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Racing Light Book

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Pre-publication Media Kit:
General Content & Summary 
  Frequently Asked Questions
  Early Reviews
  Front Cover - Back Cover
  Text Excerpts
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General Content:

  • The photo-journal of a 50-year-old's 4,058-mile ultralight hike of the North American east coast, including 470 black-and-white photos, presented in an innovative page-per-day format.

Summary of Contents:

  • The book contains an opening and closing dedication to Earl Shaffer, the first thru-hiker. Earl's younger brother, John Shaffer contributes the Foreword.
  • The first and last chapters describe personal and family events representing the background for the time spent away from home. The final chapter contains a positive resolution and encouraging message.
  • Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 contain accounts of 4 long-distance hikes totaling 180 days. The first three journeys involve wilderness hikes; the fourth crosses the urban landscape.
  • Chapter 6 explores the patterns of a transcendent journey. The subjects range from walking methods, trail culture, wildlife encounters and mysterious happenings, to philosophy, wellness, and humor.
  • The Appendix contains mileage records, health articles, and a pictorial survey of the author's physical condition during and after the hikes.

FAQ - Frequently asked questions

What does the term "Racing Light" mean?

Racing Light is a phrase that I repeated to myself while walking alone through the wilderness from West Virginia to Georgia. During the proverbial 40 days and 40 nights of solitude, it expressed many different ideas to me.
At first the phrase referred to the greater distance that lightweight methods allowed me to travel each day. Then it referred to the intense awareness of nature obtained by being out on the trail longer each day. Racing light meant sunlight shining through tree leaves or reflections in moving water. Much later, while composing the book, Racing Light referred to a bright idea that comes to mind while walking.

What does the subtitle "Soft Power of a Day's Walk" mean?

Soft power refers to the vitality generated by walking for an hour per day, the same as driving a car charges the battery. The energy accumulated from walking effortlessly enables you to continue all day. A distance hike then becomes a series of day hikes. The concept of hiking "one day at a time" supplies the page-per-day design of the book, suggesting a concept of endurance applicable to other endeavors.

Who is the audience for this book?

Racing Light takes the particular documentation of a trail journey to a wider discussion of walking as a universal experience, which a person of any age or culture can relate to. In the year 2050, this book will be a historical document about life at the turn of the century.
Photographers can view the images as the art of a pocket camera. Parents can show the story to their childen before bed. Racing Light can be read as an adventure story, it can be studied by outdoor enthusiasts for its analysis of lightweight backpacking, or it can be noted as a case history of exercise and diet of interest to physiologists and health professionals.

What is this book for?

This book is a token of encouragement for anyone on a journey in life. It can be given at a graduation, during an undertaking, or at a time between commitments. Racing Light tells about the inspiration that motivates us to go beyond what we believe we can achieve.

Where did the name "Linguini" come from?

The Appalachian Trail thru-hiker "Finnegan" pronounced this trail name upon me in 1999 for my love of Italian food. He used American pronunciation and spelling, and that's what stuck. (Details in Chapter 2, pages 7-8.)

Why another adventure-journal book?

The opening and closing letters to the reader address the question of a calling or a summons. The account of the family dog, Stella, contains hints. Was she the "star" of our family, or was she heaven sent? At a later time, why did Bonnie, among others, think a story should be told? After reading the account of the "guardian angel," can you say whether Pamola is a fierce mountain spirit, or a figment of the imagination? In short, a series of mysterious challenges called me to honor a bargain made on the Trail.

(Introduction, page v and Appendix, page 24)
(Chapter 1, pages 3, 4, and 15-17, Chapter 7, pages 17-18)
(Chapter 3c, page 2)
(Chapter 4, pages 5, 7, 20, 22, 25, and 33, Chapter 6, pages 32-33, and 36.)

How were the pictures made?

