Bookmarks | Frodo’s Birthday: An Excerpt from Journeys North

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine read an excerpt from a new release in the Mountaineers Books catalogue.
Barney Scout Mann Barney Scout Mann
Mountaineers Books Author
October 31, 2020

In Journeys North, legendary trail angel and thru-hiker Barney Scout Mann spins a compelling tale of six hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail on their trek from Mexico to Canada. This ensemble story unfolds as these half-dozen hikers — including Barney and his wife, Sandy (Frodo) — trod north, facing a once-in-a-generation drought and early severe winter storms that test their will. In fact, only a third of all hikers who set out on the trail that year would finish.

As the group approaches Canada, a storm rages. How will these very different hikers, ranging in age, gender, and background, respond to the hardship and suffering ahead of them? Can they all make the final 60-mile push through freezing temperatures, sleet, and snow, or will some reach their breaking point? Catch a glimpse into the world of a thru-hiker in the following excerpt from this recently-released Mountaineers Books title:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2007

Blazer couldn’t feel her toes. In the predawn gloom, the twenty-five-year-old stomped a path over a foot of fresh snow, but the effort barely blunted the cold. This was the second blizzard in three days as the Gulf of Alaska hurled once-in-a-generation storms at Washington’s Cascade Range. After five months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Blazer was wearing her fifth pair of running shoes, and the studded soles were ground flat—much like her muscles, sinews, and joints. She’d come over 2600 miles—only 40 left to reach Canada. She’d sworn days before, “I’ll crawl if I have to.”

Right behind her, Frodo and I brushed fat snowflakes from our bent shoulders and packs. A dim light penetrated the pine and spruce thicket. “Happy birthday, Frodo,” Blazer piped up. We jerked as if poked. In the thirty years we’d been married, I’d never forgotten Frodo’s birthday. But this time, focused on the cold, on not getting lost, and on surviving, we both had.

“What do you want for your birthday?” Blazer asked.

Frodo, her breath visible, didn’t hesitate: “I want to finish the day alive.”

Two more storms swept in over the next three days, smothering the Pacific Crest Trail in thigh-high drifts. On Thursday night Seattle KING 5 TV News reported: “Three Pacific Crest Trail hikers are missing.” Chatter lit up the internet within minutes. “Goodness, it’s so cold now.” “May the Lord protect them.” Past midnight, one of sixty soon-to-be-rescuers wrote: “I am headed out to Stevens Pass to work the search.”

But they weren’t searching for us. They were searching for Nadine.


Journeys North is available at the Seattle Program Center Bookstore, mountaineersbooks.org, and everywhere books are sold. See page 34 to read more about Barney’s experiences as a trail angel.

This article originally appeared in our Fall 2020 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.