OTLRe issue.jpegOn the Loose

by Terry and Renny Russell
Paperback - 128 pages 
ISBN 978-0879059958 

(Sorry, no longer available in paperback)

On the Loose is a chronicle of triumph and tragedy - the triumph of gaining an insight about oneself through an understanding of the natural world; the tragedy of seeing the splendor of that world increasingly threatened by people who don't know or don't care. The color and black-and-white photographs, all taken by the authors, capture Yosemite, Point Reyes, the High Sierra, the Great Basin, and Glen Canyon in the 1950s and 1960s. Terry Russell, the older of the two brothers who authored On the Loose, learned about wilderness early, especially about the Sierra Nevada, the Pacific Shore, and the Plateau province of Colorado and Utah. He was a brilliant student at the University of California, Berkeley, and a staunch advocate of free speech there and elsewhere. He passed away in 1965 on a trip down the Green River, shortly before the original publication of On the Loose.


"It is a story about how Terry and Renny came to be the people who, though young, could walk into the home of a man of the stature of David Brower and hand him a manuscript, half photos, half calligraphy, half rumination, half pontification that sold more than a million copies and imprinted itself in the minds of many people as the seminal book for an entire generation of people looking to leave civilization, even if for only a short period, for forays into the mountains, deserts, canyons and woods. It affected people the same way Desert Solitaire did, though its message was a tad less cantankerous." - Mountain Gazette, J. Fayee

"This is a most wondrous and unusual book. Its scattered text and stunning photographs convey a spirit of reverence and adventure that will cause readers to recall their own private epiphanies gained through contact with the natural world. Originally published by the Sierra Club in 1967, On the Loose sold more than a million copies before going out of print a decade ago; this gorgeous re-release is bound to find a new generation of readers.

The artful photographs, mostly taken by the Russell brothers, capture Yosemite, Point Reyes, the High Sierra, the Great Basin, and Glen Canyon in the 1950s and 1960s. The text--quotes, poems, pithy observations--perfectly complements the images as the Russells write about both the wonder of the American West as well as humanity's role in its destruction. Rather than preach or admonish, they offer an eloquent plea for compassion and understanding on behalf of the places that touched them deeply:

We live in a house that God built but that the former tenants remodelled - blew up, looks like - before we arrived. Poking through the rubble in our odd hours, we've found the corners that were spared and have hidden in them as much as we could. Not to escape from but to escape to; not to forget but to remember.

There is a wisdom and sincerity on these pages that belies their age (Terry was 21 when they wrote the book; Renny was 19) and the book is filled with memorable quotes such as, "It feels good to say 'I know the Sierra' or 'I know Point Reyes.' But of course you don't--what you know better is yourself, and Point Reyes and the Sierra have helped." Tragically, Terry died in 1965 while on a rafting trip down the Green River with his brother to celebrate the impending publication of their book.

"At its core, On the Loose is an elegant invitation to gain insight by looking outward: "The point of it all is Out There, a little beyond that last rise you can just barely see, hazy and purple on the sky. These pages are windows. And windows are to see through." And what a view it is." --Shawn Carkonen

"This book is a treasure... golden and important. It is a primer of sorts for living a good and authentic and adventurous life.. one of my favorities for so many reasons... to be shared with friends and family." - Peter Rorving