The Man Who Walked Through Time–and a chance to get into Deep Trouble

 The Man Who Walked Through Time


Colin Fletcher


   I owe my thanks for my book Deep Trouble to three books that I scoured for details about the Grand Canyon. (Read on to find out how to get a chance to get into Deep Trouble….or at least win a copy of it. )

Those books that helped me are mentioned in my dedication page. But the one I wanted to talk about today is The Man Who Walked Through Time.

Colin Fletcher is to many the spiritual godfather of the wilderness backpacking movement. He struck out into the wilderness compulsively for years. And never did he find a greater wilderness to back pack through then when he became the first man to hike the length, south to north, of the Grand Canyon. He went on his journey in 1963. It took him two months. And it provided a description of the Grand Canyon in a way it had never been presented before.

The writing he did is part travelogue, and part spiritual journey. In The Man Who Walked Through Time, he talks about leaving civilization behind as if he strips it all away and reverts to a more primitive time as he walks deeper and deeper into the wilderness.

Well, there aren’t many wildernesses deeper than the Grand Canyon. I found this book invaluable because it was one man’s opinion. One man’s reaction to the canyon, told in first person. Reading it gave me details that I couldn’t find anywhere else, but it also gave me a lot of freedom because I realized as I read that Colin Fletcher’s experience was completely personal and my characters could respond personally, too.

He talked about a mountain goat materializing out of the fog. He talked about small horse hoofprints and the legend that miniature horses could be found in the canyon. He talked about abandoned villages and terrible heat and thirst. The utter aloneness. A simple blister that he feared might end his journey.

Fletcher was really knowledgeable about backpacking and survival in the wilderness. he prepared carefully for his trip, there was nothing spur of the moment about it. He arranged to have packs of food dropped at two different spots because he knew he couldn’t carry enough to make the whole journey. The book is considered one of the 100 greatest adventure books of all time.

Here is a scene in Deep Trouble that I wrote, inspired by a personal reaction of Fletchers to the vast canyon and the lure of it, at the same time he knew the risk he was taking by starting on his journey.

Deep Trouble

More time elapsed as they stood, five in a row, their horses behind them. They breathed in the extravagant splendor, the impossible depth and breadth of what lay before them.

            Finally the vastness of it forced Shannon to speak, thought it felt like sacrilege. “How can we ever find anything down there?”

            “There’s nothing to find, Shannon.” Gabe, on her right, reached over and took her hand. “Surely you can see that this is a wild place. Too rugged. Who would go down there? There’s no city to be found. And who would build a city of gold in there. Gold would be a pale insult in the midst of that.”

            She heard pity in his voice. That broke through what was a blissful moment. She had to almost physically tear her eyes away from the depths and rock sculptures, the layers of color, reds, browns, grays, whites, blues. Impossibly majestic.

            “Don’t you see, Gabe?” Their eyes met. “Of course it’s down there. This city has to be remote, it has to be hidden or it would have been found by now.”

            “You have to give it up, Shannon.” His words weren’t so much bossy as they were a plea to her. She remembered his arms around her. Remembered how close they’d come to being married.

            “If I was one of those bishops, looking for a place to hide and protect sacred objects,” she looked back at the terrifying wildness, the staggering beauty, “I would know the moment I saw this canyon, that I’d found the perfect place.”

            Gabe shook his head. “I see no trail. This can’t be where your father’s map leads.”

           “Give me a few more minutes to look at that…” Her hand swept wide to encompass what lay before them. “Then I’ll find the place where we can descend.”

         He nodded but didn’t speak. He clearly doubted her but she could see that he would stick. He had committed to this search, although with that snippy notion that he was on a fool’s errand and his main job would be to dry her tears. He had no hope of finding what Shannon knew her father had discovered. It hurt that he doubted her. But along with the hurt was pleasure that he was willing to help. She thought of her father. Her thoughts were too much with him, she knew. Her mother had so many times begged Shannon to let go of Delmer Dysart’s obsession and get on with a more conventional life.

            It was right now, as they stood on the edge of eternity that she finally truly saw why she was out here.

            She’d been rejected by her father all her life. Coming in a poor second to his work.

            At the sight of this Grand Canyon, she felt that maybe her father had picked something worthy over his daughter.

            If his work had meaning—if it had profound historical value—then maybe it was all right that he’d had no time for her. As she looked down into the canyon she understood how a person could become obsessed with something this magnificent to the detriment of his wife and child.

            And somehow that didn’t comfort her one bit.

            She had to admit that she’d come in second to a wonderful thing, but nothing should be more wonderful than love, than a child. However worthy this effort, she was still unimportant in his eyes.

            She almost told Gabe they could go. There was nothing for her to prove anymore. She finally grasped the truth and it was a terrible thing.

            But she didn’t say the words that would set her on a path to a calm, peaceful life in St. Louis.

            And not because of her father or treasure or pride. She stayed silent because the canyon called to her.

         “I want to go down there.” She turned to Gabe. “Don’t you? How can you not want to descend into that wild land.” And while she became part of this canyon, she would do her best, whether she found a city of gold or not, to let go of her last questions about her father and his poor love.

         “Get your map out.” Gabe drew in a deep breath as if he could absorb that view into his lungs. “Let’s see if we can find a way down.”

         Shannon looked at him, grateful for his generous willingness to go and was surprised to see a smile. “You’re looking forward to it. You want to go down there.”

         “I find that I do indeed.” Gabe smiled

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

38 thoughts on “The Man Who Walked Through Time–and a chance to get into Deep Trouble”

  1. The Man Who… sounds like an excellent book, whether you’re doing research on the canyon or not. I love the emotion in your scene, Mary. You say a lot in a few words. Now I’m really looking forward to reading the whole book!

