The Mercury News has posted my review of Barbara Egbert’s “Zero Days,” which recounts her 2004 Pacific Crest Trail through-hike with her husband and 10-year-old daughter. Excerpt:
Egbert and Chambers, who live in Sunol, started taking their daughter on backpacking trips before she was old enough to walk. By the time Mary started out on the 2,650-mile PCT trek, she had already hiked all 165 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Chambers also is a veteran rock climber and mountaineer.
Egbert’s first-person prose is plain-spoken and unpretentious. It’s not the equal of, say, Bill Bryson’s, whose “A Walk in the Woods” is a classic, antic tale of failing to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. But Egbert, a Mercury News copy editor, has success on her side, having hiked all but a couple hundred miles of the PCT (medical issues forced her off the trail for a few weeks) and finishing the trek in Canada with husband and child.
Between 200 and 300 hardy backpackers try to through-hike the PCT every year. Most start in April or early May at Campo, on the U.S-Mexico border, and head north toward Manning Provincial Park in British
Columbia (they rest on “zero” days, when they log no miles). Around 50 to 60 finish.
Along the way they, usually adopt descriptive trail names: Chambers became “Captain Bligh,” leader and navigator; Egbert was “Nelly Bly,” the famed 19th-century true-life storyteller; and Mary was “Scrambler,” adept at crawling over rocks and other trail-side attractions.