Guy Waterman, New England writer and pioneer for backwoods ethics, died near the summit of Mount Lafayette, a peak in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire, on February 6. Before hiking the mountain for the last time, Waterman, 64, of East Corinth, Vermont left letters for friends and family informing them of his final plans.
Friends and admirers retrieved his body from Mt. Lafayette on February 11 in snowy and windy conditions.
“He lived with such intensity that he couldn’t sustain it anymore,” Rebecca Oreskes, a friend who works in the White Mountain National Forest, told the New York Times. “He talked to us all about not wanting to grow old.”
Best known for his insightful contributions to the wilderness community, Waterman along with his wife, Laura, wrote four books about wilderness issues. They were: “Backwoods Ethics: Environmental Issues for Hikers and Campers” (1979), “Forest Crag” (1989), “Yankee Rock and Ice” (1993), and “Wilderness Ethics” (1993).
The White Mountains were like a second home for Waterman, who climbed all 48 of the 4,000 peaks in New Hampshire during the winter from all four sides. “He contributed an awful lot to the White Mountains community,” said Peter Crane of the Mount Washington Observatory and president of the New Hampshire Outdoor Council. “His writings provided a sense of history and real thoughtfulness and consideration of our role in woods and mountains. He will be sorely missed.”
In his writings, Waterman stressed preservation, backwoods ethics, and offered practical outdoor skills; often condemning untrained adventurers’ reliance on cell phones and other technologies.
Besides for being a mentor for many outdoor lovers, Waterman had worked as a jazz pianist in Washington and a speech writer for three presidents.