  2. This sounds wonderful. We have the Grand Canyon on our RV trip wish list. But I read it is being damaged by pollution. So sad.

    I agree with Lizzie. You do have a way with words.
    Thanks for the enjoyment!

    Peace, Julie

  3. Gee,I thought for a moment you had wrote about my life im always in some sort of Deep Trouble,lol,,anyway great post,,sounds like a really great book

  4. Have you been there? Any of you? Do you know a lot about it? I was there once a long time ago. I’d love to go again, now that I’ve done so much research.
    And while I was researching it made me want to go down into it so badly.
    And take a river ride through it. The lure was incredible.
    I’d probably die. I’m not exactly in top shape. 🙂

  5. Love your cover, Mary, and your photo is beautiful. About 14 years ago, I made a raft trip down the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Ghost Ranch, then hiked out to the South Rim. The hike almost did me in, but what a magnificent place. Just indescribable.
    Trying to imagine Colin Fletcher’s experience hiking the length of it.

  6. The length of it is really different. He had to pretty much make up a trail. He didn’t even know, going in, whether he’d be able to do it and there were places he was in some danger and others where he walked along on ledges that were as easy as if it were a paved road. No water for long stretches, no access to the river. So he had to carry water, very heavy

  7. Living here in Arizona I have visited the Grand Canyon several times in all kinds of weather. It truly is an awesome site. Some of my friends have rafted the Colorado River there and they say it is quite an undertaking and very thrilling. The beauty one finds down at the bottom of the canynon is indescribable and serene.
    Your book sounds really good.

  8. Joye, when you say ‘undertaking’ you’re not talking like….with a real undertaker, right?

    Is it okay? Is it days and days and days?
    Could a relatively … ahem … out of shape woman survive it?
    I would so love to do this.
    Of course, what am I talking about? I can barely get to town for groceries. This is NEVER gonna happen.

  9. Hi Mary, first off let me say I love your books and I can’t wait to read Deep Trouble. I will have to say that I have never been to the Grand Canyon but maybe some day I will get there if not then I will just have to visit in books. I travel a lot that way. Thanks so much for sharing your books with us, there wonderful.

  10. What fascinating post. The Man Who Walked Through Time sounds like an interesting book for anyone to read to learn more about the Grand Canyon. I was at the Grand Canyon one time. I saw it from the South Rim and looking out over the Canyon was a beautiful view.
    Deep Trouble sound really good. I have added it to my list to get.

  11. Ohhh I’ve been wanting to read this since I saw it at Lifeway!
    It sounds sooo good… 🙂 Can’t wait to read it. (Love the cover by the way)
    – Lys

  12. Reading about the Grand Canyon is all the visiting
    of the area I will ever experience, especially at my age! This “older” woman would truly need the previous mentioned undertaker if I ever attempted the hike! I will try finding a video or film of someone else’s visit to the Canyon. I will be definitely getting copies of The Man Who… and Deep Trouble!

  13. Hi Mary, congrats on the book. I was wowed by the Grand Canyon not long ago and love reading book sete where I’ve been. I know I’ll be keeping this one! God bless.

  14. Love the title and cover… I enjoyed the excerpt, would love to go along their journey with them and see what they find and get themselves into!

  15. I got to see the Grand Canyon a very long time ago and would have loved to have taken a tour down below but we were with elderly parents. It’s on my bucket list. I really enjoyed your excerpt and would love to read more.

  16. Pat, I spent a LOT of time viewing youtube videos of the canyon. It’s amazing what you can find on Youtube. I also watched a video of a woman using hot rollers.
    I have soooooooooooo much to learn.

  17. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon but it’s on my list of the top 10 places I want to visit someday. The excerpt was great! The book is already on my TBR pile – can’t wait to read it.

  18. Enjoyed reading the blog today. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon several times…what can I say…that’s what Arizonans do. One of my college friends used to work in the Lodge there every summer and she used to tell us all kinds of interesting stories about the tourists that visited there. I’m an artist and love to paint the Canyon. Would love to read your story.

  19. Mary,

    The Grand Canyon is one of the most breath taking places I have ever seen. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book I have read every excerpt I can find.

    I live in AZ so I have a lot of special places here.

    Thanks for the post and Please enter me

    Walk in harmony,

  20. Love your books, Mary, and can hardly wait to read this one. Someday I hope to visit the Grand Canyon.

  21. I have heard of Mr. fletcher’s book and I think I have it on a shelf somewhere. I’ll have to look for it tomorrow. We have visited the Grand Canyon twice. The first time was little more than a drive by. The second time we were driving an RV and had my elderly aunt, my 11 year old nephew, our daughters (8 & 9) , and our son (8 months old) with us. We camped 2 or 3 nights. We started to hike down one day but didn’t get far. Our daughter had an allergic reaction to some medicine, resulting in a slow, halting climb back up. I would love to go back again and go to the North rim. Would really like to do some serious hiking there, but that last trip was 28 years ago and I am certainly not in good enough shape to try it now.

    I really like the sound of this book. I have always liked exploring. I hope the release has been going well.

  22. Love to read your books! With the Grand Canyon in it–I know it will be great. 🙂 Please put me in the drawing.

  23. Mary, so interesting how you’ve taken something as timeless as the Grand Canyon and woven such a story. Looking forward to reading. Thank you for all you do!

  24. One of your best blogs yet! The background about the man who walked through time just added to it even more. I love the Grand Canyon and the way it changes every hour of the day, with colors so radient that it is almost impossible to duplicate exactly. The first glimse of the edge of the world leaves you unable to comprehend the magnitude of what you are taking in. SO I can’t wait to jump into your journey to the city of gold! Add Stevie and I to your drawing…we have our fingers crossed! Cheri Horgan

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