May 13

Pacific Crest Trials: A psychological and emotional guide to successfully thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, by Zach Davis and Carly Moree★★★

Zach Davis wrote this book as a parallel to a similar book he wrote soon after completing the Appalachian Trail, called Appalachian Trials. Zach seems to admit that at the time of the writing of this book, he had not yet hiked the PCT, though his co-author and friend Carly Moree has done both the AT and PCT. Sections of this book are now written by Carly. This book focuses on the mind games that play on the hiker leading to an unsuccessful attempt to complete the entire trail. The book emphasizes appropriate mental preparation for the hike, discusses how one can avoid the temptation to bale out and return to the comforts of house and home, but also includes the mental problems that are common among those who complete the hike. Advice is good, in that it helps to know what sort of mental issues are going to be at issue. His solutions are often in need of great personal modification. To mentally prepare, he encourages hikers to truly examine why they are wanting to hike the trail, what they expect to get out of it, and what will be the consequences of failure. There are several addenda to the book, one written by Carly Moree on the differences in the PCT and AT and how one would adapt to those difference. Then, a fairly experienced and multiply accomplished thru hiker Liz “Snorkel” Thomas wrote a chapter on gear.

I appreciated the author discussing something that is usually not addressed in planning a long thru-hike, that of the mental issues of enduring the trail. Most people focus on gear, resupply, planning, and other matters, and this book conveniently informs one of the mental anguish that will occur, allowing the hiker to be prepared for these issues. The main author also runs a website, which is quite informative in preparing for the PCT. It might have been nice if he had at least once done the PCT, and one could tell that much material seemed to be cut-and-pasted from the Appalachian Trials book, in that it continues to reference the AT.

 

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Sep 05


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Labor Day 05SEPT2016 Hike with Flanagan Boys

The Flanagan kids were under Betsy and my care for Labor Day since Sarah was involved and Andrew had to work. We decided that they needed some excitement, so took them for a hike. The hike started at Sunrise, and we took one false turn onto the Huckleberry Creek trail, which led us about a mile and quite a few 100 feet elevation loss, which we had to retrace. The kids were very reluctant to pursue our goal, but the promise of Snicker bars at the Fremont Lookout Tower spurred them on. We did achieve the Fremont Lookout, as can be seen from the above photo. They were rather tired on return to the car, so we awarded them with a trip (at their choosing) to McDonalds.

A gaze down the valley of the Huckleberry Creek trail

A gaze down the valley of the Huckleberry Creek trail

The saddle where the main trail and Huckleberry Creek trail split. The children are squinting from the sunlight.

The saddle where the main trail and Huckleberry Creek trail split. The children are squinting from the sunlight.

Another view from Mt. Fremont. There were many dozens of mountain goats that can be seen. Click on the picture to blow it up.

Another view from Mt. Fremont. There were many dozens of mountain goats that can be seen. Click on the picture to blow it up.

Looking back at Mt. Rainier and Burroughs Mountain from the Fremont Lookout

Looking back at Mt. Rainier and Burroughs Mountain from the Fremont Lookout

The kids a bit colder in the thin air of Fremont Mountain. Sammy discovers here the infamous Stone of Fremont

The kids a bit colder in the thin air of Fremont Mountain. Sammy discovers here the infamous Stone of Fremont

Here are the Garmin hiking stats and route we traveled, just in case you are curious.

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Sep 03

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Rampart Ridge on Mt. Rainier up to vanTrump Park 03SEPT2016

Jonny and I did this hike today with the cooler weather. The mid-mountain remained engulfed in clouds throughout the day, so that most of our hiking was done in mist. Though I would have loved the grand views of the mountain that can be seen on this set of trails, there was a different spectacular beauty to be seen, including looking through the mist to see a very large herd of mountain goats on the ridge adjacent to the one we were ascending.

This trail rarely was ever flat, most of it being either fairly steep climbing or descending. The route started at Longmire, and the trail quickly ascending from Longmire up to Rampart Ridge. The trail then followed the ridge, most the time ascending until a lookout is reached overlooking Longmire. From there, the trail either descends or is flat until the Wonderland Trail is achieved at 3 miles. After descending 0.2 miles on the Wonderland Trail, it again takes off on a fairly steep ascent up the ridge to VanTrump Park. You can see the herd of goats above that we saw in VanTrump Park. We continued on for a distance further on an unmaintained trail further up the ridge, but realized that we would not get out of the clouds until we moved onto glacier, not a smart idea. The descent went much quicker than the ascension. We were freezing at the top of VanTrump Park, so were glad to get down to warmer climate. Everything was quite wet, and there was extensive plant life growing over the trail making our shoes and pants soaking wet. It was also tricky, since there were abundant tree roots on the trail, and one knows how slippery they could be. By the time we got most of the way down, we encountered the hoi polloi struggling up the trail, most hoping to achieve a fraction of the distance that we accomplish, and sadly missing the spectacular views that we were able to see.

Jon fresh in eager to hike mode

Jon fresh in eager to hike mode

Blode Ziegen in die Wolken

Another view of VanTrump Park looking up toward the mountain.

Jon having lunch at the summit of our excursion

Jon having lunch at the summit of our excursion

VanTrump Park. Looked for Trump but he wasn't there...he was in Detroit

VanTrump Park. Looked for Trump but he wasn’t there…he was in Detroit.You can see the blöde Ziegen in the distance in die Wolken.

