All the literature that I used
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver the last three years I started reading about the PCT, blogs, books, stories, etc. I will give some reviews of the books I have read. Books of people that have hiked long distance hikes. Books that teach (ultralight) backpacking skills. Books that helped me plan the PCT. Books I found useful and/or enjoyable.
A walk in the woods, rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson. It is a book about long distance hiking, not about the PCT. Bill was extremely nervous about his upcoming adventure on the Appalachian Trail, the AT. His preparation study was mostly about his biggest fears: the bugs, the bears, and the scary people. You can imagine his relieve when when his old friend from high school decided to join him. His friend, a smoker and a drinker, with low stamina, is the source for a lot of hilarious stories. This book made me laugh. Bill who seemed to be committed on hiking the entire AT that summer, realized after a month that that would never happen with the speed they were going. First they skipped a little, later Bill went back home and got other responsibilities. A Walk in the Woods is part anecdotal and part informational. I was a little disappointed at this point in the book. Bill remains making day hikes on the more interesting parts of the trail, and tells lots of background information about the different areas. Some of it is really interesting, some of it is less interesting. As I never had the intention of hiking the AT it was difficult to really get in in all this background information of lots of places that are totally unfamiliar to me. I was spoiled by the more the comical hiking stories, and wanted more of those. Besides I wanted to read a book about thru-hiking a long distance trail. The book did not let me down. At the end of the summer Bill and his friend set out again for a two week trip on the AT. There is lots of comical and AT information in this book. Especially the non-informative part is a really good read, totally worth it.
I promise not to suffer, A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail by Gail Storey. The husband of Gail is actually the outdoor fanatic. He wants to hike the Appalachian Trail, cycle across the USA, hike the Pacific Crest Trail, cycle across, and hike the Continental Divide Trail. He calls it the butterfly. They have cycled together through America already. The AT was not a real success, but Gail wants to stay with her man. She goes with him to hike the PCT. She writes beautifully what happens. How they prepare (he is gathering and making gear, researching the trail, she is inviting a lot of friends over for dinner parties who they will miss for months). She describes how they are in many ways a perfect team on the trail, but also her insecurities, she is slower than he is. They meet the famous trail angels in Aqua Dulce, hiker heaven. They see Puma’s, are thirsty, find a lost dog. It is a good book.
Wild, from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I loved this book. I was sad to end it, I wish she walked the whole trail so I could continue reading this book. She put a lot of feeling in this book. After Cheryl’s mother dies, her life is going in a downward spiral. She is cheating on her husband, does drugs. At the point where she hits rock bottom, she sees a book of the PCT in a shop. The trail seemed to be an escape from real life for her. A life unknown to her where she can be away from all the distractions. She has none or very little backcountry skills. Her pack (monster) is ginormous. Her shoes are too small. She has more reason to quit with the hike than to continue. In the book she is hiking the trail and looking back on her life before the trail. Of this book the movie ‘Wild’ has been made. For those who don’t want to read the book, the film is showing in the cinema’s as from mid-February.
Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips: 153 Amazing & Inexpensive Tips For Extremely Lightweight Camping written and illustrated by Mike Clelland. This book is extreme. It even explains you how you can save weight on your tooth paste. It tells you to trim off all unnecessary straps and stuff off your pack. The only knife you need according to the book is a small single-edge razor blade in an envelope. He is right, though, only I am not convinced I will be happy with some of his choices. Other tips I do follow up though. My sleeping pad is not full body length, but it is longer than just torso length that is adviced in the book, I use my pack together with spare clothes, as a head pillow. If I were to change my sleeping pad, I will probably go for torso length and have my pack under my legs and feet. Also it shows how to make your own alcohol stove, this is making my doubt my stove.
Yogi’s PCT handbook by Jacky McDonnell. Jackie aka Yogi, has help from several hikers how hiked 1 or more times the PCT. This book describes almost everything you need to know, from trail details, town maps, gear advice, etc. This can be used to organize good planning and how to make thought through gear choices. I should have gotten and reading this book earlier. It is making me have second thoughts for my sleeping pad, my sleeping bag and even my stove, again! It is reassuring my fears, bears (well the black bears) are not as scary as everyone thinks. It has made me realize that lack of water is much more dangerous than a bear encounter. Carrying paper maps can save your life, electronics fail all the time, with paper maps (and map/compass reading skills) you always know where the closest water source is. Etc.
Mike and allen’s really cool backpacking book by Allen O’Bannon and illustrated by Mike Clelland. This is actually the first of the informative literature that I have read. The book is full of little tricks to make your life on the trail easier and more comfortable. Also this book isAllan O’Bannon loves the MSR whisperlight, maybe my lovely little MSR stove is not too bad (heavy). The book is, of course really cool! The book has also a lot of funny pictures.
The three books above thought me about the leave no trace policy that is customary in the American hiking community. I never realized that washing up in a mountain lake with soap would be really damaging for the environment, regardless what soap you use. Aquatic organisms are very sensitive to their environment. Also watch out where you choose to pee. Preferably do this on a spot where there is rock or dirt, because mineral starved animals will come for it and might damage/eat delicate vegetation. The same goes for when taking a dump. When taking a dump you should dig a ‘cat hole’. Basically it is not oke to leave behind toilet paper. I will have to get used to that. Also these books teach about using natural sources of toilet paper, like grass, leaves, smooth stones, snow balls, fury cones (my colleague found this hilarious when I talked about this, he has never heard of fury pine cones before). This sounds logically to me, but not sure I will get used to that. At the same time it feels a little gross to pack out used toilet paper or to use fury pine cones.
I will be a guest in the USA. I am a guest on this planet. I want to minimize my impact and preserve wild nature (but without being a complete nerd and freak about it). Therefore I will try the very best to get used to packing out my toilet paper, and at least use the more easier degradable toilet paper. I want to learn, or at least try, to use natural products to replace toilet paper. I will not shampoo my hair in a lake or river. I will learn how eat my pot clean and rinse it clean with water and a finger (no soap). If others can do this, why couldn’t I?
There is another book I would like to add to the list which is the ‘ANWB Wandelgids’, a book with 11 short multi-day hikes in the Netherlands. Every time I wanted to do a training hike, I choose a new hike from the book. The hikes are easily done in two days, they are well described and go through some beautiful Dutch nature reserves.
Carrot Quinn, the woman who hiked the PCT twice, 2013 and 2014, has written a book about her PCT adventures of 2013. Here is a link to the post about her book. The book is on Amazon as an ebook and will be published on paper fall 2015. Her blog is also really good, so I can not wait to read her book. It is on my phone with me on the trail.