To paraphrase a quote from the great Admiral William Adama, and reveal my inner Battlestar Galactica fan, "It is not enough to survive." This strikes me as a useful maxim for the backcountry. Survival is obviously integral to any definition of a successful backcountry journey, and yet we all hope to do so much more than simply survive our adventures: we wish to thrive! There are many ways to enjoy down time in the wilderness, and I suspect that many on this site bring along books for reasons other than emergency fire preparation or deflecting savage attacks from crazed megafauna.
I thought it might be interesting to create a thread explicitly dedicated to sharing written works, preferably in UL format of course, that have provided inspiration and companionship on or off trail. Offhand, I can recall a few suggestions from the "One Luxury" discussion, such Wilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" from Don Wilson, and Merton's "Thoughts on Solitude" from JR. I'm sure there are many other recommendations scattered throughout BPL.
So, is there a particular author or genre that keeps you warm on long, snowbound winter nights? A quote that steers the wanderings of your mind along leafy, isolated stretches of forest? Do you enjoy a touch of adventure, local history, philosophy, romance, or environmental biology with your vistas? Is your preference to read about solitude in solitude, or to read aloud to significant others? Have you given or received reading material on the trail?
I’ll start things off with a passage from Chapter 26 of John Steinbeck’s “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” (1951). One of Steinbeck’s lesser known works, and based on a 1940 voyage from Monterey to the Sea of Cortez, it is part adventure, part marine biology, and part idiosyncratic philosophy.
“We sailed in the morning on the short trip to Guaymas. It was the first stop in a town that had anything like communication since we had left San Diego. The world and the war had become remote to us; all the immediacies of our usual lives had slowed up. Far from welcoming a return, we rather resented going back to newspapers and telegrams and business. We had been drifting in some kind of dual world- a parallel realistic world; and the preoccupations of the world we came from, which are considered realistic, were to us filled with mental mirage. Modern economies; war drives; party affiliations and lines; hatreds, political, and social and racial, cannot survive in dignity the perspective of distance.”