“Cindy Ross does not claim to be a heroine. Her book is about the fear of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. . . . It is good to read of someone who is just crammed full of courage, guts, spirit and determination.” —Smoke Blanchard, Walking Up and Down in the World
Cindy Ross had already hiked the 2000-mile length of the Appalachian Trail when, hoping to escape a deadening daily routine and sort out her life, she returned to the wild. But this time it was a more rugged arena: the Pacific Crest Trail, a mostly mountainous, 2600-mile route from Mexico to Canada, vastly different from the relatively gentle, well-traveled Appalachian Trail.
Her trip began—badly—in the California desert, where the hiking “partner” she had selected from an advertisement proved to be totally inexperienced and so strange that they parted company the first day. Continuing alone, Ross soon became the de facto leader of a motley, ever-changing crew of PCT walkers that came to be known as “Cindy’s Circus.” Long, rugged hiking days produced physical ailments and strong emotions, but in confronting and surmounting these challenges, Ross grew in strength. After many months and several major changes in her life, Ross beat fall snows and storms to reach the Canadian border. More than the end of the trail, this was also a symbolic milestone in her life.
In narrating her story, Ross deftly brings the reader into the physical and emotional landscape of long-distance hiking. Her cast of “Crest characters” is sharply drawn in both words and sketches.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My copy of "Journey on the Crest" is an older edition, prior to the reprint. I have read "Journey on the Crest" three times. I have read her AT book twice, and her CDT book "Scraping Heaven" twice. I can see the progress of Cindy's writing growth through all these successive books. I've had an interest in backpacking and long distance hiking, and in the Pacific Crest Trail in particular, for most of my life. I own a number of books pertaining to the three long trails: The Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. I can relate in many ways to this story. I can see a lot of parallels in my hiking experiences. I began my quest to hike across Idaho as a struggling newcomer to the backcountry of Idaho. I had to overcome my physical deficiency of Asthma to face the physical challenges. I also grew in confidence and overcame some inner fears and inadequacies. I also was transformed by the sum total of my experiences on the trail. I can also relate, somewhat, to the terror of her slide in the snow. My snow slide experience was not as long, fast, and dramatic. It did however leave a lasting impression on me. Some readers might form a negative view about the relationships that Cindy encountered along the way. I believe that Cindy has captured her honest feelings and struggles. As a man, I don't relate as well to the female emotional drama. As the saying goes, YMMV "Your Mileage May Vary." I don't want to DING her for writing about the people. I just happen to be put together differently. I probably would relate better to her husband Todd in the second half of the book. I am an opposite to the gregarious and outgoing extroverted ways that Cindy relates to other people. I would tend to make one friend or maybe two, but would shy away from hiking in large circles of people as she tended to do. This contributed to a lot of drama during her hike. I personally would recoil from that kind of added drama to the trail experience. However, this is her hike and her story. And the stories that flavor her tale came from her people experiences. I really like the hand-drawn illustrations in the book, which truly add an extra dimension to the story. Her backpack alone looks like it would crush me, and I am a tall and large framed man. It is impressive to me that she hiked with that kind of load, akin to the backpack called "Monster" in Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" story. My perspective is that of someone who has switched to Lightweight or Ultralight hiking. The bulky and crushing load that Cindy carried contributed greatly to the physical challenge she faced. And yet, she overcame. I continue to follow Cindy's travel experiences through social media and look forward to future writing endeavors from her.