Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart …

An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail by Carrot Quinn 

I’ve read a number of books on the PCT. I believe this is my favourite.



Carrot Quinn was raised in Alaska on welfare by a schizophrenic single mother. A rough life. In fact, she became a hobo riding the rails.

This book reads as a blog. That’s because it started as blog posts from the trail.

reaching the Canadian border
reaching the Canadian border

If you are one of those who disliked Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild … because it had too little actual hiking … know that this extended trip report is all about the hiking. 🙂

It’s funny. It’s real. It’s surprising. Carrot makes no apologies.She’s a big advocate of trail romance. Even sex.

I’ll certainly buy any of her other books that get released on audio.

related – Carrot did not love the Continental Divide Trail. She did love the Hayduke Route.

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?


Shawnte Salabert – on hiking

… The last mile to camp is always a drag. Almost always. Or always. I could be strolling through a wonderland of gold and diamonds and chocolate fountains and unicorns, but moving like an uninspired sloth. My feet are tired. My butt is gently chafed. I need nutrients.

In camp, I immediately engage in some sort of polite battle with fellow tent-pitchers over The Best Spot. “No, you pick first.” “No, no – you pick.” I invariably choose one that seems flat and windless. Seems.

Time for water math. Do I have enough? Should I filter tonight or in the morning? How much should I grab for dinner? …



Kolby brought this excellent blog to my attention. 🙂 I’m now subscribed.