The peripatetic Welshman and author, with Chip Rawlins, of The Complete Walker -- the veritable bible of backpacking -- devoted his later life to walking and writing. His published journeys include: A walk from Mexico to Oregon, recounted in The Thousand Mile Summer; a journey, on foot, across the length of the Grand Canyon, the subject of The Man Who Walked Through Time; and a journey down the Colorado, from its source to the sea, retold in River.
Fletcher prized solitude and, as such, loathed guidebooks, but all his work helped the uninitiated to know the simple joys and lasting rewards of walking away from civilization to camp under the stars. Sounding like a latter-day Muir, he wrote in The Complete Walker that, "Under most conditions, the best roof for your bedroom is the sky. This commonsense arrangement saves weight, time, energy, and money."
Sadly, his days in the outdoors were few toward the end. As this eulogy in Backpacker explains, Fletcher never fully recovered from injuries he sustained in 2001, when he was struck by an SUV near his home in Monterey, California. A year later, he told an editor from that magazine:
Before the accident, I was ready to do magnificent trips at 80. We all fail at some point. That's why it's better to let it happen sometimes -- to give up. I haven't given up yet, and I don't think I will, but I can see the advantages of it.Colin Fletcher died on June 12. He was 85.