Outside magazine, June 1998
Letters: The Lagging Response
Bill Bryson's story about his woeful friend Katz and their Appalachian Trail misadventures ("You Gotta Have Friends. Which Is Damned Unfortunate," April) reminded me of a hike in New Hampshire's White Mountains. My partner constantly trailed far behind, and it was not until we camped for the night that I discovered the reason for his Katzian pace:
two large and heavy GRE study guides crammed into his pack. So much for getting away from it all.
Having the good fortune to live in Asheville, North Carolina, for six years, I frequented the AT whenever possible. One of the most entertaining parts of my forays into the mountains was seeing the novice "through-hikers" act out their delusions of grandeur atop a windy mountain range.
|Vaughan R. Cipperly
About Bryson and Katz: They couldn't possibly have made it, could they?
|Susan and Peter Graf
Nevada City, California
The editors reply: Possibly, yes. Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, published this month by Broadway Books, has the whole story.
I enjoyed Nelson Schwartz's article about green stocks and mutual funds ("When the Giant Sequoia Talks, People Listen," April). When I talked to my broker, however, I learned that things aren't as clear-cut as they seem. It's admirable that Orbital Sciences Corporation uses its hardware to track environmental trends, but another of its applications is as a missile tracking or
targeting system. This underscores the problem with socially conscious investing — it's hard to know exactly what you're getting into.
Los Angeles, California
Schwartz suggested Vail resorts as an environmentally and socially sound stock. Sorry, but Vail fails on both counts. For years, the ski company has been battling environmental groups over a proposed 885-acre expansion that pushes into prime endangered lynx habitat. Socially, the corporation has a history of degrading the quality of life for residents of the ski towns in which it
operates. Low wages have resulted in long and dangerous commutes for workers and crowded housing conditions. Jobs go unfilled each season because of the high cost of living. While the stock may have potential, nobody should be led to believe that the MTN ticker symbol represents anything but a bottom-line mentality.
Tim Cahill's "The Platypus Prophecy," (Out There, March) has a passage that extends beyond Outside's usual realm of excellence. His comments about a partying platypus and the venomous Platypus High conjured images of such delight that I've been reading them to everyone I know.
State College, Pennsylvania
It's Only Natural
Dick Person is an inspiration. Until I read "Unfrozen Caveman Camper Tells All" (April), I was seriously doubting my decision to pursue a career as a forest ranger. The articles by Hampton Sides and John Skow have given me a second wind.
Staten Island, New York
Several years ago, Person arrived at our house carrying a cutting from some plant he had found on nearby Mount Diablo and a small teapot for his ginseng. (My son had worked for Person at his wilderness workshop on Tagish Lake.) I felt guilty for not having left any sphagnum moss in our bathroom, but he seemed to manage.
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