Synopses & Reviews
The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from Mexico to Canada, a distance of 2,650 grueling, sun-scorched, bear-infested miles. When Dan White and his girlfriend announced their intention to hike it, Dan's parents among others thought they were nuts. How could two people who'd never even shared an apartment together survive six months in the desert with little more than a two-person tent and some trail mix? But when these addled adventurers, dubbed "the Lois and Clark Expedition" by their benevolent trail-guru, set out for the American wilderness, the hardships of the trail and one delicious-looking cactus test the limits of love and sanity.
"Traversing broiling deserts, snowy mountain passes and dank rain forests on its crooked way from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Coast Trail is an epic challenge for die-hard backpackers. White and his girlfriend, Melissa, set out, late in the season and bereft of experience, to tread all 2,650 miles of it, leaving behind lousy reporting jobs and hoping to find self-definition and a deepened relationship. (They call their trek the Lois and Clark Expedition.) Hilarious greenhorn misadventures ensue including the author's ill-advised chomp, while dizzy with dehydration, into a reputedly moisture-laden prickly-pear cactus that tested their survival skills and commitment as a couple. The trail becomes less an itinerary than a world unto itself, full of squalor, discomfort and majestic scenery, and peopled by charismatic misfits and an austere cult of ultra-light speed-hikers, as the couple rely on arcane camping gear and bizarre gummy-bear-and-marshmallow diets. The wilderness authenticity the author seeks proves elusive; all journey and no destination, the story itself eventually trails off with the hero even more callow and confused than when he started. Still, White's vivid prose and hangdog humor make readers want to keep up. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"White polishes up these memories, serving them forth with brio and dash....Brings a fresh perspective to the timeworn adventure-travel genre." Kirkus Reviews
"In the well-written, laugh-out-loud, self-deprecating spirit of Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods and Nora Ephron's When Harry Met Sally, Dan White takes us along for a walk on the wild side of adventure and love. I could not put it down." Eric Blehm, National Outdoor Book Award-winning author of The Last Season
“Dan White forges miles past travelogue to carve a poignant, uproarious, and deeply compelling love story between man, woman, and the land between. The Cactus Eaters is as impressive and enjoyable as the ground it covers.” Franz Wisner, NY Times Bestselling Author of Honeymoon with My Brother
“It is a funny, frequently harrowing, and altogether mesmerizing memoir about just how wrong a backpacking expedition can go….‘The Cactus Eaters is far more than a Sierra Club-approved romp. Its gorp for the soul, a fascinating and surprisingly moving testament to the call of the wild.” Steve Almond, Boston Globe
In this hilarious and harrowing account of a young couple's hike along the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, White shares the hardships they face as he and his girlfriend confront nature, themselves, and each other.
About the Author
Dan White is a journalist and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Backpacker magazine. He received his MFA from Columbia University, and he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.