There are so many books about the Lewis and Clark expedition, and
so many editions of their journals that they easily fill a small
library. So why this book? What makes this book different from other
guidebooks, coffee table books, and accounts of the journey?
For one, this book aims to get readers out of their cars and into
the landscape of the Lewis and Clark Trail - hiking, paddling, backpacking
and biking - to sense how that country might have looked when the
Corps of Discovery ventured through. It points readers out into
open spaces where they'll confront the elements and see and discover
things for themselves: A pelican sliding into the water by the bow
of your kayak, monkey-flower blooming by a mountain stream, glimpsing
a salmon in its spawning dance, the sound of prairie dogs chattering
into the silence of the sunset, walking among old-growth trees in
a Northwest forest or realizing that the view from your campsite
on the Missouri has not changed for over 200 years.
This is not a whistle-stop guidebook that whisks readers from one
historic landmark to the next, but a guide for travelers who like
to get off the highway, away from convenient access to cold drinks
and restrooms, and who are willing to learn about, become actively
engaged with, and help care for the places they visit. America's
use of this land over the past two centuries has caused enormous
changes in its ecological integrity. This book is designed to help
readers learn the importance of conserving and restoring what remains
of that original landscape.
While the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition inspired
Sierra Club Books to commission this guide, this book is not intended
to encourage an all-out recreational assault on the landscape but
to help people gain a deeper understanding of this countryside -its
natural history, and current conservation issues - whenever they
choose to go.
The first two hundred years of calling this land "ours"
has been an era of using natural resources as if there were no tomorrow.
Learning the landscape's history - and how beautiful it can be ---
should help us live in a way that ensures that this land not merely
persists but truly continues to thrive. This book takes advantage
of this occasion to nudge a few more people in that direction.