Need outdoor inspiration? Turn to Edward Abbey!

I always a feel a little guilty reading Edward Abbey indoors. Something tells me ol’ Ed would scoff at the idea of wasting a perfectly good day on his vitriolic political observations, his poetic rhapsodies, his straightforward survival advice.

Ed loved watching TV!

A waste of time it is not, Ed! For your books inspire future expeditions and outdoor exploits.

So it is along those lines of thinking that I present to you five handpicked Ed quotes in the hopes of you getting you back on the dusty trail.

1.Get off the beaten path, often.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” —EA

Some of the best moments I’ve had in nature came when I followed a crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous trail. The more you can distance yourself from the parking lot—and civilization as a whole, for that matter—the better.

2. Let the wind take you.

“For myself I hold no preferences among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!” —EA

Something tells me Ed is referring to more than flowers here.

3. Protect what is ours.

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” —EA

Nature is a funny thing. We are simultaneously terrified of it, and yet in awe of it. Where else can you replicate such a feeling? When we’re done bulldozing every last acre of wild space, the opportunity to do just that will be lost.

4. Being outdoors is in your blood.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” —EA

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re a full-time city slicker you’re confined to the urban grid. Deep down you’re a wild, crazy, adventurous soul, which the wilderness complements perfectly.

5.Turn off your flashlight!

“You can’t study the darkness by flooding it with light.” —EA

This too has hidden meanings I suspect, but for my own literal purposes, I kindly ask you to turn off the flashlight. Allow your eyes to adjust. It’s amazing how efficient your vision becomes in total darkness.



      1. No joke, I’ve had a buddy land on one of those lists after returning from the Pacific Northwest with a huge beard and a knife he totally forgot about in the bottom of his bag.

  1. I think I’ve read everything Abbey’s written. I fell in love with him after reading “The Monkey Wrench Gang” at a time when I was fortunate enough to roam the landscape he wrote about.

    1. I was thinking that reading “Desert Solitaire” last night! It’s fun to know the spots he’s referencing throughout the book.

  2. Ed seems like an ol’ cuss. Full of wisdom. I like that he uses the term “City slicker.” Haha! I’d hitch my wagon to his any day of the week. (Don’t read too much into that.)

  3. Some mighty fine quotes there. When we were in Helena last month we visited the Charles M Russell museum. He was a turn of the last century artist who did a lot of paintings and sculpture of the Montana area. Thinks like he did I am sure.

    1. Funny you should mention Charles Russell. I just finished the chapter “Down the River” in Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. In it, Abbey quotes Russel: “I have been called a pioneer. In my book a pioneer is a man who comes to virgin country, traps off all the fur, kills off all the wild meat, cuts down all the trees, grazes off all the grass, plows the roots up and strings ten million miles of wire. A pioneer destroys things and calls it civilization.”

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