On The Screen: Mile… Mile and Half

Although Saturday morning was special in that I finished piecing the hexagons for my quilt, I followed my usual practice of drinking coffee between pieces and watching something on my laptop. While I was browsing Netflix, Mile, Mile and A Half showed up in my suggestions. I was super excited since I’d been hearing about it for quite awhile but some how hadn’t gotten around to it.

It wound up being a really hard film to watch while quilting. Even as excited as I was to finish, the quilt lay dormant in my hands a lot as I was completely fascinated by the gorgeous footage of the high Sierras. I haven’t spent any time in the Sierras and this film really made me want to go check it out.

Mile… Mile and Half tells the story of a group of friends that not only sets out to hike California’s 210 mile long John Muir Trail but also to document their hike. They absolutely killed it at the documentation part. This is one visually stunning documentary.

I was skeptical about how much I would actually enjoy the story of their particular thru-hike. I mentioned in my review of the really enjoyable Almost Somewhere that some trail memoirs are really painful for me and in the first ten minutes of of Mile Mile and Half, I started to fear this was going to be one of those memoirs. It wasn’t. This group of friends tackled pass after pass in a really high snowpack year and with each one, I cheered them on a little more. They were frank and honest about their challenges but they also remained happy and upbeat throughout the hike.

For someone who would love to visit “The Range of Light,” this film was exciting. (And for that same person whose vehicle is not currently running it was frustrating to not be in the mountains…) I’m not sure that for non-hikers this film would hold one’s attention. It is visually appealing and that might be enough. But for an outdoors person? The enthusiasm of Durand, Ric, Jen, Jason, and Zee is infectious. I wanted to run to the Sierra, and being unable to do that, I wanted to immediately find myself in the mountains of Colorado.

Mile… Mile And A Half is currently streaming on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. It is definitely worth your viewing time!

Book Review: Almost Somewhere

This Christmas, my mom killed it on picking out awesome books for me. One of the books she picked out, Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, I’d never heard of before. I’ve read a lot of trail stories and sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re almost annoying (Wild, ahem…) so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book.

It didn’t take long for me to become invested in Suzanne, Erika, and Dionne. The John Muir Trail was a serious undertaking and they were a little inexperienced but since it was a shorter trail than the Pacific Crest Trail and they didn’t seem as clueless as Cheryl Strayed I was much more open to liking them. Suzanne did great job of illustrating her personal struggles and triumphs on the trail. Some of her observations really hit home. This quote, specifically, really made me feel like she understood why it is that I go hiking:

The severe cliffs and the granite domes made me feel small. We think we are so important, our problems so large, but then a place like this renders us small, our problems nothing more than the echo of birdsong in wind, maybe not even so much as that. Against the immensity of the granite domes I felt a humbling, a sense of being little on a large planet, a tiny part of a larger universe, a speck of dust in the cosmos, a billionth of a second in the time frame of the world. Connected. I realized that if I ever felt smaller than someone else, I could just compare us both to a galaxy or a star or even one of Yosemite’s giant granite domes.

Ultimately, though, it was the examination of the complexities of female friendships that made this a unique trail story. Dionne seemed to come to the trail struggling with an eating disorder and Erika seemed brash and unable to relate to the struggles both Suzanne and Dionne had along the way. Ultimately, however, the women worked together to achieve their goals, mostly accepting each other the way they were.

I read this book in just a day over Christmas Break. It grabbed me and I couldn’t wait to finish it. If you enjoy travelogues, I think this is a great read! It was the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award winner in Outdoor Literature so I wasn’t alone in really enjoying it.

Check out the book trailer. It does a great job of introducing the story: