Famous American Trails
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail hike runs approximately 2,200 miles (3,500km) through 14 states from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
The Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail runs 2,660 miles (4,280km) from the Mexican border northwards through California, Oregon and finally Washington, as far as the Canadian border.
The Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide Trail runs 3,100 miles (5,000 km) between Mexico and Canada. It follows the watershed along the Rocky Mountains traversing five American states – Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
These three trails form part of the so called “Triple Crown” for hikers who complete all three.
The John Muir Trail CA
The John Muir Trail (JMT) is a long-distance trail from Yosemite to Mount Whitney passing through Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The Trail is 210.4 miles (338.6 km) long, with an elevation gain of approximately 47,000 feet (14,000 m)
Balancing on Blue by Keith Foskett (2015).
This book about Keith’s northbound Appalachian trail hike is full of minute detail about the changing terrain, plants, geology and weather systems as the trail progresses. Keith generally manages to maintain a good balance between the various elements of this genre of books, discussing preparations, gear, physical and mental struggles, meditations, and trail towns and landscapes, managing to make it all seem effortless. What makes his books especially enjoyable is the social and character detail he provides about the unique community of hikers who undertake long distance routes around the world. This book is no exception, and as a fellow hiker I read it in less than a day and a half.
Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by Chris Townsend (2015).
Chris Townsend also completed the trail solo in the earlier days of the PCT, when it would have been very challenging. Only about 100 people hiked the trail that year, and Chris was one of a small group of people to finish it, making him a real trailblazer. He was confronted by many challenges, including unusually high snow levels as he crossed the High Sierras in California. Unlike Cheryl Strayed, he always intended to complete the entire trail, and had prepared for his hike by making sensible kit decisions which kept him safe during some very challenging sections. These sections made gripping reading at times and give a real sense of life on the edge. This account of the journey is much less about the author, and more about the extraordinary landscapes and wildlife he encounters. I relished the physical descriptions of the landscapes and I enjoyed this book very much.
The Last Englishman: A 2,650 mile hiking adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail by Keith Foskett (2012).
This account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a well written book by Keith Foskett which shows how much busier the trail is now. Taking a more leisurely approach to hiking the trail means that the book is rich with descriptions of the social etiquette and camaraderie of the hike, the trail angels, the trail towns, and fellow hikers, all of which are fascinating. The pressures of winter approaching mean that Keith is forced to jump forward to complete the last segment of the trail before the snow makes it impassable. He then returns to complete the section he omitted by hiking southbound. The wealth of incidental detail, the steely determination of the author to finish, and the description of the obstacles he faced, made this a really good read.
Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed (2013).
This book on which the 2014 film (reviewed in Films) is based received an upsurge of popularity following a deserved plug from Oprah Winfrey. Cheryl Strayed found herself hiking part of the Pacific Crest trail following a difficult separation, the death of her mother and a flirtation with drugs. Her account of the early errors she made with her boots, backpack and kit, and the physical struggle she faced while she became trail-fit, are disarmingly honest and will be recognisable to many hikers. In this book, the trail becomes a metaphor for Cheryl’s personal development as she deals with her loss. Some Twitter purists have criticised the book on the grounds that the author doesn’t complete the whole trail, and is a novice at the start, so if this is you then you may not like this book.
I paid the usual price for these books.