Sara's Reviews > The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader, Oregon and Washington: Adventure, History, and Legend on the Long-Distance Trail

The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader, Oregon and Washington by Rees Hughes
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's review
Nov 15, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: giveaways, hiking, trails, travel, camping, oregon, westward-expansion, washington

Copy received through the Goodreads First Reads program.

I am a pretty avid hiker (at least when the weather is nice). I have hiked extensively in Shenandoah National Park, including parts of the AT. I've also hiked some in the western part of the country, but never on the PCT. That will have to change.

This reader can be thought of as a trail in words. It's part of a two-volume series. The first book covers California, and the second volume, reviewed here, covers Oregon and Washington. You can thru-hike both volumes, section hike one or the other, or even do day hikes of an essay or two. I read the volume cover to cover for reviewing purposes, but I can see how reading a chapter at a time in preparation for hiking the particular section referenced might be just as satisfying, if not more so.

Every chapter here, whether it be in historical essay, memoir, short story, or humor, really speaks to the soul of the hiker. The writers here know what it's like to slog along a trail with a sodden pack, muscle through knee and foot pain to continue making mileage, or be suddenly stopped in their tracks by the pure euphoria that can overtake you when you come across an unexpectedly beautiful view. (Wow, that sounded a LOT less cheesy in my head.)

Some chapters explore the origins of the trail though the history of the U.S. westward expansion, or through allegory or legend (the recounting of a Coyote tale comes to mind). Although not directly referencing hiking, these pieces demonstrate a knowledge of the history of the region which will deepen the appreciation of a hiked area. It's not all reverence and nature, though! One of my favorite chapters, called "A Fine and Pleasant Misery: The Backpacker" pokes fun at the attitudes long-time hikers of the PCT in a particularly hilarious way.

It's December now, and is pretty cold where I live. I won't go on any long hikes for a few months. However, if I have books like this to see me though the winter, I think I can last until the spring. I might not be out on the trail myself, but the feeling of it is captured here. I wonder if there's a similar volume for the AT...

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