Jim Ostdick is a retired Earth Science teacher who lives on the ancestral lands of the Amah Mutsun Ohlone near the central California coast. In Walks Far Man: In Step with History on the Pacific Crest Trail, Ostdick recounts his Pacific Crest Trail hiking experiences in the context of a larger, more vibrant story, thousands of years in the making.
His intentions are threefold:
- to identify and honor the indigenous tribes who occupied and traveled the lands traversed by today’s Pacific Crest Trail;
- to draw appreciation and respect for the cultural traditions of these tribes; and
- to describe, with humor and humility, his 2,650-mile walk from Mexico to Canada
Ostdick began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail at Campo, California in 2001 and crossed the Canadian border in 2009. Along the trail, he became increasingly introspective. He gradually began to feel empowered by the synthesis of self, the Earth, the Sun and wind and stars, the raging rivers, the trickling creeks, and the effects of changing elevation
The Pacific Crest Trail in its current state is less than a century old. The land that the trail crosses was once home to bands of strong, inventive humans whose norms and values were strikingly dissimilar to the settlers and armies who vanquished them. In certain locations on the trail, Ostdick sensed the presence of entities he came to call “Spirit Walkers” – companions of sorts – alive not in a physical sense, but alive in his imagination, in the way that thoughts are alive. Is it their history that he was sensing? What do they
have in common – a solitary, quiet 21st century hiker passing through, and the elemental, rooted Spirit Walkers silenced by time?
Jim’s experiences were greatly enhanced by what he learned from this study. He hopes that others will benefit from this work, too.
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