Radzicki McManus’s is a congenial, adventurous, and inspiring trek through America’s wilderness.
Melanie Radzicki McManus’s Thousand-Miler is an absorbing and enlightening first-person account of a thru-trekking adventure.
The book opens at the beginning of the author’s eleven-hundred-mile walk across Wisconsin. It pauses just long enough to introduce the rarefied world of thru-trekking, a form of hiking whose devotees attempt to walk one of the country’s eleven National Scenic Trails in one go, pausing only for sleep and recovery.
Serious trekkers aim to cover about thirty miles a day across wild terrain, making it necessary to travel light. In preparation, trekkers assemble a team to deliver food and take them to a sleeping place at the end of each day’s route.
Seasoned trekker McManus was out to set the Fastest Known Time (FKT) for a woman on the Ice Age Trail, tracing the southernmost reach of glaciers into Wisconsin, a path that even the extremely fit don’t fly along with ease. Nothing can ward off the blisters, mosquitoes, and stress injuries that are part of thru-trekking. Yet the narrative never loses buoyancy, even when hiking time is lost to injuries and the goal of setting a record seems unlikely.
The author’s appreciation of nature and her knowledge of the terrain make for informed and interesting armchair travel. The book is well paced, skipping over uneventful legs of the journey and layering highlights of the natural world with glimpses of trekking culture.
Since there are usually several enthusiasts scattered along a trail, chance encounters among hikers are a rich part of the experience. As the author encounters legendary trekkers with monikers like Papa Bear and Hiking Dude, she mingles their backstories with her own, broadening a world that might otherwise have seemed too narrow.
Epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter—from sources as diverse as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Marilyn Monroe, and Yogi Berra—are by turns thoughtful and humorous. A helpful map of the trail is included, as well as thumbnail biographies of other thru-trekkers mentioned in the book.
In Thousand-Miler, Melanie Radzicki McManus offers a congenial, adventurous, and inspiring trek through America’s wilderness, with broad appeal.
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