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879 The High Adventure
of Eric Ryback
Book Review

The cover of the High Adventure on Eric Ryback, hiking with mountains in the background

In August we watched and reviewed Tell it on the Mountain, a movie about the Pacific Crest Trail and a few of the thru hikers. I had read a few books about the trail before watching the movie, but after the movie, I was ready to read more. In searching for titles I found the old High Adventure of Eric Ryback. Eyeing cover of the book, brought back distant memories, I actually remember seeing the book on the bookshelves of outdoor stores - many years ago, but I was into mountaineering, not trail hiking, and never looked at the book. Searching, I found the book on Amazon (it was definitely out of print) from one of their book collectors.

The book was about an 18 year olds adventure hiking the Pacific Crest. It was 1970 and the teen was solo hiking from Canada to Mexico. The Pacific Crest Trail was an idea in 1970, but it was yet to become a completed trail. Sections of the trail existed, but much of the trail was only a direction, south. The author blazed much of the trail, he was the first thru hiker of the Pacific Crest.

A few notes on The High Adventure of Eric Ryback ...

The author and hiker was 18.

Starting in Washington at the Canadian border he journeyed through the snows of the Cascades in June. The trail, if there was one, was buried beneath the snow.

As he post-holed through the miles, he took time off to hike to Mount Ranier and climb it as a side trip.

Later, he also made a side trip to climb Half Dome.

He was truly solo hiking. Weeks went by without any contact from the outside world.

His high tech clothing was nothing more than cotton. He wore blue jeans and cotton shirts. He carried a sweater, rain jacket, and down parka. In the book he rarely complained about being wet or cold.

Eric did not carry a tent.

I did not recall him ever saying how much his pack weighed, but it had to be heavy. At times he was carrying over twenty days worth of food. He only used five resupply points for 2650 miles.

The last days before each resupply he ran out of food. Partly because he altered his route and added days to his trip looking for an easier route.

A gear list was not published with the book, but it would have been interesting to read.

He used an external frame backpack. After a few hundred miles, it seemed as if the pack was in a constant state of repair.

He wore heavy clunker boots. He resoled his boots at a ranger's cabin in California. Then, he worked on adding new heels to the ranger's boots.

The descriptions of the scenery were often very romantic. Maybe, that was the only way he could describe the brilliant hues of the landscape.

A good deal of the book was directed toward the hikers and rangers he met along the way.

The southern California desert to me seemed like one of the most difficult parts of the trail, but he did not have much to say about the desert.

The Forest Service Rangers helped Eric by providing current maps and information.

Near the end of the trip, as Eric neared the Mexican border, a ranger hiked with him. The ranger was there to help arrange media coverage, while Eric just wanted to be left alone.

The High Adventure of Eric Ryback was an amazing story. He was a teen looking for adventure in the purest sense of the word.

We don't normally review books that are out of print, but this was an exception. It can be found on Amazon or at used book sellers, collectors, and maybe even at the library. Perhaps someday the book will be made into a digital edition.

Happy High Adventure trails


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