“SIERRA” and the Pacific Crest Trail

sierra-launch  sierra-launch0   sierra-launch-1

Last October, I launched my newest AWOL thriller, SIERRA, which takes place along the Pacific Crest Trail. Right now many hikers are preparing for a long-distance hike, and I’m taking this opportunity to reach out to the backpacking and outdoor community.

My hike of the PCT was completed in 2008, and I will never forget the awe-inspiring beauty of this magnificent hiking trail. As many of you know, the PCT is contiguous with some of the John Muir Trail and goes from one end of Yosemite to the other. In other posts, I’ve shown some of my pictures.

While Sierra is a thriller and has the typical violence of drug cartels, it is fiction; I saw none of that out there. My novel should in no way impede you from planning this awesome hike. Having said that, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds. We all know about the things that can happen near the Mexican border. What you may not realize is the lack of security at the Canadian border. I hope fellow hikers and general readers will check out Sierra. It’s sold at Barnes & Noble and is available at independent bookstores.

If you click on the link here, you have many options. Thank you!      http://www.turnerpublishing.com/books/detail/sierra

Available October 2016

Available now.

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Ultra Light Backpacking at ALDHA

American Long Distance Hiking Association--Backpacks

Ten Pound Ultra-light Backpack

Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association

Five Pound Ultra Light Backpack

Last week, I blogged about backpacking light. Here is that idea in the extreme. A few years ago, I attended the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) conference in No. Adams, Massachusetts. There is also a sister organization known as the American Long Distance Hiking Association. They meet on the west coast at a different time.

Of the many workshops I attended, one dealt with ultra light backpacking. There are pros and cons about going ultra light, but over the years more and more hikers have gone lighter, and when they do, many become ultra light converts. The person holding the five-pound pack on his little finger is Monty Tam, who thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with an average pack weight of less than five pounds!

Backpack weight refers to baseweight and does not include water, food, or trekking poles. But it includes everything else. Monty’s list of gear is shown below. Although I admire monty’s ultra light system, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Probably because I’m older and want more comfort and backup.

Another ultra light backpack was shown by Carl Rush (sp), and I believe he said his pack (seen in the other picture) weighed ten to twelve pounds, depending on options. His gear list is at the bottom of this post. Again, trekking poles, food, and water are not included in baseweight.

Do what works best for you. Many hikers out there still carry close to fifty pounds. I did the Appalachian Trail in ’03 at about 44 pounds. On the Pacific Crest Trail in ’07, I struggled to reduce pack weight and got it down to 35 pounds. Now, with the newer materials and studying what others like Monty and Carl do, I hike with a baseweight of 25-30 pounds. I don’t feel I’ll ever get below 25 pounds.

Stay in your comfort zone. Be prepared for changes in weather and bring backup gear. Most of all, enjoy yourself.

Ultra Light Backpack for hikers

Ultra light hiking--backpacks

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The Pacific Crest Trail and “Sierra”

sierra-launch-best-pic    sierra-launch   sierra-launch-old-buzzard

Here are a few more pictures from my Sierra launch. This is the second novel in my AWOL thriller series. As many of you know, Sierra is about hard drugs muled by released prisoners along the Pacific Crest Trail. Drug cartels play a major role as I take the reader from the Mexican border to Canada. The main action occurs in the High Sierra, and although I didn’t see anything like this on the PCT, I had fun making it up.

I’ve completed the next novel in the series, which involves the Continental Divide Trail. A fourth thriller is planned.

Let me know how you like Sierra. Thank you and happy trails!   http://www.turnerpublishing.com/books/detail/sierra

 

“SIERRA” and the Pacific Crest Trail

sierra-launch  sierra-launch0   sierra-launch-1

On Wednesday, October 26, I launched my newest AWOL thriller, SIERRA. The pictures above are from the event, which took place at the Hingham Public Library, with Buttonwood Books. Thank you if you were one of the 65 people attending. It was a great evening as I quizzed the group, gave out PCT prizes, showed slides from my actual Pacific Crest Trail hike, took questions, and read a brief excerpt from my novel.

My hike of the PCT was completed in 2008, and I will never forget the awe-inspiring beauty of this magnificent hiking trail. As many of you know, the PCT is contiguous with some of the John Muir Trail and goes from one end of Yosemite to the other. In other posts, I’ve shown some of my pictures.

While Sierra is a thriller and has the typical violence of drug cartels, it is fiction; I saw none of it out there. My novel should in no way impede you from planning this mighty hike. Having said that, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds. We all know about the things that can happen near the Mexican border. What you may not realize is the lack of security at the Canadian border. I hope fellow hikers and general readers will check out Sierra. It’s available from any bookstore and is also available from Amazon, in book or Kindle format.

