*****Where The Waters Divide*****
Submitted By: Brawny
A Walk Along America's Continental Divide
By Karen Berger & Daniel R. Smith
The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is a National
Scenic Trail approved in 1978 by Congress and spans
some 3100 miles along the backbone of America. At
present only 70% is completed trail. This book gives
life to that statistic. Karen tells of scrambling up
talus and shale rock, trying to locate a way up,
around, through or down landscape we all dream of
hiking. I had ordered this book from the public
library, but after 10 pages I decided it was a book
worth owning, so that I could underline the great
insights she offered, as well as town descriptions,
for a trail so remote and underdeveloped only a few
try thru hiking it in any given year.
There are jeep roads, logging roads, unidentified
roads, cross country endeavors, searches for the
nearest windmill (indicating water), and just general
all around dependency on the compass and topo maps
that make this trail an entirely different long
distant hike. "...the route is still so incomplete
that every person who walks on it takes a different
path- - his or her own."
A lot of time is spent telling historical details
about the small towns they visit along the way. About
uprisings and invasions and the building and fading of
ghost towns. The problem of, and policy for, water
rights and (re)distribution. The multi-use and
conflicting interest groups. There are many
interesting stories of wonderful trail magic bestowed
by cowboys and ranchers, even though they have
conflicting views concerning best use of the land.
Summing it up quite well, Karen wrote" As a society,
we have managed, in the process of consuming goods
and making money, to destroy a good part of our
One thing I missed and scoured the pages for was a
time reference. When did they finish New Mexico? How
long were they in Colorado? How many weeks did Wyoming
All I know for sure is that Karen and her husband,
Dan, started on May 2nd, at Columbus, New Mexico, were
in northern Wyoming in late September, and finished at
Flathead Port on October 31st of the same year.
Because of tremendous snow in Idaho, they chose to road
walk the remaining 300 miles from Chief Joseph Pass
in southern Idaho, for an estimated hike of 2,580 total miles. I
admired their perseverance. Even though they couldn't
finish the trail in the mountains, they still
completed their hike to Canada.
The next year they
went back on July 6 to hike from Chief Joseph Pass on
the Continental Divide Trail to Canada via Watertown
Lakes, finishing this 571 miles on August 25th, in 51
In the beginning of every chapter, there is an area
map of the CDT, with some towns and National Forests
or Wilderness Areas noted. That makes it much easier to
follow the saga of this remarkable long distance hike
that Karen, Dan, and frequently other friends, who at
times, were able to join them.
I recommend this book and definitely give it a 5
on the Mauldin Scale.*****Somewhere Along The Way Video*****
- - Submitted By Rainmaker
This video details a 1991 thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail by 2 young brothers. Judging from their gear, it doesn't appear that they were very well prepared for their hike. If you watch closely, you will see many equipment changes. Their packs seem to be very heavy, and even the way that certain items are carried seems to change on a regular basis.
For me, the best part of this video is the scenery. It was very well photographed, apparently with high quality film. I think the real "star" is the photographer, and unfortunately, we never get to meet him / her.
The music leaves a lot to be desired, unless you enjoy bad singing and "clinky", repetitious piano music. When I watch the video now (mainly for the desert and High Sierra scenery), I leave the sound off.
To me, the two brothers appear to be very uncomfortable on film. We see them a lot; but at the end of the video, I didn't feel like I knew either of them at all. They don't verbalize well on camera, and it seems that we are always watching their hike "from a distance"; that the viewer is not quite a part of what is going on.
Viewers might get the impression that all PCT thru-hikers need to carry snowshoes and massive packs. However, the only snowshoes I've seen on the PCT were in this video, and the massive packs are certainly not required.
Running time is approximately one hour, and I think the video is available from the PCT Association for about $25. I'll rate it a 3.
*****BEYOND BACKPACKING (BOOK)*****
- - Submitted By Splash
Author: Ray Jardine
Rating 4: For completeness of information
Rating 3: In that some of the subjective information could be misused, as
Ray's way has been tried over several months and thousands of miles, but by
only TWO people. All that works for them may not work for you.
Rating 5: For the excellent chapter on sewing your own gear
In order to review this book, I had to first lighten up on my Jardine
prejudices, including my feeling that the Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's
Handbook by Ray Jardine, has created an ultra-lite cult.
When the book first arrived, I spent a week browsing it randomly. Then I
thought to actually review it fairly, I should read it all, not what
interested me just at the moment.
Beyond Backpacking is very informative and Jardine often gives his reasons
behind recommending a certain piece of gear or method of doing something.
Much of the information is from Jardine's first book PCT Hiker's Handbook
and is familiar to anyone having read that book.
Beyond Backpacking has chapters on virtually every aspect of backpacking
from the usual gear and food, to how to deal with various weather conditions
including lightning. Jardine writes a thorough chapter on hygiene and a
most excellent chapter on sewing your own gear.
A few parts that drew my negative attention (and the #3 rating) mostly
because novices could be misled by Jardine's confident way of stating ideas
as if they are law, were as follows:
1). Bail Handles on cookpots --- I have lost more heated water with this
handle than any other, including plain bandana as a potholder.
2).Cook fire use --- I believe to use cook fires in order to not carry more
fuel (weight) is irresponsible with the increasing use of trails and
backcountry areas. Even using Jardine's low impact cook fire and "monster
mash" I worry about the accumulated impact if thousands of backcountry users
3). The tarp --- Jardine has perfected the use of a tarp but one should
experiment in various conditons and locations before relying on one.
4). Corn pasta --- try it, if you dare, and also any other food you plan to
use on an extended trip.
5). First aid kit --- while being fairly complete, in my opinion, it has a
skimpy amount of some items, especially hydrogen peroxide.
