Format Hardcover
Publication Date 05/07/24
ISBN 9781639366651
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 224

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To the Gorge

Running, Grief, and Resilience & 460 Miles on the Pacific Crest Trail

Emily Halnon

**A USA TODAY bestseller**

A riveting narrative of love and loss, grief and joy, as one woman embarks on a quest for a record on the Pacific Crest Trail.

When Emily Halnon lost her beloved mother to a rare uterine cancer at just sixty-six years old, she wanted to do something monumental to honor the person her mother had been: adventurous, courageous, inspiring. Emily’s mom had taken up running in her late forties; she ran her first marathon at fifty. She learned to swim at sixty so she could do triathlons, and she lived through a grim diagnosis with extraordinary joy and strength, still going for long bike rides and walks up until the final weeks before her death. She even went skydiving to celebrate her sixtieth birthday.

It was going to take something special to pay tribute to such a remarkable, lifeloving spirit. Emily, already an accomplished ultrarunner (inspired to initially start running by her mother), decided to try to break the record for the Fastest Known Time by a woman on the Pacific Crest Trail’s 460 miles across Oregon. As she laid out plans for her run, she began to wonder: Could she also break the men’s record?

To the Gorge takes the reader through her 7 days, 19 hours, and 23 minutes on the trail, covering nearly sixty miles a day on foot over rugged terrain, and battling all the issues that could arise during such a monstrous undertaking: hammered muscles, golf ballsized blisters, sleep deprivation, alpine storms, and debilitating self-doubt. All the while, she simultaneously struggles with how to get through the profound grief of losing her mom and grapples with how to move forward after experiencing devastating loss.

Interwoven with Halnon’s eight-day effort are her remembrances from her mother’s life and death, exploring the complicated experience of grief—and what shines through it.

To the Gorge will resonate with anyone whom life has hit with a hardball and has had to dig deep as they wonder how they will pull through. Filled with adventure and heart, To the Gorge invites readers to consider what our greatest losses can teach us about how to live the one life we get.

Emily Halnon is a writer, trail runner, and mountain athlete out of Eugene, Oregon. In addition to her Pacific Crest Trail run, she has won the Siskiyou Outback 50-miler, Autumn Leaves 50k, Elijah Bristow 6-hour, Dahlgren 50k, Can Lake 50, had podium finishes at JFK 50 miler, the North Face Endurance Challenge Madison, and finished100-milers including Cascade Crest Endurance Run, Pine to Palm, and Javalina Jundred. Her writings have been published in the Washington Post, Runner’s World, the Guardian, Salon, Women’s Running Magazine, Huffington PostAdventure Journal, UltraSignup News, and has her own newsletter, Trail Mix.

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Endorsements & Reviews

"In this affecting debut memoir, athlete and essayist Halnon resolves to run across Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother dies of cancer. While pulse-pounding descriptions of Halnon’s athletic feats will be catnip for adrenaline junkies, what makes this sing is the author’s remarkably clear-eyed approach to loss. Halnon’s unflinching gaze elevates this above the crowded field of memoirs about losing a loved one." Publishers Weekly
"A staggeringly beautiful tribute to love, grief, and determination to achieve the impossible. To the Gorge broke my heart, healed it, and swept it with elation. Emily Halnon's story is, all at once, gutting, brimming with inspiration, and gorgeously written." Laurie Notaro, New York Times bestselling author of Excuse Me While I Disappear
"This book is a beautiful tribute to the spiritual anatomy of the human heart, and the power of the wilderness to break us down and shape us into something far wilder and more tender. Every runner knows, or eventually learns, that running and grief can come together to reshape the dissonance of a broken heart into something like peace. Very few can put this experience into words. Halnon's story invites us to look at our own broken hearts, erode the walls between our protected self and our essence, and at the end of it all, jump up and cheer." Lauren Fleshman, New York Times bestselling author of Good for a Girl
"To the Gorge is much more than a book about running. It will speak to anyone with a grieving soul and Halnon is a heartfelt guide for anyone on their own path to redemption and revitalization. Bold, courageous, and enthralling." Kathrine Switzer, author of Marathon Woman and Founder/Director of 261 Fearless
To the Gorge is both the story of a gripping physical feat and also a deep reflection on the nature of grief and survival. We grieve because we love and this is a book about how the power of love can nourish us through even the greatest challenges. A book you can’t put down and one you never want to end.” Claire Bidwell Smith, author of Conscious Grieving
To the Gorge is so much more than a book about running, or even grief and loss. It's about how to live, and how to make your time in this world count and mean something. No book has ever made me cry more than this one—the kind of cathartic, full-body sobs that will leave you feeling inspired, grateful, and likely pondering how to create a legacy as powerful as Andrea Halnon's. A must-read for endurance athletes, aspiring endurance athletes, and anyone who is or has ever navigated a world-shattering loss of their own. This book will make you feel all of your biggest feelings, and invite you to think about how you want to live.” Ali Feller, Host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast
"This is nothing like that old notion The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner—title of a popular novel from a lifetime ago. Emily Halnon's book recounts how a real-life, record-breaking long-distance run she undertook was made possible through the collaboration of a whole support crew of talented and dedicated fellow runners—good friends and family providing heroic encouragement in a way that is now common practice in the booming sport of ultrarunning. There's much to be learned from this gritty demonstration of how talented small groups can sometimes transform seemingly quixotic goals into life-changing accomplishments.” Ed Ayres, Founding Editor of Running Times Magazine and former winner of the JFK 50-Mile
"They say that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Emily learns that lesson the hard way, when her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Then she learns it again, on her 460-mile run across Oregon in pursuit of a goal that is impossibly hard. But she confronts the pain. And transcends the suffering. As a result, her amazing badass mother, whose northstar was 'possibility' and who embrases the motto 'stay brave,' lives on in her words forever." Kenneth Posner, ultra-runner, peak-bagger, thru-hiker, and author of Running the Long Path: A Journey of Discovery in New York's Hudson Valley