Aiieeeee, the author of this book comes off as totally unbearable He is, by his own admission, colossally self absorbed and woefully ignorant of even the basics of backpacking There were some choices he made along the trail that really raised my eyebrows, but the one that took the cake was dumping out HALF HIS WATER SUPPLY on the morning of a dry desert crossing WITHOUT TELLING HIS HIKING PARTNER Oh My God.So if you could handle reading about that little caper without flinging your computer across the room, you might have what it takes to read this book Despite all the narcissism and personal weirdness, I loved hearing about all the characters encountered along the trail what I wish this book could have been is a PCT version of Word Freak and of course I liked the descriptions of the High Sierras and the peaks and passes I have sweated over myself The mountains are so beautiful and lonely and simple and yet also contain this funny little community of hikers Despite the totally intolerable narrator, my love of the wilderness he describes bumps this up to two stars But I am pretty much just being nice with that second star.EDIT Spoilers I just had to add this onething because it perfectly encapsulates my issues with the author The book is called The Cactus EATERS plural but it SHOULD be called The Cactus EATER Why Because after that ridiculous water dumping stunt described above, the author became so thirsty that he and he alone chomped into a prickly pear cactus without taking the thorns off For the umpteenth million time, she comes to his rescue and he doesn t so much as thank her. The Pacific Crest Trail Stretches From Mexico To Canada, A Distance Of , Grueling, Sun Scorched, Bear Infested Miles When Dan White And His Girlfriend Announced Their Intention To Hike It, Dan S Parents Among Others Thought They Were Nuts How Could Two People Who D Never Even Shared An Apartment Together Survive Six Months In The Desert With Little Than A Two Person Tent And Some Trail Mix But When These Addled Adventurers, Dubbed The Lois And Clark Expedition By Their Benevolent Trail Guru, Set Out For The American Wilderness, The Hardships Of The Trail And One Delicious Looking Cactus Test The Limits Of Love And Sanity This book blows hot and cold for me I love descriptions of this sort of lonely struggle I really have trouble getting behind folk who are foolishly and dangerously unprepared I grew to like the Lois and Clark Expedition, but as the book wore on I lost patience with the author who just can t seem to get his sh t together The part that rings the most true is the ambiguity when it is all over There are books out there that, after the Great Feat is complete, the scales fall from one s eyes and the secrets to happiness are revealed The world doesn t work that way, and Dan White owns up to that In fact, in his case, almost the exact opposite happens Glad I read it, but I definitely can t recommend it wholeheartedly. A very poor cousin of Bill Bryson s far superior A Walk in the Woods, Dan White s memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is justirritating and hollow than interesting or fun to read White comes across like a douchebag with nearly everyone he encounters, and his anecdotes ring completely false He s also not nearly as funny or endearing as he seems to think he is But mainly I just can t get over the feeling that White is a liar He claims to have grown up in California and had a guidebook for the PCT yet somehow was shocked, UTTERLY SHOCKED that it was snowing on him in the desert How could he not know this He claims to have just shown up at Mt Whitney and decided to go up and hike it that very day There s no indication he had any issues getting a permit to do this which is a definite problem there, as I can personally attest to He also claims to have made Donald Duck disgusted at Disneyland when he was a kid, by having his friend spit in his hand and then shake hands with Mr Duck Seriously, this is the type of thing White finds interesting in his own life and then feels that he should share it with the reader The entire incident just stinks of something that never happened At other times during the book, he is constantly threatening the reader with his own sexual impulses and I kept being afraid he would decide to throw his girlfriend down in a meadow and write all about it He also has Embarrassing White Man Syndrome, where he finds it the height of hilarity to sign along to gangsta rap, and does this several times to very annoying effect I had a great deal of animosity towards the writer from the very beginning This feeling is only amplified as the book goes on, and especially at the end of the book, when he s inexplicably left his girlfriend and had some kind of nervous breakdown in Santa Cruz.The only reason I m giving him that second star is because hiking the PCT is an impressive accomplishment, and there s probably a really great book to be written about it, and I d love to read that book some day. What is it with these long distance PCT hikers who go on to write a book Are all of them such noxious personalities I disliked Cheryl Strayed s book Wild for the same reason I disliked the Cactus Eaters the author is a jerk although Cheryl Strayed was not nearly as annoying as this guy I will admit, I finished this book, but I really detest when I am not rooting for the author in a book like this I wanted that trail to smack this guy down hard, and satisfyingly it does, many times The ticks, the cactus, the bout of giardia, the whole shebang, but most of all I wanted Allison to leave this whining, self important asshole in the dust I wanted her to leave him there to die, which at many point he would have done without her there and this does not happen In fact, as I continued to read I wanted so badly for her not to stay with him I flipped to the end to read the author bio and see that he was married to some poor individual named Amy Most obnoxious and annoying of all was that Allison is not named or thanked in the acknowledgements in the end of the book Really After she pulled hundreds of cactus glochids out of your mouth pulled ticks out of your groin nursed you through GIARDIA even though she was suffering through it herself REALLY Ugh I would say stay away from this book if you have any human decency in you this author will annoy you to no end. I found this book extremely hard to read The author comes across as an arrogant jerk, without the wit, charm, or good writing skills to make it bearable He finds fault in every person adn situation he comes across. would not recommend. Although the book had a few funny sections, the author spent way too much time whining, complaining, and blaming everyone else for his troubles including John Muir Unprepared and just plain stupid While I appreciated the historical facts woven into this retelling of his hiking adventure, this really had nothing to do with the PCT I found the author to be single minded, whiny, and self absorbed Apparently still is as I didn t even see a thank you to his trail companion in the epilogue I didn t even want to see him succeed Isn t that sad This is one of the best and most well written PCT books Ive read While my two main criticisms of PCT trail log books apply here, too, I can understand why 1 The authors, a la Bill Bryson, head out into the wilderness woefully unprepared OK, a big part of the reason it s an interesting read is that it s a voyage of discovery for him if this were an ultra experienced hiker setting out, there wouldn t be as much to write about 2 The California section of the trail is covered in depth, and Oregon and Washington are skipped over very quickly The first part of the trip is where hikers learn all their lessons, and settle into a trail rhythm By the time they get to the northern part of the trail, they re just making miles to get to Canada In Dan White s case, he has a bit of trail craziness factor on the second part of the trail, and doesn t cover it as in depth Good book. While I really like reading backpacking narrative, this book made me want to bang my head against the wall I mean, after walking up to a bear that roars at you, you really go off and chase it Really That seems like a good idea The author spends a lot of time proving that he thinks he is one special snowflake. Ugh, what a dick.
Dan White is the author of The Cactus Eaters How I Lost My Mind and Almost Found Myself on the Pacific Crest Trail, a NCIBA bestseller and Los Angeles Times Discovery selection He has taught composition at Columbia University and San Jose State He is a former contributing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader and received his MFA from Columbia University He lives in Santa Cruz, California with
- 400 pages
- The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind-and Almost Found Myself-on the Pacific Crest Trail (P.S.)
- Dan White
- 21 March 2018 Dan White