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The Big Bend Review => Big Bend Book Reviews => Topic started by: House Made of Dawn on October 30, 2016, 09:49:50 AM

Title: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on October 30, 2016, 09:49:50 AM
Moderator Note: this topic was split off from http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/gumo-general-discussion/gmnp-trip-report-oct-16-23/msg148798/#msg148798


Finally got the Colin Fletcher experience...


I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: backpacker56 on October 30, 2016, 01:18:39 PM
I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.

This forum needs the option to "Reply Privately".  Is there such an option that I just am not aware of?   
I've only read "The Man Who Walked Through Time".  Fletcher's prose describing his backpacking activity is unsurpassed, in my mind; pure gold.  However, for me, his philosophizing leaves much to be desired.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on October 30, 2016, 01:39:55 PM
I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.

This forum needs the option to "Reply Privately".  Is there such an option that I just am not aware of?   
I've only read "The Man Who Walked Through Time".  Fletcher's prose describing his backpacking activity are unsurpassed, in my mind; pure gold.  However, for me, his philosophizing leaves much to be desired.

BP56, you can use the envelope icon at the bottom of your avatar to send private messages. Or you can go up to the very top of the page and look for "My Messages" in the header. If you click on that, you'll see, "Send Message". 
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: Jalco on October 30, 2016, 07:12:59 PM
I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.

This forum needs the option to "Reply Privately".  Is there such an option that I just am not aware of?   
I've only read "The Man Who Walked Through Time".  Fletcher's prose describing his backpacking activity are unsurpassed, in my mind; pure gold.  However, for me, his philosophizing leaves much to be desired.

Terrific!  Another author to explore.  Thanks, y'all!
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on October 30, 2016, 08:45:26 PM
I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.

I've only read "The Man Who Walked Through Time".  Fletcher's prose describing his backpacking activity are unsurpassed, in my mind; pure gold.  However, for me, his philosophizing leaves much to be desired.

Terrific!  Another author to explore.  Thanks, y'all!

Definitely, Jalco. Colin Fletcher was sort of the godfather of modern backpacking. His book, The Complete Walker (reprinted in at least three updated editions over the years) first appeared in the 1960's. He also wrote several non-fiction accounts of his incredibly long trips: hiking the length of California, then the Grand Canyon, and one of my favorites - a long solo boating trip in his last years. That last is a great meditation on aging and mortality. Fletcher was a committed solo hiker and a bit of a curmudgeon, maybe even a little nutty. I tried to correspond with him toward the end of his life and thank him for his inspiration - no dice.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on October 31, 2016, 02:56:36 AM
Fletcher was indeed the father of modern backpacking and completely influenced my style to this day.  HMoD, River is a good read and inspirational considering he walked and rafted the entire Colorado River solo at 68

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Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on October 31, 2016, 08:29:41 AM
Fletcher was indeed the father of modern backpacking and completely influenced my style to this day.  HMoD, River is a good read and inspirational considering he walked and rafted the entire Colorado River solo at 68


When I first read River, I was incredibly moved by the "source to sea" metaphor of life and aging. Back then it was poetry, now it's becoming biography.   :icon_eek:
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on October 31, 2016, 12:28:59 PM
Fletcher was indeed the father of modern backpacking and completely influenced my style to this day.  HMoD, River is a good read and inspirational considering he walked and rafted the entire Colorado River solo at 68


When I first read River, I was incredibly moved by the "source to sea" metaphor of life and aging. Back then it was poetry, now it's becoming biography.   :icon_eek:
True that (the biography part)

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Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: austin gorpchomper on October 31, 2016, 01:01:56 PM

Finally got the Colin Fletcher experience...


I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.

Hear, hear.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: austin gorpchomper on October 31, 2016, 01:05:31 PM
I didn't get to Fletcher until Complete Walker III. I was so inspired i wore it out, then bought another copy. I was so curious about what changes there may have been between III and the previous versions....well, let's just say i have copies including hardcover of all four versions of that now.(I was disappointed in IV.)
"The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher" is a good introduction to his work for those who don't wish to read a lengthy tome.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: backpacker56 on November 01, 2016, 09:25:47 AM
(sigh) Colin Fletcher is a force to be reckoned with.  The mere mention of his name was enough to hijack the thread.  I feel compelled to say, at risk of digging my hole deeper, that my "Colin Fletcher experience" was only about the Svea 123, as he so ably describes it.  Fletcher's sense of adventure, love of the outdoors, backpacking technique, planning and problem solving, and especially his great ability as a writer, all draw me toward him.  As for the rest of The Man Who Walked Through Time, I find myself quarrelling with him all the way through.  Everything seems subordinated to his personal intuition, and in the end his great discoveries consist only of convincing himself of the preconceptions which he brought with him into the Grand Canyon.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on November 01, 2016, 01:08:09 PM
(sigh) Colin Fletcher is a force to be reckoned with.  The mere mention of his name was enough to hijack the thread.  I feel compelled to say, at risk of digging my hole deeper, that my "Colin Fletcher experience" was only about the Svea 123, as he so ably describes it.  Fletcher's sense of adventure, love of the outdoors, backpacking technique, planning and problem solving, and especially his great ability as a writer, all draw me toward him.  As for the rest of The Man Who Walked Through Time, I find myself quarrelling with him all the way through.  Everything seems subordinated to his personal intuition, and in the end his great discoveries consist only of convincing himself of the preconceptions which he brought with him into the Grand Canyon.
I agree with you about his navel gazing in The Man Who Walked Through Time in the later parts of the walk (his walking naked down the Tonto was fairly humorous), he gets quite introspective in River too.

