Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dances with Marmots - From Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail by George Spearing

George Spearing gets a sudden urge to do a long hike. Now, George lives in New Zealand, one would think he might elect to hike the two islands of New Zealand from bottom to top, but no. George has decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to Canada, a distance of 4,280 km, or 2,659 miles in five months. This is his story of preparation, research, and finally his long trek over mountains through deserts, marshes, rattlesnake country and bear country, not to mention the ticks toward the latter part of his journey.

He has plotted well, arranged for food and other necessities sent on to small town post offices along his route to cut down on weight in his pack. Still it often gets up to 100 lb. at times. He does this trip as a solitary hiker, but often meets up with other hikers, some several times en route. A great demonstration of how small the world is, he also meets up with the very man he contacted through a friend for advice on the trip when still in New Zealand!

This book is slight reminiscent of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" as he hiked the Appalachian trail through the eastern states. George will be doing the western states. I found the book very informative, humourous, and often giving historic trivia about various stops along the way. George has a tendency to talk to himself either out loud or in his head. On meeting his first group of marmots, he had quite a conversation with them, and enjoyed their company. He encountered marmots several times and found them to be very entertaining. Even his run-ins with bears are written with fear yet humour. Not being at all acquainted with bears, I can sympathize with him when crashing around the tent makes him wonder if he is going to become an appetizer. This is a very readable and entertaining book, includes photos.

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