Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Big Ho on Colin Fletcher

Big Hominid writes,

...Great posts on hiking and the God of the Declaration. Re: hiking: Do you read any Colin Fletcher? He's an avid go-it-alone hiker, as well as a marvelous writer. His "Complete Walker III" is ostensibly a manual that treats the technical ins and outs of hiking (including how to choose and pack equipment), but it's also a charming meditation on the internal realities of hiking.

I have read four books by Fletcher: Complete Walker III (now out in a 4th edition, I believe); The Man Who Walked Through Time (about an end-to-end traversal of the Grand Canyon, or as we say out here, The Canyon); The Thousand Mile Summer (about a walk across the state of California from Mexico to Oregon in the days before the Pacific Crest Trail); and a recent one I have forgotten.

I agree that he is an excellent writer, though a bit of a misanthrope, a failing I find curiously inoffensive.

Fletcher, being Welsh, makes no distinction such as we Americans make between walking and hiking. I saw a cartoon yesterday in the New Yorker: it depicts a couple hiking in the mountains with their disgruntled young son. The caption reads, "What you hate is walking. This is hiking -- hiking is different from walking." By the way, this too supports my thesis that logico-conceptual incoherence is at the root of humor. (Anyone who hates walking will a fortiori hate hiking. Pointing out that the latter is different from the former has no tendency to show that hiking is less irksome to the out-of-shape and nature-blind.)

As for your irate emailer... heh. Assholes abound. Cyber-anonymity confers shallow bravery and often brings out the worst in people. It's a bit like driving in that sense: a car can be a huge, ugly mask for huge, ugly behaviors.

Cyberspace is a microcosm.