One of my Christmas goodies this year was Chris Townsend’s new book – Out There: A Voice from the Wild. I just finished it, appropriately, on a couple of rainy evenings in my tent on a backpacking trip. I am not sure there is a better way to read a good book than with the sound of rain on the tent.
If you love reading outdoor writers, in the realm of Colin Fletcher – my first introduction to the genre decades ago, then Chris Townsend should definitely be on your list. Out There is a collection of writings that covers his long distance trips, notable backpacking wilderness experiences, his favorite outdoor writers (similar list to mine which is probably why I enjoy his writing), and other topics. I can already tell I will be coming back to read this again and again over the years, as I do with several other favorites (e.g. Fletcher’s A Thousand Mile Summer).
I enjoyed the entire book, but his discussions of several different backpacking trips including High Sierra wilderness and the TGO Challenge stand out for me personally. I also can feel the love of wilderness in his writing and much of his approach, including appreciation for the camping aspect as much as the hiking, is similar to mine. I think it is this similarity that enhances my enjoyment of his writings, and results in me tending to weight his opinions on some equipment higher than others (don’t expect equipment to be a focus – this is not a how to guide to backpacking).
If you are not familiar with Chris and his writing, you might have seen The Backpacker’s Handbook (I think in the fourth edition now). His website has a full list of books including some older ones on long distance walks through recent publications. I highly recommend Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams as well as Out There. I have read several others and am planning on reading many more as I feel Chris is doing the best current job of filling Colin Fletcher’s shoes (or boots?).