Archive for PCT

walking the PCT

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on August 29, 2015 by xi'an

The last book I read in the hospital was wild, by Cheryl Strayed, which was about walking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as a regenerating experience. The book was turned into a movie this year. I did not like the book very much and did not try to watch the film, but when I realised my vacation rental would bring me a dozen miles from the PCT, I planned a day hike along this mythical trail… Especially since my daughter had dreams of hiking the trail one day. (Not realising at the time that Cheryl Strayed had not come that far north, but had stopped at the border between Oregon and Washington.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA)

The hike was really great, staying on a high ridge for most of the time and offering 360⁰ views of the Eastern North Cascades (as well as forest fire smoke clouds in the distance…) Walking on the trail was very smooth as it was wide enough, with a limited gradient and hardly anyone around. Actually, we felt like intruding tourists on the trail, with our light backpacks, since the few hikers we crossed were long-distance hikers, “doing” the trail with sometimes backpacks that looked as heavy as Strayed’s original “Monster”. And sometimes with incredibly light ones. A great specificity of those people is that they all were more than ready to share their experiences and goals, with no complaint about the hardship of being on the trail for several months! And sounding more sorry than eager to reach the Canadian border and the end of the PCT in a few more dozen miles… For instance, a solitary female hiker told us of her plans to get back to the section near Lake Chelan she had missed the week before due to threatening forest fires. A great entry to the PCT, with the dream of walking a larger portion in an undefined future…

wild [guest post]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2013 by xi'an

My daughter, who brought me this book, wrote the following about it: Wild is a book whose title might hint at more than it truly contains. This book is the story of a young woman hiking along the PCT, the Pacific Crest Trail, a very long hiking path in America. This young woman will quickly realize that she is not trained enough for this kind of adventure, but far from turning back she keeps going toward the aim she set herself. She meets many people on they way, either walking on the road or living in towns where she receives packages of supply she sent herself. This book is original in that it is not written by an expert hiker and hence it allows us to discover with the author how to manage the PCT. At the end of the novel we are almost surprised that she succeeded thanks to a large amount of luck. Wild is a realistic novel that makes us eager to embark on the journey! To have this adventure. It shows us a really wild side of today’s world, away from electronics, news, and today’s materialistic culture. How to cope with loneliness, hunger, dirt, cold, fear, injury, bad guys, orienteering … A book that details minutely every day at first and then accelerates toward the end. This is a very long journey, as one becomes aware at the beginning, but as the days go by, it seems less and less hard, which is probably an effect intended by the author, but it seems rather frustrating to me. I am rather lost with all these characters that come and go, it’s hard to remember them when they reappear in the narrative. For once, the heroine does not find an easy way through difficulties, which is what makes it a more realistic novel. Despite a too large number of uninteresting details about her life before the PCT, this book made me discover this trail and drove me to hope to hike it one day…


Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2013 by xi'an

My daughter brought me this book at the hospital and I read it over the final day of my stay there. (She had ordered and read it out of a review in Elle…) As I first supposed it was about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT), I was quite eager to hear about the beauty of the mountains and the challenges of the long distance trail. However, wild is much more about the psychological problems and the troubled childhood of the author, Cheryl Strayed (a self-chosen post-divorce name), the trek being undertaken as a cathartic therapy to overcome her mother’s death and to fight the ensuing self-destructive tendencies… The most amazing thing in this autobiography is that the author managed to survive a trek of this magnitude, given that she had no preparation and no training and that she had to face heat, lack of water, cold, snow, wild animals, wilder men, and this with hardly any money. She starts in the Mojave desert with a backpack weighting half her weight (soon called the Monster) and is lucky enough to avoid dehydration, snake bites, wrong trails, falls, hypothermia, &tc. Great for her and thanks to the fellow hikers who helped her building some experience, but I cannot feel much of a connection with the author. In short, she often sounds like a complete idiot, e.g. starving most of the trail only to spend the few dollars she sent herself at each postal relay in junk food and sodas. I actually wonder at the level of authenticity of this unpreparedness: I find it very hard to believe she had never considered the weight of her back before leaving when this is one of the first things you read in any book about hiking. When considering she had planned a complex delivery of supplies all along the trail, apparently missing none of them. The character of Cheryl Strayed is not as annoying as the “hero” of Into the Wild, but I do not buy the whole story. Great cover, by the way!

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