Barney Scout Mann tells us about his thru-hiking adventures and his new Book “Journeys North”, a compelling tale of six hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2007.
You would not have predicted it if you’d looked at a little Barney back growing up in West Los Angeles, Culver City, and looked at his parents who were not campers. My parents slept in the outdoors, I think camped out five times their lifetimes. They are now both in their nineties. But what they did do, is starting at age 11, they took me to boy scout meetings and I’m sure I’m not the only one that that’s where they got their introduction. I was lucky to have some wonderful men, I’ll say their names again, cause I just loved doing it. Mr. Massey, Mr. Quinn, and Mr. Metcalf. And they lead me in the outdoors when my first backpack groups in Culver City at the age of 13. Not even weighing 80 pounds and more than 35 pounds on my back.
Connected with writing in the outdoors
I always had a deep connection to the outdoors. If you plop me down in the middle of anywhere, whether it’s desert or high mountains, I feel more, more home in the outdoors.
And out there you get the kinds of you don’t get in the city. And in fact, the first one I wrote that got published a couple of years for the backpacker remains unique. It’s the only April fools hiking story I’ve ever seen, it was great. It lit up the internet. And people asked Oh, is this true? Is this really true? Tell us about, yeah, it was fun. I also, in addition to these contemporary stories, I’ve a real strong interest in trail history.
Your book Journeys North is about hiking the PCT end to end in 2007. That was a much different adventure 13 years ago. What do you think the most significant changes are today?
Well, the answers people expect are usually is that there are way more people and that is true. Maybe 300 folks set out with the intention to through-hike the trail. Last year, 2019 we had real numbers more than 10 times that, over 3,500 people.
But the answer that I give. And the biggest difference I would say is electronics. That’s across the whole spectrum in 2007, and this will sound funny today. It was still, it was the tail end of the year when you were embarrassed for others to know that you were carrying a cell phone on the trail in your bounce box. But you can sort of keep it hidden. 2007 was the summer that in July Apple announced their first iPhone and these days it’s just like you had a woven blanket electronics weaves its way to everything.
Mentor, mentor, mentor. Look for folks, whether they’re contemporaries who have jobs, you’d like to have or folks who have jobs where you’d like to be 10 years from now. Meet them at a conference, reach out to them you know, you can easily find them on Facebook and just say Hey, I’d like to get started. Show them that you’ve done a little bit of homework. And reach out to 10 of these people and maybe two will respond and all of a sudden. You’ll have a friend on the inside.
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