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Publisher's Summary

A Transformative Journey on the John Muir Trail

In the wake of his father's death and recently being fired from his job, Gil agrees to accompany his father's best friend Syd on a monthlong hike on the John Muir Trail. There's just one problem: Gil hates camping and is woefully unprepared for the rigors of the 200-mile journey. Moreover, he learns Syd may not survive the hike.

Set authentically in the High Sierra and fused with insightful accounts of history and ecology, The Trail illustrates how wilderness can serve as our greatest guide. 

Bio:

Ethan Gallogly, PhD has been a leader in the Sierra Club, the Cal Hiking and Outdoors Society (CHAOS) at UC Berkeley, and the Outdoors Club of Southern California. His boots have covered countless miles, including the John Muir Trail, the High Sierra Trail, the Oregon Section of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail, and the Theodore Solomons Trail. He was a reviewer for Sierra North, Sierra South, and Yosemite National Park and has read nearly every book on the history of the Sierra Nevada.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Ethan Gallogly (P)2022 Ethan Gallogly

Critic Reviews

"The author shines in his descriptions of the natural world... A subtle and vivid tale of finding peace in the great outdoors." (Kirkus Reviews)

 

"It's a fantastic book. Everything rings true. I already have several people I plan to give copies to." (Elizabeth Wenk, author of the best-selling guidebook John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail)

"A Walk in the Woods meets Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." (Peter Snow Cao, Bike China Adventures)  

What listeners say about The Trail

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AMAZING STORY! MUST ADD TO YOUR LIST!!

My friend told me to check out this book and honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I’m not really into camping or the whole outdoors thing, but OMG this book was amazing! The narration was fantastic with all the different voices and stuff. I couldn’t stop listening. It starts out really funny. Gil’s whole character and his introduction to hiking is exactly how I’d picture my own first experience to be. His whole struggle with his pack and food and sleeping bag had me laughing out loud! That alone is worth the listen, but then the story slowly turns more philosophical and becomes more about his relationship with the old man Syd he’s hiking with. NO SPOILERS, but the story really got me thinking about my own life and what really matters in it. I’m not sure I’m going to be like Gil and head off into the outdoors, although I almost want to now after this book, but I’m definitely going to be thinking and talking with my friends about the deeper messages here for a long time. Highly recommended!!!

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Audible version - excellent!

I started reading the Kindle version thinking it nonfiction, however, as the characters of Gil and Syd were introduced, my first impression was no way could these two be thru hiking the JMT. I re-read the title, yes, it said 'a novel.' So I settled into the book, and still, I had to re-read sometimes because of short convos and who was saying what. Not sure what prompted me to sample the Audible version, but I’m glad I switched from reading to listening. The voices (kudos to the narrator!) helped me keep track of the characters as there are many. I listened to the book over seven days, and 20+ miles on the treadmill. It is clear the author knows the JMT well — its history, as well as the psyche of a thru hiker, along with first hand knowledge of all that one can encounter when out for days/weeks on the trail. The sketches at the beginning of each chapter, done by illustrator Jeremy Ashcroft are great and are gathered into a PDF as part of the Audible, along with a historical timeline, and recommended readings.

I highly recommend this book! signed, TRT thru hiker 2x; JMT section hiker 2x; Whitney summit 2x via overnight at Trail Camp where there were pit toilets at 12,000’ so yeah, way back :)

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Great book

This is easily the best hiking book I have ever read. I love the story, integration of history of the sierra, and the way it was red with different voices for different characters.

2 people found this helpful

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Best book on hiking the High Sierra an John Muir Trail, AND a spiritual classic

This wonderful novel with a true-story feeling conveys both the nitty-gritty and ecstatic reality of long backpacks in the High Sierra of California, from the all-out highs to the difficult lows.

It’s also a well-told story about life and death, love and friendship, and living in the present — about how the life of spirit is supported by taking time to live close to nature, beyond cell-phone range with only what you can carry on your back.

The High Sierra has been my place of retreat for inner solace for a lifetime. I started backpacking the Sierra in the early 60’s, though I first fell I love with it on family camping trips in the late 50’s. This story is set in recent times.

The book’s spiritual inspiration comes from John Muir’s life and an appreciation of Taoism, about which the story is deep and accurate.

It also contains the the story of the many who cared and care enough to make the Sierra an approachable yet still pristine wilderness with access roads to trailheads, excellent trails, and ecological management.

Not to be missed for lovers of the beyond-the-end-of-the-road High Sierra, and for those who would like to get an accurate feeling for what they can expect if they venture into “The Range of Light” themselves.

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Best Book

amazing and inspirational story. I bought this book so I will definitely read over again.

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Amazing

Very well written and well played out story it will take you deep in the life of a hiker

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Enjoyed this book thoroughly

Improbable premise at times, but allowed myself to suspend my disbelief in favor if enjoying the overall storyline. Excellent oration! Loved it!

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The Ready Player One of hiking novels

At first I didn’t realize this was a novel (I bought it quickly during an audible credit deal) and was disappointed because I typically prefer non-fiction accounts of trails.

However it was very enjoyable way to learn about the JMT and references to so many other books.

The author did an excellent job of describing various parts of the JMT that has painted a picture in my head. While some bits might seem a little hokey they are great delivery methods to learn.

I really want to thank the author for the Recommended Reading list, that list alone is worth the cost of the book and will keep me busy for some time!

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definitely worth it

One of the greatest trail books I've listened to yet. More about a moving story than it is about simple trail miles. May not be one hundred percent factual but definitely one hundred percent entertaining.

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It’s Honestly Just That Good!

Such a spectacular story comprised of so many elements that has me wishing I hadn’t just finished it! First off, being blind I’ve listened to my fare share of audio books and let’s just say some are better than others. This was so amazing that it made me feel as though I was watching (or in my case listening to) a movie. I feel the book can best be summed up by describing it as the kind of outdoor adventure books I enjoyed reading as a kid, paired with adult-age language and content that keeps us entertained, and all of this topped off with enough in-depth conversation had between characters that you are left pondering such things as deep as the true meaning of life. And now that it’s over, I’m ready to set off on a backpacking trip of my own! A definite must-read!

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  • Amanda
  • 01-04-22

Engaging from start to finish ...

A bit of a strange one, this ...
I am English and live in England and have read numerous books on the PCT and AT and other U.S. hikes.

The book reads likes it is an account of a long, multi-day trail hike with your usual amounts of trail characters and gross food thrown in for good measure ...

The thing that makes this book unique is that it is just a story from the authors imagination based on the characters he met and hikes he did over a thirty year period; which has given him a wealth of material from which he has woven a very colourful tapestry from.

Characters were well conceived and rounded with a great plot line ...

The only thing I could fault it on is that Gil is a bit horny and likes women - but that is only because I am celibate and i guess i find sex icky!
Oh, and I am an atheist, but I let the few bits about GOD go as it is just a story ...

The main two male characters were not only on a physical journey, but a spiritual one also which was deep and made me contemplate the ideas and ethics.

I am ill with Long Covid and am currently unable to hike my own hike and so I live vicariously through such literature and I did not want it to end ...