Thursday, May 31, 2012

Armchair Hiking

In many parts of the country, summertime means an opportunity to lace up hiking boots and enjoy being outside in the woods. But in Tucson, unless you're partial to hot weather or a drive to Mt Lemmon, summertime hiking can prove difficult. If you're the sort of person who'd rather slump in a recliner with a lemonade than trek up a mountain in the Tucson heat, may I suggest.... armchair hiking!

There's already a lengthy waiting list for Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, but you might as well add yourself to the list and then pick up The Cactus Eaters by Dan White while you wait. Both books tell the story of hikers who tackle the arduous Pacific Crest Trail, which runs the entire length of the west coast, from the tip of Mexico to the tip of Canada. And both books are packed with tales of adventures, woes, triumphs, and disappointments, with a healthy dose of humor and personal discovery, too. Now, I'll admit that I didn't always like these narrators. At the time that she began to hike, Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) had recently divorced her husband, in part because she had been unfaithful to him, and was struggling with a drug addiction. And Dan White (author of The Cactus Eaters) and his girlfriend bicker and make cringe-inducing mistakes. Despite their flaws, though, I wanted these narrators to succeed--to finish their hikes and find the answers they sought. And I had a hard time putting the books down until I learned how everything turned out.

Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is another fabulous hiking story, this time featuring the Appalachian Trail. Bryson and his high school friend, Stephen Katz (overweight, middle aged, and lover of snack cakes) hike portions of the trail, and in between funny stories of their adventures and the strange characters they encounter, Bryson ruminates about the science and history of the places they pass through.

Finally, if you're itching to get hiking in the full glare of the sun, you might try a day hike in Tucson. Check out Best Easy Day Hikes, Tucson for manageable ideas about where to go and what to see. Just remember to bring your water and sunscreen!

~Queen of Books

P.S. For even MORE adventures, visit our SummerQuest blog and complete quests to unlock a uniquely Arizonan work of art!

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