• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

I began writing the Reader’s “Roam-O-Rama” column on January 28, 1993, with a description of a wild and lonely campsite in the Anza-Borrego Desert called Mortero Palms. This “Roam” column, my 861st, is the last one I will write. I am not giving up authorship of the column voluntarily, but rather necessarily, due to stage 4 cancer.

During “Roam’s” first seven years, I described nearly 300 outdoor activities and adventures, primarily hikes, within San Diego County only. By the year 2000, the list of remaining places to cover within the county was wearing thin, and it was time to expand the geographic scope of the column to include all of Southern California. In addition, many of the previous “Roam”-column topics from the ’90s on San Diego locales were repeated in updated form over the next 11+ years.

Researching and writing the column has been a great gig. Nice work if you can get it, some would say.

I have two nuggets of advice for those who have been enticed to read this column at one time or another, but have not yet translated learning into action.

(1) Just get out there! You’d be hard pressed to find any other region in the world as scenically diverse and magnificent as Southern California. That statement is even more applicable to San Diego County.

(2) When planning a hike or other outdoor activity, be mindful of the time of the year and the time of day. The visual richness of the landscape is often colored by factors like sun angle. Choose hikes in high places when the air is crystal clear, and avoid the desert and other inland areas when it’s hot and dry. The “summer equals hiking” paradigm adopted by most people in the United States does not apply very well here, except along the immediate coastline.

I would like to thank Reader publisher Jim Holman for his support of this column from its inception. A big thanks as well goes to my longtime editor Leslie Venolia and production specialists Robert Mizrachi and Chris Woo.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


100peaks July 6, 2011 @ 12:35 p.m.


Thank you for your inspiration in getting me outside, starting in OC with your Afoot and Afield book there (where my now wife and I went on many outdoor "dates"), and now in San Diego, where I am exploring every nook and cranny of San Diego's open spaces and writing my own book.

I wish you well.



ADKinLA July 6, 2011 @ 12:53 p.m.


Your words of outdoor wisdom are very true and I really wish you the best during this time.



elsaturnino July 6, 2011 @ 1:11 p.m.


While we've never met, I feel like you were a constant companion on our hikes throughout San Diego county.

I wish you all the best.

  • Sat

Joaquin_de_la_Mesa July 6, 2011 @ 2:35 p.m.

Jerry, I wish you happy hiking wherever your journey takes you.

Love and prayers.


MsGrant July 6, 2011 @ 2:42 p.m.

Jerry, your book "Afoot & Afield In San Diego County" is a staple in our house. I am so sorry about your health - I can only tell you how much your advice has meant to me and my husband. We walked in your foot steps many times, and will continue to do so for as long as we can. Take care - as an avid hiker, you changed my life.


RAJN July 6, 2011 @ 3:56 p.m.

I am very sorry, just like I am sure many others are, about your health. It's hard to imagine when picturing you going out on all those trails. Thank you very much for dilgiently describing them. And finally for your sage nuggets of advice. With your positive attitude, I know you are well equipped to fight back the cancer.


surfponto July 6, 2011 @ 5:06 p.m.

Jerry, You have inspired many of our Anza Borrego hikes. A dog-eared copy of Afoot and AField has been in my Land Cruiser for years and another one is a fixture on my nightstand.

I am extremely grateful for your insights and inspiration and wish I had met you on the trail.

Bob B http://www.anzaborrego.net/


SanDiegoHiker July 6, 2011 @ 5:51 p.m.

Thank you, Jerry, for all you've done to promote and inform on hiking in San Diego. You've been a true inspiration. Best Wishes.

Marc A


Joan Fitzsimons July 6, 2011 @ 6:08 p.m.

Jerry- You, your book and and columns have been an important part of my life since you started writing about local hikes and beyond. I've walked in your foot steps near and far and you have been my silent companion. Thank you so much for the trail blazing you have done for our benefit and with luck, will continue to do.

