Perhaps we grin back with our own secret smile, keeping the Big Secret. We know, just as John Muir knew: we have something special, something undeniable that no others know until they have stepped into the backcountry and shared that special kinship with the wilderness. We all have found something there that renews us and gives us a measure of peace. We find something there that we cannot get anywhere else, and it changes our life forever. Muir knew that simple truth when he wrote:

"I only went out for a walk, but resolved to stay till sunset, for going out, I found, was really going in."

Many who are reading this know what it means to have gone on a backcountry trip, perhaps as a lark, only to have it become a life obsession, while others have known the truth of their lives from their childhood. Whatever it was that captured our souls, it compels us to follow the wild trails until our own sun sets, and in the process follow the path inward.

Friends, you are reading the inaugural issue of American Trails. I would not of started this difficult task if I didn't believe there are others out there who feel like Muir and I do about backcountry travel. This leads to my editorial philosophy here at Trails. This is a digital magazine devoted to the backcountry wilderness traveler. While I do enjoy and read the other magazines devoted to the outdoors to various degrees, I became dissatisfied with the areas they lacked or covered to an extent short of my expectations. Those magazines too often try too hard to be everything to everyone. My friends and acquaintances also seemed to echo my sentiments: there does not seem to be real solid hard information that focuses on the special needs of the wilderness traveler, in particular, the Backpacker/Knapsacker. Alot of things I learned by trial and error I have never seen in print. Every trip seems to have its own requirements: so where is the information to make the right preparation decisions? And while there are many fine trail books, they are often out of date, are terse in their information, and confine themselves to a few black and white pictures and thumbnail sketch maps.

What I propose to do is this:

Every issue will feature a detailed trail report, with color maps, and color pictures of some of the highlights. No amount of journalism can do justice to the wilderness (just ask John Muir), so we won't be spoiling your surprise or wonder. However, by the end of the feature, you will be able to decide if the trip is for you.

I will provide tips and suggestions relevant to different types of trips and conditions.

I will address a topic of concern particular to Backpack/Knapsacker.

Yes, Trails will have equipment reviews and comparisons, providing as much depth relevant to our special needs as we can from our unique point of view.

If my feedback warrants, there will be reader mail and tips. Send mail to Sierra Trails simply by clicking here!

I will direct our readers to other sources of information.

Trails will keep everyone brushed up on all of our wilderness ethics.

I will try to bring in some renown writers, mountaineers, cross country travelers, backpackers, and explorers to interview and provide guest features.

The scope will be limited at first, due to the size of this "magazine". At first, the trip reports will be confined to the High Sierras, but this publication is not called American Trails for nothing. When I say American, I mean North, South, and Central America, so anywhere in the Americas where there is wilderness and trails is fair game. However, while this grows, there will always be coverage of the High Sierras every issue.

Well friends, here you have it. I hope you like what you see, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Be patient as I am learning the best way to create WEB pages: I am trying to maximize the amount of data by JPEGing all the pictures (sorry if your browser does not like *.jpg images), but the process messes with the colors, and I am trying to fix that. I am also trying to keep it looking like a magazine and get around the limitations of HTML. Oh well. So until next issue, I leave you with the words of John Muir:

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." John Muir

Doyle W. Donehoo

Editor and Founder

"Happy Trails"

The Branch Page