Last year I wrote and co-edited a book by the name of Wanderlust – Hiking on Legendary Trails. In a nutshell, it’s a 256 page coffee table book that features 32 terrific hikes from around the world. Some of the treks included are Tibet’s Mount Kailash Circuit, California’s Lowest to Highest Route, Tasmania’s Western Arthurs Traverse, and the Chadar Trek, a legendary winter pilgrimage along Ladakh’s frozen Zanskar river.
The idea for Wanderlust was put forward to me in late 2016 by Gestalten, an International publishing company based out of Berlin. Over the past two decades they have produced more than 600 works on a wide range of subjects, including art, architecture, food, design, typography and travel. However, up until Wanderlust, they had never done a book about hiking. That’s where I came in. I helped to select many of the trails, wrote 29 of the 32 texts, and co-edited the book.
When I agreed to come on board, my principle hope for the project was the same that I have for The Hiking Life website; to inspire as many folks as possible to get out and explore the world on foot. With that goal in mind, the book covers a diverse selection of routes and trails, that vary not only in terms of length and difficulty, but also in regards to environment and character. There are family-friendly day excursions, challenging multi-week (and month) wilderness treks, and ancient pilgrimages to holy places. All are vividly depicted through spectacular photography, with background history and trail descriptions supplied by yours truly. The following excerpt is from the Appalachian Trail article, titled “Through the Long Green Tunnel”:
“The AT is not the oldest, longest, nor even the most scenically beautiful pathway in the United States. What it is, however, is a microcosm of American society – a trail that attracts people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. And the best thing about it is that no one really cares where their fellow hikers are from or what they do for a living. On the trail everyone is equal. A bunch of disparate dreamers brought together by the goal of walking between Georgia and Maine.”
Although I am proud of the part I have played in the making of Wanderlust, I am under no illusions in regards to what has made the book such a success (Note: The third printing is about to be released in the coming weeks!). No drumroll; it’s the photos.
Wanderlust takes readers on a visual journey through some of the earth’s most unique and spectacular landscapes. There are trails from six continents and 22 different countries. Within its pages, I think there is something to pique the interest of almost everyone, from grizzled vets to wide-eyed newbies. It is an ode to the beauty and wonder of experiencing the world at three miles per hour:
“Whether it be through far-flung deserts, luxuriant forests, or majestic alpine terrain, when we choose to walk rather than fly or drive, something wonderful happens: our awareness and appreciation of the natural world begins to grow. It can be the faint sound of a gently meandering stream, the distinct smell of decaying leaves on a crisp autumn morning, or even a bowl of cereal that never tasted better than when eaten on a mountaintop at sunrise.” (Excerpt from the Writer’s Note / Introduction)
So far I’ve shared with you what Wanderlust is, however, I think it’s also worth mentioning what it is not. It is not a detailed planning guide that hikers will take with them out on the trail. The book does not contain permit or GPS information, nor does it include in-depth trekking notes or topographic map and guidebook recommendations. It is meant to inspire, rather than enable:
“One of the biggest rewards for all of this exertion comes in the form of sublime ridgetop vistas from the Panamint and Inyos mountain ranges. Gazing out at the horizon, one cannot help but be reminded that the views that must be worked for the hardest are invariably the ones that resonate the most.” (Excerpt from the Lowest to Highest Route article, titled ” From Death Valley to the Summit of Mount Whitney”)
Like other nomadic souls, I often find myself daydreaming about different regions I’d love to visit in the future. Far-flung and sometimes near-flung destinations that you can still only access on foot. Wanderlust – Hiking on Legendary Trails is basically an idea generator for those places; a hardcover catalyst for ambulators, pilgrims and wayfarers alike. I may be a little bit biased (ok, more than a little), but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all my years of rambling: “……..it’s that when it comes to experiencing the wonders of terra firma – I mean really experiencing them from the inside out, rather than the outside in – there is simply no better way to do so than on foot, with everything you need in the world on your back.
And with that, I’ll leave you with some more of my favourite images from the book: