Lost in the Stacks: The Cactus Eaters

Hundreds of prickly pear cactus needles stuck in the roof of the mouth would be enough to convince anyone that thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is no walk in the woods. After all, with 2,650 grueling miles of desert and mountain, with no plentiful water or proximity to civilization, the Pacific Crest Trail is possibly not the best trail for novice long distance hikers. But journalist Dan White and his girlfriend Allison cheerfully dismissed any doubts as they strapped on their grossly overloaded backpacks, complete with faulty water filter and a camera with no film, and set out on the journey of a lifetime.

As with many trail narratives, they endure hardships (although if you deliberately dump out your water in the desert you might just deserve that mouthful of cactus needles), meet wacky trail characters with quirky nicknames all whom seem to dispense an equal measure of wisdom and weirdness, and do a lot of soul searching about their relationship, the meaning of life, and oh just about anything to kill time as they hike away on their quest for Canada. The Cactus Eaters abounds with passages both historical and descriptive of the Pacific Crest Trail, but the most fun for the reader is in following these two good-natured bumblers one step at a time.

Julie Nelson

Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!