New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the National Outdoor Book Award • Winner of the Saroyan International Prize for Writing • Winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award • “The best outdoors book of the year.” —Sierra Club From a talent who’s been compared to Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, David Quammen, and Jared Diamond, On Trails is a wondrous exploration of how trails help us understand the world—from invisible ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet. While thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing. Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic—the oft-overlooked trail—sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity’s relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life? Moor has the essayist’s gift for making new connections, the adventurer’s love for paths untaken, and the philosopher’s knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew.
A strikingly original debut from a tremendous new talent, Robert Moor explores how trails help us understand the world, from the biological phenomenon of how ant trails are formed to hiking paths that span continents and oceans, from migration routes to the Internet. In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: 'How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others devolve? What makes us follow or strike off on our own?' Over the course of the next seven years, Moor travelled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing. This deep search for meaning introduces the reader to experts who work with trails of all kind, outrageous anecdotes from his own experiences and spectacular descriptions of landscapes and animal behavior. On Trails gives an eye-opening tour, leaving us with a much richer, prismatic take on what we constantly take for granted: how we get where we're going.
Victor Turner (1920-1983) stands as one of the leading anthropologists of the twentieth century, known especially for his work on the process of ritual. This new collection of Turner's writings gathers seven late pieces that reflect his thoughts on such subjects as pilgrimage, sacrifice, and liminal processes. In them he reveals his debt to Freud, his views on morality, and always his fascination with ritual. Representative of Turner's mature scholarship, these essays will be of interest to scholars in literature, mythology, and religion. With its emphasis on symbolic studies, Blazing the Trail serves as a companion volume to the earlier collection of Turner's essays On the Edge of the Bush (Arizona, 1986), which focused on process and performance. The present collection includes a biographical and critical essay by Edith Turner.
Take a trip to old Japan with William Scott Wilson as he travels the ancient Kiso Road, a legendary route that remains much the same today as it was hundreds of years ago. The Kisoji, which runs through the Kiso Valley in the Japanese Alps, has been in use since at least 701 C.E. In the seventeenth century, it was the route that the daimyo (warlords) used for their biennial trips—along with their samurai and porters—to the new capital of Edo (now Tokyo). The natural beauty of the route is renowned—and famously inspired the landscapes of Hiroshige, as well as the work of many other artists and writers. Wilson, esteemed translator of samurai philosophy, has walked the road several times and is a delightful and expert guide to this popular tourist destination; he shares its rich history and lore, literary and artistic significance, cuisine and architecture, as well as his own experiences.
From the acclaimed author of Dispatches From Pluto and Deepest South of All comes a rollicking travelogue from East Africa. NO ONE TRAVELS QUITE LIKE RICHARD GRANT and, really, no one should. In his last book, the adventure classic God’s Middle Finger, he narrowly escaped death in Mexico’s lawless Sierra Madre. Now, Grant has plunged with his trademark recklessness, wit, and curiosity into East Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of an unexplored river in Tanzania, he gets waylaid in Zanzibar by thieves, whores, and a charismatic former golf pro before crossing the Indian Ocean in a rickety cargo boat. And then the real adventure begins. Known to local tribes as “the river of bad spirits,” the Malagarasi River is a daunting adversary even with a heavily armed Tanzanian crew as travel companions. Dodging bullets, hippos, and crocodiles, Grant finally emerges in war-torn Burundi, where he befriends some ethnic street gangsters and trails a notorious man-eating crocodile known as Gustave. He concludes his journey by interviewing the dictatorial president of Rwanda and visiting the true source of the Nile. Gripping, illuminating, sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, Crazy River is a brilliantly rendered account of a modern-day exploration of Africa, and the unraveling of Grant’s peeled, battered mind as he tries to take it all in.
This richly illustrated, informative, and inviting book intertwines two fascinating stories of discovery. The first, among the earliest classics of New World adventure, recounts Captain John Smith's exploration of Chesapeake Bay 400 years ago; the second revisits this stunning landscape as it is today-- both to showcase its still-unspoiled splendors and to issue a timely warning of looming threats to its vibrant but fragile ecology. Dozens of dazzling full-color contemporary photographs evoke the Chesapeake spirit in all its many moods, while a wonderfully wide-ranging selection of archival images span the four centuries since John Smith first sailed, rowed, and wandered its woods and waterways, mapping the wilderness shores of an untamed America. The author, a veteran naturalist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has spent decades leading tours and teaching classes about the region. An ideal guide, he shares both his delight in the Bay's glorious diversity and his deep concern for its future. In addition, his unique blend of experience, environmental sensitivity, and historical expertise offers modern visitors a rare opportunity to discover the Chesapeake as Smith did so long ago, leaving beaten paths and familiar waters behind to learn why Congress will soon designate it as the first of America's official National Historic Water Trails. For history buffs, conservationists, armchair travelers, tourists planning a trip, and anyone who simply loves first-rate nature photography, this beautiful book more than meets the high standard readers have come to expect from National Geographic.
