Harvey Manning

Harvey in lupineHarvey Manning was NCCC’s most famous member, by virtue of his publications, the lengthy list of which includes The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland,  Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, Backpacking One Step at a Time, and the 100 Hikes and Footsore series that introduced so many people to the North Cascades. His career included time as a speechwriter for the President of the University of Washington.

He was a climber in his early days and frequently related the story of how he gradually came to realize action needed to be taken to protect the land he traveled so extensively. Excerpts from his writing were used to recreate his persona in The Irate Birdwatcher video. That was a nom de plume he used in The Wild Cascades for years, derived from a Seattle Times editorial in the 1960s that referred to conservationists like himself as “mountain climbers and birdwatchers” opposed to progress.

Harvey Manning’s final unpublished works

NCCC is honored to present Harvey’s final written works, a series of manuscripts that were still unfinished and unpublished at the time of his passing. Presented courtesy of his family, they are in the condition in which they were found, most typewritten, some showing editing markup, all entirely unique and never before available to the public.

Here’s how one box of his unpublished work looked when we found it. It took a long time to scan all those pages.P1520702

Now you can click the links below to read them in PDF format – and be amazed! (Note that the content of these documents does not necessarily reflect the opinion of NCCC now or at the time they were written – they express only the opinions of their author, Harvey Manning.) We’ve highlighted some of the best in bold.

“Sometimes in the mountains I feel strong and wander lonely as a cloud through rocks ancient before life began and through flowers that blossomed an hour ago, but then when I look at the sky it is not a sky of earth, and in the wind I hear such strange utterance…” -Harvey Manning, in Terror, Love, Adventure, Prayer

Five  < Five reworked classics and original tales
Fighting Forewords <A collection of the previously published forewords he wrote for many books, some of his most eloquent writing in defense of wilderness
Asleep Not in the Deep < A Kerouac-style reflection on sleep and dreams
The Decline and Fall of Backpacking <A satirical attempt to reverse his published writings’ effect of sending thousands of newbies into the wild
Gods, Devils, and Wilderness Pedestrians < A mix of autobiographical stories of his time as a University student and his climbing adventures, with a dash of theology
Summary of the Mt. Hornblower Hearings < Fictional description of hearings with thinly-disguised parallels to conservation battles
How We Saved Mother Milk <Fictional story of selling advertising for the “Mistville Star-Tribune”
The Making of a Mountain Bum  <Autobiographical story of how the Mannings made it
Mt. Everest & Me <A hiking and climbing autobiography
In The Long Run <Fictional or factual climbing stories
On The Trail Of The Milky Way <A journal of hiking and climbing experiences
Mister Pippa Passes  <Harvey walks the shore of Puget Sound (similar to his book Walking the Beach to Bellingham)
Terror, Love, Adventure, Prayer <A moving meditation on four sets of his life’s experiences, including the Red Scare
The World of Work, 1931-1971 <Harvey’s career
This Petty Place <How Harvey saved The Issaquah Alps
Unk is Coming Back <Fiction in Beat Generation style

Video of Harvey with his NCCC cohort in Stehekin

Harvey Manning appears near the end of the video clip below, having dinner with David Brower and describing how Brower asked him to write The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland. [Excerpt from For Earth’s Sake: The David Brower Story, 1989, (c) John DeGraff, used with permission]

Harvey was remembered by many in the Winter 2006-2007 issue of The Wild Cascades. Here’s an excerpt:

“Not long after I became president of this organization, Harvey Manning began sending me letters on a wide variety of subjects that seemed to have just popped into his head. He wrote these letters to people with his museum-quality manual typewriter on the back of envelopes or the blank side of bills and junk mail. He pushed the envelope on recycling. Often my letter would be a smudged carbon of something that had gone to some other NCCC member. Despite the lack of sophisticated media presentations, the content of these letters was fascinating. The topics were often rambling but never boring communiqués that could be on virtually any subject, from trails to national politics. I could never understand why an author of Harvey’s stature would use his time to bring me up to speed on the latest things racing through his mind… He was a guy who was able to see the big picture, figure out what the long-range approach should be, and then articulate his message in written form. It is unlikely that there will ever be another one like Harvey, able to use Shakespeare, the Classics, and his own wit to cut a pompous bureaucrat down to size. The best we can hope for is a core group of people with the will to stay on the cutting edge of the movement. When I look back on the truly important things Harvey was able to accomplish with his typewriter and attitude, it makes me more determined than ever to do what I can to carry on with the same spirit…” -Marc Bardsley


Betty and Harvey Manning (1950, Somewhere in the Canadian Rockies), courtesy the Manning family

You can read a short biography of Harvey on HistoryLink.org.

You can order Harvey’s history of Cascades conservation, Wilderness Alps: Conservation and Conflict in Washington’s North Cascades here.