If you click on the link here, you have many options. Thank you!      http://www.turnerpublishing.com/books/detail/sierra

Available October 2016

Available now.

My Second Hiking Thriller–Mayhem along the Pacific Crest Trail

Available October 2016

Awol thriller-Available Oct 2016

This blog is about hiking, so it makes sense to me to introduce you to my newest Awol hiking thriller, Sierra. But first, I should back up a bit and tell you how these novels all started.

How does a retired Coca-Cola salesman living a quiet life near Boston, Massachusetts become an author of thrillers?  It all started in 2003 when I hiked the Appalachian Trail after taking an early retirement at age 60.  As I walked alone one day, I began to wonder “what if…?” and conjured up a serial killer loose on the trail, stalking other hikers. He collides with a Gulf War vet with PTSD who calls himself  “AWOL.”  That scenario became The Trail, my first novel published last year by Turner Publishing.  It’s doing well and has made Boston’s South Shore top-ten fiction listings several times.

This month, Sierra, the second novel in the series, releases. Sierra pits “Awol” against a drug cartel on the Pacific Crest Trail – which I’ve also hiked. I’m now working on the third novel in the series, set on the Continental Divide Trail. And I’m still hiking.

I hope my blog followers will check out Sierra. It’s available (as is The Trail) from bookstores as well as Amazon and other outlets. I’d love to hear from you about the novel. Thank you, and happy trails!

UntitledMA31117610-0015TheTrailcover4-30-15

The Triple Crown Hiking Trails

Continental Divide Trail-New Mexico

Continental Divide Trail-New Mexico

Hiking the A.T.

Appalachian Trail                      

        Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail-the High Sierra

Long-distance hikers commonly refer to America’s triple crown hiking trails. The pictures, top to bottom, follow the order below. If you want the newest (May 20, 2016) and best update of the Triple Crown I’ve seen, click here:  https://marmot.com/love-the-outside/the-lowdown-on-the-triple-crown-of-hiking?

Appalachian Trail (AT)  This is the grand daddy. It runs through 14 states from Georgia to Maine and is 2178 miles long. Many aspiring thru-hikers start with this trail. Most begin in Georgia, in Spring,  hoping to follow seasonal weather as they plod north. You should allow six months to hike the AT. By general consent, the toughest parts are the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Mahoosucs in Maine. It is still the  most popular long-distance hiking trail in America–maybe the world.

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)  Incredibly scenic and gaining in popularity, the PCT runs from the Mexican border into British Columbia, Canada. It is 2650 miles long, longer than the AT, but most thru-hikers finish it in less than six months. This may be due to the long, wide, scenic traverses along the “crests” of mountain chains, which make for easier hiking. Where much of the AT is dense, the PCT is more open. The PCT includes part of the Mojave Desert, Yosemite, and the Cascade Mountains.

Continental Divide Trail (CDT)  Still a work in progress (almost complete) this rigorous but rewarding trail also extends from the Mexican border to Canada. It is about 3100 miles long and has a spectacular run through the Rocky Mountains. Navigation skills–map and compass–are needed to thru-hike this trail. Many sections are not well marked and one needs to constantly focus on bearing to avoid getting lost–lest you end up like the bones above, which I hiked by in southern New Mexico.

For a thorough description of these three trails, I suggest the book Hiking the Triple Crown, by Karen Berger.

The Pacific Crest Trail

new-background.jpg

Crater Lake-Oregon

Crater Lake-Oregon

For awesome beauty and majesty, nothing I’ve hiked compares to the Pacific Crest Trail. Parts of other trails may be as scenic, but for long stretches, such as the PCT’s course through Yosemite, it is, for me, incomparable. All these pictures are from my PCT hike and there were scores of others I could have picked that were just as impressive.

Crater Lake in Oregon is a keeper. Of course all the High Sierra is magnificent. Even the simple act of crossing the Bridge of the Gods, which connects Oregon to Washington is awesome on a nice day. As one walks the PCT over this bridge, just look down at the mighty Columbia River below. You’ll see paddle steamers, sails, and para-sails.

I’ll admit the southern most portion of the PCT is dry and forbidding, but even here the trail is different. I’ll never forget looking up at a panoramic night sky when I camped near the Anza-Borrego desert. I was puzzled by what looked like a large cloud looming over me. Until I realized it was the Milky Way!

Put the Pacific Crest Trail on your bucket list. And remember, you can do it in sections. You don’t have to thru-hike it. Happy trails!

why hike      sierra lake      raging river     sierra brook

My Second Hiking Thriller–Mayhem along the Pacific Crest Trail

Available October 2016

Awol thriller-Available Oct 2016

This blog is about hiking, so it makes sense to me to introduce you to my newest Awol hiking thriller, Sierra. But first, I should back up a bit and tell you how these novels all started.

