September 30, 2010

"Over the Top & Back Again"

Hiking the Alps
by Brandon Wilson

Brandon and I are very good friends but we've never met in person. We're both travelers so I hope some day our paths will cross. In the meantime I have thoroughly enjoyed his books Yak Butter Blues, Dead Men Don't Leave Tips and Along the Templar Trail. But his new book Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps is simple amazing.

Product Description

After hiking some of the world’s great trails, Brandon Wilson was excited to hear about the Via Alpina, new paths running across eight countries along the backbone of the Alps. Besides promising immersion into Alpine life and wilderness, it’d be the ultimate adventure. It meant climbing 3000 feet from valley to mountain hut every day—1200 miles—for months. Optimistically, Wilson envisioned it as a European Appalachian Trail, only with better food and wine.

Faster than you can say “schnitzel,” he coaxed his desk-jockey wife into joining him. Unlike their trek across Tibet, the couple wouldn’t dodge bullets. But who knew ice fields, relentless rain, Föhn winds, lethal ticks and cow patties could be more dangerous. Then again, the beauty, weird situations and bizarre characters they’d meet would help put peril into perspective.

It’s all here, the daily triumphs and agony of de feet, captured in Wilson’s witty, gritty, award-winning style. Over the Top & Back Again sweeps you along for an inspiring, yet slightly crazed look at the peerless Alps—and at an everyday couple who dare to follow their most gonzo dream.

Written by Brandon Wilson, the Lowell Thomas Award-winning author of Along the Templar Trail, which was named 2009 Best Travel Book by the Society of American Travel Writers. It is fourth in his series of true travel adventures.

Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps is the first Via Alpina travelog published in English. It includes 53 photos, maps and exclusive illustrations by Ken Plumb for the adventurer in all of us.


“This is my favorite kind of adventure tale: Against all odds, in the face of health, weather, interpersonal, navigational and culinary issues, Brandon Wilson and his somewhat reluctant wife hike it because it’s there – or, it’s supposed to be. I laughed, I winced, and then I started checking to see when I was next scheduled to be anywhere near the Via Alpina.” ~ Kyle Wagner, travel editor, The Denver Post

"Wilson brings his considerable intellect and wry sense of humor to this epic adventure, and the result is brilliantly accessible and wonderfully subversive.” ~ Richard Bangs, author of Quest for the Sublime, PEAKS and other books that celebrate travel and adventure

“Marvelous account of a long hike…told with a fine eye for detail and a keen sense of humor.” ~ Royal Robbins, legendary mountaineer/pioneer of American rock climbing

“Informative, entertaining, and original. Award-winning author Brandon Wilson is a pioneer in a groundbreaking genre of travel writing.” ~ Richard R. Blake, Midwest Book Review

“It's great fun trekking through the Alps with the Wilsons…They do all the hard work – and we get all the pleasures – all rendered with warmth, insight and humor in Brandon’s inimitable style.” ~ Rick Chatenever, Entertainment & Features Editor, The Maui News

“Wilson walks the way Forrest Gump runs. He's driven to it…As for the connection between the outer journey and the inner journey, Wilson never pushes it. You get it in small bits, as he does, because that's the way it comes. It has a lot to do with savoring the simple pleasures of life that surround us every day. Wilson's books point the way toward this happy state of mind: just be bold and endure a few vicissitudes.” ~ Stephen Hartshorne,

“Loved Brandon’s humor, gutsiness and joie de vivre.” ~ Ron Strickland, founder of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and author of Leave A Trail

“Fascinating and harrowing tale. …A MUST READ for hikers, travelers, outdoors people and adventurers.” ~ Bonnie Neely,

My review:
I think Brandon Wilson has reached a pinnacle of achievement, both in this wonderfully written story and the adventure he took with his wife Cheryl crossing the Alps on the Via Alpina. I have enjoyed all his 'mis-adventures' since his first book, Yak Butter Blues, but Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps is by far his best work.

On one hand, today we live in an age of digitized adventures captured in every angle possible, replayed in slow-motion and analyzed to death. And on the other, computer-generated graphics capture a 'wild' that doesn't really exist but is all too real to our youth. Brandon reminds me of a time when, over a beer in a pub or cafe, a guy could weave a tale both grand and simple, both exciting and humorous, both real and spectacular. Stories like this take hold of you like technology can't and before you know it, you're surrounded three deep with everyone in the pub holding their breath so as to not miss the next sentence in the tale.

Over the Top & Back Again is one of those stories. Do yourself a favor, get a copy, pull up a nice cozy chair, kick your feet up and be transported to a real place, with real people, doing real adventure. It will be difficult to write better story or even find a more superb adventure than this. But I'm sure Brandon is already working on that, so we needn't worry.
So, if you want a copy you can order one from or Or ask your local bookseller to get a copy before they're all gone. [smile]