Hello everyone, and welcome to our updated reality. Instead of trail updates and backpacking roundups, we’re doing yoga on our floors and realizing the Netflix selection is worse than we thought. Now that we’ve settled into some semblance of normalcy (however long it will last), we decided to do a roundup of our team’s favorite books about thru-hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor adventures. These are the books that inspired Trek bloggers and writers to plan a thru-hike, and they’re the books we’ll be reading as we dream about the time we can actually get back out onto the trails.
Did we leave out your favorite? Yell at us in the comments. We have plenty of time on our hands.
Maine author and explorer Dee Dauphinee has written a gut-wrenching book that recounts in exhaustive detail the search that followed the disappearance of AT hiker Geraldine Largay in 2013. Gerry’s body was found in 2015, and with it, a wrenching note she had written to the people who would eventually find her body. The book is painstakingly comprehensive, covering Gerry’s early life, her thru-hike preparations, her time on the trail, and the community of the trail. Dee talks about the psychology of being lost, surviving in the woods, and the countless tips and leads that investigators looked into during their search for Gerry. This is the story of a competent hiker who stepped off the trail in the Maine woods and never found her way back. Our full review here.
Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
Jennifer Pharr Davis
Before Jennifer Pharr Davis was a record-setting speed hiker, she was a young woman fresh out of college, with a massive external-frame pack and an inability to cook pasta in the backcountry. The tale of her first thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail is refreshingly relatable and full of the challenges most thru-hikers will experience themselves, along with some truly extraordinary events. She is the first person to happen upon a tragic event, she gets struck by lightning, and deals with some unsavory characters. The book is a fast read for anyone interested in thru-hiking, and gives a real sense of the trail and community. -Editors
This Newbery Award-winning novel is perfect for the young adventurers in our lives. This survival story is the book that inspired my love of adventure and interest in the outdoors. Follow young Brian Robeson as he boards a single-engine plane to visit his father, only to find he would need to rely on his own grit and determination to survive alone in the wilderness. –Shannon Quadres
Free Outside: A Trek Against Time and Distance
Known by the trail name “Legend,” Jeff Garmire has over 23,000 trail miles under his belt, including multiple FKTs. In 2016, he became the fifth (and youngest) person to finish the Calendar Year Triple Crown, which means he hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail in 252 days. In Free Outside, Garmire writes about what it takes to hike 8,000 miles in a year, while doing each trail straight through and not jumping around based on the seasons. This is a fast-paced book in which Garmire gets attacked by a moose, nearly drowns in the Kennebec in the middle of winter, and encounters countless adversaries the AT, PCT, and CDT threw at him in every season of the year. –Editors
A Pearl in the Storm
Tori Murden McClure
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home
Heather “Anish” Anderson
Anderson’s poignantly written memoir of her time completing the self-supported FKT on the PCT in 2013 is a must-read. Heather’s book brings her struggles on the PCT, both physical and mental, to life. She faced dehydration, heat exhaustion, extreme weather, mountain lions, hunger, and self-doubt. Whether you’re new to the world of long-distance hiking or have been hitting the trails for decades, this is a book that you will not want to put down. Heather does a wonderful job saying just enough but not too much about her experiences on the PCT. Her book will most inspire you to want to push yourself both physically and mentally. Full review here. –Editors
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
David “AWOL” Miller
This is the original thru-hiking book for me. I read it several times before I hiked the AT, then read each section from the book as I hiked it in real life. His story is familiar for many thru-hikers: Miller was working a desk job in tech, a life that felt stale and depressing after many repetitive years. With the blessing of his family, Miller took six months away from his life to hike the AT. Miller is funny, down-to-earth, and hugely relatable as a hiker and storyteller. This book heightened my excitement leading up to the AT, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the landmarks and reaching the towns I’d read about in the book. Side note: “AWOL” is also the creator of the benchmark AT Guide. –Maggie Slepian
Just Passin’ Thru