Uniqueness of This Site
This site is unique in several ways. First, most sources of information in this field tend to be pretty basic: they cover a lot of material that is often considered common sense by the seasoned backcountry traveler. In contrast, my website explores selected topics in considerable depth and breadth for all levels of interest, including highly experienced backcountry travelers. Seen as a whole, this website has a great deal to say about topics of importance that can’t be found elsewhere.
A second unique quality of this site is that while many sources of information in the field focus on specialized interests (e.g., long distance thru-hikers, desert hiking, lightweight backpacking, canyoneering, survival techniques, first aid), my site is more universal. It goes into depth on topics of interest to most hikers, backpackers and other backcountry travelers. Although primarily focused on backcountry travel in mountainous regions, most articles contain insights and perspectives of interest to those traveling in other kinds of wildernesses in other types of climates—deserts, canyons, jungles, swamps, caves, tundra.
The third and most significant difference between my site and other sources in the field is that unlike most authors who take an authoritative, “tell-it-like-it is” approach providing little space for exploring alternative viewpoints, my site consistently provides a wide range of perspectives and philosophies on most of the subjects covered. I encourage readers to come to their own conclusions and form their own beliefs and meanings. While I share my own conclusions, usually after wide-ranging analyses of the topic at hand, they are not the main focus.
Site Organization and Formats
There are over ninety unique articles on this website. Navigation through the various topics and sub-topics should be easy and intuitive. Due to formatting limitations, the relatively short navigation bars in the main site often do not give the full flavor of the topic or issue at hand. Clicking on specific articles will quickly provide longer titles and brief introductions to each article’s content.
A variety of formats are used to engage readers in the longer, in-depth pieces:
· central questions to be answered at the start of most chapters
· additional issues for reflection at the end of most chapters
· thumbnail sketches of competing philosophies and positions
· numerous quotations from a wide range of sources and perspectives
· extensive use of dialogue/debate and pro/con arguments
· detailed clarifications of key concepts
· cartoons drawing attention to selected issues
· suggestions for reader participation
· personal experiences and conclusions.
Overall Focus and Purpose
This website site combines the practical and the philosophical in a clear and thought provoking manner. This site can be seen as a personal guide to the “high country”—not geographically speaking—but of the mind. For those with a passion for backcountry travel, this website will communicate some of the “austere beauty” found in the “high country of the mind.”
No matter the type of wilderness visited or the method of travel, this site will appeal to those who want to raise both their level of understanding and their level of backcountry experience. It will appeal to those who believe that the quality of the journey is more important than the destination, that the depth of the internal experience is just as important as the number of miles covered, the summits achieved or the sophistication of the equipment.
All articles on this website are copyrighted. Reproduction in any form is prohibited without explicit permission.
A number of people have made essential contributions to this project in various ways. At the top of the list is my wife, Pat, who put up with so many absences, either physically in my study or mentally in my head working on some issue. She was also a good sounding board at critical times. Also at the top of this list is my close friend and hiking companion, Jim Morrison. Not only did he contribute articles to the website, he used his artistic skills to prepare over 40 cartoons, charts and illustrations. Jim also provided detailed feedback and critique of my writings and thought processes. Another person at the top of this list is my friend, Jeff Morden. He was willing to go “beyond the call” in constructing this high quality website. He not only took charge of the technical details, but gave valuable feedback on issues of form and content.
Other individuals provided valuable assistance in editing and revising the final content: Carla Jones, Linda Hell and Chuck Pirtle, professional copy editor. Chuck was especially helpful in spotting embarrassing errors and inconsistencies in the website article drafts.
A wide range of printed outdoor oriented books were consulted in preparing articles for this website. Three were especially helpful: Lightweight Backpacking and Camping, Trail Life—Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking, The Backpacker’s Handbook.
Many thanks to those mentioned above (and to others not acknowledged who have contributed in more subtle ways) for your generosity and obvious caring. Thanks for assisting me in bringing a lifelong project to fruition.
Disclaimer of Legal Responsibility
Though the content of this website has been extensively researched and edited (with the help of many), I take full responsibility for any errors, omissions or inconsistencies that invariably creep into a work of this nature.
Use of the information provided in this website can make for safer hiking and backpacking, but the author assumes no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience that might result from such use. Furthermore, use of the information provided is an acknowledgment of your sole responsibility for hiking and backpacking safety. Those venturing into the backcountry are advised to exercise caution at all times.