Enough pleasantries. Read this book. Take the serious stuff seriously, and all the rest you can pro-rate against the price when you try to return it to the bookseller.
Our advice: Leave your beer cans at home, don't think you're better than the world around you, learn what silence is, and pack out all your trash. Never overestimate yourself, and if you're one of those people who gets lost but won't stop the car to ask for directions, stay home. If you still get lost after you've asked, come ahead. Arrogance and stupidity might kill you, but--take it from us--klutziness won't.
Now it's true we've done some bad things ourselves--ending up at the wrong campsite, hauling insufficient water, ignoring a bit of bureaucracy, getting behind our permit's schedule. We try to be good, although we blow it at sort of an average-person rate ... but we're going to tell you about it, unlike other hikers. Can you really believe everyone who writes a hiking guide is holy? We can't. We know better. There's a tendency for hikers to exude a sense of stoicism and to imply that their desert hiking is a kind of victory over the elements, to point to their survival as an achievement. Though over the years we've taken some pride in our growing confidence and strength, we are not drawn to the desert as conquerors, except of our own fears.
Something else. Folks who have read parts of this book have commented that it sounds like we hate the labors of hiking, so why do we do it? That's the wrong impression, but we don't know quite how to give the right one. What's difficult is the inexpressible beauty we discovered and self-restoration it provided--what's easy are the complaints. (They're also funnier). So we leave it to you to muse over the beautiful Canyon photos and essays and poetry and paintings. You shouldn't go inside unless you really want to. And if you still want to after reading our journals, well, you're braver than we are.
Above all, never rush Nature. She'll slow you down just enough, but, lest you later regret what you miss, find her rhythm and hike within it.
Central Vermont, 1993
The Middle-Aged Hiker is Copyright ©1993-97,2002 by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz and David Gunn. All rights reserved.
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