How does a retired Coca-Cola salesman living a quiet life near Boston, Massachusetts become an author of thrillers?  It all started in 2003 when I hiked the Appalachian Trail after taking an early retirement at age 60.  As I walked alone one day, I began to wonder “what if…?” and conjured up a serial killer loose on the trail, stalking other hikers. He collides with a Gulf War vet with PTSD who calls himself  “AWOL.”  That scenario became The Trail, my first novel published last year by Turner Publishing.  It’s doing well and has made Boston’s South Shore top-ten fiction listings several times.

This month, Sierra, the second novel in the series, releases. Sierra pits “Awol” against a drug cartel on the Pacific Crest Trail – which I’ve also hiked. I’m now working on the third novel in the series, set on the Continental Divide Trail. And I’m still hiking.

I hope my blog followers will check out Sierra. It’s available (as is The Trail) from bookstores as well as Amazon and other outlets. I’d love to hear from you about the novel. Thank you, and happy trails!

UntitledMA31117610-0015TheTrailcover4-30-15

The Triple Crown Hiking Trails

 

Hiking the A.T.

Mt. Katahdin-Maine

Yosemite Maintenance on the Pacific Crest Trail

Yosemite Maintenance on the Pacific Crest Trail

CDT--New Mexico

CDT–New Mexico

Long-distance hikers commonly refer to America’s triple crown hiking trails. The pictures, top to bottom, follow the order below. If you want the newest (May 20, 2016) and best update of the Triple Crown I’ve seen, click here:  https://marmot.com/love-the-outside/the-lowdown-on-the-triple-crown-of-hiking?

Appalachian Trail (AT)  This is the grand daddy. It runs through 14 states from Georgia to Maine and is 2178 miles long. Many aspiring thru-hikers start with this trail. Most begin in Georgia, in Spring,  hoping to follow seasonal weather as they plod north. You should allow six months to hike the AT. By general consent, the toughest parts are the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Mahoosucs in Maine. It is still the  most popular long-distance hiking trail in America–maybe the world.

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)  Incredibly scenic and gaining in popularity, the PCT runs from the Mexican border into British Columbia, Canada. It is 2650 miles long, longer than the AT, but most thru-hikers finish it in less than six months. This may be due to the long, wide, scenic traverses along the “crests” of mountain chains, which make for easier hiking. Where much of the AT is dense, the PCT is more open. The PCT includes part of the Mojave Desert, Yosemite, and the Cascade Mountains.

Continental Divide Trail (CDT)  Still a work in progress (almost complete) this rigorous but rewarding trail also extends from the Mexican border to Canada. It is about 3100 miles long and has a spectacular run through the Rocky Mountains. Navigation skills–map and compass–are needed to thru-hike this trail. Many sections are not well marked and one needs to constantly focus on bearing to avoid getting lost–lest you end up like the bones above, which I hiked by in southern New Mexico.

For a thorough description of these three trails, I suggest the book Hiking the Triple Crown, by Karen Berger.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

 

At the Canadian border

PCT – Canadian border

PCT - Mexican border

PCT – Mexican border

Some hikers claim the Pacific Crest Trail (www.pcta.org) to be the most scenic long-distance hiking trail in the world.

“Zigzagging its way from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington, the PCT boasts the greatest elevation changes of any of America’s National Scenic Trails, allowing it to pass through six out of seven of North America’s ecozones including high and low desert, old-growth forest and arctic-alpine country. Indeed, the PCT is a trail of diversity and extremes. From scorching desert valleys in Southern California to rain forests in the Pacific Northwest, the PCT offers hikers and equestrians a unique, varied experience.”

That description, from the PCT website above, is true; it’s a grand and beautiful hike. But it will take planning and a bit of luck to thru-hike it successfully. For planning and actually doing the hike, I recommend five paperback books. The first book, Pacific Crest Trail Data Bookby Wilderness Press, is indispensable. It lists landmarks, mileage, elevations, facilities from south to north for the entire 2,663 miles. The second is Yogi’s PCT Handbook, by Jackie McDonnell (www.pcthandbook.com). It provides detailed information from an experienced thru-hiker, and it will help you prepare your thru-hike—required permits, resupply points, packing, gear, weather, etc.

Three other books, all from Wilderness Press, are: PCT–Mexican Border to Tuolumne Meadows; PCT–Tuolumne Meadows to the Oregon Border; PCT–California Border to the Canadian Border. To reduce pack weight, I removed only the pages I needed to reach the next supply point. This may seem like a lot of books, but you can browse these books as you plan your hike and then focus on important sections later. Familiarize yourself with the PCT website, keep checking snow conditions, and you’ll do fine.