book review – Dances With Marmots

Dances with MarmotsKiwi George Spearing is a fireman who decided to hike the PCT long before the book WILD became a hit with the general public.

It’s charmingly amateurish. George is a hiker, not a writer.

Still … I feel most hikers will enjoy this lightweight read. 🙂

Pacific Crest Trail veteran John Manning:

… The element of challenge was greater simply because fewer people had managed a thru’ hike; the information available for planning wasn’t so easy available; and lightweight gear hadn’t evolved to the same extent (George hiked with a 60lb pack on some stages) as it has today. Therefore, it’s true to
say that when George hiked the PCT there was a logistical challenge that today might seem to be on the wane.

Yet there’s no chest beating here. George recounts his PCT odyssey with humour, self-deprecating glee and a real feel for the camaraderie of the trail, even though he encountered only a handful of characters route (compare that to the hundreds I met in ‘04). As I read this book I was able to imagine myself back among the forests, scaling passes, crossing rivers and relishing George’s company and his sardonic Antipodean style of humour along the way.

Some of  the tales herein will be familiar to many hikers – the bear encounters, the occasional “temporary displacement”, the varied battles with the weather – but in a way they’re all the richer for the matter-of-fact way they’re recounted.

Dances isn’t intended to be a blockbuster; it was written for personal reasons and George was talked into publication by friends clamouring for copies. The layout takes a little getting used to – every sentence starts on a new line but the only indentations come where a fresh paragraph would normally begin; the text therefore seems to have a stop-start nature – but persevere and you’ll be glad you did. What do you want, waymarking?


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