Saturday, November 08, 2014

I Promise Not to Suffer (A Romantic Trail Adventure) - Book Review and Giveaway

I finally got the opportunity to sit down and read the book "I Promise Not To Suffer - A fool for love hikes the Pacific Crest Trail" late this summer.  It had been on my list of books to read for a few reasons but mostly because I'm kind of obsessed with the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) which runs all the way from the Mexico border to the Canada border along the west coast of the United States.

I was introduced to the PCT while reading "A blistered kind of love" back in the days before parenthood, and was reminded of how much I love this trail as I was reading Cheryl Strayed's book, "Wild", when it was published a couple of years ago.  I knew as soon as I heard about Gail Storey's book, I promise not to suffer, that I had to read it too.  Some day I'll hike the PCT and when that day comes, I'm going to be ready!!  (though I admit, I'll probably suffer.)


Background History on Gail's Journey on the PCT


Gail introduces her journey with the following blurb on her website:
"Gail Storey was definitely not a hiker or camper. But when her husband, Porter, leaves his job as a hospice doctor to hike the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, she refuses to let him go alone—even though the prospect of leaving their comfortable Houston home, hiking twenty miles a day while popping antidepressants and hormones, and sleeping outside for six months terrifies her. Carrying Porter’s homemade ultralight equipment, they sizzle in the Mojave Desert, nearly drown fording a swollen river, kick steps up icy mountains in the High Sierra, and stumble through the lava fields of Oregon."

And how's this for opening words in an outdoor adventure book:  "I never much cared for nature, or rather, thought it okay as long as it stayed outside."

Gail on the PCT

Right away with Gail's opening words, I knew this would be an adventure book for those of us "normal" folks who didn't come out of the womb already training for a life of epic expeditions.   

Gail teaches us through her book that the sky is the limit on your dreams, and you don't need a lot of experience to jump in! 


 

 

Backpacking and Marriage - How does that work??


You'll notice in the title of this review that I've added "a Romantic Trail Adventure," which is how I'd quickly summarize the book.  If you're looking for a trail guide on the PCT that goes into great detail on each section of the trail, this likely won't be that book for you.  However, if you want to read an awesome love story set in an outdoor context with an epic journey and adventure at the centre of the story, then this is the book for you!

Gail says up front that she doesn't consider herself to be an "outdoorsy" person and that nature might not be her favourite place to spend her free time. (my paraphrased words of her opening sentence.)  However, she chooses to hike the PCT from one end of the United States to the other, because of love.  Because of her husband.  And because of her desire to support his dream.  Now that's romance!  Not the kind of romance you see in the movies on date night,  but real romance in all its grit, dirt, and work.  And I'd rather read about this kind of romance any day.

I won't spoil the story for you but through the entire book, Gail continues to support her husband on and off the trail.  She learns from the trail and she develops a closeness with him that would never have been built at home, safe and warm in their cozy urban environment.


Gail and her husband Porter on the PCT Trail

 

What does this book have to do with "Family Adventure?"



Fair question, right?  I mean this is a blog about "family adventures"  and I typically target the Canadian Rockies.  Gail's book admittedly is a bit off topic for my website but I really wanted to share her story because I feel it's important for us outdoor parents to read books that enable us to dream, to expand our horizons, and to stray out of "the moment."

Love this shot of Gail living her dream!
Well-meaning folks always tell me that I should "embrace the moment" and enjoy every single second with my precious child.  And I do (mostly.)  But, sometimes, I want to stray outside the boundaries of my safe easy little world and to dream of bigger adventures that I might get to do again some day.  Toddler hikes and camping trips are great and all, but it's nice to take a step away for a minute, to sit down with a good adult adventure book, and to think about what my life might look like again in the future.  Maybe I'll be hiking the PCT when Noah's off at university.  Maybe when he's married with his own kids, I will be Gail, hiking across the continent.  Maybe.... (It's a long ways off, but I can dream.)

Dreaming is healthy.  Adding trips to your bucket list is fun.  And reading about an epic adventure that you might some day aspire to do is empowering.  For those reasons, I read Gail's book and encourage you to read it too.  Some day the kids will be grown up and you'll have the chance to do something like this.  Who knows, maybe the kids will join you!  Now that would be awesome!!!


 

What it means to "Grow Up" and be an "Adult"



The final thing I loved about Gail's book was the message she drives home about choosing your own reality for what being a "grown up" should look like.  The quotes below are taken directly from her book where she shares the challenges she faces, along with her husband Porter:

Porter's parents thought we were crazy to undertake such a hike.  In Porter's father's view, real men didn't take off six months from work.
Porter's mother was embarrassed to tell her friends. "Id never've sent you to camp if I'd known you'd be campin' in your fifties."
Porter asked me, "Did we do a bad thing, to take off six months from our responsibilities?"  

