Tell it on the Mountain

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What crosses 60 mountain passes, 19 canyons, 7 national parks, 3 national monuments, 24 national forests and 33 federal wilderness areas? If you answered the Pacific Crest Trail, you would be correct.

Ever since reading Skywalker and Dances with Marmots over the last year, my interest in the 2663-mile Pacific Crest Trail has been piqued. In fact, the section of the PCT that follows along with the John Muir Trail is something I would absolutely love to tackle someday. Then, last week, I received an email from Shaun Carrigan asking if I would be interested in reviewing a new film that he's produced about the trail. Well, naturally, I jumped on the opportunity.

Tell it on the Mountain - Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail follows several thru-hikers as they attempt to hike the first national scenic trail (designated at the same time as the Appalachian Trail in 1968). This included veteran PCT hiker Scott Williamson who happened to be attempting a yo-yo - that is, hiking from Mexico to Canada, and then back to Mexico - in the same season!

The two books I read did a great job of documenting what the authors experienced and what it takes to hike the trail from a personal perspective. However, the film provides multiple viewpoints, as well as the opportunity to actually see many of the places described in those books.

When I first watched the trailer (below), I was a little concerned that the film might fall into the reality TV trap. Fortunately the film-makers didn't stoop to this tired format.

In addition to providing an insider's view into what it takes to spend a half-year living in the wild, Tell it on the Mountain provides a much better understanding of the substantial planning and logistics it takes to tackle a major adventure, such as a thru-hike. The DVD also provides a few video extras, including an extended interview with Donna Saufley, the trail host at "Hiker Heaven" in Agua Dulce, California.

My only complaint, albeit only minor, is that the film didn't spend enough time exploring the magnificent beauty of the trail, especially as it passes through the High Sierra, Yosemite and the other national parks along the way. 

All in all, however, I really enjoyed watching the film. If you've ever considered thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or any other long distance trail, or if you're just looking for a fun "couch" adventure, I highly recommend this film. You can purchase the DVD (or digital download) on or through Amazon.

Here's a sneak peek from the film:

Hiking in the Smokies

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