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The Unlikeliest Backpacker by Kathryn Barnes - Book Tour

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You reach a certain age. You have a lifestyle many would envy. Still, something doesn't feel right. Life has become routine. You sense there is more out there to experience and explore with an urge gnawing away inside to do something different. But what? Before you know it, plans have snowballed - you've quit your city job and flown to America to begin life living in the wilderness, walking hundreds of miles with no income. 'The Unlikeliest Backpacker' chronicles a British couple's absurd journey as aspiring long-distance hikers. With Canada hundreds of miles away, they must learn to backpack and survive on the famous Pacific Crest Trail. How hard can it be? Kathryn Barnes' entertaining memoir proves you don't have to be special, or an experienced adventure junkie to put your life on hold, disconnecting from the modern world. Pushing personal boundaries beyond the predictability of daily routine can have surprising consequences.  

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Just as we couldn’t feel any sorrier for ourselves, we passed into the Three Sisters Wilderness zone, governed by a different forestry agency who didn’t seem to endorse the importance of trail maintenance. Faced with an increasing number of slippery tree trunks to climb over, I jumped from the top of another log into a giant mud puddle. Shooting pains ran up through my feet; the constant cold drizzle had softened them into hyper-sensitive prunes. I held back tears because, let’s face it, they would have been pretty pointless tears and I likely needed the hydration, but still, I was in pain. Maybe days like these are sent to deliberately challenge our resolve, to make the good days better, and us more appreciative. All I know is I kept pleading with Mother Nature for a break in the rain, and it didn’t come. The other thing I prayed for was a minor miracle: a bed for the night, somewhere dry. I knew this was highly unlikely because over the phone a few days earlier, a receptionist had informed us of a family reunion who had booked out all the cabins at Elk Lake Resort.

I tried to distract myself by creating a mental checklist of things to be thankful for, but my mind kept swinging back to despair.

“ONE: it’s so cold that even the mosquitoes have f****d off.” I began muttering out loud.

“What you on about?” Conrad called back over his shoulder.

“It’s my positive-thinking list… TWO: my feet can’t get any wetter. THREE: we’re going to get a shower in the campground tonight, and some hot food.”

Conrad finally flashed a hint of a smile, “Mmmm, now you’re talking! I’m getting a burger. Maybe two. And I hope they’re real sloppy, with loads of fake American cheese and fries.”

“Yeah, if we load up on ketchup we can get some vitamin C back into our diet too!” But then my fake optimism quickly turned sour.

“I just wish we could get a bed. Damn those reunion people! Do you think they might cancel ‘cos of the rain?”

On the final descent into Elk Lake, one of my shoelaces broke away from my trainer. A safety pin came to the rescue, a metaphor for my broken state. The forest had become a stick farm of dead trees, lopped to about 15-feet tall. It didn’t look like a burn zone, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it except it felt gloomy.

As we finally squelched down the muddy track into the campsite, I sensed we were close to breaking point. Then I heard something, somewhere off to our right, hidden behind a smoking barbeque, a man’s voice sounded. He called out a magic siren call:

“Hey, do you guys want any food?”


Aspiring writer, entrepreneur… adult. The one vocation Kathryn has successfully nailed so far is Daydreamer. Her varied ambitions and overall life trajectory has taken a bit of a turn of late. A born-and-bred Londoner, Kathryn is discovering there is more to life than the corporate rat race. It began with a six-month trip through South America whetting her travelling wanderlust, which led to the decision to quit her job as a management consultant.

More recently she upped the adventure ante, swapping city life for the wilderness,  on an ambitious walk hundreds of miles along America’s Pacific Crest Trail. The plan raised eyebrows from all who knew her - an uncharacteristic leap for a girl who refuses to sleep on the floor. The results were both brutal and awe-inspiring.

Kathryn has never been an ‘outdoorsy’ person. But the simple, reflective, time spent in the natural environment left a deep imprint. She still (reluctantly) resides in London, but the mountains are calling. She may even camp again. Someday.

For the latest information about Kathryn visit:


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