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Press Release: "Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps" Proves An Eight-Country Via Alpina Trek is Not Another Walk in the Park

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What's it like to hike across the Alps? Well, it's more than cheese and gnomes! "Over the Top & Back Again" by Brandon Wilson gives a humorous first-hand preview for those who dream of making a similar journey themselves—on foot or maybe just in their mind.

After decades of hiking some of the world's great trails, adventurer and Lowell Thomas award-winning author Brandon Wilson was excited to hear about the Via Alpina, new paths running through eight countries along the backbone of the Alps.

Besides promising total immersion into Alpine life and wilderness, he knew it'd be the ultimate adventure. It meant climbing 3000 feet from valley to rugged mountain hut every day—almost 1200 miles—for months. It'd also provide perfect fodder for Wilson's fourth exciting travel adventure book, "Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps."

Originally, 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 leaving their cozy Hawaiian home to join him.

Brandon & his wife Cheryl left Trieste in June 2009 to begin their 111-day thru-hike across Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, and Monaco-planning to arrive at the Mediterranean Sea in September before snow covered the trail.

Unlike their historic 1992 trek across Tibet, they wouldn't dodge bullets. But given the climbs, they'd sure miss Sadhu, their Tibetan equine Sherpa.

It was an expedition of highs and lows. The couple trekked the equivalent of halfway across the U.S. over mountain terrains in extreme conditions, from freezing temperatures high atop Alpine passes to dreaded Föhn winds, hail, ice fields, snow, and more than 40 days of rain—and this was summer weather. As always, there were injuries plus the daily mental challenge of completing 20 kilometers, a virtual marathon, knowing it meant climbing yet another formidable mountain again tomorrow. For the record, they ascended and descended 211,000 meters total—the equivalent of climbing 12 Mt. Everests from sea level in just 3 1/2 months. Then again, who knew lethal ticks and cow patties could prove even more dangerous?

However, it was far from all pain and peril as they hiked in the shadows of Mt. Blanc, the Eiger, Mt. Triglav and the Dolomite Range. Little could compare with the rarefied beauty, serenity, wildlife, legends, delicious cuisine and eccentric folks they'd find along the way. And what a unique and ecological way to witness Alpine culture-one-step-at-a-time.

Asked why they set-off on this quest, Wilson explained, "The Alps are so much more than gnomes and cheese. For folks seeking peace in these difficult times, I can think of no better solution than to simplify, disconnect from the distractions of the world and head off the beaten track. Sure, it was one heckuva challenge, our toughest ever. But ultimately, I hope this tale of our journey will help open this unique trail to others. Plus," he added, "there's no better, more exciting, weight loss plan!"

Wilson's keen eye and dry wit captures it all in "Over the Top & Back Again", as they witness the Alp's changing lifestyle and fragile landscape. As with the other three books in this exciting adventure series, each night Wilson chronicled their wild adventures while muscles were still sore and clothes were still wet. It's all here, the triumphs and "agony of de feet," captured in his witty, gritty, award-winning style.

Join this intrepid pair, among the first to tackle this route, as they dig deep to confront their most difficult escapade ever. Inspiring, empowering, humorous, (yet slightly crazed), "Over the Top & Back Again" sweeps you along for an unforgettable look at the peerless Alps—and at an everyday couple who once again dare to follow their gonzo dream.

"Over the Top & Back Again" is the first Via Alpina travel narrative book published in English, with 53 photos, maps and custom illustrations by Ken Plumb. It provides a humorous first-hand preview for those who dream of making a similar journey themselves—on foot or maybe just in their mind.

Now available at Amazon.com or your favorite bookstore.

Official expedition sponsors included: GoLite, Gossamer Gear, Omni Resources and Upcountry Fitness, Maui. The couple was an official partner of the Via Alpina. For more information about the explorers, visit Pilgrimstales. For details about the routes, huts, activities and culture, visit Via-Alpina

Early Praise for OVER THE TOP & BACK AGAIN: Hiking X the Alps:

"This lighthearted hiking narrative reflects the positives of such an experience: overcoming hardship, laughing at their inability to find trail blazes, Europe's apparent fear of switchbacks on trails ascending 1000-plus meters per col, and the bond and struggle with your trail partner. Another celebration of simply putting one foot in front of the other with everything you need on your back and faith in the trail ahead.… Recommended for armchair travelers and anyone interested in hiking the Alps." ~ Sheila Kasparek, Library Journal

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, legendary adventurer/ author of Quest for the Sublime, PEAKS and other books that celebrate travel & adventure

“Marvelous account of the long hike across the roof of Europe…told with a fine eye for detail and a keen sense of humor.” ~ Royal Robbins, rock climbing pioneer

“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, GoNOMAD.com

Pilgrim's Tales, Inc. is an independent publisher that specializes in books of adventure, discovery and enlightenment. We are particularly focused on publishing works of thoughtful, engaging literary travel. A member of the Travel Publishers Association.

 


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