Local podiatric physician and surgeon Dr. Allen Clyde has operated a horse packing service in the John Muir Wilderness for 40 years, transporting to over 20,000 visitors and their supplies. Dr. Clyde has also served on the Fresno County (California) Board of Education for nearly 20 years. On November 17th, his first book, Life Lessons on the Sierra Trail releases for purchase and we got the unique chance to learn more about his wildernesses and writing experiences just prior to the release. Please enjoy our interview with Dr. Clyde!
FresYes: Dr. Clyde, you’ve been a successful practicing physician and commercial horse packer for 40 years, what inspired you to become an author too, and write Life Lessons on the Sierra Trail?
Dr. Clyde: The Wilderness has far more to offer than just sniffing flowers and hugging trees. Here, Mother Nature is in charge. She doesn’t care who you are or where you came from. How well prepared you are how you conduct yourself determines her kindness. It would have been a shame if 40 years of experiences were to blow away in the wind after my passing. That’s why I wrote this book.
FY: How did you get your start in horse packing, and how did you balance two professional careers?
Dr. Clyde: I started in my youth as a backpacker in this same area. This I continued until after all my Medical training was over and I had just started private practice in Clovis. My uncle, Auggie Wolf, took me up on my first horse pack trip and I was hooked. I started taking friends up and renting the stock. After about 2 years I was taking 10-15 people at a time and renting 25 head of stock. Doing this several times per summer made me the pack stations best customer. 4 years later, I just bought the station. Since I did the scheduling for both the Medical practice and the pack trips, I was forced to be a master planner out of necessity to pull it off. Time management is everything. Now, after being retired from medicine after 43 years, I have no idea how I did it. Especially when you add in running a cattle operation and be an elected school board member for the past 2 plus decades.
FY: What was one of the biggest life lessons you personally learned on the Sierra Trail?
Dr. Clyde: A good one is outlined in the prior answer. You never know your limits until you push them. When you do, new horizons open up that were never seen before. The Wilderness is a tough place to physically get through, but for those who persevere the rewards can be life changing. These include the outside splendor and the peace of inner satisfaction.
FY: In the book, Dr. Clyde, a character based upon yourself, and a young protégé encounter many different characters who visit the Sierra Trail – which three characters are most impactful in your eyes and why?
Dr. Clyde: The third main character is my wife, Deborah. She has an eye for detail and offers different perspectives which amazes me daily. All the other chapter characters have their own unique contributions. That’s why, early on, I impress on Pablo to focus on each person as an individual. You’ll find inner bright spots that make them truly interesting. If all people were the same, this world would be a boring place.
FY: Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Dr. Clyde: One thing in general the book will impress you with is that your view of the Wilderness changes with your attitude. The more you slow down and spend time on the details, the whole Wilderness experience becomes brighter and more fulfilling.
FY: What types of readers do you think will most enjoy Life Lessons on the Sierra Trail?
Dr. Clyde: I tried my best to universalize this book as much as possible. The young through old should all find something that hits a spark within them. This includes people who live in Florida, New York or Nebraska. It’s a story of a young man coming of age and our local John Muir Wilderness is the backdrop.
FY: What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
Dr. Clyde: In today’s world it definitely takes a village to raise the young. So, when one youth sees the light and gets on a positive track, it helps us all.
FY: What was the highlight of the writing experience for you?
Dr. Clyde: The highlight of writing was realizing the hardest part is getting started. Once you get past that it gets fun. I would start at 6:00am and the next time I looked up it would be 6:00pm. You just get fully absorbed and forget all about time. It took me 20 days to write this book.
FY: Who is the author in your genre that you most admire?
Dr. Clyde: I’ve always liked James Michener, Ernest Hemingway, Will James and Zane Gray. Too bad they have all passed away. That said, to all you young writers out there, there’s plenty of room for you.
You can pre-order the book today here. Dr. Clyde is already planning for a second volume, with hopes of releasing it by November of 2021.
There will a book signing for Life Lessons on the Sierra Trail on Saturday, December 12, at 2:00 PM at A Book Barn, 640 Clovis Ave., Clovis, CA 93612.