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Book Review: I Hike – Mostly True Stories from 10,000 Miles of Hiking

“I never set out to hike 10,000 miles. It just sort of happened over the course of a decade.”

In 1980, I spent 25 days on a thru-hike of the 211-mile John Muir Trail. The JMT was my first taste of long-distance hiking. And it is a truly epic hike. But the JMT pales in comparison to some of I Hike author Lawton “Disco” Grinter’s backpacking trips. Grinter has hiked over 10,000 miles, including the “Triple Crown” of the hiking world: the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail (twice!) and the Continental Divide Trail. All of these trails take four to five months (or more!) to hike from one end to the other. What drives someone to hike one of these trails? What is it like to spend nearly half a year on the trail? I Hike provides a glimpse into what it’s like to hike one of these truly, long trails.

I Hike - Mostly True Stories from 10,000 Miles of HikingI got a copy of I Hike for my birthday last month (thanks to Mom, who checks my Amazon Wishlist). I’d first heard about the book through the always-entertaining Trail Show podcast, where Disco, POD, Mags and D-Low wax philosophical on the life of a a hiker. On the show, they go by their trail names — traditionally bestowed on a hiker by other hikers on the long-distance trails.

Unlike some of the other popular books representing these long trails, Disco chose to share anecdotes from here and there, not necessarily in chronological order. I Hike is not a journal of any particular journey, but a sampling of the experiences along the trail. It’s easy to imagine hearing these stories told around a campfire–some making you laugh out loud, others keeping you on the edge of your seat.

What happens when Disco hits the town and downs a 1/2 gallon of ice cream in one sitting (guilt-free, no less)? Let’s just say, there can be consequences that can come along with the indulgence.

You’ll learn that there really are angels among us — trail angels who give selflessly and generously to help thru-hikers along their journey.

Disco gives us a taste of what its like to be stuck in the wilderness in day after day of rain, or low on food and water. And the cast of characters that populate the trail, each hiking for their own reasons, and each with a unique personality.

What I loved most about I Hike? Disco’s description of the camaraderie on the trail in the community of thru-hikers. It rang true to my own experience on the JMT, and might even tempt you to consider a long hike yourself.

If you enjoy hiking–even the casual sort–you’ll enjoy I Hike. Get it. Read it. Thank me later.

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