It’s getting so close to back-to-school time in Chicago. In between making sure that Mikey’s supplies are ready to go, the uniform is together and everything else that seems to come with this time of year, I’ve managed to carve out a little time to read in the evenings after Mikey has gone to bed.
Gail Storey’s I Promise Not To Suffer is a personal account of her attempt at a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Her husband quits his job to hike the trail from Mexico to Canada and she does not want to let him go alone, despite her fears and reservations about hiking such a long distance through such unforgiving terrain.
The Pacific Crest Trail was not something that I was particularly familiar with, I’m not a hiker myself (although we don’t own a car so I do walk a lot) and have only lived in the US for a total of around three years. Gail Storey does a wonderful job of helping the reader visualize the trail from her perspective, between chapters I found myself researching the trail, realising that I wanted to know even more about all 2663 miles of it.
Having lived in the city for two years now, reading Story’s account of the trail had me feeling like I was slipping into a different world. It reminded me a little of our time living in Germany, how we used to take walks along the short forest trails and when we drank from a stream while walking in the Black Forest. We still have some little rocks and stones that Mikey picked up on those trails, kept in a large jar as decoration. That quiet solitude of nature is something that is so very different from the constant bustle of the city we live in now.
I was shocked into my own existence, born wet and confused on all fours on the muddy earth, deep in the loamy musk of it.
– Gail Storey, I Promise Not To Suffer
There is a paragraph in the book where Gail and her husband meet a photographer along the trail. Although the paragraph is short and their encounter brief (I wont give away any spoilers), as a photographer myself I identified completely with that character and therefore gained a much bigger appreciation for the struggles of each of the hikers along the trail.
At the end I found myself going back to look at the map of the trail and to re-read the “Gratitude” section in the front of the book, where Storey thanks the hikers and other people that they met along the trail. I had read this section at the start, but after reading her account of the trail the people she thanks were so much more real to me. I also read through the gear list in Appendix A with a quiet fascination after reading the entire story.
A couple of days after finishing the book I found myself in a conversation with my husband about hiking, although we’re in the city and it’s really not the same kind of thing at all we tossed around the idea of finding walking trails within the city to try out. I found the book quite inspiring, not necessarily even inspiring me to go hiking… but to do anything that would require me pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. To experience something as soul searching and difficult as Gail and her husband faced when hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.