Happy trails to you forever. Vaya con dios.



lkelly July 6, 2011 @ 6:48 p.m.

Jerry I am so sorry to hear of your health issues. Prayers and thoughts your way. Thank you for your guides, they are the best out there. I really like the history and other details you cover in the guides, way beyond the other guides available. Thank you for many greast trips leanne


my2centz July 6, 2011 @ 7:20 p.m.

Jerry, for just about every hike that I plan or organize in San Diego your book is a valuable resource. In fact I some times carry it in my pack with me so that I can follow your very detailed directions. I only met you once briefly but I have hiked and camped with and met many of your hiking comrades. I thank you and them for creating the "bible" of San Diego hiking. I have spent countless memorable and joyful hours of discovery and wonder visiting these places and hope to continue to do so for many more years. God bless you for sharing them with us all. You have inspired us and will continue to inspire many future generations of hikers.

Bob Mcdonald


dennisdster July 6, 2011 @ 8:27 p.m.

Thank you Jerry; my life is infinitely richer for your presence.


montebianco July 6, 2011 @ 9:17 p.m.

Dear Jerry,Grazie dal profondo del mio cuore,because you I became Aware of the beauty of san diego county and mostly the anza borrego desert! an Italian in love with the majesty of your country.thanks now boots on! to kick the hardest trail to conquer!buona fortuna amico per sempre! Gianni


hbenler July 6, 2011 @ 9:32 p.m.

Professor Schad:

You have enhanced and enriched the lives of your readers these many years. My spouse and I send you our best wishes...



Javajoe25 July 6, 2011 @ 11:42 p.m.

Jerry, So sorry to hear of your health issues. I wish you the best with it.

It was your book that gave me the assurances I needed to venture out into the desert for the first time in my life many years ago. Since then it has been from Carrizo Gorge to Palm Canyon, always with a quick check of your book to make certain my path was right.

I fell in love with that strange land and thanks to you and your book, I was able to explore many, many, miles and altitudes and experience so much unexpected joy and wonder. I cannot express the joy your words allowed me to experience, except to simply say I could not have done it without your guidance and wisdom.

Thank you for your efforts, and for opening up an exciting and fascinating world to myself and many others, I am sure. You will be missed, Amigo, but you will never be forgotten--at least not by this generation of hikers and explorers. Thank you for all you've done and for opening up this wild and beautiful world to so many.


brands85 July 7, 2011 @ 7:55 a.m.

Jerry, we wish you health and peace, and I hope you realize how much your work has enriched so many lives. You unlocked the door to breathtaking landscapes and beautiful places, and you provided anyone with a sense of adventure the tools and information needed to trek into the wild and experience something that's been lost by many in the modern world. You will always be San Diego's hiking guru.


trapin July 7, 2011 @ 9:02 a.m.

Thank you Jerry. Bless you and your family. You have enriched our lives so very much. I pray for your recovery.


Evelyn July 7, 2011 @ 11:06 a.m.

you'll beat the cancer. and may you get the rest and treatment needed to do so. best of luck.


TizzKid July 7, 2011 @ 1:23 p.m.

Professor Schad:

Thank you for putting me on the front cover of your "100 Hikes in Southern California" publication. I had the pleasure of meeting and hiking with you and a large group on an outing for the Anza Borrego Foundation in early 2002, to Whale Peak. That photo you took is at the Smuggler Canyon overlook, I believe. Thanks to your guides, I have been to places I never would have found. I've been to Three Sisters Falls and the "real Devils' Punch Bowl" numerous times, seen the "Eye" in Cougar Canyon, and laid eyes on the spectacular waterfalls in the Sill Hill Gorge all the way to Boulder Creek. Stage 4 will not stop you, Long Live Trailmaster Schad ! Best, Mike D., Port Hueneme, CA


naturenerd July 7, 2011 @ 3:27 p.m.


I want to say thank you for sharing your knowledge & love of this place with us. Your books not only did get me "out there", but helped to transform my perception of, and value of, this beautiful land we get to call home.

