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849 Tell It on the Mountain
Movie Review

Jackalope and Eagle Eye in TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
hiking towards Forrester Pass.
Photo courtesy of Shaun Carrigan.

A few weeks back, we received an email asking if we would review a movie on thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We contacted the emailer, Shaun, and were given a link to the download.

We had a busy spring and summer and somehow must have missed the release of Go Tell It on the Mountain. What is even more odd was Amazon missed it too - they did not put the movie in our recommendations. So, I immediately thought, the movie must be just someone's home movie.

I then, did a search on Amazon and found the movie. In the reviews, (which I did not read) 69 out of 78 were 5 starred. Hmm, maybe I was a little quick in my initial judgment. I downloaded the movie and settled down to watch a bit. The first couple of minutes were filled with stunning graphics. I did not have time at that moment to watch the whole movie, but I did anyway. It was that good.

After another viewing, I then shared Tell It on the Mountain with my friends, Jon and Laura. We watched the movie together as I was interested in their comments also.

Shaun Carrigan and Lisa Diener interview Scott Williamson
Photo courtesy of Mike Dent.

On to the movie ...

Starting at the Mexican border, we met the cast of characters through interviews. They varied in experience from a pro who had previously walked the trail seven times - to a couple who seemed like outdoor types, but the PCT was going to be their first long distance hike. In total, Tell It on the Mountain followed the paths of six hope-to-be thru hikers and two more sectional hikers. The selection of the "star characters" offered a similar diversity to that found on the trail. There were two couples, two solo hikers, two sectional hikers, and several trail angels (kind folks who help the hikers by caching water, providing rides, bringing food to the trail junctions, etc.) Every movie viewer will find a hiker to whom they can relate.

Leaving the border, the group headed north through the deserts of southern California. It was definitely no walk in the park. Moving through the harsh environment, the hikers had to contend with the heat, lack of water, snakes, and many other trail issues. The hikers had to walk 20 plus mile days while carrying gallons of water just to reach the next water source. If they carried too much water - their pace would slow and they would need more water, and if they carried too little water - their pace would also slow due to dehydration. I felt the hiker's sweat and that of the camera crew!

As the hikers crossed the desert we met them at their camps, on the trail, and at some of the water sources. We heard through candid interviews tips on thru hiking and living on the trail. Scott, the most seasoned hiker, explained how he did not filter or treat the water that \he found on the trail, but he shaved, washed, brushed his teeth, and was a cleanliness poster boy. We thought it was ironic that he adopted great hygiene practices in order to stay healthy, but had been sick several times (on previous hikes) probably due to not filtering his water. Note: Many long distance hikers do not filter their water, but it seemed as if someone who was Mister Clean would have!

Finally, the hikers arrived in the mountains of the Sierras. The environment changed as they climbed. In the mountains the weather was cold with hail and thunderstorms. The trail was rocky and crossed steep snowfields. The resupply points were far apart leaving the hikers to decide whether to carry heavy packs (with lots of food) or walk high mileage days.

On reaching Oregon and Washington the trail seemed to be less extreme, but it was still wilderness and many miles from civilization. As the hikers reached the terminus there were still a few surprises.

We really enjoyed Tell It on the Mountain and believe it would capture the heart of any backpacker, thru hiker, armchair thru hike, or outdoor enthusiast. Tell It on the Mountain would make an excellent Christmas gift - in fact we plan on buying a few copies ourselves.

Shooting hikers for TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN.
Photo courtesy of Mike Dent.

A few notes ...

Great job to Lisa Diener (Director, Editor & Writer) and Shaun Carrigan (Producer & Director of Photography).

The movie was just over two hours long.

The graphics were amazing.

The cinematography was astonishing.

The script rolled along like the trail.

To add to the film footage, the hikers carried cameras to shoot video journals. It was probably no easy task to talk the hikers into carrying the extra weight or taking the time to use the cameras!

There were two couples featured in Tell It on the Mountain. One member of the European couple developed a herniated disc. There were doctor visits and many medical decisions to be made, but that was life on the trail.

The other couple planned on an Oregon wedding. They were going to walk to the wedding and then continue on their honeymoon to the border, but first they had to get to Oregon.

One of the solo hikers was from Spain. He was in awe of the wilderness and the trail itself. He wasn't flashy, he was just walking the trail.

Billygoat, a seasoned veteran (not sure if he had completed a thru hike) had been hiking the PCT for twenty years. He and his wife, Meadow Mary, also performed many trail angel deeds.

Donna was a sectional hiker. With her husband they had hosted close to 3000 hikers at their home since 1997. She joined the hikers for her first long distance hike on the John Muir Trail, a section of the PCT.

There were a couple of sections of the film that showed gross foot (toenail) issues, once again just part of the trail.

The movie ended with postscripts on every hiker.

Tell It on the Mountain showed a good balance of life on the trail. At times the movies made me wish I were hiking the PCT and at other times made me glad I wasn't. Ha!

Happy Tell It on the Mountain trails


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