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Dan McCaslin

Dan McCaslin has been day hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking in the Santa Barbara backcountry since 1970, with a special fascination for the San Rafael and Dick Smith wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest. He has led many groups of schoolchildren into southern Los Padres during his 30-plus years as a Crane School teacher. In recent years has branched out into hiking in the Carrizo Plain, the eastern Sierra Nevada, Death Valley, and Mt. Lassen, as well as the South Tirol in the Italian Alps.

Santa Barbarans naturally find the sea seductive and beguiling, so mesmerizing in fact that they forget that a glorious wilderness beckons just a few miles into the interior. McCaslin frequently walks and backpacks into the remote and wild 200,000 acres of the San Rafael Wilderness, a mere 47 mile drive from downtown Santa Barbara. The aim of his Hiking the Backcountry column is to take the inquisitive reader over San Marcos Pass into pristine areas remote from our time and way of life. North of Santa Barbara, west of L.A., south of Bakersfield — here are vast badlands and riparian zones to explore, outside our western “oasis” civilization.

"I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”—Henry David Thoreau

McCaslin has been teaching seventh-grade social studies at Crane School since1980. He earned a Ph.D. in ancient history from UCSB, and has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and as a marine archaeologist in several east Mediterranean countries. He is the author of Stone Anchors in Antiquity (vol. LXI in Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology series). He is currently peddling his Santa Barbara backcountry manuscript The Eternal Backcountry Return, as well as his suspense novel, The Third Temple.

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