Charles J Cook

October 2, 1945October 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:


Charles J Cook

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Maureen Hopkins

March 20, 2019

OH, I am so sad. I just found out about Charlie. I used to hike with him. I wanted to join again and that is how I found out. He brought an 'old lady' (me) back into the woods. I could hike with Wild Earth Adventures and I didn't have to worry about being alone - I felt safe. Lovely people in the group also. A big loss for the Hudson Valley and the world. He touched so many lives... - Maureen

Kelly Haran

December 27, 2018

Thank you Charlie for wonderful hikes in all types of weather (yay weather!) as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Because of you, I have a deeper appreciation of precious time spent in nature.
I think of you often: that great smile, fun conversation, playful sense of humor and contagious love of hiking, film and music.
You touched so many lives and I like to think you'll be with each of us as we camp, hike, enjoy wilderness or a really great film.
Rest In Peace,
Kelly Haran

Lynne McVey

December 21, 2018

Today I learned of your passing, dearest Charlie. My heart is breaking and my deepest sympathy to your sister and the countless friends that you guided on your many hikes. Rest in peace, dear one.

John Sasopoulos

December 9, 2018

"A flock of birds has flown, high and away;
A solitary drift of cloud, too, has gone, wandering on.
And I sit alone, with the Ching Ting peak towering beyond.
We never grow tired of each other, the mountain and I".

Do you remember, my good friend?

Carol Beckett

December 8, 2018

I was thinking to myself today how much I missed going on hikes with Charlie since I haven’t been on one in a few years, so I went to the website to see what Charlie had planned and saw that he has tragically passed. I started hiking with him in the mid 90’s and from the first hike I was hooked on his warmth, kind smile and the wonderful way he made every hike (even the strenuous ones) relaxing. He was the only guide who took so much care selecting trails and knowing them inside out for those he was guiding. He made lunch breaks serene even in the wind and rain. He truly loved what he did and made everyone else around him love it too. It’s so difficult to lose such a rare soul and as sad as I am that our journey with him has ended, he has given me wonderful memories that I can never thank him for enough. I would say rest in peace, but as much as I am sure he is at peace I have a feeling he is still on the lookout for new trails.

Victoria Weisel

December 3, 2018

What sadness to learn the news of Charlie's passing -- such heartbreak mixed with sweet thoughts of him. He was, in a word, precious.

I think of the film and music collections he shared and spoke about with the eloquence of an archivist and curator all rolled into one. I think of our shared belly-laughter over Sir Alec Guinness in "Barnacle Bill" and "The Lavender Hill Mob." I think of him introducing me to John Prine's music and how he drummed his large hands on the steering wheel of his van while nodding his head enthusiastically to the music. I think of eating organic chicken salad together followed by requisite squares of 70% Sweet Riot chocolate. I think of his quiet patience during hikes as I photographed close-ups of tree bark and the undersides of leaves through sunlight.

Charlie was all about sharing the good stuff. The generosity of his hikes stemmed from an earnest desire to help you discover the healing beauty of the natural world. He could talk you up with wisdom, encourage you to push further than you thought you could, or just quietly "be" nearby as you communed with whatever miracle the outdoors brought to your soul. He befriended wind and weather and helped you to accept the power of loving them too. Once I wrote to him about a nasty weather forecast and he responded, "I've invited rain to visit us tomorrow, and it's agreed to try to show up (50% chance tomorrow & 90% chance tomorrow night & Saturday morning) to refresh us & help keep those streams & waterfalls flowing wonderfully..." Thank you for the positive reframing, Charlie.

His brand of optimism and kindness had an authenticity that is rare. Photos of him grinning directly into the lens of the camera always seemed to capture both the light of his spirit and the peace he felt in nature. Reverence for and playful appreciation of Mother Earth gave Charlie his life force -- the secret power he pressed so lovingly into the palms of our hands and depths of our hearts.

Jim Berridge

December 2, 2018

I am so sorry to hear of Charlie’s passing and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

I was blessed to have hiked with Charlie on many occasions over the last 4 years. He was kind and thoughtful and it was truly such a privilege to have Charlie as a guide to the beauty of nature in the North East.

I also looked forward to his Monday morning emails with wistful quotes from articles and nature books. The emails took me a away from cubicle life in Manhattan for a few minutes and helped me think of weekends ahead in the outdoors.

Charlie you were truly and icon and will be sorely missed. You left us too soon but I am happy you had the chance truly do what you loved in life.

Kind Regards
-Jim Berridge

Maureen and Irving Solero

December 1, 2018

We will be attending next Sunday’s hike for our dear Charlie. We are honored to be part of this wonderful and very appropriate memorial on the trails in the woods that he loved so much. We are now in our 60s so haven’t hiked in some time and we will be walking rather slowly next Sunday, but starting in the mid 90s for almost 10 years we hiked on the Easy/Easy Moderate hikes. He inspired us in so many ways....

Before the website was started Irving, a professional photographer, sent many photos to Charlie documenting our wonderful hikes. Among the memories we shared was a wilderness hike in the Adirondacks and the many wonderful lunches we shared cooling our feet in the streams and rivers we traversed in our hikes. This was a form of forest meditation long before we talked about it.

During our lifetimes we are sometimes fortunate enough to meet extraordinary people who live their entire life by values and ethics.....Charlie did so every day. We honor his memory and look forward to next week’s hike in his honor.

With eternal gratitude, Maureen and Irving Solero

Hema Sachdeva

November 30, 2018

Because of you Charlie I was able to do my first snowshoeing. I have had the pleasure to do a few hikes with you.
May your soul rest in peace.

Vardon Gainor

November 27, 2018

Charlie and I were grade school buddies back in Michigan. I had many fond memories of our times together. After 7th grade Charlie moved away, and we lost contact. Many years later my mother received several of Charlie's books, and through them I was able to reconnect. As a result, in 2012 Charlie and I were able to have a reunion lunch together in New Jersey after having not seen one another in over 50 years. Charlie was a very special guy, and the memories posted on this site bear this out. It is a joy to see the positive impact he had on so many lives. He had that on my life. Time moves on, but friendships are eternal.