From the Library Journal: This is the author's second book about a long-distance walk (the first is A Woman's Journey). Here she tells about following the Pacific Crest Trail north. The motivations and interest of long-distance hikers are made clear, as are the problems and joys of the sport. Ross also describes people and adventures met on the trail and provides artistic drawings of these characters. Unlike the polished prose of Colin Fletcher or John Hillaby, Ross writes in a breathless, jerky style. Her book is worthwhile alone for its insights on hikers and hiking.
I dont know if I will ever have a chance to hike the Pacific Crest trail, so I have to live vicariously through those that do. Unfortunately, its either really difficult to find engaging books on these trips, or long-distance hiking itself is rather difficult to make engaging! (Brysons A Walk in the Woods being the notable exception)
Cindy Ross writes of her journey in two distinct sections. In the first, she starts her trek alone and soon finds herself hiking with a group of people some of whom are quirky by nature. In the second half of the book, she returns a couple of years later with her husband to finish the second half of the trail. The social drama and inevitable complexities of group dynamics are more prevalent in the first half of the book, and give the story a stronger narrative quality. In the second half of the book, I found myself as anxious as she to get to the finish line in Canada.
In many ways, these types of books have to find the space between two tasks, that of giving the reader a sense of what the Trail itself is like the scenery, the challenges, the location, etc. and that of sharing the human experience in meeting this kind of challenge the narrative, the story, etc. It seems that doing one well takes away from the other.
While occasionally gripping and interesting, this book as a whole feels like what I imagine a long hike to be like full of interest and novelty in the beginning and devolving into a desperate plod towards the finish.