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Reviews > Books > General > Tell It on the Mountain DVD > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Tell It On the Mountain DVD


Tell It On The Mountain DVD
Image Courtesy of Tell It On The Mountain

INITIAL REPORT - May 25, 2013
LONG-TERM REPORT - Dec 20, 2013


NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (92 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Canadian wilderness. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…

May 25, 2013


Publisher: Tell It On the Mountain
Year of Copyright: 2013
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: USD $25.00 (Digital Download is USD $15.00)

Media format: DVD
Running time: 122 minutes
Format: 16:9 aspect ratio


Tell It on the Mountain: Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail is a documentary presented in DVD format which follows "a half dozen of the 300 or so hikers who attempt a PCT through-hike every year." The DVD comes nicely packaged in a fold-out cover which depicts a solitary hiker climbing the side of a lonely trail with peaks in the distance. The back has a photo of a small group of hikers making their way up a snowy mountainside. The back also has a short 3-paragraph description of the Pacific Crest Trail and teases about the struggle to hike it. There is an intriguing notation that "Fewer people have through-hiked the PCT than have climbed Mt. Everest." I did not know this fact, and it definitely intrigues me. The website mentioned on the DVD cover is a fairly simple affair, where a visitor can buy the DVD (or download the digital version). There are also some photos and videos, presumably of a few of the individuals that have through-hiked it, and a few news items about the trail.


After receiving and examining over the DVD, I'm definitely intrigued to watch it. I hope it is as interesting as it looks!

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December 20, 2013


I watched the DVD for the first time with my wife, son, and father-in-law. Although there was a lot going on elsewhere at the time, all except for my son were engrossed enough to watch from start to finish.

The DVD follows the efforts of a number of individuals and couples attempting to through-hike the PCT during a single season. There is one veteran hiker (Scott Williamson), and one first time through-hiker (Inaki Diaz De Etura), one US couple (Jenn "Jackalope" Head and Brian "Eagle Eye" von Bork) and one European couple (Alina Budia and Carsten "Sauerkraut" Jost), as well as Billygoat, a retired railroad worker who spends most of his time hiking the PCT. There is also some time spent with Donna Saufley, one of the PCT's most well-known "trail angels," who decides to section hike part of the trail.

The DVD interweaves the trials and tribulations of the various hikers as they make their way from the southernmost trail marker at the Mexican border all the way to the corresponding marker at the Canadian border. For Scott Williamson, this journey represents only half of his trip, since he immediately turns around to attempt to complete a 'yo-yo', or trip from south to north and then back south, all in a single season.

I won't say exactly how each group fares, except to say that not everyone is able to complete the through hike. For some of the individuals followed, there are medical issues that arise as a result of the effort to hike the 2,663 miles (4,286 km) of the trail in a single season while carrying a backpack. For others, there are personal issues that intervene with the hike.

Sections of the hike are broken up into the different types of terrain encountered by the hikers as they progress from south to north. The sections are broken up by brief maps that show the distance covered and the type of terrain encountered over each stretch. For each area, each of the hikers is shown making his/her way over the terrain, often interspersed with brief interviews about how the trip is going, what obstacles have been encountered, and what each hopes to get out of the travel. For most of the hikers, they have given up something in order to train and hike the PCT over the many months expected to be on the trail. It is clear that this hike requires substantial planning and the flexibility to go off the grid for about 6 months. The hardship imposed by this sacrifice is apparent in the interviews with some of the participants. There is also a toll that can be exacted by the trip, either physical, mental, or in at least one case, emotional, as the time away leads to a divorce.

The DVD is photographed beautifully. There are beautiful panoramic views with many time-lapse sequences showing sunsets or the wheeling of the stars in the sky. Although these are well made, I eventually felt like I had seen enough, and would have liked to have spent more time with the stories of the hikers.

I found watching the movie quite interesting, although I'm not sure I would say it has spurred much interest in me through-hiking hiking the PCT myself. I was a little disappointed at the end that I didn't learn more about the characters in the real-life drama. There is an effort made to humanize these individuals, but I didn't really feel like I got to know them. I would also have liked to seen a little more about how the hikers plans their logistics. There is a brief scene showing one of the hikers mailing packages of food to specific locations along the trail, but more would have been interesting.

There were also a lot of questions I had after watching. For example, what does one need to do to earn a trail name, and how are these selected? How did 'Jackalope" and "Eagle Eye" pick (or were given) their trail names? There was a fairly brief mention of Trail Angels (those folks who leave food and/or water on the trail for hikers) but I would have liked to have seen more. I also would have liked to have a little bit more sense of the community on the trail-how many hikers is one likely to encounter on the trail? Do people tend to hike by themselves, or do they pick up new companions, either on the way or in common campsites? There was also little mention of campsites along the way-does one just pull up on the side of the trail, or are their designated spots, as can be seen along the Appalachian Trail?


All in all, I enjoyed watching the "Tell it on the Mountain" DVD. It is beautifully made and formed an interesting way to spend about 2 hours. I'm not sure that I'd want to watch it again, but I might look at a few sections. I have a lot of questions about the trail, so I suppose the DVD as significant piqued my interest, and I would definitely recommend it to my hiking friends. However, I'm not sure that it has spurred interest in me undertaking this trek.

Things I liked about Tell It on the Mountain:
  • Beautiful videography
  • Stories are interesting
  • Good sense of variety of trail terrain
Things I disliked about it items:
  • Would have liked a little more in-depth info on the trail and some of the characters.

Thanks to Tell It on the Mountain for providing this DVD for testing, and to for giving me the chance to participate in the evaluation process.

-larry kirschner

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