Seattle Backpackers Magazine Summer Book Review
Stories and Musings along the Pacific Crest Trail
By G. William Jolley
231 pp. Amazon. $14.95.
Writing a book is difficult. Writing a good book is herculean. In Almost There, G. William Jolley has written a good book. The book is a memoir of a complicated life woven into the 500 miles trekked by the 70-year-old author on Washington State’s leg of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). If you have ever wondered what it would be like to take a long backpacking trip with your grandfather, this book will let you know. Jolley is honest and unvarnished in his account of his life, his experiences on the trail, and his descriptions of a person still under construction. At times, the narrative reflection is insightful and even wise. At other times, the reader must become the careful observer and understand Jolley’s behavior in terms of the layered contradictions that contain a life. The author berates a group of Boy Scouts he encounters for their use of cellphones, yet Jolley is thankful when his wife sends him one in a resupply package and then calls her in tears from the trail.
Reading this book we get to live the author’s life vicariously and in so doing get a better understanding of our own life and the lives of our elders. We get to see the ghosts that visit Jolley in his quiet moments alone, their shadows cast by imperfect memories on the wall of the tent. Jolley reflects over the ashes of a deceased comrade, “In the end, the weight of my friend is less than two pounds.” The book is well written in short bite-size pieces, easy to digest, and perfect if you are looking for a good summer book.
Summer book reviews from Seattle Backpackers Magazine, find your next great trail read.