I do love and relate to his camp descriptions as that is how I camp to this day albeit with newer lighter equipment.  It is his SVEA descriptions there that are dead on

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Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on November 01, 2016, 02:23:58 PM
(sigh) Colin Fletcher is a force to be reckoned with.  The mere mention of his name was enough to hijack the thread.  I feel compelled to say, at risk of digging my hole deeper, that my "Colin Fletcher experience" was only about the Svea 123, as he so ably describes it.  Fletcher's sense of adventure, love of the outdoors, backpacking technique, planning and problem solving, and especially his great ability as a writer, all draw me toward him.  As for the rest of The Man Who Walked Through Time, I find myself quarrelling with him all the way through.  Everything seems subordinated to his personal intuition, and in the end his great discoveries consist only of convincing himself of the preconceptions which he brought with him into the Grand Canyon.

Sorry about the hijacking of your very good GUMO report, BP56.  Not really fair to you. But I will say that your well-considered comments about Fletcher make me want to go back and re-read his books, which I haven't done for a decade or so.

I'm grateful for Colin Fletcher. Not just because of his writing on the nuts and bolts of wilderness travel...though I can't even imagine how I would have become the backpacker that I am without his guidance....but also because of his musings. Granted, he certainly had his share of oddities: an obsession with hiking naked is pretty clear evidence that he was his own man, convention be damned.  :icon_eek:  And granted, he was also a loner and a bit of a curmudgeon. I see that guy in the mirror sometimes. But his musings, taken as a whole, chronologically, across the entire body of his work , form a fascinating case-study of one civilized man's relationship to uncivilized wilderness as...and this is the kicker...as he inevitably grows older and less capable. The older I get, the more I appreciate his work. I think it's time to give his books another go and see if they still have that old magic. Afterward, if I have any comments, I'll start a Fletcher Thread where we can all weigh in on the old guy.  :icon_wink:
 
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on November 01, 2016, 02:53:07 PM
When I get back into the country and have access to my Fletcher books I have some favorite quotes I will share

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app

Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: dprather on November 01, 2016, 03:16:59 PM
Even in his "...Walked Through Time" book, he included many hints that I regularly incorporate.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on November 01, 2016, 03:41:15 PM
Moderator Note: this topic was split off from http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/gumo-general-discussion/gmnp-trip-report-oct-16-23/msg148798/#msg148798


Finally got the Colin Fletcher experience...


I'm not what you would call a traditionally religious man, but The Complete Walker is close to a sacred text for me. Fair to say it changed my life, as did all of Fletcher's books.

Hahahahahaha! Richard M is a busy man. You gotta get up pretty early in the morning to get ahead of him....... Thanks, man!  :notworthy:
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on November 01, 2016, 04:25:20 PM
The other thing about navel-gazing is that, as I approach my 60th birthday, it's so much easier to see my navel than it used to be.  :icon_wink:
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on November 01, 2016, 04:27:51 PM
Kidding aside, here is one of my favorite Fletcherisms.  Granted, it's from his Wikipedia entry, but it originally came from The Complete Walker, and it nicely sums up why I love backpacking, particularly solo backpacking and climbing.

"But if you judge safety to be the paramount consideration in life you should never, under any circumstances, go on long hikes alone. Donít take short hikes alone, either ó or, for that matter, go anywhere alone. And avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Wear wool next to the skin. Insure every good and chattel you possess against every conceivable contingency the future might bring, even if the premiums half-cripple the present. Never cross an intersection against a red light, even when you can see all roads are clear for miles. And never, of course, explore the guts of an idea that seems as if it might threaten one of your more cherished beliefs. In your wisdom you will probably live to be a ripe old age. But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead for a long, long time."
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: backpacker56 on November 02, 2016, 08:36:10 AM
Kidding aside, here is one of my favorite Fletcherisms.  Granted, it's from his Wikipedia entry, but it originally came from The Complete Walker, and it nicely sums up why I love backpacking, particularly solo backpacking and climbing.

