A few weeks ago, Jen Beck Seymour “Chica” and Greg Seymour “Sunsets” put out their book Thru-Hiking The Appalachian Trail: 100 Tips, Tricks, Traps, and Facts. Having followed along with them during their hike in 2017, I was interested to read their thoughts, perspective, tips, etc. on the trail and so I bought a copy.
Now I’m going to be completely upfront, Chica and Sunsets have become good friends with Darwin and I even though we have actually never met in person. They have followed Darwin from very beginnings of “Darwin Onthetrail” and also present one of Darwin’s gear lists in this book. With all this being said, you are going to have to trust the fact that this is an honest review. I bought my own copy of their book, read it on my own and now present this review on my own free will. If you have any issues with this that’s fine, I only ask that you don’t let it take away from their book. Please at least check out other reviews via Amazon, if you feel it necessary.
First off, this book is an easy read, which I believe is due to many aspects of how it is written. Chica and Sunsets (I will refer to them as the authors) present helpful tips but don’t give an overwhelming amount of detail that causes the eyes to glaze over which often occurs when reading a typical guide. They offer personal accounts of their experiences as it relates to each topic but this is not a full memoir. They split up topics, so the reader is given information from both a female and male perspective. The reader also gets their collaborative perspective as a thru-hiking couple. These features help target a variety of hikers within this one book.
The authors present a full descriptive list of “Hiker Jargon,” which is always helpful to most any long-distance hiker, as this jargon evolves each year. The first chapter “Know Before You Go” sets the tone for the rest of the book. The authors are brutally honest and do not sugar coat anything which I found refreshing. Often, long-distance hikes are presented in a romanticized way. You will not find this characteristic in this book, which will only benefit the potential thru-hiker.
I liked the fact that gory gear details are not focused on. The gear-geek may be disappointed as the authors only present a general overview of gear throughout the book basically stopping at just the name. They personally were not focused on going completely ultra-light and do not pretend to have done so. For those who understand that a low pack weight is incredibly helpful but ultra-light backpacking isn’t the only way to hike, you will find the information presented on gear a comfortable, unintimidating overview.
I found numerous tips and tricks that I personally have not seen in other Appalachian Trail readings. My personal favorite was the chapter on “Peeing, Pooping, Periods, & Privies.” During my pre-AT hike research, these were topics I could never find a lot of information on; more so dealing with my period. I LOVED the fact that Chica covered this. I also really enjoyed Sunsets’ chapter “Loose Ends.” This chapter basically covers important tidbits like why it’s wise not to share food with other hikers and other topics that are important but often overlooked. I also found their collaborative chapter “What’s Stopping You?” very forthright in identifying aspects that thru-hikers, tend to ignore or merely deny will be an issue for them.
Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged by the authors to continue their own research and provided further helpful resources. A lot of guides and even memoirs about the AT don’t often do that, leaving the potential thru-hiker to hopefully stumble upon other resources on their own. The authors documented almost every day of their hike via YouTube and made mention of this in their book providing information on both their channel and website. Pairing the book with their YouTube Channel and website, the authors’ knowledge is thus back-up with their actions. This allows a visual learning aspect to the their book. With their own media and other forums and websites mentioned, the reader is given a great launching pad for continued study.
Although I personally did not do everything suggested in this book on my hike and I had more issues with squirrels and mice on the trail then bears, every hiker has different experiences leading to varying opinions on hiking topics; that’s the beauty of preparing for a long-distance hike or really any hike for that matter. Everyone will train differently, prepare in various ways, carry a wide assortment of gear, etc. What works for one hiker, may not for the other and the authors often focus on this.
100 Tips, Tricks, Traps, and Facts, is a great starting place for the potential thru-hiker. It will clue one in on the basics of gear, terrain, and money, but then presents other topics that are typically left for the hiker to learn on the go. If you’re somewhat interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail, this book is for you. If your start date is picked out and you already have your gear, food, money, etc. lined out, this book is also for you. Even if you are not hiking the AT but have a loved one who is, you will find this book helpful in understanding what that loved one is taking on. It’s not intimidating or overwhelming in any way, and I’m sure no matter how well planned out one may think they are, they will find at least one thing they hadn’t thought of before while reading this.
As far as precisely 100 things being mentioned in this book, I have no doubt there is, if not more.
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