Skywalker: Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail
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The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT )is the perfect place for an average person to do something extraordinary. Bill Walker ("Skywalker"), who stands 6'11", might seem like anything but average. Yet in a brutally honest tone, he lays to bare all his considerable weaknesses and fears. Among these are crushing weight loss and fatigue, along with a fear of getting lost or a bear stealing his food. Nonetheless, he is bound and determined to hike the PCT, which at 2,663 miles, runs all the way from Mexico to Canada.
The PCT's calling card is its stunning beauty. It has a diversity of geography unequaled by any footpath in the world. Haunting and beckoning the PCT hiker are the implacable desert, the towering majesty of the so-called High Sierra, and the ruggedly bleak, northern Cascade range. Indeed, the PCT hiker faces much greater extremes of terrain and climate than on the famed Appalachian Trail. Completing this demanding challenge calls for overwhelming clarity of purpose. Walker's signature characteristic as a writer is his real talent in capturing people ("Skywalker's humor, his delight in human foibles appeal to a broad audience."--Jeff Minnick, Smoky Mountain Book News). Obviously, he is a people person because he runs into and vividly describes a truly colorful cast of characters from seemingly all walks of American life. Among these are Uber Bitch, Shit Bag, and Serial Killer; the reader learns how these hikers ended up with their names (hint: blunders).
The reader need not worry that Walker is a bully. Throughout this irreverent narrative, he turns his considerable supply of humor back on himself in ruthlessly self-deprecating fashion. It all makes for a delightful read.
conclusion that Scott Williamson is the greatest long-distance hiker of all time. Chapter 22 CanaDoug—Snow Maven You’ve got to know your body. Pure and simple. CanaDoug and I stood at the foot of Glen Pass after having climbed 2,500 feet back up to the PCT at Kearsage Pass. “I think I’ll just camp right here,” CanaDoug said to my surprise. “But we were going over Glen Pass today,” I said. “It’s too late,” he said. “It’ll take hours to get over.” Standing there setting up their tent
people had remarked. Also, I had at first been confused in trail towns coming upon so many unflushed toilets (various signs overhanging the toilet recommended one flush every four urinations). My attempt to replicate this back home at my mother’s house was met with great ridicule from my mother! In any event, hiking the PCT fits right in with California’s next great revolution—energy independence. After all, who has a lower carbon footprint than a long-distance hiker? I had had a ‘California
suddenly heard something emerge from the nearby pond. I jerked around to see the smiling face of a nude male heading dutifully to his nearby tent. His trail name—which could indeed be a metaphor for the entire long-distance hiking experience— was Crazy, But Good Crazy. Suggested Readings White, Dan, Cactus Eaters: Harper Perennial, 2008. Ballard, Angela and Duffy, A Blistered Kind of Love, The Mountaineers Books, 2003. Krakauer, Jon, Into the Wild, Anchor Books, 1996. Krakauer, Jon, Into
were wrapping up for the evening except for some people shivering around a campfire. We had gotten our miles, but not our hot food. Chapter 5 The Kickoff Party How am I going to get out and take a leak with frozen shoes? I lay shivering inside my tent, amidst a sea of other tents. As usual, I had awoken in the middle of the night heeding nature’s call. The mountain cold settling into this lake valley had plunged the temperature all the way down into the twenties. When I had opened my
weather. These people were all ex-PCT hikers who probably hadn’t been beneficiaries of such trail magic during the trail’s early years. I had worried that the PCT was just an isolated footpath. To my great delight, though, I was to see countless examples along the way that the PCT is making solid strides at forming its own culture, just like the Appalachian Trail. Hikers just aren’t like other people. Any time I’m around lots of long-distance hikers, this truism reveals itself anew. I got to