The Middle-Aged Hiker


This is a storybook. Most of it is true--or at least an honest perception of truth, or perhaps a truthful fiction about reality. And though this storybook is largely about middle-aged people hiking in the Grand Canyon, it isn't all about that. There's some river rafting and a lot of driving, and a few visits to Disneyland. Many people walk through these stories, most of them oddly familiar.

These, too, are progressive tales, especially as they reveal David's growth from tourist to veteran hiker. At first roads dominate his stories until, in Mad, But Alive, Nature allows him entrée. Interspersed are serious thoughts and a quirky guide to becoming a desert hiker.

Though this book may read like Hiking for the Complete Klutz, it isn't that either. It's just that walking around the desert is--well--different. Two decades ago, Stevie hiked the 260-mile Long Trail, alone, but that didn't prepare her for the desert. Susan once lived in West Texas, but she learned the Grand Canyon has a separate time scale. Whether you've pulled on a backpack frequently or not, this book's anecdotes will ring true: The vast, pure sky outlines a beer can; a deep, peaceful breath is followed by a stubbed toe; final moments of disgusted exhaustion join seamlessly with an ache to return.

Despite the humor, these stories are the personal journals and accounts of four artists for whom life is often plagued with failure and depression, and for whom the desert--especially the Grand Canyon--offers challenge, respite and, for fragmentary moments, serenity.

The Middle-Aged Hiker is Copyright ©1993-97,2002 by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz and David Gunn. All rights reserved.

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