Best of luck to you with your health, sir. You'll be in my thoughts & prayers while out there on the many paths you found for us.

Happy Trails.


Twister July 7, 2011 @ 4:15 p.m.

Jerry Schad is a rare jewel of a man, and I am greatly disturbed that he is ill. If there's any way that we grateful readers can help, I hope the Reader will make us aware.

I do know, however, that sometimes the last thing an ill person needs is a surfeit of "visitors." When I say "help," I mean actually doing things that will help without adding to his troubles.

Despite the diagnosis, I do hope Jerry gets well!


stephengr July 7, 2011 @ 8:22 p.m.

Dear Jerry, I am saddened to read that this is your final installment of the Roam-O-Rama. Certainly the primary reason for sadness and concern is that you are ill and your illness is taking you away from something you obviously love doing. We will pray for the very best for you as you battle the disease. I have read every one of your columns since you started writing for The Reader years ago and have made many of the hikes you have described. I also have every issue of every book you have written covering San Diego and Orange Counties, and most of them have logged hundreds of miles in my pack. We've never met but through your work I feel that I know you and I can tell you with certainty that you have been a companion and guide on countless hikes we have taken following the trails you have marked. I wish you well and thank you again for all the joy and pleasure you have brought to our discovery of the trails and roads you have described. All the best, Steve G.


nomasbean July 7, 2011 @ 11:39 p.m.

God Bless, and thank you for your years of sharing the county with us.


lilyfern July 8, 2011 @ 12:14 a.m.


I am a very new fan having just moved to San Diego from the Midwest. I want to thank you for your column - it has lead my partner and I on many a journey!

Another writer said it perfectly - you were our companion on countless hikes and we truly appreciate you for that gift. Your column has made a world of difference in our lives. Thank you.

We wish you the best with your recovery.


InOmbra July 8, 2011 @ 8:05 a.m.

Jerry, Thanks for all of the beauty you've given us, ....here, there and everywhere.


cajomo July 8, 2011 @ 12:19 p.m.

Jerry, I often was amazed at all the hiking that you so well documented here and in books over the years. How can one fellow accomplish so much? By doing so, you have inspired me to get out and retrace your "path", if only in a small way. May God guide you on your journey ahead and bless you along the path. Thank you so much for so many pleasurable hikes over the years. Your guidance will be sorely missed.


eric_rial July 8, 2011 @ 12:24 p.m.

Jerry, Your book inspired me to start hiking in the local San Diego area. The hikes are wonderful and hiking has really changed my life. I've "forced" (his words) my son to come along on many of my hikes and that has enriched his life too! Thank you so much for the inspiration! - Eric


x76 July 8, 2011 @ 5:26 p.m.

I am so sorry to hear that you are ill. I have absolutely loved your columns over the years, along with Ed Bedford's Tin Fork, both columns have helped me learn about this area and enjoy living here.


Gustafer July 9, 2011 @ 4:25 p.m.

Dear Jerry: Your book is the Bible. My human and I took you wherever we went and you were and still are the first place we look when we're trolling for a hike. Others have made it and so can you but no matter what happens, enjoy your enjoy. You have made ours that much more enjoyable.


bettystevens July 10, 2011 @ 9:40 a.m.

Mr. Schad- We moved to San Diego County about 18 months ago and have made sure not to miss your column each week. I have actually cut each of them out of the Reader and saved them. I have lived in Southern California all my life but have gone other places to find beauty. Now, after trying just a few of your suggestions, I feel I am falling in love with the beauty of California (especially San Diego County). Thank you so much for your Roam-o-Rama. I hope the SDReader continues to publish your previous columns.
I am sorry this trail has ended but wish you healing and blessings in your journey. Sincere thanks to you and SDReader. Betty


Daniel Beeman Aug. 12, 2011 @ 11:10 a.m.

