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A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft and Ski

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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  168 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The adventures of a young, idealistic couple who choose to reduce their world down to just two small packs and the next 100 yards in front of them.
In June 2007, Erin McKittrick and her husband, Hig, embarked on a 4,000-mile expedition from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands, traveling solely by human power. This is the story of their unprecedented trek along the northwestern
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Paperback, 221 pages
Published October 19th 2009 by Mountaineers Books (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 582)
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Amy
This was a very interesting story about a woman who walked, paddled or skied with her husband from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The problem is that the journey is the most interesting part about the book. It is lacking in theme, development, reflection; it reads much like a scattered, condensed diary entry. Every once and a while we get a glimpse of Erin's feelings about what she sees and experiences. However she tends to shy away from the most reflective moments. It seems like she ...more
Amity
First off, you need to realize that I am friends with Erin and Hig. So I am both biased and more familiar with this story than most readers. I kept up with their blog, Groundtruthtrekking.org regularly during this trip. So, yes, I am definitely biased. But I really appreciate Erin's straight forward writing approach. Her honesty. And how she portrays their thoughts and wonders along this road less travelled. It is a quick read. Fascinating. And I hope inspires others to look at the world around ...more
Happyreader
The packraft is the star of this journey. A little 5 lb inflatable vessel that seems to be indestructible, ferrying them across treacherous, ice-filled bays and wild river rapids, yet conveniently fitting into their packs or serving as a snow sled/box spring when they were on dry land. And the bears!! Apparently, all you have to do is talk a bear down and they’ll lumber off (but don’t set up camp on their walking paths).

This couple makes a great team. The year-long 4,172 mile trek by foot, packr
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Brooklyn Newcomb
Overall an inspiring crazy tale of a husband and wife completing an near impossible feat that most would deem crazy. Got me excited for my own trail adventures (while also making me feel like a whimp). Subtle humor throughout which made the people likable. With that said the book got a lite preachy for me. Both are enviomentalists, and biased rants about how the environment is being destroyed took away from the adventure of what hey were doing.
Lori Klein
I found this book as I was browsing the Kindle store, and I thought it sounded interesting. After I downloaded it, I realized that I know people who know Erin (author) and her husband (Hig). They've traveled to and through Juneau several times, and it's actually surprising that I haven't met them yet. As I read through their journey, I was able to talk to my boss about his perspective on their year-long trip. He is one of the "hosts" Erin and Hig mention by name in the book. Having that personal ...more
Natasha
I was first introduced to McKittrick while reading an article in NYT's Home and Garden section. It featured their yurt in Soldovia, Alaska. The Article was titled "Broadband, Yes. Toilet, No." It featured Erin McKittrick, her husband and their infant son. It was a fun article and mentioned the book Erin just wrote about their 4,000 mile trek from Seattle to Alaska. Their walk/paddle/ski trip took just over a year. It is an incredible adventure. I can't imagine walking for a year through the wint ...more
Kathy
I've read a lot of books about people hiking, exploring and traveling in Alaska but never a book where a couple walked, skied and boated 4000 miles from Seattle to Unimak Island, the first island in the Aleutian chain. I completely admire their endurance and spirit - I don't think too many couples could do this. This book is very well written, not only covering their adventures and the stupendous scenery but explores what is happening in various ecosystems and communities along the way. Lastly, ...more
Owen Curtsinger
This book is among many to represent a new kind of "outdoor adventure" writing. For Mckittrick, it's not about man versus the extreme conditions that nature heaps upon us. It's about a personal exploration and appreciation for lesser-known (and subsequently greater-risk) places that many important and extraordinary people call home. Her writing is observant and informative, and breathes new life into the gender-biased and overplayed "man vs wild" stories that saturate this genre. At some points ...more
Yvonne Leutwyler
Erin tells the story of a fantastic journey without the fluff usually encountered in similar adventure books. She is humble without being annoying, in awe but not exaggerating, critical without offense, persevering without bragging, and funny in subtle ways. Most of all, she and Hig are two tough cookies. I have utmost respect for their traveling the backcountry of Alaska by non-motorized means.
I wished there were more pictures in the book, but I discovered lots of photos and more on their blog
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Elizabeth
Whew missing Alaska after reading this. Newly invigorated on long distance hiking and travel - especially with a new kiddo!
Tina


I love reading books about women who step out of societies box and push themselves to explore and discover. It's so encouraging. This book borders on a diary vs. what it seems like she thinks she should be saying. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was more of the personal journey emotionally than knowing facts about the areas, but that's just my personal taste. I also had seen a Banff film fest version of this book, so I already knew what was going to happen - which made me a bit lax
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Henry
I like the book but I feel it had trouble deciding what it should be. The framing is Erin and Hig's journey from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands. While it has many pretty descriptions throughout the book, the rarely devote any sizable entry to a specific location. One of the common themes throughout is how natural resource harvesting impacts the area, but likewise these are mentioned largely in passing. At times it was also hard to get a sense of the passage of time. Even with these drawbacks, I ...more
Maria
20120921 My partner and I are huge fans of the documentary made about this year-long trekking adventure ("Journey on the Wild Coast" http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Mo...), so I was excited when I saw that there was a companion book. However, there is a lot less heart in the book than the film. What I loved about the documentary was the human story. This book focuses more on ecological issues and gorgeous, detailed descriptions of the landscape. It was well-written and compelling enough to fi ...more
Jeffrey
While the trip fascinated me, the journal was just OK. I am not sure why I didn't totally love it, but I really didn't. It didn't fall into the whole introspective journal, thankfully, but it wasn't the most interesting travel journal either. I didn't really ever laugh, maybe that was it. I like to laugh when I read travel journals. There were amusing parts, but nothing that made me laugh. It was very scientifically stated and described, probably because the author is a scientist.

