Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review - A Thru-Hiker's Heart: Tales of the Pacific Crest Trail

Rating: 4 out of 5 - Recommended

When I get into a book I really enjoy, I tend to savor it rather than rush to the end. This is one of those books that I have been slowly reading and pondering over the past couple of months. Finishing it, I am somewhat saddened that it is over, much like the emotions you feel after a long adventure.

"No Way" Ray completed the 2,663 mile long Pacific Crest Trail as a solo trip section hiking it over 5 summers between 2001 and 2005. In 2006 he began to hike the trail in 1 continuous journey with his wife (and editor of this book) Alice Tulloch. Unfortunately, Ray was killed when he fell from a 200 foot cliff some 300 miles from the start of their last adventure together. His trail journals and previous publications are nicely compiled into this book.

Read this book and you will be treated to a man's life long love affair with nature and the Sierra's. His PCT journey was the first time he had backpacked by himself even though he spent most of his life hiking and backpacking. Very long hikes are as much mental as they are physical, and Ray wrestled with fears and apprehension just like any of us would. Hiking through desolate areas and small trail towns, he takes you through laugh out loud highs and emotional lows, while telling history lessons of town and trail. In fact, the history lessons from this career teacher are inherent in his writing style, and are a pleasurable side trip along the way.

The story is incomplete due to Ray's untimely death, as there are some major gaps in trail sections, but don't let that stop you from reading it. In the end it's not about the trail but more about his journey, about the people he met along the way, and of the peace he was able to find in the solace of the trail.

Thanks Ray and Alice for sharing this with us!