Saturday, December 13, 2008

Milt McAuley 1919 - 2008

Topanga Sate Park

“Every step hiked takes your troubles farther away.”

    We lost a great man and champion for ‘urban wild’ this past Wednesday. Milt McAuley, who wrote the first hiking guide to the Los Angeles area and was an avid hiker until age 85, passed on of natural causes.

    He grew up, literally, in the outdoors; his father was an engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad and one year the family lived in a tent for a year as they followed a work train through the Oregon wilderness. He was a boy scout and led hiking and backpacking trips from age 16. One of the 10 hikers who plotted the Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mountains, he also led a 7-day hike across that trail when he was 83.

    McAuley was a firm believer in letting more people know about hiking trails, despite some critics that felt the areas should be protected. He said,  “If you don’t build a trail and invite people in, someone would come along and subdivide the land. To preserve parkland, you need to access to it. Otherwise nobody will vote the funds to acquire it.”

    So long, Milt. I know you are hiking the hills of Summerland and watching down upon those of us who love this Earthly land as you did, and guiding us to continue our promotion and protection of this great gift.

[Composed to Capercaillie's "When You Return"]

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