"But if you judge safety to be the paramount consideration in life you should never, under any circumstances, go on long hikes alone. Donít take short hikes alone, either ó or, for that matter, go anywhere alone. And avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love, or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Wear wool next to the skin. Insure every good and chattel you possess against every conceivable contingency the future might bring, even if the premiums half-cripple the present. Never cross an intersection against a red light, even when you can see all roads are clear for miles. And never, of course, explore the guts of an idea that seems as if it might threaten one of your more cherished beliefs. In your wisdom you will probably live to be a ripe old age. But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead for a long, long time."

Excellent, and well put.  Safety is not a goal in itself, rather, describes the manner in which a goal is pursued.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: backpacker56 on November 02, 2016, 08:37:57 AM
Even in his "...Walked Through Time" book, he included many hints that I regularly incorporate.

By "hints" you mean backpacking tips?
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: dprather on November 02, 2016, 09:12:41 AM
Even in his "...Walked Through Time" book, he included many hints that I regularly incorporate.

By "hints" you mean backpacking tips?

Yes. 

As he spins his story, he, naturally, references backpacking "doings"  (I'm referring to his book about walking "Through Time" through the Grand Canyon).

At one point, he very subtly mentions that, before he goes to sleep, he very purposefully arranges his things in the same way every time.

That might seem first nature to many, but it wasn't to me.

Before I noticed that in his book, I had tended to crash in my tent without giving any mind to where I placed things.  This turned little chores like getting up in the middle of the night to pee (where are my boots, where is my walking stick, where is my flashlight?) into bigger chores.

Now, after reading his book, I place things very deliberately around my tent in the same place every time - and now, for example, I don't have to wake completely up to go to the bathroom. 

I am in no way obsessively compulsive - it's just not my first, random, nature.  But my backpacking habit when I lay down in my tent is to have certain things at my right hand, other things to my left had, other things at my right hip, and so on. 

I doubt that he intended to "make a point."  The reference was off-hand, even oblique.  But I noticed it, and it has helped.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: venchka on November 06, 2016, 02:30:13 PM
Mr. Fletcher's illustrated explanation of how to select a sleeping bag should be enlarged to life size and hung in every backpacking shop.
Wayne


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Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on November 08, 2016, 06:53:16 AM
When I get back into the country and have access to my Fletcher books I have some favorite quotes I will share

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app

In all 4 editions of The Complete Walker there is an appendix called "Pleasant Quotes for Contemplative Walkers" here, quickly, are a few of my favorites

"The swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot"- Thoreau

"There is more to life than increasing speed"- Gandhi

"Take this simple test to see if you qualify for solo camping.  Shine a flashlight in one ear.  If the beam shines out the other ear, do not go into the woods alone."-  Bruce Cochran

"Oh, he's a genuine backpacker, all right.  He's got a filed-down toothbrush."-  overheard by Colin Fletcher

For our current subject of bears-  "Bear bells provide an element of safety for hikers in grizzly country.  The tricky part is getting them on the bears."  Bruce Cochran

From Fletcher himself:

"I find that the three truly great times for thinking thoughts are when I am standing in the shower, sitting on the john, or walking.  And the greatest of these, by far, is walking."

More quotes from Fletcher himself to come, just had to get a few out there.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on November 08, 2016, 10:25:55 AM
When I get back into the country and have access to my Fletcher books I have some favorite quotes I will share

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app

In all 4 editions of The Complete Walker there is an appendix called "Pleasant Quotes for Contemplative Walkers" here, quickly, are a few of my favorites

"The swiftest traveler is he that goes afoot"- Thoreau

"There is more to life than increasing speed"- Gandhi

"Take this simple test to see if you qualify for solo camping.  Shine a flashlight in one ear.  If the beam shines out the other ear, do not go into the woods alone."-  Bruce Cochran

"Oh, he's a genuine backpacker, all right.  He's got a filed-down toothbrush."-  overheard by Colin Fletcher

For the our current subject of bears-  "Bear bells provide an element of safety for hikers in grizzly country.  The tricky part is getting them on the bears."  Bruce Cochran

From Fletcher himself:

"I find that the three truly great times for thinking thoughts are when I am standing in the shower, sitting on the john, or walking.  And the greatest of these, by far, is walking."

More quotes from Fletcher himself to come, just had to get a few out there.

