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Passionate vegan cook. Proud supporter of PCRM since 1986. Incorporate Runic Asatru in Reiki healing. Never Respect Blissful Ignorance. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep". Robert Frost Visit my/our monthly forecasts at;


AUGUST 19, 2012 6:11PM

Why I Won't Be Reading "Following Atticus" by Tom Ryan

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 Let me be specific here.  I have NOT read this book.  As per the title of this blog, I won't be reading it either.  Here's why.

Living in a hiking environment where most individuals and most of my friends and acquaintances do hike on a regular basis, offers one I feel a perspective when it comes to reading material on hiking.   I've heard wonderful opinions on this book, and I've also heard questioning opinions on this book.  I won't waste time and money reading it, since my mile high stack of books demands my attention, but also, because of the following views I've heard about Following Atticus.

We don't live in the Rockies or the Alps, where mountains tower thousands of feet into the clouds.  True.  Our highest peak is little over 6,000 feet.  But many of the hikes are challenging and many can be made gruelling and punishing from a time and stamina perspective. The weather can change instantly, from user friendly to deadly, particularly in winter.   The comments I've heard in regards to this book are from individuals very familiar with the exact hikes referred to in this book, claimed by the author to have been done by himself and his little dog (in all weather conditions).   The opinions I've heard query how some of these hikes were at all possible, considering weather described and conditions at the time of some of them.  Such as, one described to me was a hike in foul weather above treeline, little dog in tow.  Canadian hikers had turned around and headed back down the summit, but the author soldiered on to the summit, tiny little dog in tow, battling raging winter winds and fierce conditions.   I will add here from my own personal experience, that the Canadian hikers I've come across are really tough, very fit and can pretty much handle anything when it comes to hiking in our area. 

Another comment I heard was that the author did multiple punishing hikes two to three days in a row (with tiny dog once more in tow).    I've seen this very author  frequently in my area walking his dog.  The author doesn't look like the typical die hard range bagger.   In other words at first blush, he doesn't appear to me while I'm driving by to be super fit, lean and fleet.  

I'm also concerned about the little dog who can't be more than 8 pounds sopping wet.   Apparently, again, according to comments I've heard, the dog went blind and the author was sure to point out in his book that the vet. who attended to the dog's eye condition (cataracts?) assured the author it had nothing to do with the hiking, snow blindness etc.   Hmm.   Of course, NOT having read the book and going on pure heresay, I could have all this incorrect.  

Loose dogs, regardless of size are the bane of many of us hikers. Here I am not necessarily referring to this dog mentioned in this book.    Many individuals insist on dragging their mutts into the mountains, causing grief to wildlife and hiker alike.  I can't count the number of times I've seen dogs injured from porcupine quills, stinking from having been sprayed by skunks (and many a skunk and porcupine have died at the jaws of these loose dogs). Split and bleeding paws are something else I see in  dogs unaccumstomed to the brutality of constant rock and stone traversing.   Yes people love animals.  Only theirs though.   They care nothing for the personal space, private space and sheer privacy of others.  Dogs sniffing crotches at random - all have to been laughed off lest their owners take umbrage and become angry at the person who dare ask they leash their animal.    A small dog isn't such a pain, but I question the sanity and sheer humaneness of dragging a little thing like this on huge hikes.

The posters in our state for this book, book signing and meeting the author and his dog are  everywhere.  If the comments I've heard even partially have merit, it leaves me to wonder about so many things.   Again, I haven't read it and am merely going on some of the questioning comments I've heard over the months pertaining to this book. 

For people with large dogs who hike,  enjoy the hiking, but leave the dog home. Wildlife have little enough space left as it is. At least give the wildlife some peace and tranquility from the torment of chasing crazy loose dogs.   And I'll continue to enjoy an occasional hike without a loose dog to torment wildlife and others and I'll continue to enjoy reading authors like Jon Krakauer. 

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