The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon (Anglais) Broché – 14 mai 1989
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Colin Fletcher (1922-2007) was a Welshman and WWII vet who moved to California in the 1950s. An avid backpacker, he is best known for The Complete Walker I-IV (1968-2001), which for a generation or two has been the singular bible of backpacking - "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." (Annette McGivney, editor of 'Backpacker Magazine'). In 1968, the same year he published the first edition of 'The Complete Walker', he also published 'The Man Who Walked Through Time', recounting a 1963 trip in which he was the first person to walk the length of Grand Canyon National Park "in one go" (second to complete the whole journey). More than an adventure journal, it inspired a generation to take up (create) the backpacking lifestyle as a way to fill a spiritual void and escape the confusion and chaos of Vietnam-era America. As 'Backpacker Magazine' contributing editor Buck Tilton recalls "After Vietnam, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. So many of my friends had died from bullet holes. I read 'The Man Who Walked Through Time', and it was the only thing that made sense to me. Fletcher's words gave meaning to backpacking. I loaded my pack exactly the way Fletcher did and carried a walking stick like his. He was my hero."
Fletcher wrote about what he saw in day to day events, none are death defying or edge of the seat, what set it apart was Fletcher's inner journey of discovery as a metaphor of the vast expanse of time in the geology of the Grand Canyon. "I saw that by going down into that huge fissure in the face of the earth, deep into the space and the silence and the solitude, I might come as close as we can at present to moving back and down through the smooth and apparently impenetrable face of time." Fletcher found peace and solitude in removing himself from the "piercing arrows" of the modern world.
'The Man Who Walked Through Time' is essentially a Romantic work in the tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), highly influential with an earlier generation of bohemians (Stevenson invented and describes the first sleep bag in outdoor literature). Fletcher re-fashioned his account for a new generation of drop-outs who wanted to find inner solitude and discovery in the outdoors. I see in Fletcher a sort of proto-hippy, he shed his clothing and walked bare naked with a bamboo cane, floppy hat and scraggly beard. He ate pemmican and lamented the loss of the martial spirit of the natives. He found value in nature and disparaged the dam builders who would destroy it. He was a key element in the burgeoning environmental movement - 'The Man Who Walked Through Time' will be "forever" a permanent mark in time of a movement and a generation. In February 2008, almost exactly 40 years from the books publication, the National Academy of Sciences published a report saying "Camping, fishing and per capita visits to parks are all declining in a shift away from nature-based recreation.. the replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia." The times are changing and 40 years ago today seems about 180 degrees in difference. Perhaps by 2048, 40 years from now, we will see a re-discovery of Fletchers vision of vigorous outdoor challenge, solitude and self-sufficiency in nature.
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