Charles J Cook
October 2, 1945 – October 26, 2018
Charles J. Cook. Born October 2, 1945 in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Charles and Frances Cook. Died at age 73, at Joe Raso Hospice, Rockland County, New York on October 26, 2018. He grew up in Michigan, and after graduating with a BA in Psychology from Kalamazoo College he moved to New York City. His life's work was focused on helping people commune with nature in a simple, direct manner. He wrote five outdoor books, including "Awakening to Nature: Renewing Your Life by Connecting with the Natural World", Contemporary Books, 2001. In 1973 he became one of the first 100 people to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail end-to-end from Georgia to Maine in a single trip. He then led more than 2400 trips and hiked an estimated 75,000 miles. Charlie guided all of Wild Earth Adventures' hikes: 2 hikes per week, 50 weeks per year for decades. He is survived by his sister, Rosemary Cook MD of Philadelphia, and the hundreds of hikers whose lives he affected immeasurably. A not-for-profit organization is being planned to preserve and continue his life's work. Information related to memorials and commemorations will soon appear on the website of his creation: WildEarthAdventures.com
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Charles J Cook
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November 14, 2018
The world was always a better place whenever I hiked with Charlie. No matter the destination or the season, being out in nature with Charlie was the reason to be there. Whether we followed the trails, or bushwhacked, it was always an adventure. For Charlie, sudden rainstorms, snowstorms, or flooded streams which made crossing difficult were all part of the fun. Bear and deer sightings were added bonuses. What made Charlie's hikes unique was that many of them were in little known areas off-the-beaten path, and all of them had Charlie.
With Charlie as our guide, we reveled in glorious fall hikes with stunning foliage, and spring hikes with bright, fresh new leaves. Summer hikes always included a section near a river, lake, or waterfall. Charlie knew that winter hikes, with the crisp cold air and snow-filled woods were my favorite. He called it "Elaine weather."
I loved hearing his thoughts about the environment, the weather, food and films. I felt safe because Charlie knew the trails like the back of his hand. I eagerly looked forward to Charlie's weekly emails which included quotes from environmentalists and nature writers, along with Charlie's own beautiful prose accompanied by pictures from our recent hikes.
In the early 1970's Charlie was among the first to hike the full Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine. He never stopped hiking. Thank you, Charlie for all those wonderful years doing what you loved to do, and for including us. Even though you are no longer on this earth, you have made an indelible impact on my life that will last forever. I'll sorely miss your kindness, your gentle voice, your intelligence, your humor, and your infectious love of nature. Yours are truly impossible boots to fill!
November 13, 2018
Charlie introduced me to nature and made us close friends. I don’t know if it would have happened with any other person or in any other circumstance. Charlie never preached or presented himself as a guru. He simply loved nature and invited us to enjoy it with him. After a few hikes, I realized that Charlie—so strong, straightforward, funny, comfortable—had the same happy effect on me as walking along a stream, or taking in the colors and climates of each season. He was such a good person to be around, and I tried to stay close to him when we hiked. I could have walked around the block with Charlie and felt fulfilled.
I miss him so much. He will be my friend on the trail forever.
November 12, 2018
Charlie was able to attract different people and his kindness, humor and intellect kept them glued together. People who hiked with Charlie call him a friend because he treated them as a friend.
Charlie’s passion for hiking and camping shaped his philosophy and he lived that way – the thing most of us have no courage to do.
Many things around Charlie go with the word ‘LOVE”. He loved the wild nature, he loved hiking and camping, he loved sharing his views with the people, he loved what he was doing and his Wild Earth Adventures and he loved us, those who followed him and relied on him.
And I am sure that he is looking at us from his Heavenly trails, guiding and protecting us.
Rest in peace, Charlie, and the mountains and the woods, the streams and the lakes, all the wild nature will be a monument for you in our minds. We miss you very much.
