“I never set out to hike 10,000 miles.”

I Hike-Mostly True Stories from 10,000 Miles of Hiking

Thus begins Lawton Grinter’s delightful (and insightful) book about “hiking” or walking great distances, especially through rural areas, for pleasure and recreation. This simple description of the activity doesn’t even begin to describe the passion with which long-distance hikers embrace this lifestyle; to learn more about that, you need to read this book.

As I read, I laughed. I cried. I wanted to hike. This is one of the most delightful books I’ve ever read (and let me tell you, I’ve read quite a few books.) Grinter’s writing is engaging and honest; uncluttered by artifice of any kind. Be warned that the funny parts may render you unable to move because you’re laughing so hard, as I found out when I tried to read Chapter 2, “Ice Cream Headache,” aloud to my husband. I’ll even go so far as to say that chapter is the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

Grinter’s stories cover his treks along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), the Colorado Trail (CT), the John Muir Trail (JMT), and the venerable AT, the Appalachian Trail. He describes the book as “a ‘greatest hits’ version of things that happened to me on all these trails. Some of those ‘hits’ were truly great. Some were tragic.”

Beyond the humor and the poignancy, “I Hike” is an excellent rule book about what to do–and not do–out there on the trail. If you’re a serious hiker, you’ll read it and nod your head for all 195 pages. If you’ve got friends who wonder why you hike, buy this book for them. If you’ve got friends who are thinking about embracing this challenging lifestyle, buy the book and highlight the important passages; on second thought, don’t bother highlighting because pretty much the entire book is important.

Grinter introduces us to a wonderful cast of characters, every bit as unique as you will find in The Decameron or The Canterbury Tales, complete with their hiking nicknames. Grinter’s trail name is “Disco” and his (eventual) wife is known as P.O.D. or the Princess of Darkness (I won’t spoil it by telling you how she earned this name). We meet trail angels (the people who help hikers along the way), and the store keepers of those small but very essential outposts on the trails. We learn about miraculous ice chests and killer mosquitoes and, of course, bears. Most of all, we meet Nature in her full range of glory and fury.

I have only one tiny nit to pick, and that involves the book’s production. “I Hike” suffers a bit from the same problem as many other small press publications, the lack of a traditional copy edit. There are typos and some grammar glitches but nothing that will keep you from thoroughly enjoying this amazing book. As I learned from reading “I Hike”, it’s like anything you encounter on the trail: you push through it and keep going.

“I Hike” gives us glimpses into a rich world that is almost mystical in its lore and traditions. I sincerely hope that Lawton Grinter will keep writing; he has a lot to say and he says it well.

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I Hike: Mostly True Stories from 10,000 Miles of Hiking

Lawton Grinter

Grand Mesa Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9852415-0-6

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