I Promise Not To Suffer: A Fool For Love Hikes The Pacific Crest Trail,
by Gail D. Storey
Review by Kristy McCaffrey
In I Promise Not To Suffer, Gail Storey shares her attempt to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. While there is much described in terms of preparation, gear, mishaps and successes along the way, in the end this is a love story. Two actually—Gail follows her husband Porter on this adventure, despite not being a hiker, and also comes to terms with a difficult relationship with her mother, who is dying from breast cancer.
At 2,663 miles long, the Pacific Crest Trail spans the western United States, from Mexico to Canada. Thru-hiking generally takes up to six months with the window for hiking from April to September. Gail and her husband begin at the California-Mexico border, regularly pushing through 20-mile days. They encounter heat, bugs, a mountain lion, injuries, freezing temperatures, and water—nearly drowning at one point. But throughout these grueling days, Gail comes to appreciate nature, and be changed by it. With a disparity in their abilities, her husband finally asks if she will take a break through the Mojave Desert so he can hike alone, but she refuses, surprising both of them with her tenacity and genuine desire to stay. But after 900 miles, her body reaches its limit, overwhelmed by exhaustion and fatigue. She leaves for home in Houston while Porter continues. Six weeks later, sufficiently recovered, she supports him on his trek through Oregon, hiking in to meet him with resupplies at various points along the trail. As he finishes in Washington, she is called to her mother’s bedside for her final hours. The rhythms learned on the trail—life, death, and the natural order—help to comfort and soothe both of them.
For anyone who has ever wondered if they have what it takes to push her boundaries, to attempt an endeavor the magnitude of the Pacific Crest Trail, this book will inspire. The the course of I Promise Not To Suffer, Gail’s faith in accompanying her husband on his dream is rewarded with her own transformation. Not only is her love for him deepened, but she also finds an unexpected confidence in herself. The openness of the wilderness leads to an openness in her own heart, steering her to an acceptance of a relationship with her mother that lacked in closeness. The trail’s message is simple—the only time we have is now. And Gail professes in the end, “I never much cared for nature, but nature cares for us.”
Kristy McCaffrey lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and enjoys hiking, running, and 20-minute vinyasa yoga routines. She writes historical western romances and loves to travel. Visit her blog “Pathways.”