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I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail Paperback – April 15, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Of the many books that I have read about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, none have captured the trail experience from so many different perspectives. Single hikers, couples, and those who stay behind will all enjoy Gail Storey's account of the challenges, the beauty, and the PCT community found along the way."---Liz Bergeron, Executive Director and CEO, Pacific Crest Trail Association.

At times wrenching memoir, at times hilarious, I Promise Not to Suffer pulls no punches and has a wicked sense of fun. Storey reminds me again of what is possible with a big imagination, a dose of scrappy courage, and a lot of love. ---Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars and Kook

Some have called Gail Storey the Nora Ephron of the wilderness. With her own unique wit, Storey shares Ephron's commitment to creating and tending a long, nourishing marriage. I Promise Not to Suffer is a portrait of a union that does not fray or break under pressure but is forged, toughened, and tenderized. - --Sara Davidson, author of Leap!, Loose Change, and The December Project

Witty, wise, and full of heart, Gail Storey's winning memoir of her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail at the age of fifty-six is a book for every one who ever dreamed of taking the road less traveled. I Promise Not to Suffer is as inspiring as it is hilarious, as poignant as it is smart. It's one of those oh-please-don't-let-it-end books. I'd carry it in my backpack anywhere ---Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

About the Author

Gail D. Storey is the author of I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, Winner of the Barbara Savage Award from The Mountaineers Books (2013). Her first novel, The Lord's Motel (Persea Books, NY), was praised by the New York Times Book Review as "a tale of unwise judgments and wise humor." Her second novel, God's Country Club (Persea Books, NY) was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. She has won many awards, and her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in numerous magazines. Her literary papers are archived in the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections. Formerly administrative director of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, she is now a hoopdancer and comic performance artist. She is married to Porter Storey, MD FACP FAAHPM, a national leader in hospice and palliative medicine. Together they bicycled on their tandem from Maine to San Diego, and now live in Boulder, Colorado.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books (April 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594857458
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594857454
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Obviously other readers enjoyed it based on the reviews, but this book was not for me. I found the author annoying.

I've read several books about solo long hikes, and I was interested in reading about a couple doing a hike since my hubby and I are interested in doing one. I wish I had skipped this book.

The author, with three master's degrees and apparently no job, is an ex-hippie turned spoiled princess. She says things, in all seriousness, like "I tried to pare myself down to an essential self before I married Porter," and "I didn't need protecting from anything but my small, imagined self," and "What was my higher self, and could it save me from my lower?" (Note that "self" is a recurring theme.)

Porter, aptly named considering he carries double the weight of his wife's pack and has to rescue her constantly from her various petty perils, even asks his own wife to leave the trail shortly into their hike.

In the planning stage, Porter made their backpacks. Yes, he actually sewed them. He made their sleeping bag and tarp. He did all the research and planned their route. He made their stove. In the meantime, he works as a doctor.

The writer, on the other hand, never talks about leaving a job or any other responsibilities. Instead, she throws dinner parties with friends. She crows about her slim frame, thick hair, low body fat, and 32D chest. She whines about how much she's going to miss the red sports car her husband gave her for Valentine's Day.

And it goes on and on. Actually, it doesn't really go on that far, because....well, I don't want to spoil the book.

Others liked the book according to the reviews...but I was not a fan.
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When you think, "I can't...," here's a great read to help you through. When you wonder what a marriage "can be," even under severe duress, here's a great read, too. ALL delivered with a helluva sense of humor. Gail Storey lets us into her private world of hope and despair, dependence and inter-dependence. Following her wild journey, I dredged up the most challenging experiences of my own life, but never felt alone. Her honesty is unflinching as she learns her own strengths and limits in the face of extreme physical, emotional and spiritual adversity. Her mother is dying while she hikes remote backcountry with a satellite phone and her amazing but very different creature of a hubbie, Porter the hospice doctor.

Reading this book fed my trust and faith in Life. Personally, I come from a family with a legacy of ongoing suicides, the most recent of which was my sister just last year. It was wildly uplifting to read another woman's tale of tough, event violent origins leading to a life of kindness to self and others. Learning to love more deeply and extend that to ourselves as well; how much better does Life become? In my universe we're here to love and to learn.

As a hiker who has lusted over the prospect of walking both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, I also had hopes that the book would move me to make a thru-hike of my own. But it finally sank in that this was her path and not mine, leaving me insanely grateful to have her vicarious experience.
Hopefully she will continue to write about her life. I'll read it.
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I thoroughly enjoyed "I Promise Not to Suffer" from the first page to the last. As most good memoirs, it works on many levels. At the surface, it's a fascinating description of the gear and mental, emotional and physical preparations needed to accomplish the feat of hiking at altitude for months at a stretch. At a deeper level, it is a story of how, by paring their lives down to the bare essentials, Gail and Porter open themselves up to the rawest of adventures: an inner journey of intimacy with themselves as individuals and as a couple.

I loved Storey's simple yet vivid description of the trail and their days hiking, from frigid mornings when they had to shove their chilled feet into frozen socks, to the night when Gail and the sleeping bag and tarp were blown off a mountain top. I could relate to her moods under the harsh conditions and physical challenges, and I howled at some of the bickering matches she had with her "stoic Mountain Man" husband. I also had to slow myself down from reading ahead to savor the beautiful passages where Storey describes her transformation from distracted city-dweller to profoundly grateful citizen of the Earth. "I never much cared for nature," she writes, "but nature cares for us."

Without preaching or turning herself into a self-proclaimed expert, Storey manages to captivate readers with her curiosity about herself and others, and her willingness to ask complex and sometimes troubling questions about relationships. Although she may not always have the answers (does anyone?), her prose conveys rich and valuable insights. I admit, I am still thinking about this honest and unusual love story many days later.
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As a retired college English professor who appreciates good writing, I was very pleased to discover Gail Storey’s I Promise Not to Suffer. It’s a literary gem that succeeds on multiple levels. At the physical level it gives the reader a vicarious experience of hiking 900 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. It describes—in rich, precise prose—the beauty of changing landscapes and the effort required to hike, with a heavy pack, through extremes of climate and terrain. At the psychological and spiritual level, it details the narrator’s progress in mindfulness as she learns to surrender to the moment and accept the natural world as it is. Her opening line tells us she has not always been comfortable with things as they are: “I never much cared for Nature, or rather, thought it okay as long as it stayed outside.” At the beginning of her hike, she finds much to complain about because the natural world is not as she wants it to be. By the end of her hike she accepts the natural world as it is.

In the chapter “What’s the Meaning of your Pilgrimage,” at a moment of exhaustion and clarity on the trail, she describes the before and after states this way: “I was still alive, but oddly more so than before. Mist rose from the lake and I saw through it as if through myself, through light, air, flowers, trees. Beetles and ants scurried in the dirt and joined us in our silence. It seemed so long ago I believed they were out to get me, that dirt would kill me, that heat, cold, water, and ice were problems to overcome. I’d come so far, these nearly nine hundred miles” (168). In this moment of acceptance and transcendence, she feels at one with Nature.
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