I read Zach Davis’ first book, Appalachian Trials, back before my Appalachian Trail thru hike. I found it very useful then, and was excited to be able to contribute to his new PCT edition! I met co-author Carly Moree briefly on the AT in 2013, right after I broke my big toe, and ran into her again on the PCT in 2015, when I was recovering from metatarsal stress fractures. We spent a weekend together waiting out bad weather in a trail angel’s garage, where she heard my stories of even more trail injuries, so she asked me to contribute to the book regarding what to do “When Shit Hits the Fan” (Chapter 6).
The books are very similar, each using the vehicle of its particular trail to share lessons. They apply to long distance hiking in general though, so if you’ve read one, you don’t need to read the other, and they work for other trails in addition to the AT and PCT.
Subtitled “A psychological and emotional guide to successfully thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail,” the book has three main sections. The first section deals with preparation before the hike. There are exercises to determine why you want to hike, the benefits of completion, and the consequences of quitting. The second section deals with issues you’ll run into on the trail: highs and lows, common pitfalls, and strategies for coping with them. The third section deals with life after the trail: reintegration into society, avoiding depression, and finding your next big goal. Then there is a bonus section about gear choices, written by Liz “Snorkel” Thomas, a very accomplished Triple Crowner.
I definitely recommend this book for people embarking on their first long distance hike. Physical preparation and obsessive gear research may seem like where you want to spend time getting ready, but upping your mental game is even more important.
PS – You can check out the full story I contributed here.