Mr. Wood

Posted by Ken Campbell July 3, 2009 0 Comment 645 views

Many of Robert Wood’s best books are out-of-print now, which is a shame. I understand why the guide books might be discontinued, since they need to be revised and rewritten every now and then to keep them current. (Bob Wood doesn’t update his work much anymore on account of he died some years ago.) So, even though I love the Olympic Mountains Trail Guide and still use it to plan my trips, I can accept that it has been allowed to go fallow.

But Across the Olympic Mountains and Trails Country? These are not guide books, they are portraits of a place; they are art, in the way that so many books try to be, but aren’t. They dazzle with deftly chosen words yet come across as familiar, while all the while continuing to inform in shimmering prose. Yes, they are books that can guide your travels, but they can guide your thoughts as well, presenting history, ecology, and politics with humor and wisdom.

Robert Wood was a magnificent writer with a strong commitment to the Olympics. He first came to the area in 1946, and for the next half-century, he walked the trails and the backcountry of his favorite place. That love of the land came through in every line he wrote. In the best tradition of writing, he wrote about what he knew, and what he knew were the stories of the Olympic Peninsula.

Men, Mules and Mountains. Lt. O’Neil’s Olympic Expeditions. These titles and others are still out there, if you know where to look. But you should definitely start looking soon.

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