9 Books To Inspire You To Strap on Your Hiking Boots!

9 Books To Inspire You To Strap on Your Hiking Boots! | Travel Far Enough

If you’ve been following us awhile, you’ll know that we plan on walking the Camino de Santiago in 2018.  I’ve been inspired to do this walk through books, blogs and friends.  It won’t be easy.  That I know to be true.  But if some of these guys can do it, so can I!

My inspiration doesn’t just stop at the Camino though either.  The Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail… they are all really fascinating to me.

Now, I’m the first one to admit:  I’m not your pinup girl for a long distance walk.  I’m in my late 40s,  overweight (and have been for years) and most likely because of being overweight, I have the knees of an eighty year old (at least they feel it some days).

But I’m determined.  I’m excited and I may be a little obsessed with this walk.  Until my departure date, I will continue reading, gaining inspiration and closer to, knowledge of what I need to do to take that final step.

Here are a few books that I’ve read over the last year and recommend.  Books that inspired me to go forth with this dream. To not be afraid or intimidated.  I make some comments on some of these recommendations listed below but every single one of these books has stuck with me in some way. Spurred me on.  I loved each and every one of them and hope you will too.

“I’d never done anything crazy like this before – a pilgrimage walk. I was not a hiker, and I wasn’t a Catholic. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I was a Christian. On the last government census when I had to state my religion, I’d said I was a Buddhist, mainly because they’ve had such a hard time in Tibet I felt they needed my statistical support.
I was also not an adventure traveller. For me, adventure travel was flying coach. All this backpacking and wearing of heavy boots and flying off to France to walk ancient pilgrimage routes was a new experience, and not one that made me feel entirely comfortable.”
And so Bill Bennett, an Australian based film director, set off on an 800 kilometre walk across Spain to Santiago de Compostela, not sure why he was doing it, and not feeling entirely comfortable. His discomfort increased markedly a few days later when his knee gave out – so the rest of the walk was a “pain management pilgrimage.”
But he kept his sense of humour, and his memoir is at times hilarious but also deeply moving, and insightful. In the vein of Bill Bryson and Eric Newby, The Way, My Way takes you on a unique spiritual journey, and gives you a hearty laugh along the way.
NOTE FROM TARA:  I figured if this guy can do it with his broken down body, so can I!  I plan on walking the Camino in 2018.
To celebrate her 50th birthday and face the challenges of mid-life, Jane Christmas joins 14 women to hike the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Despite a psychic’s warning of catfights, death, and a sexy, fair-haired man, Christmas soldiers on. After a week of squabbles, the group splinters and the real adventure begins. In vivid, witty style, she recounts her battles with loneliness, hallucinations of being joined by Steve Martin, as well as picturesque villages and even the fair-haired man. What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim is one trip neither the author nor the reader will forget.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wildpowerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
NOTE FROM TARA:  What can I say?  Cheryl Strayed is a rock star.  I am a total groupie of this woman now.  I read the book, saw the movie and then read the book again.  Then I started following Cheryl Strayed on Instagram and Facebook.  Yeah, I was that inspired and walking (part) of the PCT is now on my bucket list.
After graduating from college, Jennifer isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine.
Though her friends and family think she’s crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.
NOTE FROM TARA:  After reading Wild, I wanted to read about a woman’s trek on the Appalachian Trail.   This was a good read and while the Appalachian was not on my ‘Living List‘ before, it is now.  At least in pencil.  This book had me thinking about this woman’s journey for weeks afterwards.
Jeff Alt takes you along every step of his 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail adventure filled with humorous, frightening, and inspirational stories including, bears, bugs, blisters, skunk bed mates, and hilarious food cravings.
As Alt walked through freezing temperatures, driving rain, and sunny skies, he was constantly buoyed by the knowledge that his walk was dedicated to his brother who has cerebral palsy. Alt’s adventure inspired an annual fundraiser which has raised over $400,000 for the Sunshine Home where his brother lives. As you walk along with Alt, you experience the success of turning dreams into goals and achieving them. Alt shares his life lessons from the trail with a focus on family, stewardship of the earth, and good health.
Having walked more than 3,000 miles from Trafalgar Square to Morocco, Paula Constant finds herself at the westernmost edge of the Sahara Desert—and the brink of sanity
Sahara is the story of Paula’s struggle to overcome her innermost demons and take control of her journey, her camels, and the men she hires to guide her through one of planet’s most extreme regions. Illness, landmines, and political red tape stand between Paula and the realization of a life’s dream. Though the wheels have fallen off her marriage on the course of her journey and her funds are quickly drying up, she is determined to complete the walk through the romantic Big Empty of Northern Africa to Cairo. Both a thrilling adventure and a story of joy, heartache, inspiration, and despair, Sahara is—above all—a celebration of the greatness of human spirit in all its guises.
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
When Paula Constant and her husband, Gary, attempt to break away from the conventional 9-to-5 routine, a few weeks lazing in a resort or packed in a tour bus is not what they have in mind. What starts out as an idle daydream to embark on ‘a travel to end all travels’ turns into something far greater: an epic year-long 5000-kilometre walk from Trafalgar Square in London to Morocco and the threshold of the Sahara Desert.
Quite an ambition for an unfit woman who favours sharing cigarettes and a few bottles of wine with friends over logging time on the treadmill. But if the sheer arduousness of walking over 25 kilometres a day through the landscapes and cultural labyrinths of France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco – without a support vehicle – is overlooked in her excitement, then so too is the unexpected journey of self discovery and awakening that lies beyond every bend.
Both the companions she meets on the road and the road itself provide what no university can offer: a chance to experience life’s simple truths face to face. Paula’s transformation from an urban primary school teacher into a successful expeditioner is a true tale of an ordinary woman achieving something extraordinary. It is a journey that begins with one footstep.
Robyn Davidson’s opens the memoir of her perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company with the following words: “I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there’s no going back.”
Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia’s landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation.
“An unforgettably powerful book.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
NOTE FROM TARA:  I first read this book in high school. I had been to the outback  only a few years earlier.  When I read this book at 18, I could not believe what this woman had undertaken – alone.  I think this was one book that I’ve read in my life that truly inspired me to get off my ass and do something with my life.  Something that included travel.
Yes, I know it’s a major movie now, but like most book-to-movie adaptations, the book is so much better.
Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakesand to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.
Note from Tara:  We really didn’t like the movie of this book, but Rich swears the book is a great read.  So it made our list.

Books Still On Our “To Read” List:

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Ready to walk the Camino? The PCT? Need some inspiration? Here are 9 Books To Inspire You To Strap on Your Hiking Boots! | Travel Far Enough
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