The dog days of summer (when it’s so devastatingly hot that the dogs lie around and pant all day) are a great time to take it easy at the camp site and catch up on your summer reading with a cool drink in hand. Here are a few books that I plan on reading this week up in the mountains in between trips to the swimming hole.
Justin Lichter just sent me a copy of his latest book which includes the story of his record setting PCT thru-hike last winter. I’m about half way through it already and “Sketchy” might have been a better trail name for Justin than “Trauma.” While I’ve done a few sketchy things on my backpacking trips, they pale compared to his.
Having hiked more than 40,000 miles of trails across the globe, Justin “Trauma” Lichter recounts the survival instincts, physical endurance, and mental resiliency needed to be a thru-hiker. Despite countless close calls, Trauma continues to push the limits of long distance hiking, safety and wilderness survival. Short Stories from Long Trails is at times frightening, stomach-turning, humorous, and heartwarming, including tales about his history-making winter hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, described by the New York Times as “the most daring and foolhardy expedition since Lewis and Clark”
I think Keith Foskett is one of the best hiking and adventure story tellers out there and I’ve been devouring his book Balancing on Blue, which grabs you in the first chapter and doesn’t let go. He’s written a couple of other thru-hiking memoirs and they’re all quite good.
Accompanied by an array of eclectic characters including a world champion juggler, a drug dealer, and a sex-starved builder from Minnesota, Kieth Foskett’s AT Thru-hike experience was far from normal. Battling a fear of snakes, bears, being in the woods after dark and his own demons, it’s physically exhausting — as well as a psychologically challenging. His adventure weaves a route through some of America’s wildest landscapes and history, and is told with insight, humour and reflection.
Walt McLaughlin’s other books about the Long Trail and the NPT have had a big influence on me and my appreciation of a wilderness experience. This latest book describes his experience hiking on the Appalachian trail in the Hundred Mile Wilderness with his dog.
The 100 Mile Wilderness, located in the immense forest of northern Maine, is the most remote section of the Appalachian Trail. With a German shepherd dog named Matika for company, McLaughlin revels in all the hardship that the North Woods has to offer. He reflects upon the evolution of the trail system, as well as the history of the region, while traversing mountain ranges, fording rivers and slogging through bogs. He contemplates his own inclination towards wildness while pressing southward, encountering scores of hardy AT thru-hikers on their final push to Mount Katahdin. The trail twists and turns. The journey holds many surprises. And the beautiful mystery of the natural world prevails.
After landing the perfect job, Wellman drives to Maine where she spends five months living off grid, teaching Leave No Trace and confronting both men and moose in hilarious, behind the scene stories of what being a Ridgerunner on the Appalachian Trail really means. Also known as Brawny, she has thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Colorado Trail and John Muir Trail. Food and Gear lists, photos, tips and a FAQ section make this work more than just another trail book.
I really enjoy reading books about Japan and this one about an American who skateboards end-to-end across the country sounded too good to pass up.
After working in an Alaskan oilfield, Elliott settled in Tokyo, with a job at an English conversation school and a loving girlfriend, Zucchini. But Elliott got tired of settling down and decided to do something new, quitting his job and skateboarding through Japan, end-to-end, in 46 days. With the help of Japan’s 17,569 7-Elevens and lots of rice, Elliott embarks on his epic journey, Join through the mountains, over cracks, and under rain, as he escapes snakes, wild pigs, and bears. If you’re looking for another profound travel memoir all about finding yourself, this might not be the book for you. But if you’re looking for an exciting, funny exploration of one man’s love of Japan, you’re in for a wild skate.