NYC writer meets nature: The Great Surrender

A young writer lays out what it is to fall into a relationship with nature — reluctantly. …if you had told me a decade earlier, when I was living in New York City working as a magazine editor, that I would someday move to Montana—and for a man—I would have scoffed: “What a hilarious idea.” IfContinue reading “NYC writer meets nature: The Great Surrender”

Why does the park service make wilderness visitors lie about camping next to water?

If you wish to obtain a permit to visit the Yosemite Wilderness, to hike perhaps on the PCT, one goes to the Wilderness Permit office labeled as such, off the main road (not the stone building near the campgrounds) and stands in line and picks up one’s reserved permit, or hopes that someone else does not,Continue reading “Why does the park service make wilderness visitors lie about camping next to water?”

The Martian Way: Section I of PCT/Sonora Pass

Nicholas Kristof for the NYTimes, who is walking the PCT with his daughter, heading south, wrote recently in a Sunday column about the joy and beauty of the trail, and extolled in particular one section of the trail I happen to have just completed, towards the end of Section I. From This Land is Your Land: MyContinue reading “The Martian Way: Section I of PCT/Sonora Pass”

People of the PCT: Honeybun [in section I]

On day four of my section hike from Tuolumne Meadows to South Lake Tahoe, I was taking a break and swatting flies in spectacular but hot Jack Main Canyon, about forty miles from town, when a fellow in a straw hat with an enormous staff dashed by, flashing me a smile. I caught up toContinue reading “People of the PCT: Honeybun [in section I]”

Homeless man saves a CA beach: The Week

Today the popular news magazine The Week republished the story I wrote for Latterly on Walter Fuller and Ormond Beach that, may I say, changed Walter Fuller’s life. He’s famous now, and his work is better supported than ever before. So for the record, let me post it again, and this time as a tweetContinue reading “Homeless man saves a CA beach: The Week”

PCT Section I: From Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora Pass (mile 960-972)

In the last couple of weeks had the opportunity and the great joy to complete two more sections of the PCT, from Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite NP to the south Lake Tahoe area. Almost exactly 150 miles. In writing up this I’m going to try and follow the advice of a friend who saw aContinue reading “PCT Section I: From Tuolumne Meadows to Sonora Pass (mile 960-972)”

Blogging the Pope’s Encyclical: Praise Be

Where do we start with a document as vast and thought-through as Pope Francis' "Praise Be?" With listening, I think. Try this, from the Vatican's translation into English, section 11: If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beautyContinue reading “Blogging the Pope’s Encyclical: Praise Be”

A book that makes you want to get out and walk

Cheryl Strayed and her journey on the PCT have become so ubiquitous that (I hear) PCT hikers this year refer somewhat contemptuously to "Strayed gear" — all the crap you bring along out of ignorance and discard along the way. A friend turns me on to a very different kind of book about walking, RobertContinue reading “A book that makes you want to get out and walk”

Secrets of the PCT: Pinyon Point

This doesn't look like much, does it?


This is a section of the Pacific Crest Trailsection F, heading north through the Mojave Desert.

Let me say I grew up far away from the desert and never thought I liked its lack of trees and aridity, but well, maybe I should have known better. Should have listened to my elders. For example:


This is a sort of plaza, at about six thousand feet, overlooking the vastest desert in Southern California. This area, which I'm calling Pinyon Point,has numerous sites in which to roll out a pad in beauty and serenity (and perhaps wind, for at its height, it does experience weather — that's why, I think, the pinyon pines grow so well there).

Yet it's all but unused. I made a fire there a year and a half ago, after a snowfall, and near as I can tell, the campfire hasn't been used since. I confess I kind of like it that way, so I'm not going to reveal the exact location, although readers who would like to know can write me, and I'll probably tell.

I was rolling up my tent this past Sunday, and heard a pair of PCT walkers stop and chat on the other side of a rock, not fifty feet away, and yet completely oblivious of my presence.

Let me show you a little more —