• Kathy Schrenk

I Promise Not To Suffer by Gail Storey

Some people hike the 2600-mile Pacific Crest Trail to prove something. Some to run away from something. Gail Storey did it for love.

There are lots and lots of memoirs by people who have hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Many of them are by women, and this is a wonderful thing. I Promise Not To Suffer by Gail Storey is one of my favorites. It's not because Storey and her husband overcame great odds to survive or accomplish the journey. It's just a great love story, told very well, that also happens to capture the unique joys and challenges of hiking the crest of the western United States.

Storey bravely exposes the demons of her childhood, her depression, and her age, at the same time she describes near-disasters on the trail with artful use of flashbacks. In the first quarter of the book we learn what medications she's on, what her first fight with her husband was about, and that she adores her husband more than just about anything else -- enough to commit to hiking 2400 miles with him, despite not being a hiker, or particularly outdoorsy.

Beyond that, Storey, gets the reader to care about her troubled childhood and dying mother without eliciting self pity. Along the way, we fall in love with her, her husband, and the PCT.

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