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Like John Muir, David Pitt-Brooke stepped out for a walk one morning – a long walk of a thousand kilometres or more through the arid valleys of southern interior British Columbia. He went in search of beauty and lost grace in a landscape that has seen decades of development and upheaval. In Crossing Home Ground he reports back, providing a day-by-day account of his journey's experiences, from the practical challenges – dealing with blisters, rain and dehydration – to sublime moments of discovery and reconnection with the natural world.
Through the course of this journey, Pitt-Brooke's encounters with the natural world generate starting points for reflections on larger issues: the delicate interconnections of a healthy landscape and, most especially, the increasingly fragile bond between human beings and their home-places. There is no escaping the impact of human beings on the natural world, not even in the most remote countryside, but he finds hope and consolation in surviving pockets of loveliness, the kindness of strangers and the transformative process of the walking itself, a personal pilgrimage across home ground.
Crossing Home Ground is a book that, though rooted in one specific place and time, will evoke a universal sense of recognition in a wide variety of readers. It will appeal to hikers, natural-history enthusiasts and anyone who loves the wild countryside and is concerned about the disappearance of Canada's natural spaces. Pitt-Brooke's grassland odyssey is sure to become a classic of British Columbia nature writing.
Dr David Pitt-Brooke is a retired veterinarian, naturalist and the author of Chasing Clayoquot: A Wilderness Almanac (Raincoast Books, 2004, Greystone Books, 2010), hailed by The Globe and Mail as "A Thoreau for Clayoquot". His writing focuses on topics related to science, natural history and the environment.