This post is about writing and hiking.
I’ve been reveling this week in Chris Townsend’s hiking memoir, Crossing Arizona: A Solo Hike Through the Sky Islands and Deserts of the Arizona Trail
Here’s a short excerpt that I keep returning too.
“A purple glow suffused the sky above low gray green and gray hills when I woke. The subtlety of the dawn soon vanished as the sun rose, harsh and hot, hammering down from a cloudless blue sky. I continued along beside the creek, fording it frequently. A prairie falcon flashed past close by, a pale brown raptor with pointed wings and a long tail. A beautiful pipevine swallowtail butterfly with iridescent blue and black wings flitted over a sandbank. Creatures of the desert and the creek, at home here and unconcerned by the brief presence of a visitor.”
As I’ve been reading this book, I’ve been pondering the following question. What makes a good hiking memoir? It’s not exactly a style of writing that’s taught in schools.
Here are a few ingredients that I think are necessary in a hiking memoir:
- Extremely detailed wildlife, bird, and insect observations that bring a scene to life
- Natural history background about plants and animals encountered
- Historic details about a place and it’s previous inhabitants
- Details about physical or emotional struggles and hardships
- Juxtaposition of civilization and the wilderness
- Descriptions of changing weather conditions, landforms, and geology
- Hiking and camping routine
And here are some types of hiking memoirs that I connect with most strongly:
- A solo journey
- Hiking in a foreign land and culture
- Hiking across very hostile terrain
- Being the first or one of a handful to undertake a journey
- A big personal change
What do you think makes a good hiking memoir? Do you have any hiking authors that you particularly like or reread, time and again?
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.