Born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, son of Dr. Edgar and Mary Beth (Tuttle) Wilson is the eldest of 3 children. By the age of fourteen, he was contributing articles to two local newspapers (Coraopolis Record and Moon Bulletin) and was published in two national high school anthologies. He was also an avid outdoorsman and active in the Boy Scouts of America, earning the Eagle Scout award (1967) with bronze, gold, and silver palms, and was accepted into the Order of the Arrow attaining the Brotherhood level. After attending Sewickley Academy and Moon Area High School where he was selected an Allegheny County (PA) Exceptionally Able Youth, he graduated the later. He then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, matriculating with a BA degree (double major in communications and dramatic arts). Wilson then attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, NYC. He is a Quaker and proponent of peace and human rights, two causes frequently appearing in his writings.
Moving west, he began his professional career with the Seattle Repertory Company, and then became a writer/director of television production with North American Films in Eugene, Oregon, producers of the films Sasquatch, Buffalo Rider and Mystery of the Sacred Shroud (with Richard Burton). He also headed field investigations for North American Wildlife Research, examining the presence of Bigfoot in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
In 1981, Wilson relocated to Barrow, Alaska, an Inupiat village on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, where he served as the assistant to the Eskimo mayor and wrote about life in the Arctic for Alaskan newspapers, including the Tundra Times, Northland News and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. After moving to Anchorage, Alaska in 1983, he directed promotions for the Anchorage Convention & Visitor's Bureau and continued contributing to statewide newspapers.
In 1986, following a year spent circling the world, Wilson relocated to Hawaii where he joined Peck Sims Mueller (NWAyer) in Honolulu as vp/senior writer/producer, winning eight AdFed awards and two International Television Awards, until 1989, when he began a writing/marketing consultancy specializing in the travel industry. Over the next fifteen years, he continued travel adventure writing for newspapers, magazines and the Internet, winning an Adventurebase writing contest in 2000, while his photographs won awards from National Geographic Traveler in 1998 and 1999, and Islands magazine in 1999.
He married Cheryl Ann Keefe, a television producer from El Segundo, California, in 1989. Together, they continued exploring nearly one hundred countries and were in Eastern Europe during the fall of 1989 to chronicle the downfall of the Berlin Wall. The following year, they began a 17-country trans-African overland safari from London to Cape Town, South Africa, recounted in his non-fiction book, Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa, published by Pilgrim's Tales in 2005.
Then in 1992, after training at high elevations in Vail, Colorado, Wilson and his wife became the first Western couple to walk an ancient 1,000-km pilgrimage path from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal with their Tibetan horse named Sadhu. Their story of courage and survival is interwoven with the tale of their Tibetan hosts' struggle to survive Chinese occupation in the IPPY (Independent Publisher) award-winning non-fiction book, Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith, published by Pilgrim's Tales in 2004. At its release, the book garnered positive reviews from Library Journal, Midwest Book Review and others.
That journey opened his eyes, as Wilson put it, to the "beauty of self-discovery through long-distance hiking—traveling 'one-step-at-a-time." An expert ultra-lite trekker, he believes that by slowing down,'“We absorb the hidden ‘magic’ in the world. We travel outside—while traveling within.”'
Wilson continued making trekking journeys over the next decade, hiking four other historic pilgrimage trails: the 500-mile Camino de Santiago twice across Spain (1999, 2005); the Via de la Plata (2007), the 9th century, 1150-mile Via Francigena from England to Rome (he is the first American to complete this route, per the Association Via Francigena (Rome)) (2000, 2002), and the 400-mile St. Olav's Way across Norway (2004 and 2014).
On September 29, 2006, he completed a 2620-mile (4217-km) pilgrimage trek for peace from Dijon, France to Jerusalem following a traditional Templar/Roman route, in great part following that of Godfrey of Bouillon. It was well documented by television and newspapers in Belgrade and Nis, Serbia, Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria and Alanya, Turkey, among others. A non-fiction book recounting his journey, Along the Templar Trail, was published by Pilgrim's Tales in 2008. At its release, Arun Gandhi, president of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, Univ. of Rochester, NY called it, "A fascinating testimony of faith and gumption... A must read...," and Cindy Sheehan, noted peace activist said, "If we want peace on earth, we must make the effort to embody peace with each step. Brandon Wilson's inspiring journey, told beautifully in this book, is a living example of peacemaking." Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace was named a 2008 'Book of the Year Award' finalist in the Adventure/Recreation category, ForeWord Reviews.
Wilson provided the introduction to On a Donkey's Back, a collection of poetry and paintings by and about the lives of Nepalese porters, Yileen Press (ISBN 978-0-615-19163-8), 2008. His essay with fifty Via de la Plata photos was featured in the book Naïve & Abroad: Spain, Limping 600 Miles Through History (ISBN 9780595493968) by Marcus Wilder, 2008.
Wilson's short story "Life When Hell Freezes Over" was included in the anthology They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club (ISBN 9781592289912), (The Lyons Press/The Globe Pequot Press) in 2007.
Wilson's short stories and photos from trekking the Alps and Tibet were included in the travel anthology "The Walkabout Chronicles: Epic Journeys by Foot" (ISBN 978-1533269744), 2016.
From June–September 2009, Wilson and his wife traversed the high Alps for 1500-miles across eight countries on the Via Alpina from Trieste, Italy to Monaco while researching a new book. His book chronicling that journey, Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps, was published in October 2010. It received the ForeWord Reviews 2010 Book of the Year Award - Bronze in the Travel Essay category.
Wilson won the 2009 Best Travel Book Lowell Thomas Gold Award for "Along the Templar Trail" from the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation; a literary award from the University of Pittsburgh; and an international IPPY Award from Independent Publisher (2005). He became a member of The Explorers Club (2005) and was named a Fellow of The Explorers Club (2015), Artists Without Frontiers, and was selected for Mensa (1982). Wilson was named a Knight of Grace in the ancient Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitaller) in Sweden, 2014. He is an activist for peace and human rights and currently lives in Hawaii. Henry David Thoreau
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith (2004, 2005 second edition) ISBN 9780977053667
Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa (2005) ISBN 9780977053643
Along the Templar Trail (2008) ISBN 9780977053681
Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps (2010) ISBN 9780977053629
Yak Butter Blues: Una Caminata de Fe Por El Tíbet (2010, Spanish edition, translated by Ramon Solé) ISBN 978-0-9770536-0-5
"Auf dem Templerweg: Sieben Millionen Schritte für Den Frieden" (2011, German edition of "Along the Templar Trail," translated by Imke Healy) ISBN 978-0-9770536-1-2
Wounds of War: Poets for Peace', "Thoughts from Along Life’s Trail: War and the Environment Within" (2006)
They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club, "Life When Hell Freezes Over" (2007)
"The Walkabout Chronicles: Epic Journeys by Foot" (ISBN 978-1533269744), stories from a trek across Tibet and from the Via Alpina, an adventure across the Alps (2016)
Essay with fifty photos of the Via de la Plata featured in Naïve & Abroad: Spain, Limping 600 Miles Through History by Marcus Wilder (book, 2008)
Introduction to On a Donkey's Back, a collection of poetry and paintings by and about the lives of Nepalese porters, Yileen Press, (book, 2008)