A fun read about hiking across northern lower Michigan from coast to coast. This book was not what I initially (when I heard about it) thought it would be. The author has a great sense of humor and does not pretend to be a hiking aficionado – and instead makes light of some of the things that backpackers go through and had to learn the hard way. Bottom line is that Will Swartz (author) appeared to have a great time hiking the trail and when writing this book. The passion he has for the trail and Michigan history comes through loud and clear.
This was an enjoyable read and is not a clone of any other book about long distance backpacking that I’ve run (“hiked”) across. Despite my original thoughts, it turned out not to be a scaled down version of Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”. This book is not short on laughs however. More importantly, the book is also not just an extended trail blog about everything he ate and thought about every day like you would see on the TrailJournals.com website for long distance hikers (which is a great website by the way).
Being an ex-Michigander and ex-thru hiker of the Michigan Shore to Shore trail, I was really surprised by the history and fun facts that Will provides for the regions along the pathway. I related extremely well with his experiences and description of the short trail section that passes through the Mayhem Swamp near Kalkaska. As a previous reviewer wrote, this is not a step-by-step guide to hiking the Michigan STS (that will come later and is referenced in the book). What this book does though is peak your interest and should entice other hikers to consider taking on the adventure (or at least some of the trail sections) themselves. Will does a great job in describing the trail and many of the beautiful areas it passes through – including several miles near the famous Au Sable River. He also does a fine job explaining the many differences between the eastern and western side of the state.
At least for me, I found this book to be a very fun read – and would very much enjoy reading the trail guide that he will be publishing in the near future. There is currently very little information on the web about this trail.
October 22, 2015