Nisqually River view from Longmire viewpoint on Rampart Ridge. It was not be possible to see this at the start of our hike since the valley was engulfed in clouds.

Nisqually River view from Longmire viewpoint on Rampart Ridge. It was not be possible to see this at the start of our hike since the valley was engulfed in clouds.

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Apr 01

GrandmaGatewood

Grandma Gatgewood’s Walk, By Ben Montgomery ★★★★

This is a true and fascinating tale about a woman who married a very abusive man, had 11 children, and after her husband left her and the children grew up, she notified her children that she would be going for a walk. The year was 1955 and she was 67 years old. They had known their mother to occasionally disappear for a period of time, and so thought nothing of it. Eventually, she made it know to her family and the world as to what she was up to. She had decided to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. To allow that, she wore nothing but sneakers, some rummage sale walking clothes, and sewed herself a burlap sack to carry her scarce belongings, which she threw over her shoulder. She had a walking stick, an extra pair of glasses, since she was nearly blind, a blanket, and a large sheet of plastic to serve as a rain coat and shelter in the event that she could not find natural coverage from the rain. Her hike went from May until September, interrupted only by nosy and inquisitive news agents, and then, only once she was discovered as to what she was up to. It was a year of major east coast hurricane activity, so much of her northerly walk was drenched in rain and mud, and swollen rivers. She eventually made it to the tip of Katahdin, the northernmost part of the AT.

The story is broken up with three different dialogues. The most important was that of her actual walk, which was reconstructed from the notes that she took and the correspondence that she sent to her children. The second dialogue was flashbacks on her early life, going from childhood, to marriage, to a seriously flawed family life with a very physically abusive husband, 11 children, and much coping. Eventually she got a divorce, her children grew up, and she found herself alone, only to find her greatest enjoyment in walking. The third dialogue was discussion of the history of the Appalachian Trail, discussion of issues of the ecology of the trail, and the loss of a wild area.

The book is inspiring. It makes one wish to get out to walk. It is an easy but compelling read, hard to set down until the end. It was easy to follow the story lines in spite of the fact that they were broken up.

Since then, Grandma Emma Gatewood again did the AT a second time, becoming the first woman to ever hike the AT and the first person to ever hike it twice. She also section hiked it a third time, as well as walked from Independence, MO to Portland, OR following the route of the Oregon Trail. She did this while she was in her 70’s.

There is interesting discussion in the book about hospitality shown to her as well as mistreatment on her trip along the trail. Perhaps the book implies that people with crazy ideas need to be catered to.  Even in the 1950’s, most people that looked like “homeless tramps” were alcoholic, irresponsible persons. Grandma Gatewood was not alcoholic, but certainly expected assistance and handouts as well as shelter along the way. She could not possibly have done the trail in an entirely self-supported fashion, making her at least somewhat irresponsible. Yet, the book is still a good admonishment to show hospitality to strangers.

The book is labelled a New York Times best-seller. Like all labels of this sort, such as being a Pulitzer prize winning book or Oprah Winfrey book of the month club book, the label usually persuades me not to read the book. This book mostly stayed clear of political issues, but they could still be seen. As an example, the author spends much time speaking of the racial inequalities, and political machinations that transpired during the 1950’s. He happens to briefly mention the Republicans (never the Democrats) as associated with the segregation movement, without mentioning that the overwhelming majority of segregationists were Democrat. It is almost like taking the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” as reflective or based on history. In the Pirates movie, the pirates were the Spanish and the folk being robbed were the British. In real life, it was just the opposite. It’s as though history some day would have the Americans as killing off the Jews, with Hitler coming to rescue the Jews from a holocaust. New Yorkers, in their sophisticated sophistry, so often just get it completely wrong. Oh well. Read the book. Laugh about the historical or political mistakes. But get inspired to walk a long walk.

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Mar 19

Slow&Steady

Slow and Steady: Hiking the Appalachian Trail, by Robert A. Callaway ★

I read this book because the title and summary had appeal to me. I was contemplating a long thru-hike. The author was a physician like me. The author was about my age. And the author considering doing the hike with his younger brother, like me. Everything else is different.

I reality, this must be the worst account I’ve ever read of thru-hiking a long trail. I’ve read many accounts of both the AT and PCT, and this really is the worst account I’ve ever come across. In essence, it is how Robert managed to jamb approximately 80 separate 1-3 day hikes into one long season that ultimately covered the Appalachian Trail. His brother dropped out be fore he made it half way. He stayed in hotels roughly 30% of the time. His down days were massive. Only once did he do 20 miles. He admitted to becoming a bit more sociable in the conduct of the hike. His manner of hiking was horrid, like any Obama liberal (which he took time off during the hike to vote for). He shuttled two automobiles throughout the entire Trail, leap-frogging them along the way to get where he was going. Environmentally, I went apoplectic, thinking about the volume of exhaust and “global warming” Bobbie generated by his venture. In my book, it would be the worst way imaginable to complete a trail. He did accurately describe the trail as a trail for socialites—not exactly the reason why one goes into the woods.

On any hiking adventure, one must HYOH (hike your own hike). Bobbie indeed did that. The book was such a bore and so un-like I would imagine doing any thru-hike, that I would not even offer this to my brother, with whom I plan on hiking the PCT in several years. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody unless you personally know Dr. Callaway and just wish a chronicle of his bizarre journey.

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