Of the 11 National Scenic Trails, which is the longest? The Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail?
The answer (Neither) may be a surprise, unless you are a fan of the North Country Trail, which stretches 4,700 miles from Vermont to North Dakota. We walked two spectacular sections of the path in Wisconsin today within Copper Falls State Park. Hikers in the northern Wisconsin park can view Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls (pictured above) and Red Granite Falls from the trail’s viewpoints, which are accessed via several bridges.
On the Camino de Santiago, the world’s most-traveled long-distance trek, pilgrims like to say, “Everyone walks their own Camino.”
In Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Mexico to Canada, Bruce Wilson describes how he inserted a “flip” in his 2,650-mile endurance test. He began at the Mexican border in April and arrived in the Southern Sierra Nevada early, with dangerously high snow levels ahead. He got rides to Ashland, Oregon, where he flipped his PCT and walked back to the southern Sierra, where he left off. He still faced snow and snowmelt-fed waterways, but his PCT was safer, more passable. To complete his flip, he got rides back to Ashland and resumed his trek.
Nelson’s book brings home the challenges of backpacking for months on difficult terrain that reaches more than 13,000 feet. I am addicted to experiencing the PCT through hikers’ books and YouTube posts and, like many I have followed, Nelson paints a vivid picture of the beauty and the problems he faced. A retired smokejumper from Alaska, he preferred walking on his own, but accompanied others for stretches. There are days that sound just like other days and I yearned for more about his personal journey, but, in the end, I was drawn to turn the pages by an appreciation of his strength, physical and mental.
As 2020 is ushered out the door, author David Smart wins my applause for writing the best book out of the 50 or so I read this year.
As a distance trekker, I am in awe that he walked more than 2,600 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border to Canada. He earns his trail name, Stayin’ Alive, many times over. As a fellow writer, I admire his honesty and entertaining narrative. He earns my hope that this is not his last book (nor distance trek).
If circumstances again keep me from a distance trail in 2021, I will pick up The Trail Provides: A Boy’s Memoir of Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for an adventure that will not feel as vicarious as it is.
Michael Tyler and his wife walked more than 40 times as far as Dan Karmi, but distance is not necessarily the defining measure of their accomplishments.
In Walking Thru, Tyler recreates his journey of more than 2,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. I am pulled to the PCT because of its incredible challenges in the desert of Southern California, over peaks more than 13,000 feet high in the Sierra Nevada, and through two more states, Oregon and Washington. Sue and I have walked five European distance treks, but none compare to the length and difficulty of the PCT.
Karmi, from Israel, walked 60 miles of the 110-mile Tour du Mont Blanc, but I have to give him credit for attempting something unlike anything he had ever done. Sue and I had done two other treks by the time we walked around Mont Blanc, something we could not have done without experience. Karmi’s story, My Journey Around Mont Blanc, is an honest sharing of his unusual experience.
Neither book was a gripping account, but I was drawn to their stories. Their adventures were so unalike, but distance walkers will find value in their words.