Yes, Jerry, many many of us have a huge stack of "cuttings" of your articles sitting on our shelves. Some dirtied by the hikes, some others waiting for the right season or time to get "out there". Once again, thank you so much for sharing! Dear Reader, do not forget the man, please continue to have his articles! Even when you find other writer, please regularly put Schads trail guides in for our continued dreams! Daniel Beeman, organizer of San Diego Outdoors Enthusiast (MeetUp.com) http://www.meetup.com/San-Diego-Outdoor-Enthusiasts/events/23194961/ , Walk with him & Walks WithGod (singles)[facebook].


Guinevere73 July 10, 2011 @ 12:25 p.m.


I never embark on a trail without first referring to my trusty dog-eared copy of Afoot & Afield in San Diego. You're my inspiration for lacing up those boots, throwing on a pack, and heading up that mountain.

May you always have the smell of cleveland sage carried on a cool breeze at your back.

Wishing you many more happy hikes, Jenny


Susan Luzzaro July 10, 2011 @ 2:53 p.m.

Many people dream of writing a book that will change people's lives, very few do. Thank you Jerry Schad for opening our eyes to the beauty we have around us. Susan


deneicy July 10, 2011 @ 3:48 p.m.

((( Bobo)))

You rock!

All the good stuff always ~ De Neice


ceruti July 11, 2011 @ 12:48 a.m.

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your many years of service to the community in writing your column. My husband and I have enjoyed many of the hikes you have recommended. We wish you well and may God bless you.


davidboyne July 11, 2011 @ 8:34 a.m.

"Just get out there. Be mindful."

Excellent guidance in hiking, and living. Deeply grateful, Jerry. Thank you.



Geoffrey July 11, 2011 @ 9:21 a.m.

Thank you Jerry. Job well done.

Geoffrey Smith Wilderness4All


ladeedj July 11, 2011 @ 10:29 a.m.

I always say that the hardest part of going on a hike is the planning. You have done that part for so many of your readers. After reading each comment I can only add my thanks and well wishes. Knowing you have had such a wonderful impact on so many lives must give you such joy. I hope you will be able to continue to lead us on many more adventures. Never give up hope. There are always more trails to travel.


antigeekess July 11, 2011 @ 12:32 p.m.

Jerry, I have so enjoyed reading your column over the years. Your enthusiasm and love for the natural world has always shone through every word, and your knowledge of it has been a valuable resource for all of us.

I know that you will continue to travel well and happily, to all your future destinations.



SanDiegoParrothead July 11, 2011 @ 3:18 p.m.


I used to cut out your columns and keep them in a folder - this was way before they appeared online at sdreader.com.

Thanks for the wonderful descriptions.

Hang in there!


Curtis July 11, 2011 @ 3:55 p.m.


I am in possession of a First Edition copy (now rather well worn) of Afoot and Afield in SD County. I have refered to it often when thinking about a new trail to run or hike to take with my kids.

While I want to wish you a miraculous and speedy recovery, I also want to Thank You for your articles over the past 2 decades and for that publication. The City of San Diego has been greatly blessed to have someone advocate the areas trails, flora, fauna and adventures in the way that you have so eloquently penned in your column over the years!

All the best to you and God Bless!


rhorvath301 July 12, 2011 @ 5:47 p.m.

Jerry - "Afoot & Afield in San Diego" has taken me to so many great places. Hiking has changed my life for the better and your book has enabled that. I've run into so many hikers along the way who own your book and know your name. Your book is the bible for San Diego hikers. I will send positive thoughts your way. THANK YOU!



GregT July 13, 2011 @ 1:03 a.m.

Jerry, many thanks for your time and information. Hugely appreciated by many folks, I'm sure. I've had...hmm..don't know how many copies of Afoot and Afield - always seems to get passed on to someone that wasn't familiar with it.

Thoughts are with you, and I hope you have many more years of introducing folks to cool things in the world. May the trail rise up to greet you in the future, thanks again!



mtlaurel July 13, 2011 @ 12:12 p.m.

