Thousand-Mile Summer

Retracing Colin Fletcher’s trans-California walk

In March 1958, the American outdoor icon Colin Fletcher set off to walk through California, from the Mexican border to Oregon. While his initial motive was just getting to know the country he had just moved to, his book about this voyage made him the father of modern backpacking for his lyrical and practical writings on hiking and experiencing nature. He inspired generations to journey into the wilderness and made backpacking a part of our culture. His first book, The Thousand-Mile Summer, became a journal of what he called ‘contemplative walking’ and initiated his career of unsurpassed journeys into the wild and subsequent publications.

In March 2008, entrepreneur and outdoor adventurer Andreas M. Cohrs observed the 50th anniversary of Colin Fletcher’s Thousand-Mile Summer by following in the Walker’s footsteps from the Mexican border to Oregon, through desert and High Sierra.

In the grand tradition of the travel memoir, Andreas M. Cohrs presents an awesome guide to the less visited regions of California as well as a glance into what makes up the Golden State and its glittering mentality.

California Map The Thousand Mile Summer RouteAndreas M. Cohrs: “Those who knew the California of the 1950s and who know it today may (I hope) find Colin’s spirit in the book again and pack their traps to follow in our footsteps.

The chain of serendipities that enabled me to find his tracks, not only by memorizing his book but actually by using his original maps, his notes, and pictures, prefaces the book. I compared Fletcher’s experiences with my own, and how he saw the country then with how I experienced it 50 years later. Still it remains an account of one of the most awe inspiring and diversified hikes you can give yourself over to, both into the wild and through small-town California.

I have written about California’s wilderness, its remotest places and the people I met along the way. The book is enriched with interesting facts about the earliest explorers and the history of the places and sites we both came through, and with photos of the land, its flora and fauna.

With my writing I wish to encourage people to venture into nature. To experience it, feel it, learn to take what nature has to offer and appreciate it. Being in nature, we are balanced, made well, reconnected to the primordial. But just as importantly, the best experiences we have is by merging hikes into the wilderness with sojourns in small towns. It is here that we discover the hospitality of our fellow human beings, those who make the possibilities of our trip into the unknown future so wonderful.”

For pictures taken along the route click here.


  1. Along the Colorado (Algodones, MEXICO, paralleling the river where possible, to Needles)
  2. Across the Mojave (Sacramento Hills to Goffs, home of the MDHCA, crossing the Mojave preserve to Silurian Hills)
  3. The Valley Called Death (Saratoga Springs, Amargosa Valley and Death Valley, to Stovepipe Wells)
  4. Over the Panamints (Lemoigne & Cottonwood Canyons, Hunter Mt., Saline & Eureka Valleys, to Deep Springs)
  5. On the White Mountains (Wyman Canyon, Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountain Summit, Silver Canyon, to Big Pine)
  6. In High Sierra (Owen’s Valley, Piute Pass, Selden Pass, Silver Pass, Mammoth Pass, to Mammoth Lakes)
  7. Craters of History  (Mono Craters, Mono Lake, Bodie, to Bridgeport)
  8. The Northern Sierra (East Walker River, Buckeye Canyon, West Walker River, Sonora, Silver King, to Markleeville)
  9. Tahoe Donner (Lake Tahoe, Donner Pass, Truckee, to Honey Lake)
  10. Warner Mountain Surprise (South Warner Wilderness, Summit Trail, Surprise Valley, Highgrade, to New Pine Creek, OREGON

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