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.


In nature, you should always ‘leave no trace’

I can’t stand  graffiti. Something about it just screams immaturity. You really can’t go anywhere without writing your name all over everything?

So it pisses me off even more when people destroy nature with their sophomoric attempts at “art” or “marking territory.”

An example of graffiti we came across on a boulder while hiking in Angeles National Forest.

For starters, it’s not art. It’s crap. Especially in nature. The great outdoors is infinitely more beautiful than your dumb drawings.

Most importantly, it’s not your territory. Not even close. It’s everybody’s territory. When you tag a rock, or carve your name into an aspen tree, or practice any other similar display of stupidity, you are desecrating sacred places.

Nature is a temple, after all.

You have a responsibility to preserve our wilderness areas for future generations. Your children’s children should have the opportunity to hike the same pristine patch of woods you hiked 100 years ago.

Maybe we need to emphasize Leave No Trace ethics more in schools and in public. Leave No Trace is about as self-explanatory as possible. Basically, don’t leave a trace. How easy is that? So easy, even the idiots who tag nature could possibly grasp the philosophy.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how to prevent graffiti in nature. Personally, I’m losing all hope. I was on a hike yesterday up near San Francisco when I came across a really cool rock spire that was unfortunately full of graffiti. The idea of setting up a wildlife camera trap to catch the morons came to mind, but what’s the point?