I would still r
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Kim
The journey McKittrick and her husband take from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands, all without motors, is fascinating. While her narration style is pretty cut and dry, simply reporting what they did and saw without flourishes, I appreciated that she didn't stretch each hardship into pages of hard to follow details that many nature adventure writers do. I learned some about (the sad state of) Canadian forestry politics, and the Alaskan coastline. Not the most entertaining book I've read lately, bu ...more
Annaliese
I don't live in the woods but I have always loved to do so vicariously. I read most of this while camping in cold damp weather but reading the winter section gave me a whole new appreciation of what (two special) humans can huddle through and appreciate. A great book to read when your life is full of change because it serves as a potent reminder of how little we actually need (physically) to get by, and how renewing time spent in natural settings can be. I follow their blog at groundtruthtrekkin ...more
Nick
Great book about a couple that walks from their home in Seattle, WA over 4,000 miles to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The journey takes over a year, but the book does a great job fo moving quickly and only covering the important stuff. Would have loved to hear more of the emergency situations, embarassing moments, and some of the inside jokes that Erin and Hig shared over this time. But seriously, this book boosts my wanderlust into hyperdrive. Time to talk to the wife :) ~NR
Lyndsey
This book really warms up in the second half. At first the emphasis is so much on the journey and the pacific north west is the main character rather than the two humans telling the story, but the author reveals more and more insights and personal feelings as the book goes on and by the end i'd really really warmed to them and their story.

I just wish the book had allowed us to 'know' erin and hig a little more in the first few chapters.
K2 -----
If you've ever lives in the PNW and dreaded winter time weather or the 300+ days without sunshine, read this book and you will stop feeling sorry for yourself.

This young over educated couple walked from Seattle up the Alaska and lived to tell the tale. Although at points I wanted to know more I enjoyed the book. You may have read the NYT article about their lives entitled something like Wi-Fi but no Toilet.
Sean Holland
A well-crafted tale of a completely unique journey. The author's descriptive abilities put you right there with her and Hig as they trekked through the wilderness. My only complaint is that the book ended too quickly - I wanted more detail about each place they visited. Of course, this would probably end up with the book being 1000 pages or more. Thank goodness they have a wonderful blog.
Kris
"We launched, paddling softly into the mystery."

"Out here, everything was open, and the weather was the fabric of the world."

"Not all of our days could be extraordinary. But our lives still could be."

I followed Erin's blog when she and Hig first walked from Seattle to the Aleutians. I have no idea what took me so long to read her book, but I loved it.
Dianna Hintze
This book is fascinating, well written, and very descriptive however I was constantly asking myself why they wanted to do this. That probably says more about me than them but I guess I like my adventure in a book and can't really relate to the desire to walk 4,000 miles or climb mountains etc. That said, read the book, it is good.
Rachel
Boy, from Alaska, meets Girl, from Seattle, at a liberal arts college in Minnesota (of course!). They go on many AK adventures, including the ultimate....taking a year to hike get from Seattle to the Alaskan Peninsula. Filled with wonderful descriptions of the wilderness that I like to call home :-)
Bruce Cameron
This is an awesome book! I love reading about Erin and Hig's adventures while walking to the Aleutian Islands. Erin does a great job of capturing all parts of their journey at a nice pace. And the environmental aspect of her story was just fascinating! Well done!
David Kessler
This trek was a one of a kind trip in Alaska. Erin and Hig were able to accomplish a trip never done before. Traveling from Seattle to the Aleutian chain of islands by foot, paddle and skis was a most difficult trip. I loved Erin's writing.
Holly
Books like this always make me want to move to Alaska.

also makes me miss living in the Pac NW. Great read...so descriptive, and amazing.
Lynne
My first thought is "are these people crazy"?. My opinion hasn't changed but it was good light read.
Rebecca
A really inspirational read about an absolutely epic trek and the enduring human spirit.
Jill
I couldn't get into this book, and didn't finish it...maybe some other time.
Michael
Terrific account of an extraordinary trek. Thanks Bruce!
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Erin McKittrick grew up in Seattle, exploring the nearby Cascade Mountains with her family. She met her husband Hig at Carleton College, where she graduated with a BA in Biology in 2001. That summer, they took off on their first major Alaskan adventure together, and haven't looked back since then. Erin has a master's degree in Molecular Biology. In addition to writing, she works as a photographer, ...more
More about Erin Mckittrick...
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“Not all of our days could be extraordinary. But our lives still could be.” 4 likes
“Out here, everything was open, and the weather was the fabric of the world.” 3 likes
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