Harvey Manning: Part 1

You may know Harvey Manning from his statue near the Trail Center in Issaquah. You’re more likely to know him as the author of the Footsore and 100 Hikes series of trail guides. I don’t remember when I first heard Manning’s name, but I do remember the first time I met him, by chance outside of City Hall, wearing a trademark holey sweater and not looking much like someone who had just come from a city meeting. Strangely, given that Harvey granted me permission to rewrite his classic Cougar Mountain Guidebook, I only was with Harvey in person three or four times before he passed in 2006. And only one time was it a personal meeting:  a meeting at his house, the infamous “200 meter hut”–or “existing shack” as it was labeled on a nearby developer’s plans–to discuss my edition of the book.

I was incredibly honored to rewrite his book. The book, as published in 2000, is really a strange example of co-authorship. The Issaquah Alps Trails Club paid to have the original book scanned. I fixed all the 1998 OCR scanning mistakes one line at a time. But then I began the task of inserting my own observations of the changing landscape of Cougar Mountain and its peripheral trails into the structure of Harvey’s original guide. Sometimes you can tell which parts are still Harvey’s writing (it’s way more colorful and opinionated than mine), sometimes it’s hard for me to distinguish now. You could call me cheeky or disrespectful for daring to add my text to Harvey’s classic text, decades his junior in both chronological age and trails authority. But it really was respect. I wanted to update the book, in the spirit of Harvey’s undying trails advocacy, so that details on the ground stayed accurate. But I also loved his text and kept as much of it as I could. To try to rewrite the whole thing from scratch would have been far cheekier and far more disrespectful than the weird collage of Harvey-and-me that is my 2000 edition.

Harvey was a true original. Most of his letters to me, in the late 90s, were typed on an old manual typewriter on the backside of scratch paper already printed with other content. He didn’t care about appearances, or perhaps through a subconscious logic, his defiance of expectations made his presentation of things truly stand out. I still have reams of his almost indecipherable handwritten notes, scrawled in the margins of copies of his original book…edits he wanted me to make. I consider them a treasure. When he was alive, we had the treasure of the real Harvey. But since his death, I see us beginning to honor him not for his sake, but for ours. More about this in “Part Two”.

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