The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher

I am re-reading this book currently, partly in honor of Colin Fletcher, who died last month. I first read it about 15 years ago, and I've kept that copy through multiple moves. But this is the first time I have re-read it in all that time — a pity.

If you're not a backpacker, you probably haven't heard of Colin Fletcher. He is best known for his multiple editions of The Complete Walker, one of the most well-respected books on backcountry hiking ever written.

But The Man Who Walked Through Time is nothing like that. Rather, it is a magnificent first-person account of the author's through-hike of the Grand Canyon in 1963 — the first person known to have done so. (Not many people have done it since then, either.)

This is not some kind of macho grand adventure story. This is an account of transitions, quiet observation, and time itself as Fletcher descends and ascends through hundreds of millions of years of planetary history. He uses the metaphor of the epochs of history exposed by the Colorado River to try to make sense of his world.

Fletcher's prose is beautiful as he describes the transition from the modern world to life one mile below the Rim and his struggles with that transition. Many people are afraid of the Grand Canyon for a variety of reasons. Fletcher helps the reader understand the basis of that fear, and goes through his own fears of the canyon and how he adapted to and overcame them.

Colin Fletcher was a very private man with a nearly insatiable appetite for walking–and almost always without any companions. I have always found it remarkable that he was able to write publicly and so eloquently about his thoughts and experiences.

Although this book was first published forty years ago, it is still very fresh. It's still in print, and Amazon has excerpts online.

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About Mike

Michael Heggen is a horseman, maker, and thinker who lives in Salem, Oregon with his wife, Kim, and "three to eight cats". He stays quite busy riding, driving, and caring for their three horses, Boulder, Shasta, and Bob. Among other things, Mike has been a fencing coach, police chaplain, computer consultant, aspirant to the diaconate, computer salesman, box boy, carpenter, computer technician, typesetter, church youth leader, copy machine operator, and network administrator. His other interests include juggling, reading voraciously, and (pretty occasionally these days) cycling.
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3 Responses to The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher

  1. Oregonkc says:

    Sounds like a good read. I added it to my Amazon wish list for a future book buying spree.

  2. Sunny says:

    I've read this book too.

  3. Excellent! You're the first person I've met who had read it.And nice to meetcha, too!

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