6). Footwear --- Jardine suggests buying shoes 1-2 1/2 sizes larger than
usual, which I agree with in theory. But again use what will work for your
feet and climate: hot weather equals more foot swelling. But some shoes, if
too long, flex in the wrong place and can irritate your arch, as I found
Jardine does point out a few times that camping on ridge crests and summits
is a bad idea. He also states that the book is not intended for adventuring
where a bivy is needed. He is experienced and aware of limitations to his
gear, although subtly expressed. Basically, the book is a good read.
*****THE LEGACY OF LUNA (BOOK)*****
- - Submitted By Rowanangel_f
Author: Julia Butterfly Hill
Remember the old tree-house you had in the backyard as
a kid? Remember how you used to play in it for hours
until your mother called you in for dinner? Well,
Julia Butterfly Hill also had a tree-house. Only
hers was nestled at a height of 180 feet in one of the few
remaining redwoods of the Lost Coast... and she never
came down for dinner.
You may have heard of her. She's the "crazy"
environmentalist who climbed up into a redwood named
Luna as part of a tree-sit at the age of 23. She came
back down at the age of 25. That's right. She lived
on a 6x8 foot platform sheltered by tarps through
winter, spring, summer, and fall for two years. What
sent this remarkable young woman up into that tree and
into quite an unexpected journey was her immense love
of nature, an overwhelming fear of losing the few
remaining redwoods in this country, a first-hand view
of the devastation caused by clear-cutting, and the
determination to make a difference. What sustained
her against the abundant physical challenges, the
potentially overwhelming emotional strains, and the
enormous outside pressures to come over the next two
years is an entirely different story. It's the story
that Julia tells in her own words in her book "The
Legacy of Luna."
Much as she never expected to find herself
tree-sitting, the account of Julia's two years in that
tree unfolded for me in a way I had not expected. I
assumed that life in a tree would be one of solitude
and reflection, silence and stillness. As it turns
out, life for Julia was anything but. She endured a
barrage of phone calls from reporters and radio show
hosts. She kept herself busy making calls to
government officials, sending letters, and engaging in
many other forms activism. She even managed to
entertain the occasional celebrity visitor such as the
likes of Woody Harrelson, Bonnie Raitt, and Joan Baez.
In short, tree-sitting turned out to be a full time
job. That is not to say, however, that Julia's
existence was void of stillness. On the contrary, it
was inward stillness from which Julia learned to
listen. And prayer from which she drew her strength.
While the book narrates the painful realities of the
present state of our environment, it also reflects the
magnificence of nature and the hope that it endures.
This is truly an inspiring story and I give it a 5.
Five Million Steps Video
We have two reviews for this popular video:
Submitted By tattoogranny
I bought the 5 Million Steps video many years ago. It's almost worn out. I watch it at least 3 times a week! When I can't be out on the AT I watch it. When I have Springer Fever, I watch it. When I'm trying to talk one or two of my grandchildren to hike with me, I watch it. When I get Cabin Fever, I watch it.
What I'm trying to say is, I love it. I would also suggest it for anyone planning a thru hike OR section hike to see it. It gives some real insight on different degrees of hiking and lets you know, YES you can do it.
Submitted By Rainmaker
This video was produced in 1987 by Lynne Whelden, and I think it was one of his first. Its a favorite among AT hikers, and you will likely find it available for sale almost everywhere that videos of the AT are sold.
Concerning gear, it is obviously outdated, but it somehow captures the essence, flavor and texture of thru-hiking the AT better than any other video I've seen.
Lynne interviews one thru-hiker for each of the 14 states that the AT traverses. At the end, we find out what happened to all of them; obviously, not all of them make it to Katahdin. A notable "interviewee" is Bob Barker. Bob has MS, and has hiked the AT three times - - on forearm crutches. I think about that a lot when my back hurts!
I purchased this video shortly before I hiked the AT in 1992. I especially like the music. Lynne Whelden also hiked the AT that year, and he and I hiked together for a while (before he got ahead of me, like everyone else).
Anyway, one day in Pennsylvania, he hiked up behind me and heard me whistling the theme song from "Five Million Steps". He said it was the highlight of his day, and we shared a good laugh over it.
If you want to practically feel the rain in your face on a hot summer day, almost smell the food cooking around the shelters in the evenings, and experience the gritty "feel" of hiking the AT, this old favorite may be for you. I think its available from the ATC for about $30. Running time is just under and hour and a half. I'll rate it a 4.
*****JOURNEY ON THE CREST (BOOK)*****
- - Submitted By Rainmaker
This book was written by Cindy Ross, and it is the story of her 2 year hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Cindy also hiked the AT, and wrote a book about her AT hike. I believe its called "A Woman's Journey".
I really liked "Journey On The Crest", and it served to generate a lot of interest in my own section hike of the PCT. Unlike other authors, Cindy allows the readers to see her mistakes, and to learn from them. In addition, she is not above laughing at herself, and at some of the situations she gets herself into.
She began her hike in a year when the snow was very heavy in the High Sierra. Frankly, I don't know how she did it. I hiked the first thousand miles of the PCT in a very light snow year, and I had all I could handle in the High Sierra, and in the vicinity of Sonora Pass. Her "near-death" experience at Sonora Pass serves as fair warning concerning what to expect, and what can happen there.
Concerning gear, this book is obviously outdated. She hiked the PCT in the early 80's. However, regardless of gear, the trail remains. In my experience, though, the route is much better marked now.
This is a good read, and the book successfully captures the gritty feel and "never say die" aspects of a long-distance hike. I rated it a 4. I believe it is available from the Pacific Crest Trail Association for about $15.