Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
The 20-something Ballards alternate chapters to detail their 2,655-mile backpacking trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, starting at the U.S./Mexico border and ending in Canada. Angela, an advertising copywriter, is a novice hiker, while Duffy, a pre-med student, is more experienced. Inspired by William R. Gray's The Pacific Crest Trail, the Ballards spend eight months planning and set out; ahead lie three states, three national monuments, seven national parks, 24 national forests and 33 federally mandated wildernesses. They describe the journey's physical, emotional and logistical aspects, including their pre-trip planning, their family's reactions and what they learn about each other along the way. (They marry at trip's end.) The macho couple doesn't want to waste time enjoying the scenery or napping in the sun-their goal is to complete the entire trail, which they do in 132 days. Says Angela upon reaching central Oregon's Crater Lake, "I yearned to find a sheltered cove of grass where I could enjoy the sunset and subsequent sunrise over the lake, stare into the blueness and enjoy a warm mug of hot chocolate." Instead, as usual, "we were tugged by the call of miles." The recommended reading list and numerous practical tips on gear, trail food, first aid and terrain will be a boon to those attempting the Ballards' feat themselves. But less hardy souls may be discouraged from doing so. As the adventurers state in the epilogue, "our trail life wasn't all sunsets, starry nights and self development. Sweat, stench, gritty skin, and exhaustion killed many otherwise profound moments." Map. (Oct.) FYI: The Ballards filed dispatches from the trail, which have appeared at the popular outdoor recreation site Gorp.com, and won the Barbara Savage Miles From Nowhere Award. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.