Born a slave in Virginia, James P. Beckwourth (1798-1866) became of one of the West’s best-known mountain men and scouts. In 1851, he opened a pass over the Northern Sierra Nevada, a route followed by many pioneers. The pass is named in his honor.
Now five years and more than 10,000 copies later, the two volumes (California and Oregon/Washington) of The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader continue to complement the experience of walking on the PCT. In addition to accounts from contemporary hiker/writers, these anthologies include historical stories (e.g., Andy Hammond’s short biography of mountain man Jim Beckwourth, who established the emigrant trail that bears his name in the Bucks Lake area, or Jeff Schaffer’s reflections on his legwork for the first Wilderness Press PCT guidebook) and some relevant classical literature (e.g., Wallace Stegner’s ‘Wilderness Letter’ or John Muir’s “A Wind-Storm in the Forests”). Nearly 100 stories in total trace the route of the PCT from south to north.