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Sierra Magazine
Field Guide: Daring and Dangerous

by Editor-in-chief Joan Hamilton

In 1893 the premier edition of this magazine led readers on an epic hike up Mt. Whitney. Author Hubert Dyer started at Lone Pine and walked westward on a wagon road until the Owens Valley desert bumped up against the sheer wall of the Sierra. The real climbing began amid twinkling granite and streams filled with golden trout. Days of sublime struggle later, he reached the stark pile of rocks that marks the highest point in the lower 48 states. "It is about seventy miles by the shortest trail to the summit . . . a week's wanderings in an almost trackless wilderness," explained Dyer. "Any one wishing to ascend this peak must be prepared for the roughest kind of mountain work. But it is worth the trouble."

Sierra is still about struggle and adventure-whether it's the heights of the Sierra Nevada, the canyons of the Kaiparowits, or the livable cities we hope for, examine, and celebrate in this issue. What makes us distinctive as a magazine, though, is our dedication to defending the places we so thoroughly enjoy. "Tell us what we can do!" you, our readers, urge. We try to respond with the tools you need, because (in an age said to be passive and cynical) you vote, write letters, send e-mails and faxes, and believe that people working together can shape a better world. "Idealistic," some would say. "Dangerous," say the people whom you have defeated.

Providing you with a daring and "dangerous" magazine requires occasional head-scratching. Are we nurturing your passion for nature? Are we aggressively tracking down environmental crimes? Are our pages intriguing and appealing? Do we offer news of solutions as well as problems? Are we delivering a magazine that is fresh, yet rooted in the century-old strengths of the Sierra Club?

Our latest responses to these questions will unfold over the next three issues. You may have already noticed that we have a new look. In our July/August and September/October issues, some old-favorite departments, like "Priorities," with its sharp, short news stories, are getting more space and graphic attention. Some sections will be revamped and some will disappear, to be replaced by an eclectic "Mixed Media" section, a revealing "Mythbuster" column, and a visual treat called "Photo Op." "Field Guide" will add a personal touch, introducing you to our staff, our authors, and what goes into making an outdoor magazine with an activist attitude.

We hope you'll like our new design. One thing that won't change, however, is our basic mission. We are here to help you enjoy, explore, and protect the planet. Anyone who comes along on this adventure should be prepared for surprises, thoughtful provocation, even some rough work. We're not sure exactly where the path will lead, but we can promise you this: it will be worth the trouble.


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