Most of the 470 trail photographs were taken with a fixed focal length Olympus Stylus Epic pocket camera. 85 rolls of slide and print film were mailed home from the trail. After development, selected images were individually scanned by a Nikon Super Coolscan from transparencies (both slides and negatives). It should be noted that these scans provided files of up to 28 megabytes in size, while the lastest digital pocket cameras (at the time of publication in 2007) provide images of up to 20 megabytes.
The images were converted from color to black-and-white, cropped, and enhanced with Adobe Photoshop software. The image enhancements often involved "traditional" darkroom methods of improving the readability of black-and-white photos, such as lightening or darkening selected areas.

Where were the front cover photographs taken

All the sihouette images are "clipped" from trail photographs within the book, and the locations are itemized on the page opposite the table of Contents.
The clockwise pattern of images shows a progression of personal contacts by age. The counter-clockwise pattern of images, entering toward the center of the design, emphasizes symbolic objects and wildlife sightings.

Where did you learn your photography skills?

The books of Andreas Feininger, containing descriptions of the camera lens, provide my understanding of classic photography. These led to trials with a tripod which verified the creative opportunities available to the photographer, with and without a tripod. My independent study led to on-the-job training opportunities.
During my time as a writer and technical editor at Signs of the Times magazine, I documented signmaking projects and converted photographs to digital form. In that capacity, I created a public domain file for calibrating large format printers and gained recognition for photojournalism in Milan, Italy and Washington, D.C.

What are the health applications of this book?

The key can be found in two articles in the Appendix. The first is an article printed in the July-August 2004 issue of the Appalachian Trailway News, entilted "Why Hikers Get Fat". The second is a two-page public domain document entitled "Glycemic Load Equivalents of an Apple."
In the simplest terms, refined foods ought not to represent more than 25% of the diet.
This answer has relevance for hikers and athletes, who must learn to down-shift their metabolism at lower activity levels with unrefined natural foods.

Why is Racing Light suitable for family reading?

The childhood stories in the opening chapter, and the return to a family setting in the concluding chapter, discuss life events that any child can relate to. The account of the family dog, Stella and her role in promoting family walks, underlies the entire hiking story. The emphasis on photography makes this a picture book that any child can look at independently. The Photo-Diary of 180 pages (and hiking days) can be viewed as a picture book.

What is unique about the Photo-Diary format?

Each page has a box in the upper left or right corner signifying the day of the hike in the context of total days spent on that journey. So in last journey, the tenth day would appear as "10 / 34". Below that box appears a bar containg the distance traveled to the day's destination. The information for every day is limited to a single page. This discipline unveils interesting and unexpected patterns of events.
Additonally, the page layout evokes a recurring theme which developed during the final two journeys. Just as the flying formation of Canada Geese forms the shape of a bird, so the layout of opposing pages forms a V-shape. Thus the "day" box on the left page starts a diagonal pattern downward to the right, and the right page mirrors that layout with the "day" box located at upper right.

How did the Photo-Diary format come about?

The Photo-Diary format is an evolving public domain travelogue literary style. "Cache Lake Country," "Walker's Journal," and are cited as precedents. This particular format originated in response to a challenge made by Darek Johnson to present four hikes as one story.

How much time did Racing Light take to produce?

Between the years 2002 and 2007 I could probably have hiked the Appalachian Trail again, considering the time devoted to this task, but I could not afford the time for an extended absence. The project burned out two computers and in one case caused me to sleep for 36 hours.

What is your personal ambition for this project?

I want anyone who reads it to derive a benefit and to think of giving a copy to someone else as a token of friendship. I want some copies to survive for 50 years, in order to give a message of encouragement to another generation.


Pre-publication Reviews


"I particularly liked the "Reflections" and "Angel's Dream" part of the book. Your assessment of life and the environment is so similar to Earl's that it brought back memories of sessions with Earl and I discussing the same general thoughts as you."

John H. Shaffer
Brother of Earl Shaffer, the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, 1948
Secretary, Earl Shaffer Foundation


"Charlie's unique format seamlessly blends the experience of four separate hikes in a journey that hiking enthusiasts will be able to relate to."

