Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Nick Neely Explores Alta California in New Book
Monday, December 9, 2019


Hailey resident Nick Neely grew up in California but at some point realized how little he knew about his state, particularly its history.

So, he set off on a 650-mile trek on foot from San Diego to San Francisco, following the route of the first overland Spanish expedition into what has been dubbed “Alta California.”

Using the diaries of missionaries, such as Junipero Serra, he snuck through military bases, fenced-off developments and even skirted golf courses as he tried to walk in the footsteps of the past.

He surveyed how the great swamps of Los Angeles had been manicured and he even found a spring at the University High School in Los Angeles that is fenced off for ceremonial use by the Gabrielino-Tongva people.

Neely recounted his experience in his new book, “Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, a Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State.” And he will discuss what he learned with former Community Library Program Director Scott Burton Tuesday night.

Neely and Burton, now a literary interviewer based in San Diego, will hold their conversation at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Neely’s trek retraces a route laid out by Gaspar de Portola in 1769. It would become famous, in part for the El Camino Real. And it laid the foundation for the Golden State of today.

Neely’s book tells of the Native cultures and the Spanish missions that devastated them. And it examines the biggest issues facing California today, including water, agriculture, oil and gas.

Books will be available for sale and signing, courtesy of Iconoclast books.

This isn’t Neely’s first book. The recipient of PEN Northwest’s Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency and  a UC Berkeley-11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship, his first book “Coast Range” was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing.



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