I have never hiked the Pacific Crest Trail nor do I have a desire to do so. I picked up a copy of Carrot Quinn’s book Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail for research purposes only. Since Darwin is starting his thru-hike of the PCT in April, I felt I needed to educate myself on the trail he would be taking north. I have heard a lot about Carrot’s book and so was excited to finally get a chance to read it and form an opinion of my own.
Carrot’s book starts off with glimpses of who she was before her hike. She describes a life of meaningless Internet surfing and full of a feeling that she is sitting still while the world is moving around her. Carrot illustrates interactions with friends and lovers, all of which seem to be lacking any true connections. While mindlessly surfing the Internet, Carrot stumbles upon a new spark of life in reading backpacking forums. From here, Carrot explains how these forums lead her to the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Based on her journal entries kept while on hiking, Carrot presents the reader with the trail extremes she experiences and discusses the dark side of long-distance hiking. Carrot is brutally honest in her entire book and I found her writing to be striking. I was somewhat triggered taken back to my own forgotten clashes with nature and body, while I read her ordeals with hunger pains, dehydration, extreme heat, disorientation, hypothermia, filth, etc. Her vivid writing allowed me to feel everything right along with her. She recounts moments that any long-distance hiker could experience and many know of first hand but often do not talk about. Carrot’s experiences these things and lets the reader feel them to such an extent, I would not be surprised if you found yourself feeling guilty for reading her book in a warm house with a full belly and water on demand.
If you choose to read Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart you should understand that Carrot does not write of a perfect adventure. Although she does describe scenes of raw beauty, she ultimately describes a thru-hike. A thing of dirt, sweat, blood, exhaustion and even at times delirium. She shares her inner thoughts, sexual desires, personal history, etc. and lays them all out like a gear list allowing you to connect with her and know her on a level other authors shy away from. I can however, see how the brutal honesty and detail delivered in this book would push a few readers away.
Carrot describes various sexual encounters before and during her hike that I personally feel allows the reader to understand her attempts at filling a type of personal emptiness. Ultimately what Carrot searches for with intimate partners she seems to find within herself and the trail. Without these interactions described in the book, I feel the reader would not be able to fully understand who Carrot is. If you are often offended by raw human nature or choose to ignore the fact we each have different wants and needs, don’t read it.
While reading along, you will no doubt be able to learn from Carrot. You will discover things that you may want to try out on any type of hike and take note of what is very clear you should probably not do. Carrot goes ultra light by choice and in some ways by necessity, makes rushed decisions, deals with budget restraints, and pushes herself over the limit in a desire to keep up with her tramily. All of these factors affect her hike for better and for worse.
Overall I found Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart a really amazing book. A very down and dirty take on long-distance hiking that anyone hiker or not, can enjoy. I have only a day hike of experience on PCT but feel no doubts that Carrot Quinn captures a lot of what it is like to thru-hike it. The only thing negative I can express in regards to Carrot’s book is my deep disdain for one of her fellow hikers. I tried to like and understand him but I can’t. I found myself a few times shouting at him/the book out loud and sometimes even at Carrot for not telling him off. This I feel, is just a compliment to Carrot’s writing that I feel this much dislike for someone she only writes about and that I personally don’t know. I won’t say who exactly who this is, you’ll have to read her book to see if you find yourself feeling the same. I would love to know!
You can find Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart Via Amazon: http://amzn.to/2CV710t
Carrot Quinn Is Still Making Miles And Having Incredible Adventures!
Check Out Her Site CARROT QUINN: Dispatches From The Wild
(Cover Of Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart & Trail Pic Of Carrot Quinn)
Pictures taken from carrotquinn.com
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Check Out These Neato AT Ornaments @ Trailsideornaments! Darwin and I have one hanging in The Clydesdale!
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