Journeys North

By Barney Scout Mann

"Master storyteller. Kept me up at night. A fantastic book!" Heather Anderson, 2019 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

 

In Journeys North, legendary trail angel, thru hiker, and outdoor advocate Barney Scout Mann spins a compelling tale of six hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007 as they walk from Mexico to Canada. This ensemble story unfolds as these half-dozen hikers--including Barney and his wife, Sandy--trod north, forming relationships and revealing their deepest secrets and aspirations. They face a once-in-a-generation drought and early severe winter storms that test their will in this bare-knuckled adventure. Only a third of all the hikers who set out on the trail that year would finish.

 

The Introduction begins with Mann forgetting Sandy's birthday ... they'd hiked 2,600 miles, had only fifty miles to go, and were in knee-deep snow, a white-out blizzard. A third hiker asked Sandy, "What do you want for your birthday?" She didn't hesitate, her breath starkly visible, 'I want to get out of today alive."


Journeys North is a story of grit, compassion, and the relationships people forge when they strive toward a common goal.

"Journeys North is a master class in storytelling. Barney Scout Mann invites readers into his trail family to experience a journey in gossebump-inducing detail." Zach Davis, Editor-in-Chief of The Trek

"A compelling story told by a master storyteller. Barney Scout Mann delivers a riveting narrative filled with keen insight and high drama."

–  William Gray, National Geographic Book Division head 1990-2002  –

author of the second bestseller about the PCT, The Pacific Crest Trail (320,000 hardbacks sold)

 

“Wow! I feel like I’ve been a ghostly observer along the trail, hiking with the pack, eavesdropping on conversations and private thoughts.  It made me profoundly homesick. You’re on a roll … keep the momentum going.”

–  Roslyn Bullas, Wilderness Press Publisher (Ret.)   –

“Great! Really rolls along. Characters with a real back story. A people-driven story set on the trail.  Hooks people on the characters.”

–  Dennis Lewon, Backpacker Magazine Editor-in-Chief   –

INTRODUCTION FROM JOURNEYS NORTH-

FRODO'S BIRTHDAY

Blazer stomped a figure-eight path in snow. Over and over, she vainly tried to keep warm. It was October 2, and after five months hiking, now this—numb, in pre-dawn gloom, in eight inches of fresh snow.  The striking twenty-five-year-old couldn’t feel her toes. This was the second blizzard in three days. The Alaskan Gulf, like a pitching machine, hurled once-in-a-generation storms at Washington’s Cascades. Blazer had on jogging shoes. She’d gone through four other pairs, wearing the knobbed soles flat, hiking 2,600 miles since the Mexican border. So close. Three days ago, with one hundred miles left, she’d sworn, “I’ll crawl to Canada if I have to.” Now forty miles separated her from the border.

At least Blazer wasn’t alone. I was right behind her, and behind me was my wife “Frodo.” We made the same tight-looped circles, shaking fat flakes from bent shoulders and packs. Frodo and I had been married thirty years. In all that time, I’d never forgotten her birthday. I did this morning. Frodo forgot it, too.  We were so focused on the cold, focused on not getting lost, and focused on surviving.

Flecks of snow dusted Blazer’s brows, white fluff blotting jet-black, as she pulled her watch cap down tight. A dim light penetrated the pine and spruce thicket. Blazer piped up, “Happy Birthday, Frodo.” We were taken aback. How could we both have forgotten?  Blazer: “What do you want for your birthday?”  Frodo didn’t hesitate, her breath starkly visible. “I want to get out of the day alive.”  

We knew we had to set out soon and climb higher into the storm. Yesterday, the drifts reached over our knees.  What would today bring?

The fourth storm hit four days later. It had been snowing seven straight days. Incredibly early and off the charts.  Washington’s Cascades were getting hammered. The Pacific Crest Trail lay covered under thigh-high drifts. 

At 10:01 pm that night chatter lit up the internet. “Seattle King5 TV News just said three PCT hikers are missing.”  10:13 pm: “Goodness it’s so cold now.  May the Lord protect them.” The next morning at 3:40 am: “I am headed out to Stevens Pass to work the search.”

But they weren’t searching for us. They were searching for Nadine.

Scout's Journal

Hike with Scout #2

August 10, 2020

Hello again,

Are you ready to continue down the trail with me? You don’t need a break, do you? Hike on and I’ll spin out what I promised—How the heck over 6,000 people slept at our house. I’ll share the Journeys North introduction, the photo to back it up and an insider backstory.  

How did 6,000-plus sleep at our house? If you know the answer, you can chuckle along with me. My wife Sandy and I really wanted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007. We’d made big sacrifices at work to get five months off. In 2006, the year before, we thought: Wouldn’t it be cool to host hikers in our home? We live in San Diego, the PCT’s southern terminus is 60 miles inland and we could pick up starting hikers at the airport, host them for a night or two and then drive them to the trailhead. In 2006 we did just that, hosting 17 hikers over two months. 

In 2007, before we left on the trail ourselves, we hosted 35. We thought, We’re hot stuff. It was a hoot to host, feed, and get to know these wonderful folks. They were about to start an epic adventure. But in 2008, word had circulated. We hosted over 100, more than one-third of that year’s starting PCT hiker class. And we kept to our original policy, “It’s free, no gifts, no donations.”

In 2012 we hosted over 300, in 2015 over 500, then quickly to 900, and we’ve now had years of well over 1,000. Over 8 weeks, 30 to 40 a night. Either hug us or lock us up. We have three 12-by-20-foot event tents in the back yard, 4 bedrooms, a tent trailer, a tree house and the living room floor. Since 2008, we’ve had a network of volunteers—driving airport pickups, last minute errands, trailhead runs—that last year totaled 81. All still free. No gifts. We go to bed every night exhausted, but one of us says to the other, “We are so lucky to be able to do this.” Want to see it in full swing--Local CBS Channel 8 covered us last year. 

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