Friday, July 06, 2007

Colin Fletcher

Discover the Backpacking Secrets of Colin Fletcher - The Father of Modern Backpacking
Colin Fletcher, the California hiking and backpacking icon, has died. He was 85. Fletcher was known to many outdoor sports enthusiasts as the father of modern backpacking. He was also an effusive and prolific writer who published seven books over time. Some of them became bestsellers and drew quite some attention.

This article will look at the life of Colin Fletcher, the books he wrote and their impact in the hiking and backpacking scene.

Colin Fletcher was born in Wales on March 14, 1922, as the only child of Herbert and Margaret Williams Fletcher. During World War II he served in the British Royal Marines, spent years in Africa farming and worked as a prospector in Canada. In 1956, Colin moved to California.

In 1958, Colin Fletcher was thinking about getting married. But he wasn't sure. So he decided to engage in "contemplative walks" to find out and hiked the whole length through California from Mexico to Oregon. Six months later he got married, but the marriage lasted only weeks… You can read about his experience in his first work "The Thousand Mile Summer- in Desert and High Sierra" (published in 1964).

Colin's first bestseller was "The Complete Walker", first published in '68. The book is considered to be the "Backpackers Bible", a comprehensive guide that describes and discusses all aspects of wilderness travel. The fourth edition has been published in 2002 with the help of Chip Rawlings. "The Complete Walker" should be part on any hikers or outdoor sports enthusiasts' library! You'll find great advice on gear and techniques and especially many tips on how to lighten your gear, build your camp, cook your meals etc. etc.

One of Colin Fletcher's best-known books is "The Man Who Walked Through Time". In it, he describes his journey "of the first trip afoot through the Grand Canyon". A must read for every serious hiker.

Colin was already 67 when he started another big solo adventure. He hiked and paddled 1,750 miles (about 2,800 km) down the Green and Colorado Rivers. You can read about this expedition in the book "River: One Man's Journey Down the Colorado, Source to Sea" (1997).

Colin Fletcher's most renowned books, The Complete Walker and The Man Who Walked Through Time, are often attributed with having inspired generations of people to take on hiking and backpacking, which later sparked a worldwide trend.

Annette McGivney, Southwest editor of Backpacker Magazine said: "Colin was sort of the founding father of modern backpacking, the first person to write about going out for an extended period and being self-sufficient".

On June 12, 2007, Colin Fletcher died of complications related to old age and head injuries he suffered six years earlier in 2001. Back then Colin was walking to a town meeting and was struck and seriously injured by a car while crossing a country road.