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!|
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
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.