2014 Introduction

Back in 1993, you could often find me reading natural history books while sitting on the green and grassy banks of the White River in Muncie, Indiana. The books took me far away from the banks of those placid and polluted waters which ran through a burnt-out factory town.

My 16-year-old mind was creaking open and just beginning to embrace famous authors from the environmental movement and Western American literature. I fell in love with Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Annie Dillard, Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez and Wallace Stegner, among others.

One of those others was Ed Abbey. My mom purchased ‘Desert Solitaire’ from a $1 clearance rack at the used book store thinking that ‘it might be up your alley’. Wow. Was it ever!! I simply loved Abbey and quickly started accumulating all of his books still in print.

While my love of Abbey is not what it once was, I still love certain essays, quotes and book portions. One of the more famous quotes that still means much to me goes like this:

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.

As you can see, the title for this journal derives from this quote. My desire to embrace life as fully as possible has led me to swear to myself that I will never pass up any chance to get outside and be active. I released my heart from the safe deposit box while on tour in 2013; this year on tour I’m completely discarding that box forever.

After thoroughly enjoying my wander around Wyoming in 2013, I decided that a meander through Montana would be a great focus for the next tour. Then I read this sobering fact: Glacier National Park had more than 150 glaciers in the early 1900s when the park was established. The park now has 25 glaciers. They are all expected to be gone by 2030. Holy moly, with that fact and the Ed Abbey quote in mind, we better get a move on!

Originally this tour was planned for 2015 but circumstances allow me to do the tour this year – so here we go!

I spent a lot of time here in high school, year-round, riding my bike along the river and sitting on the riverbanks reading books. It was along this boring midwestern river, while reading Stegner and Abbey, that my love of the western landscape began to sprout.

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