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Where the Waters Divide: A 3,000 Mile Trek Along America's Continental Divide Paperback – November 17, 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (November 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881504033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881504033
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spurred by a sense of adventure, this husband-and-wife team from New York--Smith is a former academic, Berger, a former book editor--hiked from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide, the geological feature that splits America's watersheds roughly along the line of the Rocky Mountains. This account of their 182-day, 2580-mile walk, written in Berger's voice, offers much to fellow hikers wanting information on the extensive patchwork of trails. Otherwise evocative accounts of the generosity of strangers that hikers call "trail magic" and the authors' growing sympathy for the complexities of the battle between ranchers and environmentalists occasionally bog down in minute descriptions. Though the trip is billed as the first extended companionship for this couple, readers may wish the authors had shed more light on themselves.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Although the Continental Divide Trail is still more of a bureaucratic vision than a reality, newlyweds Berger (an editor) and Smith (a historian) decided to tackle it as it is--with this colorful but disappointing record of their experience as the result. Hiking a 3,200-mile course from Mexico to Canada in little more than five months--over deserts, through forests, and across countless mountain peaks--the trek involved equal measures of advance planning and on-the-spot resourcefulness. Even with the most current maps of the terrain, the authors found that trails and roads had vanished and watering holes had dried up, but by keeping their wits about them they managed to keep up a stiff pace, knowing that they were racing the onset of winter in the Montana high country even as they set out in the arid flatlands of southern New Mexico. With the steady support of friends old and new--as well as a fierce determination that carried them through snow squalls, thunderstorms, and into the heart of grizzly country to a remote crossing on the Canadian border--Berger and Smith witnessed both the glory and the shame of the American West today--magnificent mountain vistas, but also ample evidence of overgrazing and of the devastation caused by clear-cutting. Sharing the unflagging hospitality of ranchers and those dependent on the timber industry provided the authors insight into the deep-seated problems of the region, and these observations, along with occasional historical and geological vignettes, help to enrich an otherwise pedestrian narrative considerably. A solid if unexceptional chronicle of adventure and discovery in what remains of the American wilderness. (Eleven maps) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Karen has succeeding in writing an intimate, lively book. She succeeds in taking the reader along with her on the trail. Her descriptions are immediate and rich in detail. It is a shame they have elected to leave out Daniel's journal entries. I thought they were a great part of their book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Karen and Dan try to see both sides of the issue, even when they are passionate advocates. This is a rare trait, much to be valued. I think she may need to read Edward Abby's Desert Solitaire again, he is more complicated than she sees him. She paints truly beautiful word pictures of the high country along the divide. I disagree with her on one point. She seems to have compassion and understanding for most wildlife but a pathological dislike for cattle. As an example is her description of the cattle running down the trail ahead of her, looking back in fear. She sees the animal as stupid for not just running away from her. Perhaps she has not recognized this as a herd animal, used to being herded by humans. Maybe the cows were in reality wondering if this crazy human really knew where it wanted her to go! It may be more exasperated than frightened. Just a thought. If you want a sense of what it would be like to hike the Continental Divide this book is for you. I hope Karen & Dan keep hiking and writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Connie G Scammell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
The couple had already hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) (they met on the trail) and now decided to hike another long-distance trail. But like they soon found out, the CD trail is nothing like the AT. The CD is more remote, more challenging. There is less water along the way and in portions the trail is poorly marked. And in many sections the trail goes through private land that the ranchers guard protectively.

I live about 80 miles from the CD in Animas, NM where the story starts. New Mexico was a constantly battle for water and fighting off the cattle that often contaminated the water sites. Sometimes the windmills were dry and abandoned. I think the author's perceived anger toward cattle come from her experiences of near dehydration from no water because what water they did find at times was claimed by the cows.

Colorado was all up and down, both figuratively and literally. The 12,000' peaks, the weather on top, spotting a mountain lion, getting too close to a lightning bolt...

And then Montana. I was relieved when the couple made it into the Big Sky country but then they had to beat feet to the border because an early winter came that year. The end was anticlimatic, as they reached the Canadian border and the border crossing had just closed for the season.

The story was well written and it was obvious the wife was at times physically pushed by her husband. At times she was exhausted when he had no problem. They were helped along the way by an eldery retired couple who'd follow them in their old van at various meeting towns along the way. The couples' conversations in bars with ranchers and cowboys and locals was at times stressful, but I think she handled the diversity well. (But did the locals?)

The CD is no AT. After reading this I'm in no way inclined to hike the CD any time soon.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Karen Berger and Dan Smith report from their 3,000 mile trek about issues that are near to the heart of any hiker. They discuss issues around cattle on public land, about the use and misuse of water and about the way hikers influence the land and the people around them. The narrative includes information on the history of the American West and historical 'hikes' such as the Lewis and Clark expedition. By mixing these tidbits with a delightful report of the difficulties and wonders of their hiking they create a book that is best read by candle or flashlight in the comfort of your tent. The only problem is that it is too heavy to take on a long-distance hike. Recommended for anyone contemplating the Continental Divide Trail or any other long distance hike.
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More About the Author

Karen Berger is the author of 16 books including America's Great Hiking Trails, a New York Times bestseller in the travel category. She writes about travel, the environment, hiking and backpacking, scuba diving, and music.

Karen has written twelve books on hiking and backpacking, including accounts of walking the entire 3,000-mile Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada ("Where the Waters Divide") and the entire 2,700-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada ("Along the Pacific Crest Trail"). Her hiking books also include instructional guides for those new to the sport and for those seeking to further develop their skills.

Karen is also the author of "Scuba Diving: A Trailside Guide," an instructional book developed with the assistance of Tec Clark, the former director of the Y.M.C.A.'s instructional scuba program.

A trained classical pianist, Karen also writes about music and is the author of three books on learning and teaching music for the "Complete Idiot's Guide" series.