A Himalayan Journey Born as a Dream

Living in her native India, Susan Jagannath fell in love at first sight. She was just 16. But she would have to wait until she was in her 60s to realize her dream, a closeup view of the object of her affection.

In Chasing Himalayan Dreams, Jagannath describes her journey on the Singalila Ridge Trek along the Nepal-India border to Sandakphu, where she gazes across 30 miles of blue sky to Kanchenjunga, the sacred mountain. On the 38-mile guided walk, she travels through villages, soaking up local culture.

The peak she first glimpsed at 16 is not just any mountain. Billed as the world’s tallest until 1852, Kanchenjunga elevation is 28,169 feet. It resides among four of the tallest peaks, including Mt. Everest. And Kanchenjunga has never been summited. By tradition and out of respect for its sacred designation, climbers stop short of its tallest point.

Her book is a quick, easy page-turner. I celebrated when the author, who lives in Australia, climbed to the viewpoint at Sandakphu, at an altitude of 12,100 feet. I had my fingers crossed that clouds would not stand between her and her mountain. If they had, I think Susan Jagannath would not have quit her dream to get a clear look at her first love.

Camino Sunrise: Thank You, Readers!

I am grateful for two reviews of Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows that arrived this week via Amazon. Also, I am thankful for my wife Sue’s ink-and-watercolor art. There is rarely a shortage of signs on Spain’s Camino de Santiago. To everyone who has shared our journey: Thank you!

From the United Kingdom: “While reading this book I was transported to the Camino. The descriptions of the people, difficulties and triumphs are so vivid and told with humour and insight. I got totally engrossed in it and could imagine myself walking with the author and his wife. They would be such entertaining companions. Great read.”

From the USA: “I’ve lived vicariously for years reading others’ adventures hiking the Camino. This book was my favorite! Down to earth, funny, moving, heartfelt, loved it, felt like I was taking the journey along with the author. I would definitely read other books he writes.”

Our adventures on Scotland’s West Highland Way, the Alps’ Tour du Mont Blanc, Italy’s Way of St. Francis, and England’s South West Coast Path are getting closer to publication. Stay tuned!

Hike Oregon! But Don’t Forget Your Guide

Lace up your walking shoes, pack a lunch and head to the Oregon coast for some of the best day hikes in America. And if you are a regular walker around the state, you will not be caught without your William L. Sullivan guidebook.

Sullivan, who once backpacked solo for 1,361 miles in his beloved state, has written 18 books about Oregon, which is similar in size to Great Britain and, like Britain, is known for valuing public pathways. His book about the Oregon coast is one of five regional offerings that feature 100-plus day hikes each. He also chose his 100 favorites for a book covering the entire state.

Hand-drawn maps, difficulty ratings and user-friendly narratives have guided Sue and me on countless walks around Oregon since we moved to Ashland in 2014.

One of our most memorable outings, described in the Oregon Coast and Coast Range guide, is actually more of a drive than a walk. After 12 miles of a twisting, rough gravel road that begins near the southern city of Brookings, Sullivan’s book guides walkers to a 1.6-mile trail, round trip. This one is all about the destination, a Japanese bombing site. On September 9, 1942, a small plane was assembled on the deck of a Japanese submarine off the coast of southern Oregon. After the wings were attached, a pair of incendiary bombs were loaded. A catapult launch sent the plane inland for its mission: Start a forest fire to undermine America’s war effort. Sullivan tells the story and leads hikers to the bombing site. It is a beautiful, forested walk to an observation deck where signs chronicle pilot Nobuo Fujita’s daring attack.

Besides many rewarding walks on the coast, Sullivan’s Northwest Oregon guide has led us on spectacular adventures near Bend, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. We are also partial to his guide about southern Oregon, our home.

When we depart on a trip to explore Oregon, we never leave home without Sullivan’s invaluable guidance.

Smokejumper Flips His PCT

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.