About the book: “Just before her fortieth birthday, Gail Francis quit her perfectly good job and set out to hike one of the great trails of the world. Carrying everything she needed on her back, Francis spent five months walking from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail. Along the way, she lost her pack scrambling over scree in the desert, struggled to navigate high mountain passes, and wore the soles off her boots trekking across lava fields—all within some of the most pristine wilderness in the nation. Though she set out alone, her story includes an eclectic cast of characters. From the man walking the entire 2,700 miles in a series of twenty-six wedding dresses, to the woman making the journey in the company of her pet mouse, Francis learned to count on her fellow hikers for entertainment as well as a few important life lessons.”
I loved Wild by Cheryl Strayed when I listened to it years ago and so jumped at the chance to listen to this memoir, also about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
I’m a bit of a fantasy hiker, as I although I go rambling on my summer holidays with my family, I really do need my home comforts at the end of each day. I couldn’t, no in fact, I do not want to hike long distances like the author did. I like to think that I would enjoy it, but I know in reality I really don’t like arduous hiking or camping in all weather conditions. I’m a huge wimp when it comes to outdoor activities especially in wind or rain.
I did enjoy Gail M Francis’ exploits as she travels by foot and occasionally by car from Mexico to Canada. I loved her decriptions of the scenery and flora and fauna. She meets rattlesnakes, wild dogs and millions of mosquitoes on her journey. She also meets other hikers who acquire brilliant ‘trail names’, given to them by other hikers based on their personal history or character. The author’s name was Nightingale because she liked to sing as she hiked.
Another aspect of the memoir was the numerous mention of Trail Angels. These are volunteers who will go out of their way to help hikers, either by proving food and drink for free, giving them a lift from one stop to the next part of the PCT, and even opening up their home for a night or two. I loved hearing how the author met these Angels over and over again and exactly when she needed them. It really did show that there is still some good in the world.
I’m going to be completely honest about the narration as I did struggle with it at times. The chapters weren’t obvious enough for me, which was a shame as I do like to know where I am in a book. Also I unfortunately found the narrator Wendy Tremont King a bit monotone at times, with not much emotion where I would have liked it. This might just be me as I can be quite fussy about my narrators.
I would recommend this to readers who enjoy memoirs, particularly hiking stories, as there are some lovely anecdotes and descriptions.
Thanks so much to Hope at Tantor Media for my digital copy.