Author: Jeff Alt
Dreams Shared Publications
This enjoyable book covers the journey of authors Jeff and Beth Alt, as they traverse the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevadas, on behalf of a ‘depression awareness’ campaign. Ten months before their hike, Beth’s older brother Mike committed suicide. Mike, Beth’s favorite sibling, had been a young married man with a young son and stepdaughter. After his suicide, Mike’s family was left asking “Why?” and searching for hints that they may have missed along the way. Jeff and Beth decided to take a proactive approach in dealing with their grief, began a ‘Hike for Mike,’ while enlisting others in their depression awareness campaign.
From the beginning chapter of the book: Jeff, a seasoned hiker shopping for lightweight Gortex-lined hiking boots and urging Beth to dispense with her preferred hot showers, make-up and coffee, they were ready to take on the entire 218-mile trail. Their journey during the summer of 2003 is filled with breath-taking vistas, lightning storms, bears and in-depth conversations with other hikers on the subject of depression awareness. It also becomes an incredible bonding trip for both Beth and Jeff as they explore pieces of each other’s personalities that had never before been revealed to one another.
Author Jeff Alt summarizes his pre-trip vision versus their actual excursion as “Before our trip, I had imagined an intimate three-week adventure full of frequent skinny-dipping excursions in the lake along the way. In reality, though, the lakes were extremely cold … At the end of each day, instead of jumping into these cold lakes, we had gotten into the habit of wiping the grime, sand, dust, dried sweat, and bug repellant off our bodies with travel towelettes, and we took controlled sponge baths in which we strategically splashed minimal amounts of the glacial water onto our bodies.”
The hike beings at Yosemite at an elevation of 4,035 feet and ends at the peak of Mount Whitney, with an elevation of close to 14,500 feet. This book is not only for hiking enthusiasts, but also for arm chair travelers who prefer reading about destinations from the comfort of their recliner.
In the last chapter, facts and resources on depression are included in the text. Approximately 19 million Americans suffer from depression, or ten percent of the population. Chances are someone in your circle of friends and family members, has been diagnosed with this disorder. “A Hike for Mike,” discusses this condition and offers resources for interested readers.
The above review was contributed by: Shelley Bueché, free lance reporter, author of The Ebola Virus and Bedbugs, published magazine writer specializing in health matters. Click Here to Read More of Shelley's Reviews