I was very excited to receive a signed copy of Painted Blazes from Jeffery “Loner” Gray. I have not read any books concerning the Appalachian Trail since we started our hike in 2015. When on trail, I wished I could remember every detail of each author’s experiences at certain landmarks and sections but being the human that I am, could not. I thus vowed to reread a few books to see how my experiences were compared to others. I have again failed to do so. Needless to say I was totally ready to hit the trail again via Loner’s book.
I was not expecting at all what I read. What I had expected, was to simply read and enjoy Loner’s perspective on his solo, ultralight, hammock hanging hike in 2012. Not only did I feel I was hiking with Loner but I also learned A LOT. I hiked the Appalachian Trail starting in 2015 and made that final summit in 2016 having no idea I could possibly learn more about the trail. Loner totally schooled me on tons of historical landmarks and happenings in towns the Appalachian Trail passes by or goes through to specific details of historical events or landmarks that are only vaguely mentioned in a guidebook. To be honest I had hiked right on past a lot of the places mentioned in this book and now wish I would have spent more time exploring them. This book is not only one hiker’s story on the Appalachian Trail but should be considered a light, easy to read history lesson that I have yet to find in any other hiker’s memoir or journal.
Through out the entire book the reader will come across “Hiker Tips” explaining how to utilize mail drops, defining hiker lingo, discussing places to avoid, to how to hang a bear bag. Loner breaks down and explains a lot of topics new hikers may have questions on as they apply To his hike. This allows the reader to not only hike along with Loner but to also learn from him and other hikers he meets. I also greatly enjoyed his “Fun Facts” ranging from episodes of Sesame Street, Breaking Bad, to Moose, Monarchs and Tyvek, Loner gives tons of facts that the reader would have never known if not for reading the book. I found myself both giggling and learning from these Fun Facts.
When Loner summits that final mountain Katahdin, he does not leave the reader there. His journey then continues briefly into life after a thru-hike. He discusses the exhaustion with finishing up a section that he had to previously skip, to how friends and some family reacted to his homecoming. He also shares personal thoughts and encouragement to any readers thinking of hiking. For those hikers that Loner and reader meet along his trek, a thoughtful follow-up on most of them can be found in the back of the book.
But wait there is more! Loner continues by sharing a gear list including each item’s individual weight and price. I always find gear lists exceptionally helpful and Loner’s did not disappoint being very detailed. Loner also takes the time to share an impressive list of hiker vocabulary which I have never seen the likes of before! He shares definitions for deli blazing, duff, gorp, logbook, tramily, whoopie slings, yogi, and so many more.
Overall I absolutely loved this book and have not one compliant. Well I guess the only complaint I could have is that Loner had not written this book sooner (preferably before my hike started in 2015). I will recommend this book to any potential thru-hiker as it is not only a memoir of Loner’s hike but a source of educational material in regards to the Appalachian Trail and the emotions that come with thru-hiking. Loner has done his research for this book and it clearly shows as I found even myself learning from him. It was a great pleasure to experience the trail through Loner’s perspective.
Painted Blazes can be found on the official website: PaintedBlazes.com
Print books or eBook can be found on Amazon.com here: http://amzn.to/2hdjCiJ
Loner’s YouTube video series closely follows the book text if you would want to follow along while reading or just check out his channel click HERE.
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts/Website Posts And Recent Other Doings:
My first solo video! BetweentheBlazes was so kind as to feature me on the channel giving a Hiker Tale. Check it out here and be sure to watch tons of other Hiker Tales!
Our Etsy Store TravelandTrail Is Full of Fun Travel Finds! Go For A Look-See!
Other Book Reviews I Have Done:
The Stranger In The Woods – Review
The Long-Shadowed Forest – Review
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4 thoughts on “Painted Blazes: Hiking the Appalachian Trail with Loner – Review”
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