Out There tells a pensive, thought provoking and immersive story of being outdoors. In it, author Chris Townsend fleshes out his 40-year experience of climbing mountains and walking cross-country. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of — at least by travel junkies and myself.
That said, Out There is very much an approachable book. Most other outdoors books are usually bogged-down by technical mumbo-jumbo and humblebrag feats of conquest. On the other hand, Townsend writes as if his adventures could be done by anyone, and implied that he himself started out as a clueless beginner.
He does advice being prepared, but he says so in a manner that is welcoming, warm and inspiring. An outdoorsman through and through, he shares the lessons of his errors, like how a torch could have kept him from stumbling over rocks and falling into bogs.
But aside from those helpful bits of tips, I was awed by Townsend’s clear-sightedness and thoughtfulness. It’s as if his opinions were patiently and carefully distilled during his hours of solemn contemplation while on the trail. This is obvious throughout Out There — which is actually a collection of his best articles. The articles were originally published in the John Muir Trust Journal, Adventure Travel, The Great Outdoors and other magazines.
Townsend is an evangelist of his own view of what the outdoor life is: going through the roads less traveled, figuring out an itinerary as you go, and setting up “stealth camps” to encounter wildlife more often. But he is never preachy, and that is obviously a good thing. Fans of writings about great adventures will also find a lot to explore into in Out There. There’s the immersive stories of ski touring explorations, like those in the Yukon and Spitsbergen. And there’s the awe-inspiring accounts from his “major” expeditions, notably the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile walk to Canada from Mexico.
Out There: A Voice From The Wild is now available in paperback and digital format. It is published by the Sandstone Press LTD, who also published Chris Townsend’s other books like the Grizzly Bears and Razor Clams.