating from most of his advice.
I remember his ‘Second Law of
Thermodynamics Thermodynamic Walking,’ concerning wearing shorts in the summer and ventilation — “Give your balls some air.” [corrected –ed.]
I did not personally know Mr. Fletcher, but like many and especially Garret and Terry G., I can only say, thank you very much Mr. Fletcher, and Rest in Peace.