Dear Jerry,

Although I've never met you personally I feel like you're my best friend having guided me carefully through many a wilderness adventure! Thank you for all your time and devotion to sharing the awe. Blessings, Hugs, Laurel


nan shartel July 13, 2011 @ 12:31 p.m.

Jerry dear

ur compliments (and Pegs) for my poem "The Half Life of Love" meant a great deal to me

and ur offer to meet for coffee was sweet...u 2 r such lovely people

if i was not so home bound i would have loved to have met u both in person

ur columns often have a poetic quality not unusual to the true naturalist

they r multilayered with both good advice and glimpses of ur own instinctive sense of beauty

my best for ur complete recovery dear one...Nan


pegreiter July 17, 2011 @ 10:32 p.m.

Dear Nan,

The offer for a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) still stands.

I am holding precious every minute I get with Jerry. I have never loved another the way I love this man.

Warmly, Peg


Ellenb Sept. 8, 2011 @ 3:12 p.m.

Peg, I can see why, love and hugs, Ellen


Twister July 13, 2011 @ 10:55 p.m.

About beauty--the the truly miraculous thing about it is that those universal genes remain active in Jerry and Nan, despite . . . no, not despite, but in that kind of unconditional, priceless love that persists indifferent to the slings and arrows of outrageous culture. These are the true survivors, these, connected with and integrated into the whole of existence, these, doing no harm . . . intentionally, intentionally . . .


EW July 15, 2011 @ 10:55 a.m.

Hi Jerry, As a fellow traveler on this planet I want you to know that my heart is with you as you embark on this new journey. The trail may be bumpy as you find your way, but you will come to learn how many lives you have touched in such a wonderful way and how many people are pulling for you, myself included. I wish you all the best. Thank you for your wonderful columns. EW


donpedro July 15, 2011 @ 12:47 p.m.

Dear Jerry,

I didn't get last week's Reader and was surprised when I read the letters in this week's edition to learn that your weekly column, Roam-O-Rama, is no more and that you have stage 4 cancer. My only personal experience with you was a 33 mile run and hike in the Cuyamaca mountains in November, 1982. It was a Sierra Club outing and you were the leader of the event. My ex-wife and I decided to participate in it as we had never hiked the Cuyamacas before and would get to see most of the state park in one day. The proposed plan was to visit all 4 peaks in the park and to run the flats and downhills and briskly hike the uphills. We arrived at Green Valley Falls campground just after dawn that morning, met up with you, your assistant and the rest of the group, and soon headed out to Oakzanita Peak. From there we mostly ran to the base of Stonewall Peak, then rapidly hiked to the top where we took a short snack break. Then we ran down to the bottom and crossed the highway and went into Paso Picacho campground where we had lunch. After lunch you told us that our next stop would be Middle Peak, followed by Cuyamaca Peak, then a long last stretch back to Green Valley Falls. At that point, a few of us, including me and my ex, decided to leave your group, skip Middle Peak and hike directly up to Cuyamaca Peak , and then return to where we started. That was the last time I ever saw you. We got back to our cars just before dark so I assume you and everyone else returned well after after dark. Even though we were both in excellent shape from years of running, tennis, hiking, yoga, etc.,when we pulled up in front of a vegetarian restaurant that used to be in Julian and got out of the car, our legs were so rubbery that we could barely walk up the steps and go into the restaurant. Yet the next day we had completely recovered and even played some tennis. As far as I know no one has organized that outing since then. A few years later I bought my first copy of Afoot and Afield in San Diego County and I got my current edition which is signed and dated by you on September 3,1999, when I made a contribution to KPBS. I hope you can get help for your illness and want to thank you not only for that memorable day of running and hiking but for all your books and weekly columns that enriched not only my life but many others as well. Take care, Don Pedro


pjbrown61 July 15, 2011 @ 1:48 p.m.

