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927 Dances with Marmots
a Review

Dances with Marmots cover on an iPad

Lately, I have been reading long distance hiking book narratives. I guess I am becoming a bit of an armchair long distance hiker. Over the last couple of weeks I read Skywalker's accounts of his Appalachian Trail and then Pacific Crest Trail hikes. I enjoyed the overall flavor of the books and so then chose Dances with Marmots - mainly because of the title.

Dances with Marmots is the journey of a New Zealander on the Pacific Crest Trail. George Spearing worked as a fireman in New Zealand. He wasn't really a hiker, but decided to take leave from work, go to America, and hike the Pacific Crest Trail. His story is of the trail, the hike, and America.

George had to learn about America, gear, how to hike, how to acclimate to the weather, and the trail. It was a fun, humorous story. So for a few notes ...

George has a great sense of humor (or he knows a really good joke writer) and he uses the witticisms to make fun of hikers, residents, animals, America, and himself. He is not afraid to poke fun at anything.

He thought there would be more hikers on the trail.

Other authors I have read, complained about the heat of the desert and the lack of water. George really didn't complain much at all.

He really didn't complain about the snow or the lava rocks, either. Maybe, the trail is not quite as bad as other authors made me believe! Well, or either it was just a Brit sandbagging the difficulty.

The book is filled with references to American history and movies (Westerns). I guess he was really writing for a British audience.

Before the hike he had never seen a rattlesnake, hummingbirds, bears (in the wild), mountain lions, marmots, or a cowboy. He was amazed by all!

As in all trail books, he met and walked with some characters.

He carried a huge pack. Whereas it is not uncommon for an ultralight hiker to carry 10 pounds, George carried 65 pounds regularly. On long stretches of trail without water he claimed his pack weighed closer to 100 pounds.

He started the hike with knee pains. I am sure the weight of the pack did not help, but by carrying the extra weight, he had the gear to stay warm and dry in most conditions.

I also thought it was odd that he did not use trekking poles (hiking sticks) especially with his tender knees. When he saw a hiker using sticks, he thought they were skiing poles (or he was just trying to be funny).

But, George learned how to hike on the trail. He did an amazing job and really did not complain.

It was also comforting that he was on the trail to hike, nothing more or less. Many other books tend to emphasize meeting the needs of the hikers' lost comforts and desires of their real life. Oh, he was always ready for a cold drink, but it was not life or death.

Oddly enough, George really didn't claim to have a trail name. The Gimp (a hiker) always greeted George with, "foreigner, ain't yuh" - but George never used a trail name.

George was definitely appreciative of the hospitality and kindness strangers showed to him along the trail.

I purchased and read the Kindle edition.

Dances with Marmots is a fun book on the Pacific Crest Trail. If you have read any other books on the PCT, this one will be a little different. Thanks, George.

Happy Dances with Marmots trails


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