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The Death of a Guide | 100 Hikes

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The Death of a Guide

Posted By on November 2, 2009 in Blog, Motivation | 4 comments

Whom do you rely on most for advice on where to hike? A friend? A website? If you’re an avid hiker like me, you probably have a shelf full of various hiking books to help you out. Living in California, there are countless choices for books to look through for advice, but one author stands out more than any other on my shelf: Ron Adkison.

Ron Adkison is the author of over a dozen books on hiking in the west, all under the FalconGuides name. He thoroughly researched each hike by trekking the trail – sometimes more than once – and has accumulated more than 12,000 trail miles in his 50 years of life. I’ve appreciated the detail he adds into each hike description, such as water availability, which topo maps to use, and if any fees or permits are necessary. His descriptions are straight-forward and easy to understand, even without the well-drawn maps included with all hikes.

It was this appreciation for his detail that lead me to try to contact him recently. I had just hiked with two friends into the Arrastre Canyon in the San Bernardino Mountains in search of the “Champion Joshua Tree,” the largest Joshua Tree in the world. As far as I know, Ron Adkison is the only author to write about hiking in this area of the mountains, located just northwest of Big Bear Lake, California. I wanted to contact him to inform him of the unfortunate news that the impressive yucca had fallen but to thank him for introducing me to the unique landscape found on the hike. But when searching for a way to contact him online, I learned of even more disheartening news than the fallen tree: The exceptional hiking author had recently died.

The last chapter of his life took place in mid-September of this year, on a warm autumn Sunday in Grand Junction, Colorado. I cannot find the cause for his death online, but for a man who hiked 1,000 miles the previous year, I’m willing to bet he was on a trail, doing something he loved. His obituary was printed in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Ron Adkison seems to let his books speak for himself. He didn’t have many public appearances or interviews, from what I can gather. All I really know about the man is from the short section in his books, which all say about the same thing. In one of his most recently published works, Hiking Grand Canyon National Park (2nd Edition – 2006), the short blurb in the back of the book states that he “began his outdoor explorations in Southern California at age six.” Others have said more about Ron than Ron has, it appears. A web search for him showed that his guidebooks were highly respected by other authors and he’s mentioned in dozens of publications other than his own, including Backpacker Magazine and Lonely Planet.

The FalconGuides website shows that Ron Adkison was working on two books scheduled to be released in May of next year: Best Easy Day Hikes Grand Canyon National Park, 3rd Edition (ISBN: 0-7627-5527-X) and Best Easy Day Hikes Book and Map Pack: Grand Canyon National Park (ISBN: 0-7627-5971-2). It is not known if the books were complete enough to be released, but nevertheless, Adkison’s well-written books will be out there, continuing to offer interesting hikes to readers like me.

Ron Adkison. Remember the name the next time you’re out hiking. He might very well be the man who pointed you to this trail.

4 Comments

  1. Phil B November 3, 2009

    A very nice write up. Too many of the authors who taught us and sent us out on our own to learn and explore life for ourselves go unheralded.

  2. 100Peaks November 3, 2009

    Agreed.

    “We are like dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients.”
    - Bernard of Chartres, circa 1130

  3. Phil B November 3, 2009

    A very nice write up. Too many of the authors who taught us and sent us out on our own to learn and explore life for ourselves go unheralded.

  4. 100Peaks November 3, 2009

    Agreed.

    “We are like dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients.”
    - Bernard of Chartres, circa 1130

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