PCT Trekker Brings Home the People

I’ll admit that I am addicted to distance-trekking books, not because I have written a couple of them, but because good ones make me feel like I am back on the trail.

Rick Rogers’ Walking Home brought the Pacific Crest Trail to life like no other account I have read. It is more about the people than the 2,650-mile trail from Mexico to Canada. Rogers’ insights and descriptions about his fellow thru-hikers and himself are entertaining, insightful, and chuckle-worthy.

In his mid-60s, he begins his journey with a pen pal whom he had not met and ends in his home state of Washington with his son, a third-grader. Along the way he meets a plethora of personalities that keep the book moving along at a mostly fast pace. He avoids some people and eagerly walks with others, cleverly and bluntly giving the reasons for his choices.

A former climbing instructor, his gear choices are questionable, even poor. He finds his only pair of shorts at WalMart and he knows they are made for women, but buys them anyway, leading to some funny situations that made me laugh. Maybe I even laughed at him because he should have known better.

Along the way, Rogers sprinkles instructive words of wisdom about backpacking, walking, and choices in people. Traveling in 2018, he encounters so much snow in California’s Sierra Nevada that he has to skip north and reverse direction—a flip—to avoid disaster. He then drives a rental car to Oregon to pick up where he left off.

There were times I would have liked more observations about the PCT, but in the end, Rick Rogers made me feel like those who walked with him were better for knowing him, but they may not have realized it until they returned home.

Journeys North Brings the PCT to Life

If you have walked the Pacific Crest Trail, you may have met Barney Scout Mann at his Southern California home, where he and his wife Sandy have hosted trekkers who are embarking on the adventure of their lives. Thousands more have benefitted from his dedication to the trail through his many years of work with the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

If you walked the PCT in 2007, you may have met him and his wife on the trail, when he kicked off his quest for distance hiking’s coveted triple crown, which he completed in 2017.

However, the inspirational adventurer, who has backpacked for more than 50 years, may have saved his most influential work for Journeys North, which reads like a gripping novel. He tells the tales of six who braved challenges that would send many hikers home. Ultimately, when a snowstorm blocks their path, they must choose between quitting and searching for an elusive detour.

His book brings home the personal side of the trek, stretching beyond the six main characters through compelling anecdotes about other backpackers traveling the PCT.

If it not had been in the middle of winter when I read it, Scout’s book may have spurred me to travel to his home to pick up some trail magic before I launched my own PCT trek. Sure, I recently completed the John Muir Trail, which follows the PCT much of its way through California’s Sierra Nevada. My heart is enthusiastic, but are my body and mind ready to make the jump from my 243-mile trek to the 2,653 miles through three states on the entire PCT?

If you read Journeys North, be prepared to feel the urge to take the next step(s).