kindly sent me the book and my wife snagged it before I could look at it, so she read it first; I finished it last night.
I thoroughly enjoyed it since it was the first book I’ve read on a PCT thru-hike, hence I have nothing to compare it to.
I really want to find Ray Jardine's book and a few others to get more perspective on thru-hiking that incredible trail.
“A Blistered Kind of Love” is about a couple's PCT hike of almost a decade ago, and to paraphrase the book, 103 hikers completed the hike that year, 105 if you include Lodgepole and Foxtail
(Duffy & Angela.) Anyone have any idea what the numbers are for those who attempted it and those who completed it in the last year or two?
I enjoyed Foxtail's
(Angela's) writing style, it being frank and introspective, and Lodgepole's
(Duffy's) a little less so (They alternate, as Lin & Larry Pardey have done in their sailing adventures.) Together they accomplished quite the feat, considering their previous hiking experience (especially Angela's.)
She gives a revealing account of the help of PCT trail angels, including her admitting her initial coolness towards the trail angel "Meadow Ed," who appears almost mystically three times on their PCT hike. To finally be "accepted" by Meadow Ed at the Canadian border (this guy is everywhere
) was as much a victory for her as standing on the border at Monument 78.
That said, I'd like to ask a question to get a discussion going here, since this is
Did they "do," as in complete, the PCT? In those two books, "Walk in the Woods,"
and now "A Blistered Kind of Love,"
none of the authors actually completed those thru-hikes in what the authors’ call the purists’ definition.
case, he was an established (non-hiking) author, and undoubtedly got a substantial advance to write his book on doing the AT. His was a great read: hilarious & informative in the patented Bryson style, yet his stating at the end that he believed he “did the AT,” but didn’t do the entire trail I find to be a bit of a stretch.
Like with so many pop authors, the publisher puts intense pressure on them to produce – not miles, but books. The editor would say,“So what if you didn’t finish the trail, we need that manuscript! And remember that you owe us another book next year!”
That’s just the standard contract in pop publishing. How many of the 3rd or 4th novels of a popular fiction author appear to have a rushed ending to the point that one almost feels cheated when reading those last few chapters? As if he/she sped-wrote
the ending to get on the promo-circuit (for their previous book) before beginning to fulfill their contractual obligations on the next one.
Like a fine wine, a book’s quality is usually inversely proportional to quantity, not of pages, but of books spit out by an author in the past few years. Or so everyone would assume, except for the publisher who wants to exploit a hot author before that one’s forgotten and replaced by the next hot one.
book, on the other hand, is genre specific, geared toward the hiking crowd. It was published by The Mountaineers Books.
I have no idea if there was a cash advance for the book or if they shopped it around after the hike. But if there was a pre-hike contract, I wonder if completing the PCT was a clause in the book contract; with them both skipping a couple of chunks, I assume that clause was not there or was ignored.
I thought that Duffy & Angela
were really hitting stride as they reached Oregon. To jump ship to attend not one, but two weddings seemed to me to be a tragic error in completing the hike. Granted, we each hike our own hike, but to suspend the hike, which ultimately closed the window on them reaching Canada by the 16th of September (so he could get back to med school) -- I found that a bit strange. Seems like this hike would have transcended those weddings. Sorry. I look at it a bit jaded: The Event
wasn’t those weddings; they happen all the time, they fail quite often and then they happen again. What's unique and the real Event
that summer was a couple completing the PCT together.
I’m trying to think of an analogy. Joining the Peace Corps comes to mind. There'd be no jumpin’ ship from the Jamaican jungle to fly home for a wedding (or weddings) I’d think. Cause you made a commitment. My brother missed my wedding back when we were in our 20s because he was traveling around the world. I am so glad he did, since that marriage didn’t last, and the memories of the adventures he had at the Red Sea and elsewhere did.
After Duffy came back from the first wedding in SoCal, he was disoriented, out-of-step and eventually even became lost. I assume that after the solo-hike foray when he ended up back in Mount Shasta City that he then caught a ride to Yreka.
And when they met up in Yreka
after her week back East, they took a bus to get back on the trail at Etna.
Angela’s two weeks off the trail had her trying to readjust; a mental lapse had them sleeping with their food when a black bear made a house call soon after they rejoined the trail. And later, they skipped 97 miles of Section K
near Lake Chelan in order to meet their self-imposed deadline of Canada by September 16th.
It’s easy to play armchair hiker while they
were the ones doing this epic trail. And does it really matter
that there were a couple of gaps in the thru-hike? They’ve done more than I certainly have, or might ever be able to do.
Both my wife and I agree that we’d have skipped those weddings, but then we’re not them. (My wife said she’d have used the PCT as a convenient excuse to not have to go to the weddings, anti
-social butterfly that she is.) But she questions how I could ever say that they didn’t complete the hike, and more importantly, why that’s even important. I told her I’d like to continue the discussion on our next hike; this argument would probably get us through a long stretch of uphill miles.
I’m curious how “strict” others are of the definition of a thru-hike.
Regardless of this esoteric point, those two, Lodgepole and Foxtail,
have my admiration and respect.
Anyone who wants to read the book, PM me with an address and I’ll send it (via Media Mail rate) to whomever responds first as GrumpyGord