 :great:  :icon_lol:  :great:
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on December 19, 2016, 03:11:26 PM
For those interested I just finished the newly released biography of Fletcher titled Walking Man: The secret life of Colin Fletcher (http://www.colinfletcherbiography.com/index.html) by Robert Wehrman.  Not a bad read, some repetition at times but he researched exhaustively (nearly 600 pages long) and it gives some very interesting insight to the man and what drove him.

The Prelude starts with the author in Big Bend.

He was a Royal Marine that landed at Normandy on D-Day
Spoke Swahili
He was paranoid about his privacy, worked at home in the nude
He was not a fan of Ed Abbey until after Abbey's death
Was once ranked #11 Senior tennis player in the US
Regularly soaked in the bathtub, watching the birds out his window drinking Wild Turkey!
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on December 19, 2016, 03:38:52 PM
Altogether, a good recipe for life.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: austin gorpchomper on December 20, 2016, 12:37:01 PM
Thanks, may read this over the holiday.
Although I do find it surprising Fletcher would stand for letting birds drink his Wild Turkey.

For those interested I just finished the newly released biography of Fletcher titled Walking Man: The secret life of Colin Fletcher (http://www.colinfletcherbiography.com/index.html) by Robert Wehrman.  Not a bad read, some repetition at times but he researched exhaustively (nearly 600 pages long) and it gives some very interesting insight to the man and what drove him.

The Prelude starts with the author in Big Bend.

He was a Royal Marine that landed at Normandy on D-Day
Spoke Swahili
He was paranoid about his privacy, worked at home in the nude
He was not a fan of Ed Abbey until after Abbey's death
Was once ranked #11 Senior tennis player in the US
Regularly soaked in the bathtub, watching the birds out his window drinking Wild Turkey!
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on December 20, 2016, 12:50:25 PM
Thanks, may read this over the holiday.
Although I do find it surprising Fletcher would stand for letting birds drink his Wild Turkey.

For those interested I just finished the newly released biography of Fletcher titled Walking Man: The secret life of Colin Fletcher (http://www.colinfletcherbiography.com/index.html) by Robert Wehrman.  Not a bad read, some repetition at times but he researched exhaustively (nearly 600 pages long) and it gives some very interesting insight to the man and what drove him.

The Prelude starts with the author in Big Bend.

He was a Royal Marine that landed at Normandy on D-Day
Spoke Swahili
He was paranoid about his privacy, worked at home in the nude
He was not a fan of Ed Abbey until after Abbey's death
Was once ranked #11 Senior tennis player in the US
Regularly soaked in the bathtub, watching the birds out his window drinking Wild Turkey!

 :s_laugh:
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: mule ears on December 20, 2016, 02:12:23 PM
 :eusa_doh:

Regularly soaked in the bathtub, watching the birds flying outside his window while he was drinking Wild Turkey!

I too wondered how the birds liked Wild Turkey.

Have a good holiday reading!   :a035:
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on January 17, 2017, 05:57:23 PM
Took a month to arrive, but I just got this in the mail! Thanks for the heads-up, Mule Ears. I'm looking forward to diving into this immediately.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on January 24, 2017, 11:34:09 PM
Just finished Walking Man, Wehrman's 2016 biography of Colin Fletcher. If you have any interest in Fletcher, I strongly encourage you to read this book. I don't see how it's possible to understand him without it. I certainly didn't. At 590 pages, it's not a quick read. But it's smooth, if close to exhaustive.

Fletcher was much stranger than I realized, and came from a very difficult background. All in all, he did as well or better than he could have hoped with his life. Certainly he deserves the moniker, Founder of Modern Backpacking. He also deserves a place in the pantheon of American nature writers and environmental heroes.

His death was a tragic waste. I tried to correspond with him after the accident, but it's clear to me now that he couldn't reply. It's also clear to me that he and I have more than a little in common in our idiosyncrasies.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: austin gorpchomper on February 06, 2017, 07:32:08 PM
Yeah, i really enjoyed the book, in spite of all its misspellings/typos which i chalk up to its self-published nature. Really filled in some gaps in my knowledge of his life. Also inspired me to order and read Thousand Mile Summer, one of his only works I hadn't yet read.
Title: Re: Colin Fletcher
Post by: House Made of Dawn on February 06, 2017, 07:53:23 PM
Yeah, i really enjoyed the book, in spite of all its misspellings/typos which i chalk up to its self-published nature. Really filled in some gaps in my knowledge of his life. Also inspired me to order and read Thousand Mile Summer, one of his only works I hadn't yet read.

Haha, Gorpchomper! I'm re-reading it right now. Same reason. The bio saddened me a bit, but you know, we're all who we are. Individuals. Sui Generis.