November 12, 2018
Everyone who has hiked with Charlie knows his stories. He loved to remember the adventures and misadventures of individual hikers and the group, always told with affection and sometimes bemusement. A cantaloup for lunch? Hiking in high heels? Looking for a portapotty on the trail? The story he probably told most about me was the "lost bra" incident. On a blissfully warm summer hike, I changed into my bathing suit in the woods and plunged into a cool pond. When it came time to dress, I couldn't find my bra. I knew it was hung in a tree somewhere. The search for the missing bra ensued (I did find it, but I never lived down the infamy). Before that incident I was known for having taken a butt full of thorns when I fell on a winter hike (I wasn't hurt). I think all of us cherished Charlie's good natured ribbing. He also felt deep concern for his hikers when they or their family members had life difficulties. I felt his compassion on the trails, too. Twice in the many years I hiked with him I suffered from dehydration. With great care, he gave me instructions on what to do and patiently explained why I should stay put and make my way back to the van (or course, he gave instructions) as the hikers completed the hike. I remember those two days as peaceful. In fact, there were so many peaceful moments on hikes I can't even count them. This photo is typical of me on a hike -- falling asleep at lunch. I miss Charlie more than I imagined I ever would, and the hikes -- and above all, the man -- will live on and on and on. In fact, I'm looking out my window at the leaves that have changed color, and those are Charlie's trees because he taught me to value them.
November 11, 2018
I started hiking with Wild Earth Adventures in 2014. Since then, Charlie has blessed me with a gift that I will continue to enjoy each and every day: the wherewithal to find wonder in nature regardless of weather. Because Charlie believed there’s no such thing as “bad” weather, and took us out in all kinds of conditions, we had the chance to hike in the fog, a magical experience; wander through mountain laurel in full bloom; eat blueberries along the trail; be mesmerized by frozen waterfalls; see the first green shoots on trees in the horizon as we took our breaks in the Gunks; cross paths with a rattlesnake, wild turkeys, deer and (for some lucky ones) bears; listen to frogs’ spring mating songs; follow streams swollen from heavy rains; and enjoy the crisp cleanness of a hike in single digits temperature (only Charlie could’ve gotten me to do that!). And during one year when I was dealing with a medical problem, Charlie’s postings on the WEA website and his weekly emails kept me motivated to get well so that I could get back on the trail. May you be one with nature, Charlie. With love and gratitude, Sarah.
November 8, 2018
I met Charles/Charlie just once many years ago, back when he was called Chuck, as he was the brother & only sibling of my friend Rosemary from my graduate school days. In the years since I’ve only heard about him through his sister, until discovering his Wild Earth Adventures website & its Facebook page several years back, which has just amazed me! You can tell that these were very special hikes, led by yes, a very special person indeed. The photos are so beautiful & you can also feel how much he really loved being out in nature & sharing all its healing beauty with other people. He seemed so respectful & encouraging in his comments to others & the trips always looked so well-planned. To have done this for 38 years straight is really remarkable.
I’ve known about his ill health for some time, through his sister, & think it’s even more remarkable that he was able to carry on for so long, to keep going, despite difficult health issues. But he was living his passion & he did this last journey in his own way...& I’m glad he was able to be out there for as long as he possibly could.
I think autumn was a special season for him; he came into this world in October & left it in the same month, & I hope he went out in a blaze of color. Surely, he left beautiful colors in so many hearts! But a leaf has fallen...& his sister will miss him greatly, as will all of you who have been part of his ‘wild earth’ adventures. Rosemary, I am thinking of you & sending love.....will write more soon.
November 7, 2018
Charlie was an extraordinarily unique and special man who had an enthusiastic love of hiking in nature, and who shared his enthusiasm with hundreds, if not thousands of people as founder and hiking guide of Wild Earth Adventures, a hiking group he founded and ran, on his own, for an incredible 38 years. I was lucky to be part of the hiking group for 20 of those 38 years, and I will forever be grateful for every one of those hikes I enjoyed over those 2 decades. I am in much better physical and mental shape than I was when I started hiking with Charlie in 1998, and I have him to thank for my improved health. He had a profoundly positive effect on me and so many other people, and instilled a lasting love of the outdoors in so many of us. I'll continue to hike because of him and will never forget the legacy he has left in the world. I hope Charlie rests in peace in the arms of Mother Nature for all eternity. God bless you, Charlie. I'll so miss you.
IN THE CARE OF