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4 Books Every Hiker Should Read

4 Books Every Hiker Should Read

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I love reading, especially on those inbetween days when I don’t have a lot of money to go out or the weather is really bad. These are just a few of the books that I have read recently that I believe every hiker should give a chance before their next adventure.

 Into The Wild

“Our joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. “
-Christopher McCandless

This is one of my all time favorite books. Into The Wild is about a young man, Christopher McCandless (also known as Alexander Supertramp) and the biggest adventure of his life. He goes from being a college grad from Emory, to traveling across the country, getting stuck in Mexico and eventually living off the land in rural Alaska. What personally grabs me about this text is how passionate his personal writings are about life and nature. If he was still alive today I’m sure his writings would be found next to legends like John Muir and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

Wild 
 “I simply did not let myself to become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid” -Cheryl Strayed

This book has become very popular in recent years due to a movie release and a mention in the Gilmore Girls reboot. It’s about one woman who set off to conquer the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail, a trail that runs from the border of Mexico, through the United States, to the border of Canada. It was not just the hike that made this author note worthy, it’s that she did it alone as a female. Cheryl Strayed explains what inspired her to embark on this journey as a normal woman who was just looking for a little escape from life. Although the movie is pretty good, I truly recommend the book, it’s a great read, and anyways books always give more details than the movies do.

Almost Somewhere 
“We think we are so important, our problems so large, but then a place like this renders us small, our problems nothing more than the echo of birdsong in wind, maybe not even so much as that” -Suzanne Roberts

I read this while camping in Mammoth and Yosemite with my family back in 2015. It’s about three girls all completing the JMT John Muir Trail, a trail that goes from Mt. Baldy to Yosemite, together and what it was like along the way. It’s always inspiring hearing how a group of younger individuals can conquer something great without technology. Following through Suzanne Roberts writings you get a taste of not only what to expect on the hike but what it is like to do it with two other women. It was a relatively quick read, but the type that you could back up again sometime and still enjoy it as if it were the first time that you read it.

A Walk In The Woods

“I wanted to quit and to do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this all at once, every moment, on the trail or off.”
-Bill Bryson

I can never help but think of my father and neighbor when referencing this book. It’s about two men in the later years who go out to seek finishing the world’s longest foot patch trail, a total of 2,000 miles, stretching from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail. What sets this book off as different from the rest is its author’s sarcasm and bluntness about completing a 2,000 mile hike. Bryson is real with his writing, and tells his story as if he was telling it to any group of friends sitting around a dinner table. Although there are sections that can become tough to read, as they are a little slow, once you get past them, you find your self laughing all over again at Bryson’s sarcastic comments, and feel like your back on the trail with him.

 

 

Idyllwild, Ca.

Idyllwild, Ca.

What I have to say about the gem hidden away in the Southern California mountains. 

A little over an hour detour from the 15 south towards San Diego you find yourself no longer driving on rounds lined with palm tress, but fir and rising pines. For those living in the most southern region of California this micro road trip is the closest and fastest  to a mountain escape.

Idyllwild, Ca. A gem found in the San Jacinto Mountains.

On a trip to California for the the holidays I visited the area three separate times, and will definitely find myself there more in upcoming trips. My first adventure to the tucked away gem was for a mini sunset hike on the Cedar Springs Trail with my boyfriend. Now i’ll admit it was cold. Not the kind of cold where you have irrational thoughts of losing your fingers to frostbite, but the kind the sinks into your clothes and sticks to your bones. Other than feeling like Frosty’s off spring, the hike was well worth it.

  The trail is actually located in Desert Divide, about 17 miles from actual Idyllwild, but makes for a good pit stop before heading into the little community. from the trail head the hike is about 5.9 miles round trip. It’s a short little hike but with quite a few switch backs the last half mile. Patches of snow covered the ground through out the entire trail. Matt took this as an opportunity to make himself a miniature snowman. Pretty cute huh?

We made it to the top in about an hour and were greeted by 360 panoramic views. I have seen my fair share of sunsets, but there is something about the golden hour reflecting of snow and turning the surrounding mountains different shades of pinks and purples that just marks this certain one noteworthy. This part of the trail offers views of Palm Springs and surrounding peaks, this is also where the trail intercepts the Pacific Crest Trail.


Our time was limited at the top of the trail with it already being sunset and we did not arrive equipped with flash lights other than our phones, and the temperature was dropping almost faster than the sun was setting.

We made it down the mountain in record timing, which was good because neither of us could honestly say we could feel anything at that moment.

We drove about 17 miles from the trail head to the main strip of Idyllwild. We were desperate for a warm drink to help us defrost the imaginary icicles hanging from our noses. Then there it was. The neon sign presented by God himself. There was a coffee shop still open. Now I have a certain love affair for coffee and cute coffee shops. I love when they are quaint and unique, and this one was exactly that. When we walked into Higher Grounds we were immediately greeted with the smell of espresso, the sounds of a family playing chess in the corner and a Christmas tree by the window. We ordered the Alpine drink  and took our seats of the sofa right beside the Christmas tree. They provided ornaments for you to write your name and where you were from. From what I could see, we were the only ones from Honolulu. We were there for about an hour before it was there closing time, but it was the perfect ending to a great late afternoon escape.

I fell in love with this region so much that I ended up returning to it two more times within a week.  On one of the excursions I convinced my brother and mom to join me so I could see the area in the daytime. We packed up my brother’s jeep and the dog headed out to the snowy town. To no one’s surprise I found myself right back at Higher Grounds coffee, although they were a lot more packed, the coffee was still up to par.


The last time was for another hike on the Deer Springs Trail with my friend Meghan on New Years Eve. We had about 30 minutes of clear views of the surrounding mountains while sitting on a wide rock vista until a thick fog began to crawl across the horizon and encircle us. We made the most of the weather until the temperature was dropping to point that was becoming uncomfortable in the clothing we had on. We listened to the Mogleys until we came to a stop at no other than Higher Grounds.. Do you see a theme here? Or maybe it’s just a personal problem. This time we both tried out their specialty drink, the Cozy Cabin. Again the tiny shop was a little too crowded so we found some outside seating beside a small art gallery behind the coffee shop. We took our turns laughing at the way our breath froze in the air, talked about the new year approaching and watched the many dogs roaming around with their owners dawning their own little winter sweaters. Sitting there in those chairs, and drinking our coffee we both discussed camping in the area during the summertime to explore a few more trails in the area. I don’t mind the idea at all.

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop. 54245 N Circle Dr, Idyllwild, CA 92549

While reading more about the little community, I found out that there is also an abundance of rock climbing routes and bouldering locations throughout the area. If that isn’t enough, there is also year round camping, cabin rentals, and there is fishing at Lake Hemet just about 8.5 miles away. I can find myself here again many times in future adventures, and would suggest it as a great area to visit for just about anyone.

 

What little mountain town is YOUR favorite? Let me know in the comments! 🙂