Porter asks a legitimate question above.  Most people in their fifties are not in fact off camping for 6 months at a time.  Most "adults" at this point are focused on career, family, a mortgage, bills, responsibility, and possessions.  Maybe add a vacation to Mexico or someplace warm once a year, and that's what a normal "grown up" life is supposed to look like.

Well, I personally admire Gail and Porter for their bravery to say no to "normal" and to jump outside the box on  the adventure of a lifetime.  I hope I'm brave enough to follow suit when my son is grown up.

Hiking across the High Sierras on the PCT


For more information on Gail's book, check out her website and follow her on twitter.


Win a Copy of Gail's Book, I Promise Not to Suffer


Gail Storey
I have one copy of Gail's book to give away thanks to the great folks at Mountaineers Books. If you would like to enter to win, leave a comment below telling me what your dream adventure of a lifetime is. 

The contest will be open until Friday, November 21st.  Contest closes at midnight on Friday, MST. I will draw a name over the weekend through an automatic number generator and will notify the winner by Monday morning.

Please make sure you sign in through an account I can reach you at, or provide your email address.  If I can't contact the winner, I will choose a new person.


Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book to review.  As always, all opinions are my own and I wasn't paid to do the review.


17 comments:

  1. Thank you, Tanya, for your brilliantly written review with such insight into the deeper dimensions of I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail. As a huge fan of your blog, I appreciate how well you "got" my book, and how it's about love and marriage as much as the outdoor adventure. Your readers might like to know that I Promise Not to Suffer has recently come out in a second printing, with an interview between my editor and me, and questions and topics for group discussion--perfect for book clubs! Best wishes for the continued success of your blog and your own work.

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  2. Thanks for the book recommendation. I live in Oregon and have hiked parts of the PCT in both Oregon and Washington. Although I've no desire to through hike the entire trail, I'm planning to section hike the PCT through my home state. I'm considering starting this journey next summer. But my dream adventure? Well, that would be to ski the Haute Route in Europe. Oh, and by the way, I'm in my 50's and I think life begins at this age - our kids are out of the house, I'm winding down my career, I'm still in great health, and I don't feel too old to have an adventure!

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    1. Linda, so glad to hear you'll section-hike the PCT through Oregon--so beautiful! Aren't our 50s a great time to have these amazing adventures?!

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  3. Definitely adding this to my reading list! On my bucket list is rafting and camping in the Grand Canyon as well as kayaking/camping in the broken islands.

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    1. Hope you enjoy it, Sarah, as well as your eventual rafting, kayaking, and camping adventures!

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  4. Why just one dream of a lifetime, every adventure is a dream, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, hike the Inca Trail to Manchu Pichu, Backpack through Oregon, ski the Haute Route, hut to hut hike in Austria, and Switzerland, Milford Sound Trek, explore all the national parks in Canada, I could find a grand adventure anywhere.

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    1. Kathy, you're a woman after my own heart--grand adventures are everywhere, especially when we have the spirit of adventure!

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  5. Tanya - you have to stop reviewing books, my want to read book list is already long enough and each time you review one I add it to the list. This one has gone straight to the top of the list. Adventure of a lifetime - too many to choose from... right now we are working on the goal of going hiking in all the Canadian National Parks and Alberta Provincial Parks. I'd also love to go back to NZ and walk some of the great walks - Milford, Routeburn, Queen Charlotte. I am sure that after reading this book the PCT will be added to that list!

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    1. Jill, I'm honored that I Promise Not to Suffer went to the top of your to-read list! I hope you enjoy it, in light of your adventurous spirit! I've hiked the Milford in New Zealand, it wasn't nearly as challenging as the PCT, but absolutely gorgeous!

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  6. I'd love to go to Iceland with my family and hike the Annapurna Circuit with my husband.

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    1. Alyssa, that does sound like an amazing journey!

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  7. I have been wanting to bike the AlCan highway from Anchorage to Seattle for a long time. I even have taken out the maps and starting planning my route. The dream is a little spark that smolders and hopefully will be a flame someday!

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    1. Princessliak, I'm guessing you'll absolutely do it, sounds wonderful!

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  8. Sounds like a great book - it takes a lot of courage to break with conventional wisdom and your own and other people's expectations of what you're "supposed" to be doing. I sometimes dream of selling everything and move to Australia. I've been there several times already but there's still so much to see! I'm thinking a big time road trip with a camper van would be the way to go:o)

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    1. Linda, yes, I've heard Australia with a camper van is enormous fun!

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  9. I read this book last year and absolutely LOVED IT! Thank you for sharing this inspiring story with us all! It has been an encouragement to me to keep "doing it": hiking, biking, kayaking, photographing! So thank you!

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    1. Lisa, thanks a bazillion, that means a lot to me! You encourage me to keep hiking, biking, and writing!

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