David "Spirit of '48" Donaldson
AT Thru-hiker '98
Earl Shaffer's hiking partner on Earl's 3rd AT thru-hike


"Your photo-journal is great. I think it worked out real well. Am proud of my copy. You should put in there that your father, you, and your two sons are Eagle Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout, too."

Gene Espy
AT Thru-hiker, 1951
2nd person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail


"A tale of encouragement and of illumination!"

Robert "Red Wolf o' da Smokey's" Croyle
AT thru-hiker '71


"With characteristic diligence and flair, Charlie Duane has mapped a new path, both with his trek along the entire East Coast from Cap Gaspé to Key West, and with his photo-filled account. All walkers and armchair explorers will find this account engrossing and illuminating."

Larry Luxenberg
AT Thru-hiker, 1980
Author of bestselling "Walking the Appalachian Trail", Founder of Appalachian Trail Museum


"A great book, filled with a wealth of information for those who have hiked the trails, as well as those who harbor the "Dream." Linguini recreates the "Trail experience" in a meaningful, masterful way. I only wish his book had been available before I undertook my first Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Definitely a winner!"

J.R. "Model-T" Tate
4-time AT Thru-hiker
Author, "Walking on the Happy Side of Misery", "Walking with the Ghost Whisperers"


"A thorough treatise on: long-distance hiking techniques, training, preparation, planning, diet, mental "stick to it-iveness." Philosophy, experience; a primer for anyone interested in or curious about a backpacking adventure."

Jon "Wanchor or RodKnee Dangertrail" Phipps
4-time AT Thru-hiker, plus other trails, totaling 14,000 miles


"Linguini, like your hikes, your book is inspirational. You've captured the essence of long-distance hiking - one day at a time. From our first meeting on the AT in Maine on your southbound trek to our friendship after your adventures, I've enjoyed your insights and personal advice. Best of luck on your next adventure."

Ed "Not to Worry" Speer
AT Thru-hiker '01
Owner, Speer Hammocks, Inc.


"There are four good books here in one… I have always thought that the cure to a lot of human illness lies in the body of a backpacker… You have pointed out with photographs way more than you could say with words."

Aaron "Twofiddy" Sworden
AT Thru-hiker '03
Founder of


Racing Light was an interesting and very readable account of a series of hikes that took Linguini, and the reader, from Cap Gaspé to Key West along the AT, the Long Trail, the IAT/SIA and the highways + byways of Georgia and Florida. While our hiking styles couldn't be more different, I enjoyed reading about Charlie's adventures, the people he met along the way, and ruminations on his travels and philosophies. It was a good read.

Ginny "Spirit Walker" Owen
Triple Crown hiker (AT, CDT, PCT)


"I enjoyed reading your book. You had some perspectives that were very unique. Keep movin' Linguini!"

Dr David Horton, "The Runner"
Professor of Health Sciences & Kinesiology, Liberty University
Established time record for the Appalachian Trail, current record holder for Pacific Crest Trail


"Long-distance hiking is a physical test for the body, but it is also a test for the mind and spirit. 'Linguini's' book defines this journey of the mind."

Dick "Nopack "Anderson
Founder, International Appalachian Trail / Sentier International des Appalaches
President, Maine Chapter






back cover text below:

Racing Light tells about events which inspire us
to surpass all expectations.

4 long hikes, 180 days, 9,886,500 footsteps, 12 pairs of shoes, 470 photographs, a glimpse of enlightenment, and a taste of immortality. Willdlife encounters, angels, demons, mean streets, and signs in the sky. Injury, illness, and healing.

All this began when Trica asked Charlie to walk her dog Stella. Nobody dreamed that he would later complete a solitary walk of the North American east coast. Nobody except, perhaps, for Stella. Find out what inspired this ordinary walker, and imagine your own dreams unfolding, step by step.

Feel the exhilaration, the drudgery, and inevitability of this remarkable long walk, as presented in the Photo-Diary format specially developed for this book.


