Book Review: Dances with Marmots…

Here goes the first ever book review! I decided to start with the book I just finished; Dances with Marmots: A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure by George Spearing.

“From Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail”

“4300 km, 5 months and a lifetime of unforgettable memories…”

For my non-imperial friends, 4300 km is roughly 2,672 miles.

I enjoyed this book immensely. I always like reading books from the point of view of “people from off.” This is a turn of phrase I heard a lot growing up in the Missouri Ozarks; it essentially means anyone that wasn’t from my neck of the woods. Now, that I’m older and have been “out” more I tend to use it for folks from other countries that come to the US for vacation, hiking, and travel.

I love the outsider looking in perspective.

Even if it’s almost twenty years old…

George Spearing’s writing style reminds me a little of Bill Bryson- it might stem from time spent in British countries but it is endearing. So are some of his short quip-like poems in the book.

The book kicks off by how he was influenced to go out and hike… by a book. Citing a book by Stephen Pern and the Continental Divide Trail- I’ve already added it to my extensive reading list.

“He wasn’t reading about it, he’d done it!”

And just like that I’ve been called out by a book.

George picked the PCT for ease of access and food delivery. I did find the international planning interesting- even though it is twenty years old he does provide decent information for international hikers and with better internet services that’s gotten easier!

I wonder if there are similar books about New Zealand… *fondly remembers childhood enjoyment of Xena and Hercules/LOTR and wanting to visit and hike some of the places shown…*

He gives us a rundown of his physical abilities- firemen, but hasn’t hiked extensively. Like many newbie or wannabe hikers…

His high spirits and get it done attitude help him out through the five month journey- plus the friends he makes on the trail.

As for the title… he has some encounters with Marmots along the PCT. He actually had an interesting conversation with them and had several run ins with the little critters throughout the book and liked their company.

I really enjoyed chapters 5 & 6, his adventures with bears, flatulence, and postal employees were funny in hindsight.

He includes several photos (in black and white) of his adventures which gives a richer picture of his journey.

He has a direct- simple and honest- approach in his writing and the humor makes it flow really well.

Like I said, I enjoyed it!

Possible Cons for some folks:
Some of the content is now outdated (published in 2005)- park and trail policies have changed a little, the trail is far more popular now, and a thru/section hiker will have a slightly different experience than George’s experiences.

The editing was a little loose- which coming from me, is funny considering I don’t notice a lot of my mistakes until nearly a week after I post something. And I proofread シ…

As a Kiwi (New Zealand) writer, some of his jokes and colloquialisms are hard to follow at times. But a quick Google search (woodland Noddy) or context clues make it easy enough to figure out. Plus, he does explain some of the misunderstandings.

It seems he shortchanges the northern section of the PCT- a lot of the more interesting adventures and learning curve stories happens on the southern section, California. But it would have been nice to see more information and stories from the Oregon and Washington sections.

Keep wander…eh…reading?,

BJ

P.S. I’ll have to come up with a new sign off for the book reviews…

P.S.S. If you want to pick this book up…
Just an FYI, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

P.S.S.S…? Drop a comment for the next book you want reviewed, pick from photo! Otherwise I’ll just go down the stack in order.

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BJ

I've always enjoyed the outdoors; I love camping, kayaking, and canoeing. However, I decided to break out the hiking boots for longer than a day or two and dive into the world of backpacking.

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