A heartwarming, humbling, humorous, true-life adventure of a couple who trekked the John Muir TRail as a depression awareness campaign.
Reviewed by Lisa Kisner for Reader Views (1/06)
The author, an experienced hiker and his wife (Beth), a novice hiker, walk the entire John Muir Trail across the Sierra Nevada (218 miles) to raise awareness of depression. They embark on their journey 10 months after Beth’s brother Mike commits suicide.
Believing that Mike’s death was due to undiagnosed depression the couple sets out to raise awareness of this treatable condition. As the couple makes their way along the trail Mike is never far from their thoughts. While logging their experiences onto a website and speaking to other hikers about their mission, Jeff Alt is able to relate their hiking experience to depression and some of its treatments. For example, in one passage the author writes: The first few days of our hike, we encountered gray skies, rain and the adversity of leaving behind some vital gear. But we retrieved our gear with the help of others; the weather cleared up; and we bore witness to some of the bluest sky and absorbing sun of our entire journey. In some ways, it symbolized depression. Many with clinical depression see only gray skies, but by forging ahead, getting help from a physician, taking the right medication or therapy, and embarking on a walking or exercise routine, people suffering from depression can summit the mountain from the dark valley of depression and see all the blue sky that this world offers.
This book is written so that even a non-hiker can enjoy the book. The author gives an accurate account of the challenges, beauty and perils of hiking. The couple encounters bears, fierce storms, day hikers, long-distance hikers and beautiful scenery. They summit mountains and walk through three national parks. He relates information as an experienced hiker in a way that is was to understand. His description of the beauty of the trail makes the reader want to take up hiking. Also included is a chapter on depression facts, symptoms and treatments for all ages, as well as resources to obtain more information.
“A Hike for Mike” is a wonderful book about a couple’s experiences on the John Muir Trail. Their unique way to raise awareness for depression will inspire readers to take up hiking as a hobby and also become involved in activism for causes they believe in.
Featured as “book of the week” January 23, 2006 by Reader Views.