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Through hiking books
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Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Through hiking books on 03/06/2011 07:20:00 MST Print View

What are your favorites?
I've read
Through Hiker's Eyes- (5/5) My current favorite. Detailed AT trail journal by Lawrence Alexander (Baro) really captures flavor of trail and characters

The Cactus Eaters (5/5)- Dan White PCT memoir with romantic interest. Extremely well written.

Walking on the Happy Side of Misery (4/5) Written by JR Tate (Model T), venerable AT trail master. As his hike progresses, the guy starts chugging squeeze parkay due to caloric deficit. What's not to love?

A Blistered Kind of Love (4/5) Angela and Duffy Ballard relationship on the PCT, with guest appearance by Ron Moak.

A Walk in the Woods (3/5) Good read. The lower score probably reflects my disappointment that they quit the trail so early and then slackpacked.

Ten Million Steps (1/5) Nimblewill Nomad's epic journey from Florida to Canada. The guy is a legend, but his book didn't really do it for me. Very spiritual but did not really capture the details of the trail.

Zero Days (1/5) The story of Captain Bligh, Nellie Bligh, and their young daughter Scrambler thru hiking the PCT. My mind mutinied when I tried to get through this book.

I'd appreciate any recommendations.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Through hiking books on 03/06/2011 08:57:55 MST Print View

Care to elaborate on Zero Days?

I enjoyed Colin Fletcher's The Thousand Mile Summer and The Man Who Walked Through Time.

Just finished The High Adventure of Eric Ryback. Interesting perspective. Fast read. Could have had a little more.

Oh yeah. I like to read actual books. Not on a screen.

Edited by kthompson on 03/06/2011 12:51:20 MST.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Zero days on 03/06/2011 11:26:36 MST Print View

This was the story of Scrambler, the youngest person to thru hike the PCT (age 10 I think). It wasn't written chronologically and I had a hard time getting through it. The writing just didn't captivate me and I never actually finished it. This is in contrast to Through Hiker's Eyes, a book that kept me up late into the night several days in a row.

I'll have to pick up the book on Rybeck- thanks.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
consider trail journals instead or in addition on 03/06/2011 11:27:11 MST Print View

"Ten Million Steps (1/5) Nimblewill Nomad's epic journey from Florida to Canada. The guy is a legend, but his book didn't really do it for me. Very spiritual but did not really capture the details of the trail."

Lil' Budda did this trip last year; you can read about that journey on his trail journal at
He writes well, IMO, and is a fun guy in general.

I met Nimblewill Nomad a couple of times on the PCT in 2008, got to know Lil' Budda slightly better on the AT last year, so that perhaps alters my perceptions. In general I'm a lot more interested in reading trail journals of people that I know than books written by strangers. Though I guess I did meet the guy hiking the PCT with his daughter, I think I met them the year after they did their thru-hike.

Bottom line is that there are a lot of trail journals out there, suited to various tastes, primarily on and My own journals tend to be pretty verbose, per-day entries. Some folks work to be quite witty, others focus on specific aspects of the trail, some do a better job at describing flora & fauna, etc etc. Though most journals are aimed primarily at friends and family, I think it can be worth finding a few journals that you like on trails that you're interested in. I don't know how to find "best" (if there is such a thing) journals on, though I think there's one or more whiteblaze thread on that topic. On you can do a search on a particular trail and a particular year for the most "journal visits", a hit count if you will. This doesn't necessarily mean "best", but at least it turns up perhaps "more popular" journals.

One kind of nice thing about trail journals IMO is that they're typically un-edited; things are a bit more "fresh", raw/gritty. For better or worse, I guess.
In any event, I've never felt inclined to read any of the books. I did read Bill Bryson's book, and as you or someone else pointed out, not really too inspiring in comparing that to writings by folks who have actually walked these trails, though of course funny and a quick read. Got it for a Christmas present and was sort of glad that I read it just so I knew what everyone else was so often referring along the way with various references to it.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Through hiking books on 03/06/2011 11:53:54 MST Print View

Do a Google search for "Then The Hail Came" -- it's an online book, that changes location. It's worth reading...

a b
A Thru Hiker's Heart by Ray Echols on 03/06/2011 11:57:17 MST Print View

A Thru Hiker's Heart by No Way Ray (Ray Echols).
I bought this book at ADZPCTKO in 2009 but did not read it until after I returned from my PCT thru hike. It was amazing how well Ray captured the spirit of a thru hike.
He truly speaks from the heart and covers every aspect of hiking from trail purity,social aspects, solitude,the pain, and the shear joy of a long distance hike.
I have read a lot of books about long distance hiking and they all have something to say but A Thru Hiker's Heart speaks to my experience on the trail in a special way.
This book is all about the "soul" of the trail and how we all are touched by magic regardless of how far we hike.
No Way Ray died on the PCT after a fall in Deep Creek. Without ever having met this man, through his writings I know he was a kindred spirit.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Through hiking books on 03/06/2011 12:16:05 MST Print View

These two by Cindy Ross

"A Woman's Journey" about her AT trek

" Journey on the Crest" about her PCT trek

Cindy also wrote two more trail books - one about taking kids on long hikes and another about trail tips and wisdom learned from 12,000 miles of trail hiking.

One by Carol (Brawny) Wellman:

"My journey to Freedom and ultralight Backpacking"

Edited by wandering_bob on 03/06/2011 12:19:34 MST.

Dug Shelby
(Pittsburgh) - F

Locale: Bay Area
The book that started it for me... on 03/06/2011 22:23:04 MST Print View

I love this book, and it was the first one I ever picked up on thru-hiking...last year in April/May as a matter of fact:

"Dancing with Marmots."

A PCT'er from New Zealand...hilarious at times, and a fun exercise in hearing how others see the USA.

"Blistered Kind Of Love" was cute, well written, his and her perspectives, really nice.

"Cactus Eaters"...started off great, and I was left with a perspective of the writer, at the end, that I wasn't prepared for...interesting!

"Blood, Sweat and Survival on the Pacific Crest Trail"....I heard he is going to be running the PCT again this year! I am excited to maybe see him run past. I'll bring my copy so he can autograph it!


Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Through hiking books on 03/06/2011 23:54:06 MST Print View

There is a long list of books over at the PCT Wiki!

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Trail Journal on CDT? on 03/17/2011 14:01:26 MDT Print View

Hey, was glad to see this topic, it's enabled me to pick up some new reading. So far I'm seeing books on the PCT adn AT---none on CDT? People too exhausted after hiking to write one?

I'd also enjoy hearing about any trail journals/blogs on the Pacific Northwest Trail--have seen one or two, but not finding many when searching on the web.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Trail Journal on CDT? on 03/17/2011 14:28:38 MDT Print View

I just read Johnathon Ley's CDT journal online. It's not a book but it should be. It took me several days to read. I loved every word of it.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Then the Hail Came on 03/17/2011 23:26:24 MDT Print View

Then The Hail Came

I second this one. My favorite trail journal. Period.

...and in an easier to read format.

Info here

Edited by PaulMags on 03/17/2011 23:27:14 MDT.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
kindle version on 03/19/2011 18:47:44 MDT Print View

A kindle version, perfect! Thanks for the link, Paul!