Five selections of content before and after the Photo-Diary:


My first impression when meeting Charles "Linguini" Duane was that he reminded me of my brother Earl in many ways. Slender, not a towering giant but rugged and determined. Earl always did say that hikers were surprised many times when they met him to find a person of ordinary build, not a muscular hulk. Long distance hikers need to be wiry and tough but not necessarliarly huge and domineering. I think the reader will find this book interesting from the standpoint of presentation of the 4 separate hikes described in detail with photos and reflections along the way.
"Racing Light" immediately brings to mind a speedy trip, however as you venture further into the book, the idea of traveling "light" as Earl did on all his hikes begins to shine through. The big difference is Charles used modern fabrics and more unique camping items than Earl, which afforded him very light loads with more comfort than Earl allowed himself.
The "Photo-Diary" format is a new twist. The phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" rings true and is a pleasant change from many of the books on scenic trails available today. I'm sure Earl would be pleased to see so many photographs along the various Trails. Earl had the foresight to use color film for his slides so that much of the beauty is preserved. In the late forties color film was scarce. Black and White pictures can also be exciting, it just takes a little more care in selecting and presenting the subjects.
Relax and enjoy hiking and traveling with " Linguini". I know I did when he afforded me the opportunity to review his manuscript.

John H. Shaffer


Chapter 1, Star Light, page 15:

Enter Stella

That December, within three months of Tricia’s injury, our family welcomed a 7-lb. ball of fur into the household. Tricia named her “Stella” for the star on the Christmas tree. “Stella” means “star” in Italian.
The name turned out to be appropriate in many ways. First, Stella’s adorable personality regularly makes her the center of attention and gets her on the cover of the local newspaper. Second, she appointed herself my walking coach. So you might say my distance-hiking was already written in the stars.


Chapter 6, Reflections on the Circle, pages 14-16:

Welcome to the Wilderness

Whoever wrote that a hiker “conquers” the Trail must be thinking of a different Wilderness than the one I passed through. In my experience, the Trail “consents” to our passage.
On the first day that I entered the 100-mile wilderness of Maine, a yellow-jacket fastened itself on the calf of my leg, just as I stepped on a slippery log puncheon leading across water. There seemed to be no good reason for the act, other than to say, “Welcome to the Wilderness. You’re a guest in our home, now.” On that day, I scooted 33 miles, vainly trying to stay one step ahead of the mosquitoes.
In our world, bathing and deodorant are considered habits of civility. In the Wilderness, freshly-scrubbed skin presents fresh meat prepared for surgical incision, while deodorant broadcasts the news to insects for miles around.
Upon descending from the mountains of Vermont into Massachusetts, I saw a dayhiker wearing a pith helmet with a bug-net draped to the shoulders. You might think I could take this hint about upcoming trail conditions, but soon I gave myself a haircut, removing the one-month stubble protecting the back of my neck.
No sooner had I gotten cleaned up, than the message got repeated, “Welcome to the Wilderness. You’re in our home now.” This time the message came from deerflies, horseflies, and a raccoon.


