Word comes of the death of Colin Fletcher. Would it be an exaggeration to say he taught a generation about backpacking?
From a nature-writing listserv:
Born in Wales and educated in England, Fletcher served in the Royal Marines through WWII. From there he went to east Africa, where he farmed, and thence to Canada to prospect, finally settling in California where he took up writing.
Best known for The Complete Walker, published in 1968 and still in print (4th edition, 2002), Fletcher is responsible, more than any other person, for the popularity of backpacking and wilderness camping in the U.S. The Thousand-Mile Summer recounts his epic tramp from Oregon to Mexico along the Sierra Nevada Range, and The Man Who Walked Through Time his walk the length of Grand Canyon National Park (within the canyon rim–-a first). He was, above all, an adventurer: among his many other books, River recounts his journey by raft from the headwaters of the Colorado River system to the Sea of Cortez (which he undertook in his late sixties).
But my favorite book of his was The Man from the Cave, a sort of detective story that begins when Fletcher finds a man's possessions in a desert cave and sets out to track down the owner's story--with a twist at the end, of course.