Camp Reads: Long Distance Edition

Now that Memorial Day has passed and we got our first barbeque under our belts, it’s officially summer! It’s time for long hot slogs up mountains, weird hiking boot tan lines and eating gorp while reading books! Here are some great adventure stories to add to your summer reading list. Have any favorites to add? I would love to hear about them in the comments!


I Hike by Lawton Grinter
Lawton Grinter takes out the monotony of his over 10,000 hiking miles and gives us his best stories from his thru-hikes. These include an ice cream eating contest on the AT that goes terribly wrong (I do not recommend reading this one while enjoying your trail food), to learning to  pee while walking to save time (all those minutes spent leaving the trail for privacy just wastes time), to the heart-felt story of losing the person who influenced his long-distance hiking and a harrowing story of a lost hiker on the PCT. Anyone with a trail name will find a comrade in Grinter and all others will find a great story teller. You can get more of Grinter on the monthly podcast, The Trail Show and his trail documentary, Walkumentary.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Pack this slender paperback into your pack for your next long hike, it’s worth it’s weight!



Almost Somewhere by Suzanne Roberts
At the age of 22, Suzanne and two girlfriends from college set off to hike the 210 mile long John Muir Trail through the High Sierra in California. The trip is harder than any of them imagined and they were mired by rain, hunger, aching muscles and personality differences. Suzanne, a big fan of John Muir, naively thought that the beauty of the mountains would simply propel her along the trail and speak to her in a profound way. Instead, she learns important lessons about dedication, friendship and about what it means to be a woman on the trails.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
This is a great book to read along the John Muir Trail or really anywhere in the Sierras or on whatever trails you share with your friends.


I Promise Not to Suffer by Gail Storey
After a career crisis, Gail’s husband Porter decides to crisscross the country with two long distance bikes rides and hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Gail commits to the bike riding, but she was not much of a hiker. She gives up on the AT, promising that she would do the PCT. Finally the time came and she couldn’t back out. Now in their fifties, the couple, dubbed by their trail mates as Porter-and-Gail struggle to make their way. Gail loses too much weight and has trouble carrying her load as Porter is increasingly impatient. The two make their way all the while contemplating their life issues- Porter was weighing his career options and Gail’s mother was dying of cancer. They are ultimately contemplating their reasons for being on the trail and how to reconcile these reasons with what was happening off trail. The pain, struggle and passion can be felt in Gail’s writing as she does her best to keep to the trail for the deep love of her husband. Porter-and-Gail’s adventures continue on her blog.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
This wise and passionate memoir can be enjoyed on the trail while contemplating the answers to your life’s big questions.


Walking the Big Wild by Karsten Heuer
Karsten and his wife Leanne are no strangers to the long distance way of life. They spent their honeymoon chasing migratory caribou on foot for five months in northern Canada and Alaska . They also paddled, walked, and sailed across Canada with their two-year-old toddler to meet Farley Mowat (one of my favorite authors!).  This book tells the story of another long distance journey, this time through the Rockies from Yellowstone to the Yukon in search of the grizzly bear. Karsten is a wildlife biologist and he set out to determine how human development and deforestation effects the migratory routes of wildlife in this important corridor. His goal is to study and bring attention to the obstacles to wildlife in this area keeping them from completing traditional migrations. This book does just that while also telling a compelling story of adventure.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Read this book along the trails while on the lookout for wildlife that may be migrating through your favorite wilderness.

51qa3DcjyrL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Long Trek Home by Erin McKittrick
Erin, a Seattle native, met her husband Hig in college and they have been adventuring since. After graduation they decided to set off to Alaska. They did not fly or drive there like us normal people would do. They got there completely self-powered by boat, ski and foot over a staggering 4000 miles. They wanted to find adventure, but they also wanted to raise awareness of the deforestation, mining operations and loss of salmon habitat that plagued their route. Erin helped found the non-profit Ground Truth Trekking that works on conservation issues in Alaska. She, Hig and their two kids live off the grid in a yurt on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. She writes about their life on her blog.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
This tiny paperback is perfectly made for packing along on your next epic trip.


A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Ok, I know this book is on all the hiking book lists and Bryson’s trip on the trail was a short one in comparison to the journeys of the others on this list, but this book is just downright entertaining. I remember reading the whole book on a rainy spring day and I couldn’t wait to get my feet in my boots. It’s become a classic of sorts, and coming this fall it will be a movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. It looks kind of reminiscent of that bucket list movie: a feel-good movie about some old guys going on an adventure. I don’t exactly have high hopes for the movie, but I will definitely watch it.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack
Get yourself a used copy of the book and ease the pain of your backpacking aches while laughing out loud at Bryson and Katz’s blunders on the Appalachian Trail.

See Also:
Walking the Gobi by Helen Thayer
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

4 Replies to “Camp Reads: Long Distance Edition”

  1. I love your camp reads posts!!

    1. Yay! 🙂

  2. Gosh, have just read the Bill Bryson book. Good to see alternatives to Wild, which got so much attention when there are so many other good hiking stories out there. Trying to think of something to suggest, but drawing a blank. Just read Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, not a hiking book at all. Have you read the Golden Spruce?

    1. Yes, the Golden Spruce is a great one- such a fascinating story! I haven’t read any TC Boyle, but heard he’s great too!

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