In these dark winter days thoughts return to long summer walks. At night I watch videos made by hikers on America’s Appalachian Trail – with the hiking season kicking off in April it’s at this time of year that people reflect on their thru-hikes and others start to plan their epic trek along the 2000 mile trail.
I’ve just started watching videos from the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2659-mile long path that stretches along the western spine of the US from California to Oregon and Washington – skirting the Mojave Desert, crossing the Sierra Nevada, and scaling the Cascade Mountains, through desert, snow and forest. The nearest I get to Sierra Nevada is through a bottle of the delicious Pale Ale bearing its name that I buy from the corner shop.
The longest trail we have in Britain is the South West Coast Path at 630 miles. We’ll have to wait for the completion of the England Coast Path in 2020 before we have a challenge on the scale of the AT. Locked into the domestic routine of a stay-at-home Dad the idea of life on the trail is amplified by how distant the possibility of spending 6 months walking actually is – a distance I can measure in years rather than miles. In the meantime I satisfy my wanderlust with my excursions around London, in themselves a hangover from my twenties backpacking years, and nightly binges on YouTube hiking videos.
I have also just opened Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, an account of her PCT trek (my discovery of the AT came after reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods bought at the end of a walk to Ilford in the howling wind). A guide to the Ridgeway sits on my desk as well that sings to me at night. There are a few more winter months to while away, day-walking, watching, reading, plotting, and then … who knows what the summer will bring.
Here are 5 of my favourite YouTube Hiking Channels – in no particular order
Hiker Trash Video – Seven out chasing Hikers and ‘safety material’ on the AT
John Zahorian – beautifully produced videos with stunning vistas and practical advice on ultra-light long-distance hiking
Homemade Wanderlust – Jessica (Dixie) is a great guide to life on and off the trail and a good source of practical information. Also love that she hiked the AT with her dog
Neemor’s World – there’s a gentleness to Neemor’s videos out on the PCT and the AT and also some good gear reviews and tips.