Legendary Grand Canyoneer Harvey Butchart climbed, hiked, floated and bushwhacked 12,000 pioneering miles below the rim during a 42-year obsession with the world-famous gorge. Here for the first time is Harvey's life story: his years as a fatherless child in the mountains of China, his struggles in America during the Great Depression, and finally, his all-consuming drive for greatness by exploring one of the West's last unknown wildernesses. Lace up your boots and follow along as the authors retrace Harvey's footsteps on dangerous cliff edges while chronicling his thrilling exploits, heart-breaking tragedies, and lasting triumphs. Part biography, part modern-day adventure, Grand Obsession will take you deeper into the soul of this fascinating man - and Grand Canyon - than you have ever been before. Contains over 170 photographs, many never-before-published, and Harvey Butchart's hand-stenciled maps showing his treks in Grand Canyon.
"Placing one foot in front of the other, embarking on the journey of discovery, and experiencing the joy of exploration--these activities are intrinsic to our nature. Our ancestors traveled long distances on foot, gaining new experiences and learning from them. But as universal as walking is, each of us will experience it differently. For Erling Kagge, it is the gateway to the questions that fascinate him--Why do we walk? Where do we walk from? What is our destination?--and in this book he invites us to investigate them along with him. Language reflects the idea that life is one single walk; the word "journey" comes from the distance we travel in the course of a day. Walking for Kagge is a natural accompaniment to creativity: the occasion for the unspoken dialogue of thinking. Walking is also the antidote to the speed at which we conduct our lives, to our insistence on rushing, on doing everything in a precipitous manner--walking is among the most radical things we can do." -- Front flap.
God only knows what possessed Bill Bryson, a reluctant adventurer if ever there was one, to undertake a gruelling hike along the world's longest continuous footpath—The Appalachian Trail. The 2,000-plus-mile trail winds through 14 states, stretching along the east coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine. It snakes through some of the wildest and most spectacular landscapes in North America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas. With his offbeat sensibility, his eye for the absurd, and his laugh-out-loud sense of humour, Bryson recounts his confrontations with nature at its most uncompromising over his five-month journey. An instant classic, riotously funny, A Walk in the Woods will add a whole new audience to the legions of Bill Bryson fans.
An ode to paths and the journeys we take through nature, as told by a gifted writer who stopped driving and rediscovered the joys of traveling by foot. Torbjørn Ekelund started to walk—everywhere—after an epilepsy diagnosis affected his ability to drive. The more he ventured out, the more he came to love the act of walking, and an interest in paths emerged. In this poignant, meandering book, Ekelund interweaves the literature and history of paths with his own stories from the trail. As he walks with shoes on and barefoot, through forest creeks and across urban streets, he contemplates the early tracks made by ancient snails and traces the wanderings of Romantic poets, amongst other musings. If we still “understand ourselves in relation to the landscape,” Ekelund asks, then what do we lose in an era of car travel and navigation apps? And what will we gain from taking to paths once again?
Trail of Story, Traveller's Path examines the meaning of landscape, drawn from Leslie Main Johnson's rich experience with diverse environments and peoples, including the Gitksan and Witsuwit'en of northwestern British Columbia, the Kaska Dene of the southern Yukon, and the Gwich'in of the Mackenzie Delta. With passion and conviction, Johnson maintains that our response to our environment shapes our culture, determines our lifestyle, defines our identity, and sets the tone for our relationships and economies. With photos, she documents the landscape and contrasts the ecological relationships with land of First Nations peoples to those of non-indigenous scientists. The result is an absorbing study of local knowledge of place and a broad exploration of the meaning of landscape. "Trail of Story, Traveller's Path is unique in the literature on place and ethnoecology. Leslie Main Johnson combines in-depth analyses of northwestern Canadian First Nations' ways of thinking and being on the land with compelling and nuanced cross-cultural comparisons of particular kinds of landscapes, which figure prominently among northern indigenous foragers' environmental perceptions and interactions. Johnson navigates this path with agile sensitivity and deep respect for the individuals and communities whose stories and trails she shares."---Thomas Thornton, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Portland State University & author of Being and Place among the Tlingit