The best outdoor writing, I believe, is about people. Nature writing can be pretty, and environmental books can be convincing, but I ultimately crave the raw emotion of fellow human beings struggling to find and protect their place in the world.People are both the problem and the solution. Good outdoor writing reconnects people to nature—not through lectures, but through living, flesh-and-blood examples of courage and commitment. We feel the landscape through them.Here are a few of my favorite classic outdoor voices and books that should be on every environmentalist’s must-read list. Instead of preachy diatribes or flowery descriptions, they inspire me with gritty, gutsy characters—some legendary, some overlooked—who stand their ground and speak for the wild.The Last American Man by Elizabeth GilbertA 21st century pioneer living nearly self-sufficiently on a wild reserve in Appalachia, Eustace Conway embodies the ideals of American masculinity—ruggedness, courage, and independence. However, those hard-fought ideals have a price. Gilbert shows us the tired, lonely man behind the bravado. A tough, buckskin-clad maverick hunts for the one thing missing from his mountain refuge: love.Into the Wild by Jon KrakauerChris McCandless is either a stupid kid or self-reliant hero. He gives away all of his savings and wanders the wild, seeking adventure and an authentic relationship with the land—until he finds himself starving to death alone in the Alaskan wilderness. Barely able to lift a pen, he scribbles this final message, which continues to haunt and shape my own life: “Happiness only real when shared.”Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPheeMcPhee masterfully captures the nuances of one of the most influential modern environmentalists, David Brower. But don’t expect classic confrontations with battle lines clearly drawn; both McPhee and Brower are far more kaleidoscopic.Zoro’s Field by Thomas Rain CroweLiving alone and off-grid in an Appalachian cabin for four years (twice as long as Thoreau) and growing nearly all of his own food, Crowe’s memoir is a modern-day Walden, filled with wisdom gleaned only through a consciously simple, self-reliant life in the wild.Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse RayRay’s hardscrabble upbringing in a south Georgia junkyard is an unlikely start for an environmental luminary, but the rusted scrap heaps of her childhood are chock full of raw, resourceful characters—including an authoritarian father who locks his family in a closet and a snuff-dipping coon hunter who introduces her to the wild woods.The Lost Grizzlies by Rick BassGrizzly bears had not been seen for 15 years in southern Colorado until a small group sets out to find them. Bass seeks more than bears, though; he is tracking wildness and the longings of the human heart, which only are revealed in the presence of something larger.Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyIt’s definitely the most sermonizing selection of the bunch, but Abbey’s coarse, thunderous voice crying out for the wilderness still echoes across the desert he called home. Amid his nerve-tingling adventures as a park ranger, the monkey-wrenching anarchist unleashes forceful, full-blooded pleas for the last scraps of wildlands.
Before the USC men’s tennis team can bring an unprecedented fourth consecutive NCAA championship to Heritage Hall, it must begin its journey on the other side of the country.Chasing history · Senior Daniel Nguyen looks to help lead USC to a fourth straight NCAA championship, which would tie a collegiate record. – Mannat Saini | Daily TrojanNearly a week after accepting their championship rings last Saturday, the No. 1 Trojans will travel to Cambridge, Mass., to compete against No. 72 Harvard, No. 34 Michigan and No. 10 Texas A&M in the Harvard Crimson Invitational on Friday through Sunday. But 2011 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Peter Smith and company will have their work cut out with them with the absence of senior Steve Johnson, who, after finishing No. 1 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, opted to forgo his fall semester in preparation for turning professional.In his place, sophomore Ray Sarmiento, along with seniors Daniel Nguyen and Emilio Gomez, hope to shoulder up the load, with the three entering the season ranked No. 15, No. 16 and No. 66 respectively. As a freshman last season, Sarmiento received ITA All-American honors with Johnson after reaching the NCAA singles round of 16 and winning the 2011 Pac-10 doubles championship with Johnson.“[Sarmiento] is very athletic,” associate head coach George Husack said. “Last year he matured a lot in playing dual matches and certainly has developed pretty well.”Nguyen and Gomez each played a large role in topping No. 1 Virginia to clinch USC’s third consecutive championship last spring, and for the second year in a row, Nguyen clinched the championship for the Trojans with a win over No. 34 Sanam Singh. Meanwhile, Gomez went 4-0 in team tournament play, landing him NCAA All-Tournament honors.The two also received All Pac-10 Honorable Mentions and will help maintain a veteran presence with senior Ben Lankenau for a Trojans team that welcomes four freshmen to the squad.One of these freshmen is the promising Yannick Hanfmann, who joins the Trojans from Germany. He is ranked No. 2 in ITA Newcomers/Freshmen rankings and No. 932 in Association of Tennis Professionals rankings. Hanfmann’s ATP rank is impressive for his young age, considering no one else from the team is presently ranked.“[Hanfmann] is one of the best young fellows in Germany,” Husack said. “He’s a big guy with a big game. He still has a lot of maturing and developing to do, but he’s going to help us a lot.”Sophomores Corey Smith and Michael Grant and freshmen Eric Johnson, John Meadows and Jonny Wang round out the rest of the young, talented roster.While USC’s aim is unquestionably to notch a fourth straight NCAA title, it insists its focus is on the Harvard Crimson weekend invitational, as it prepares for what might become a historic season.
“Why shouldn’t I (think I can win the tournament)? I try to believe,” Williams said.“Should I look across the net and believe the person across the net deserves it more? This mentality is not how champions are made. I’d like to be a champion, in particular this year.“The mentality I walk on court with is: I deserve this.”Williams, ranked 17th in the world, will take on fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe for a place in Saturday night’s final in what she said is “a great win for the US”.She beat Russian 24th seed Anastasia Pavyluchenkova in straight sets to make it through.“I’m sure she’s going to want to be in her first final,” the seven-time grand slam winner said.“I’m going to want to be in only my second final here. So it’s going to be a well-contested match.”Vandeweghe, 25, has made consecutive semi-final appearances at the last two US Opens, with her previous best Australian Open showing being a quarter-final berth last year.While she said making it as far as today is “amazing”, she is anything but satisfied.“There’s more things to do out on a tennis court that I’m hoping to achieve.”The pair have only met once, but Vandeweghe echoed Williams’ excitement at sharing the experience with a compatriot.“To play an unbelievable player, future Hall of Famer, Venus, to be on the court with her, I’ve only experienced it one time before,” she said.“To have two Americans against each other in the semi-final I think is pretty cool.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Venus Williams is determined to maintain a champion mindset as she prepares for today’s all-American semi-final at Melbourne Park.The 36-year-old will become the oldest woman to play in an Australian Open semi-final, and the oldest semi-finalist at any grand slam in 23 years.And she won’t be letting anyone tell her she doesn’t deserve to be there.Venus Williams is eyeing her first Australian Open final since she played her sister in 2003. Picture: Wayne Ludbey