Book review: ‘I Promise Not to Suffer,’ by Gail Storey, a personal journey on the Pacific Crest Trail
Special to the Daily
Anyone who has loved another knows that, figuratively, love can move mountains and love can part seas. Often, in the process, love can also lead one on the adventure of a lifetime, teaching one that the greatest love of all is love of self. Gail Storey, author of “I Promise Not to Suffer,” the recent winner of the National Outdoor Book Award, follows the romantic maxim, “Where you go, I go,” to the extreme, launching herself onto the perilous Pacific Crest Trail, after her husband says goodbye to his job and follows his hiking dream.
His hiking dream is not hers, by any stretch of the imagination, but self-proclaimed non-hiker Storey turns her reluctant steps along the famed trail’s many miles into a captivating memoir that manages to charm, amuse and inspire. With easy transitions between her life before the trail and the journey itself, Storey documents the dichotomy of the simplicities and complexities experienced on the trail, as well as before and after.
Ultimately, “I Promise Not to Suffer” is more about life’s journey than about the microcosm of the hike’s daily ins and outs or the metaphorical and literal ups and downs. Storey boldly shines a harsh light on her life’s grittier recesses, from her difficult childhood with an abusive father to her escape into rebellion, promiscuity and the resulting isolation from her mother. To say that the hike saved her from herself would be a stretch, but as with all pilgrims before her, Storey gains strength from every calorie burned and each blister raised.
The Pacific Crest Trail is an iconic and coveted prize for adventurous types. Along with the Appalachian Trail, it ranks as a “bucket list” experience for many. Storey lays out a very readable diary of the day-to-day trials and tribulations she and her husband, Porter, face on their journey along the 2,663-mile route.
At times humorous, but always heartwarming, “I Promise Not to Suffer” lends credence to the belief that immersion in nature is healing and uplifting, purifying and spiritual.
Only those who have gone forth and discovered it themselves can truly attest to this, but writers such as Storey allow glimpses into the sacred places of their experienced communion with the wild and with themselves.
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