Saturday, September 29, 2018

Reading the Pacific Crest Trail


I like to follow themes in my pleasure reading. One theme was climbing Mt. Everest. I could never do that in real life, but I could experience the adventure through published accounts and memoirs.

Lately, I've been reading about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's something I could never do, even in my youth, but through reading I can do anything.

Many authors mention John Muir's classic My First Summer in the Sierras. I found mine at the Cozy Corner used bookstore in Ferndale, WA. It's also available for free legal download at the Project Guttenberg website.

John Muir was a Scottish immigrant. In 1849 he came with his parents to settle in Wisconsin. John always had a wanderlust spirit, but an eye injury in 1867 inspired him to take long cross-country "walks" and sailing adventures. In 1868 he sailed into San Francisco and made California his home base.

Not long after his arrival, Muir walked through the San Joaquin Valley and up into the high country of the Sierra Nevada range herding sheep. In 1911, he used his journal of the that trek and summering in the Yosemite valley as the basis for his book, My First Summer in the Sierras. The book is filled with detailed descriptions of his natural surroundings and is illustrated with his own photographs and drawing.

John Muir was instrumental in getting Yosemite set aside as a National Park, and was one of the founding members of the Sierra Club. The John Muir Trail (JMT) through his beloved country was named in his honour. From Mt. Whitney to the Yosemite Valley it runs mostly in conjunction with the Pacific Crest Trail .

I was inspired to read Muir's story after references to it were made in other books about the Pacific Crest Trail. If I had it to do over again, I would start with his classic work.

I came to California 100 years after Muir landed in San Francisco. I came in a different way however, I was born as a second generation Southern California native. I vividly remember camping in Yosemite Valley before there were numbered sites and reservations. I remember ranger talks and watching the Firefall from Glacier Point. When I was older, I remember standing in the meadow to watch President Kennedy ride by in a motorcade. Here's a video taken by another family on that special day.

Other books about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail I've read include:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Click here for my review. Of the three books, this was my first and favourite. The movie version of Wild with Reese Witherspoon that followed wasn't as good as the book in my estimation.


Thru-hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Advrenture on the Pacific Crest Trail by Carrot Quinn.
Click here for my review.  Carrot is an unusual individual that is blunt in her approach to life and writing style. She sought out hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to give her life more purpose.


Girl in the Woods: A Memoir by Aspen Matis. 
I didn't write a separate review for this book.  Like Wild and Thru-hiking, this memoir is about a woman who suffered trauma and used the grueling hike to find her way in life. Aspen's descriptions of her past and trail relationships were even more graphic than Carrot's.


Do you like to read books about similar topics or themes? What are some of your favourites? -- Margy

13 comments :

  1. I read WILD and liked it saw the movie too---of course the book was better as always. I would like to walk or hike a bit on the PCT just to say I did but not from bottom to top. I just want too.
    If you are in the area come on over to Bob's and pick up some tomatoes. We just picked 4 baskets but I am tired of making sauce and stewed toms. LOL. I put a pic on facebook
    MB

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    1. Thanks MB for the tomato offer, but I only can up at the cabin. We are in Bellingham this week for lots of doctor and dentist appointments. Heading home by the weekend. I should have some tomatoes waiting for me, then I'll cut down the last two plants. - Margy

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  2. I agree with you that the movie they made of Wild was not as good as the book. I have never thought about reading a set of books on a theme - sounds like an interesting way to read different perspectives on the same topic … I tend to read fiction, but maybe I should tackle more non-fiction!

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    1. I split my time between fiction (I'm into scifi lately) and non-fiction (local authors and outdoors topics). Keeps me busy with my Kindle and print library. - Margy

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  3. Thank you for sharing your memories. I don't read by theme, but do tend to go on genre jags. Also, I don't see myself ever climbing Mt. Everest either, but admire people with those kinds of goals. Thank you for reviewing!

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    1. Thanks for hosting the Book Review Club. - Margy

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  4. I've enjoyed reading about John Muir. I vary between female mysteries and books sent to me for review. I'll try reading almost anything for a free book!

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    1. You should love the Project Guttenberg then. They are all free, but mostly classics. - Margy

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    1. For reading pleasure I enjoyed Wild the best too, but reading Muir's book about an area that was an important part of my growing up years was interesting. - Margy

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  6. What a cool reading project! My family and I camp up in the Sierra every summer (near King's Canyon and Grant's Grove)--it's so beautiful up there.

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    1. When I was little we camped in the Sierras almost every year as well. I did a similar thing with memoirs of people who climbed Mt. Everest. - Margy

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  7. Great review and survey of similar books! I should recommend this to my son who hiked 365 miles of the PCT before starting a degree at Berkeley.

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy