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Soul, Sweat and Survival on the Pacific Crest Trail Paperback – May 1, 2007
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About the Author
In 1985, Bob Holtel began his solo run of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), an adventure that would take him three summers.
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Top customer reviews
Running 30 miles plus EVERYDAY for 6 days and one day rest and the repeat this for 12 weeks straight.... alone.... at altitude.... on rocky trails most of the time...!! And the repeat this for 3 straight summers. And oh yeah, this is no teenager either.
How many people have run ONE marathon, let alone 6 in a row times 12.....
Understand the accomplishment.
From the border of Mexico all the way up to Washington, you're in step with Holtel without a boring or wasted word. This is a gripping book and an infectious reading experience.
I had the privilege of participating with Bob Holtel in a Zion National Park Active Elderhostel hiking program, March 12, through March 17, 2007. Each participant said a few words about themselves during the orientation meeting. Bob intrigued me when he said that he had run the entire Pacific Coast Trail. He said that he had a couple of books (Soul, Sweat & Survival on the Pacific Crest Trail) if anyone was interested in reading about his adventure. He only brought a couple of them and luckily I bought one the first night. As I started reading it and watching him run ahead of all the other participants in the daily hikes, I began to realize how lucky I was to be with such a dedicated, knowledgeable hiker/runner. At breakfasts I did my best to sit at the same table as Bob to pick his brain and to get him talking about his Pacific Coast Trail run.
On the third day, I asked Bob whether he would pick a few parts of his book that he valued the most and read them to me. He read two small sections to me at breakfast. I then asked him to read to me the same two sections after we had arduously climbed Observation Point overlooking Angels Landing on our last hike (Bob's run) of the five-day program. I video-taped him reading the sections with Zion National Park Canyon in the background! (At the end of this review, I have written what he read with exuberance.) At the end of that days hike/run, I took a picture of Bob totally submerged in the Virgin River after his run so that he could prevent overuse injuries by using cold therapy, and a picture of his left foot because his second toe is permanently bent over his big toe because New Balance had inadvertently sent him a set of shoes with the left shoe a full-size smaller than the right shoe. Bob had no choice but to run with that too-small left shoe because the shoes were shipped to a remote post office and his other shoes were worn out and he was going to run over sharp, volcanic rock on the next leg of his run.
I also took many other pictures capturing this very unique person. I had been having some pretty serious tennis injuries (I was 62 years old, and Bob was 76 years old) and I asked for some preventive advice. He suggested that I go see the most experienced, most knowledgeable Physical Therapist available. I did and now about nine months later I am starting to play tennis with much fewer injuries!
Yesterday, November 15, 2007, I called Bob to thank him for his advice and he told me that he is planning on running the Pacific Coast Trail again - this time from North to South in two summers. He will be 80 years old when he crosses the finish line in Mexico.
After experiencing Bob Holtel at Zion National Park and reading his book, I contacted Etta Clark who wrote Growing Old Is Not for Sissies and suggested that she include Bob in her upcoming third book in the series. Bob was in his mid-fifties when he ran in three summers the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mexico to Canada. This is a great read. But if you want to experience Bob first hand, you could sign up for the active Elderhostel hiking event during the first week in March, 2008. He will be there!
The quotes that Bob read for me as I video-taped him on Observation Point, Zion National Park.
Page 67, "This primitive form of running, that propels one through open space on timberline routes, allows me to view life from a new perspective. How many people ever go to see anything comparable to this? How truly lucky I feel to celebrate this affirmation: I experience a perfect place at a perfect time without owning it. I use my lowest gears to make the ascents, the effort puts me at my highest element. I feel like modified Henry Thoreau on the move."
Page 155, "Almost anyone can be a hero for a day; it's hanging in there that counts. I believe God rewards faithfulness. The long haul is what costs and counts. We're all in for a long haul in one way or another. For my part, I'd like to have an interesting one. God gave a flower perfect discipline. I battle in the rain to attain a similar quality. This day nature has overpowered me and I feel humbled."
Somewhere in the book it is mentioned that Holtel is a man of few words. This becomes painfully obvious in the first few pages of the book. The book is basically a day by day journal of his runs. Every day's entry reads pretty much the same - difficult hills, rocky descents, etc. He does little, if anything, to describe the beauty surrounding him, the people he encounters, or even a brief history of the trail.
The author likes to say that he "ran the Pacific Crest Trail". While this is technically true he did not cover it in one stretch - as I think most people would assume from this statement. It took him over three summers to cover the distance. This undoubtedly was a great way to spend three summers but in my book it doesn't make him out to be the great hero he would like to be.
He also likes to repeatedly tell about how difficult it was and how amazed everyone he met on the way was when he told them what he was doing. This gets very tiresome very fast.
Most recent customer reviews
I cannot take anything away from his feat.
His book, on the other hand, I was sorry that I bought.Read more