So sorry to hear the news, Jerry. I'm saying prayers for you. I have two copies of your book and have had some of the best experiences in my life doing the hikes in your book. Those hikes and the beauty along the way have truly taught me that the journey is the destination...


yondave July 18, 2011 @ 7:37 a.m.

Jerry, your books and columns have taken me to many wonderful places and I've spend many peaceful and serene hours on the trails that you've written about -- I can't thank you enough for that. On reading this column, I'm reminded of a quote from John Muir about Glacier National Park, it applies to hiking and being outdoors as well; "...The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and will make you truly immortal."

You're a San Diego treasure, the equal of any sports hero or civic leader. I hope that you are able to be out on the trail again someday soon.


kate_L_wiseman July 18, 2011 @ 10:16 a.m.


I grew up with your "Afoot and Afield" as my bible. I have a few decades of hikes and so many adventures to thank you for! I'm now a Sierra Club trip leader, and I'll do my best to keep getting people out into our amazing Southern California back country. A few years ago, I wrote to you looking for advice on training for Cactus to Clouds. I've now led people up it, safely, three times. Thanks for your help! I do think that if there was ever a man who could hope for a miraculous recovery, it's the one who wrote the bible. We're all rooting for you.

Kate Wiseman


dalypeg July 20, 2011 @ 11:28 p.m.

Jerry, Peggy Luly here. We went to San Diego state together. I had a red Schwinn bike. You took pictures of me to use in your first book. Over the years I fondly remember you whenever I hear your name mentioned by hiker (not biker!) friends.

you have made a differnce in my life. Thank you so much for that. Please call on me if you need anything. My most positive thoughts go out to you, friend.


matthiasblume July 22, 2011 @ 8:44 a.m.

Dear Jerry,

You pursued your passions of astronomy and hiking, turning each into a career but also enriching thousands of people's lives. That will always inspire me. Via Roam-O-Rama and Afoot and Afield, you led me to find San Diego's great outdoors and truly changed my life. Thank you! Best wishes,



Rachel Hiner Aug. 11, 2011 @ 10:41 a.m.

Hi Jerry,

I have used your book many times on hikes. Reading the article about your situation was really upsetting. I think this is worth a try. It is an organization that has has success with alternative cancer treatments on "hopeless" cases. http://www.gerson.org/

If it was me, this is the first place I would go, rather than a last resort.


Daniel Beeman Aug. 12, 2011 @ 10:55 a.m.


If you can, please continue to write! Dream & recall your hikes and tell us it through your eyes. We know we need to get out there! but much of the leading is because of our hopes to find treasures on the trail, clues and nuggets of advice, experiences and love give us extra motivation.

Sincerely yours, Daniel


RogerHikes Sept. 5, 2011 @ 10:47 p.m.

Since 1996 when I was 23, I've been using your books to guide me safely and inspire me on the trails.

My brother was diagnosed with stage 4 in august of 2010. Initially we were devasted because all the info on the Internet was negative.

After a solid year of tough treatment at City of Hope, he is in relatively good health.

Mr Schad. Do not give up. You will beat this. The published gloomy stats are from the past decade, but the technology today is very good.

I will wait a year from now, when you will post about your triumphant return.

You are my inspiration. You have influenced a huge part of my life.



Ellenb Sept. 8, 2011 @ 3:08 p.m.

Jerry, Thanks for providing years of discovery through your books and Roam-O-Rama. In that way, my friendship with you goes as far back as my friendship with Peg. I wonder if the photo is yet one more of your beautiful photographs? You are loved and will always be our San Diego guide. love, Ellen


nan shartel Sept. 23, 2011 @ 7:50 a.m.

thank you Tom...i 2 read this from a Facebook link from one of our Reader friends

new trails will be opening 4 our intrepid Universe explorer...his curiosity will make the most of them

love you Peg dear...Jerry knew u were the darling 4 all time in his life

i won't say rest in peace because Jerry was not the kind to rest...i'll just say "I'll meet u up the trail someday Jerry...it will be an interesting hike i know because u never chose any other kind"


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!