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The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind - and Almost Found Myself - on the…

by Dan White

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2176108,799 (3.45)5
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.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Pure fun. From the comfort of my couch I took great pleasure in reading about Dan White's adventures while hiking the 2,650+ mile Pacific Coast Trail from Mexico to Canada. With his girlfriend Allison for companionship Dan's account is in turn both funny and didactic. He can be snarky and scholarly in a single sentence. What starts out as an avoidance of the real world turns into a journey of self reflection and maybe, just maybe, a little growing up.
What makes Cactus such a pleasure to read is this is Dan's account of the first time he hiked the PCT. He has no idea what he's doing, despite reading up on it in the months leading up to the hike. He isn't a seasoned through-hiker expertly navigating arid blazing hot deserts. He isn't a blase professional warding off bear visits with a ho hum attitude. He is cocky in his naivete. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jun 26, 2018 |
Really fun book to read but the ending is sad and anticlimactic. Dan White writes a humorous account of his adventure of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail with his former girlfriend Allison. In general Dan comes off as a selfish self-interested jerk, while girlfriend Allison is described to be wise and gifted in many ways, caring, courageous and tenacious. Hard to explain why she's wasting her time with a jerk like Dan. The story of the hike is really fun and I enjoyed the descriptions of the various characters the duo encountered along the way. The culture of through-hikers is undoubtedly one of the most precious facets of the experience of living so many months on the trail. Who wouldn't want to add such an experience to their own life story? ( )
  Sapiens1 | Apr 26, 2011 |
Dan White is a pretty funny guy, but he tries a little too hard occasionally is this interesting story of his five month journey with his girlfriend, Allison, on the Pacific Crest Trail, a backpacking trail that runs from Canada to Mexico. Still, this is an easy and enjoyable book to read. It's almost a coming of age story of a backpacker, as Dan and Allison learn what works and what doesn't. The book doesn't turn out exactly as you would expect, and you wonder in the end if Dan's humor is a cover for something darker. But, one reason for hiking long distances is to come face to face with your deepest self. The trail clearly does that for Dan. ( )
  co_coyote | Mar 31, 2010 |
Dan White had me hooked immediately with this well written mis-adventure along the Pacific Crest Trail but after reading it, not sure who the authors intended audience is. The majority of the book is a trail journal, funny, painful and embarrassing moments, most of which was caused by his own inexperience of trail life but the underlying story is of his own personal journey, into his own occasionally deranged mind.If you are looking for insight into hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this book is not for you, if on the other hand you want a glimpse into Dan White's mind you will enjoy this book. ( )
  MitraLibrary | Oct 27, 2009 |
Dan and Allison are underprepared, twenty-something hikers who decide to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is a 2,650 mile hike that bares some resemblance to the Appalachian Trail, but without the readily available water. Actually, this book reminded me of a younger, hipper verion of Bill Bryson's AT tale, A Walk in the Woods. The similarities include asides on the history of the Pacific Coast Trail, vivid descriptions of the trail's beauty and hardships, and even includes a bumbling, Katz-like character, although in this case the bumbler is not the author's friend, but the author himself. In fact, one of my biggest complaints in the book was the fact that the main character, Dan, is frequently unlikeable. I'm all for an author being brutally honest about their own flaws, but wow! Alison seems way more with-it, but you have to wonder why a woman like her doesn't kick Dan to the curb, and the book doesn't explore that at all, even though the book does take some huge detours from the trail midway through. Despite its flaws, this book should appeal to those who like reading about modern day adventurers. ( )
1 vote dcoward | Jul 23, 2008 |
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Epigraph
Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. - John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir
Many lives are so empty of interest that their subject must first perform some feat like sailing alone around the world or climbing a hazardous peak in order to elevate himself above mere existence, and then, having created a life, to write about it. - William Gass, The Art of Self: Autobiography in the Age of Narcissism
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For Amy
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It's 9:00 A.M. in the southern edge of the Sierra Nevada, eighty-five degrees and rising.
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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.

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