Tales of PCT trek on tap at bookstore


Last updated 9/26/2023 at 10:03am

Oregonian Bob Welch is the consummate storyteller.

He will bring that storytelling gift to Paulina Springs Books on Wednesday, October 5, with his latest book, Seven Summers (And a Few Bummers): My Adventure Hiking the 2,650- Mile PCT.

He and his brother-in-law, Dr. Glenn Peterson, completed the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail trek over the course of seven summers, spanning a decade. The different sections of the trail were taken in no particular order, but by August 10, 2022, they had covered the entire trail between the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Taking the PCT in sections had advantages and disadvantages compared to those who do it in one big gulp, as Welch pointed out.

"Mentally, my advantage was not having to face month after month of hiking 15 to 25 miles every single day. About the time I was emotionally spent, boom, I was on an airplane flying back from LA to Eugene. The most my brother-in-law and I did was 20 days.

"But physically, we faced a huge disadvantage," he said. "Every day through-hikers are getting stronger and stronger; the journey becomes their training. They amortize daily so by the time they reach Oregon, the same effort that netted them 15-20 miles in the early goings nets them 20-25. And by the time they reach Washington they are going 25-30 with the same effort. They are like well-trained distance runners. Meanwhile, as soon as I would start getting in shape, boom, I was back home, and having to fit swimming or hiking around a busy writing schedule to even maintain a semblance of conditioning.

"We started and stopped the trail 17 times, so another disadvantage was time and money. We traveled nearly 18,000 miles just getting on and off trailheads, and I spent probably three times the amount of money ($17,000) than the average through-hiker spends."

Welch's tales from the trail are insightfully personal, instructive for those contemplating tackling the PCT, and filled with humor and self-disclosure, going far beyond an ordinary trail diary, accompanied by maps, sketches, and over 150 photographs.

Welch is the accomplished author of more than two dozen books, including The Wizard of Foz, Track & Field Writers of America's 2019 Book of the Year, and American Nightingale, an Oregon Book Award finalist featured on ABC's "Good Morning America." Seven Summers is the sequel to his 2022 book, Cascade Summer, capturing the 465 miles of the PCT that run through Oregon and above Sisters.

As a longtime columnist for The Register-Guard in Eugene, Oregon, Welch twice won the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' "Best Writing" award. He is a former adjunct professor at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication, and founder of the Beachside Writers Workshop in Yachats, Oregon. He has also conducted several writing workshops with Prineville author Jane Kirkpatrick here in Sisters.

The event runs 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., October 5. Paulina Springs Books is located at 252. W. Hood Ave. in Sisters.


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