With my schedule calling for 6 more miles per day, a sense of urgency put me in a bit of a hurry.
As I walked around Upper Goose Pond (near the Mass. Pike) late in the morning, a disheveled raccoon made a left turn onto the trail and shuffled stiffly ahead of me. He paused to fish around with his claw under a log, which caused me to catch up within 15 or 20 feet of him.
Seeing me, he arched his back like a cat and hissed with a sort of clucking noise. If he could have spoken, he might have been saying, “Look, I’m having a very bad day, and if you provoke me, there’s no telling what I might do.” Having warned me, he irritably resumed walking up the trail.
We proceeded in the same direction, with him appearing not to notice me as long as I stayed 20 feet back. Presently the trail and the perimeter of the pond came to a bend, and the raccoon disappeared behind a knee-high rock, presumably to descend the bank for a drink of water.
Quietly and cautiously, I tiptoed to the bend and peered around the rock. Seeing nothing, I scooted ahead on the trail. No sooner had I taken three steps, when the raccoon ran over the bank at full speed with a crazed look in his eye.
Suddenly, I was running and he was gaining on me, getting close enough for me see the foam on his mouth. Seeing a sapling tree growing on the bank of the pond, I leapt upward from the trail, pivoting on the tree like a fireman, and hoping the raccoon would jump off the bank after me.
In a flash, the raccoon was running up the tree toward my hands, so I let go and dropped maybe eight feet into the brush on the edge of the water. With one foot in the water, I scrambled to my feet, preparing for the next onslaught.
The raccoon had climbed the tree. He reversed direction, walking straight back down the tree. Fortunately, he returned to the trail, whence he came. I wasn’t sure, but I might have heard him mutter, “Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed.”
A pair of fishermen in a nearby boat looked to see what the commotion was about. With false bravado I shouted in a shaky voice, “Bet you never saw a hiker run like that!” The incident caused no damage, beyond some scratches on my elbow and feeling of disorientation.
The next person I met afterwards was a remarkable grandmother. She never told me so, but I later learned through friends that she was thru-hiking the Trail for her deceased son.
One-Braid had told me to “Listen to the Trail”. Perhaps the Trail was teaching me to treat it with more respect... We don’t conquer the Trail. It lets us pass.


Chapter 6, Reflections on the Circle, pages 20-22:

Trail Tales - the K-Rock

AT Thru-hikers who had just graduated from high school made a strong impression on me. I spent a day hiking with Wrong Way, and parts of a couple days with Devin and SlowRide. Their maturity and common sense promise great things for the future of our country.
In Pennsylvannia, where the rocks pounded all the sensation from the soles of my feet, I caught up with an informal group of hikers that separated during the day and often met at night. SlowRide was a runner-up high-school state wrestling champion from Indiana. Eagle Scouts Phil & Devin came from Ohio. Toll Booth Willy, a little older, hiked at 3.5 mph in wool socks and rubber sandals. By the time this “posse” got to Springer Mountain, the total number of hikers swelled to ten, including others I knew.
The first night these guys had a plan to stop at an old potters workshop, so as to send out for pizza. So we ate more than we could easily finish and stuffed ourselves to the point of groaning. The only problem with this plan was the 34.9-mile distance to the next convenient shelter.
So, as usual, I got going early. Phil and Devin soon passed me. Plodding on, I would catch up with them when they took a break. Then Devin took it into his head to go full-speed uphill, so off he charged at 4 mph using hiking poles for power, with Phil following almost as fast.
A minute or two later, Toll Booth Willy caught up. He had started last, and before long, he passed me. Later on, after missing the side trail to a shelter, I came upon Toll Booth Willy again, sitting on a rock in the middle of the trail and finishing a cigarette. We figured Phil and Devin had lunch at that shelter. Toll Booth Willy went on ahead.
The day dragged on and on, and finally I arrived at Peters Mountain Shelter, somewhat out of breath after an uphill climb. Another posse of southbound thru-hikers had just arrived at this new, upscale shelter, and there was Toll Booth Willy looking well-rested and blending in with them. An older gentleman, section-hiking with his two-grown-up daughters, was also there.
By the time I got water from the spring, Phil and Devin arrived. Then a little while later SlowRide arrived. His shorter legs prevented him from keeping a fast pace, so he had spent the whole day catching up. From the bottom of the hill, he started shouting, “I’m NEVER going to hike that far again! I don’t care if I sleep in a SWAMP! I’m NEVER going to hike that far again.” Pretty soon he was in a good mood, joining others in a card game.
The atmosphere of this chance congregation of hikers spontaneously became festive. The two section-hiking daughters handed out cheese snacks on crackers, so I ate them as fast as they wanted to make them. Their father, whom I’ll call the Warrior, was telling veteran stories with salty language, as if to show his daughters how real men live. It seemed that this was a long-standing family tradition, and maybe now the daughters were taking HIM camping.
Meanwhile, I met the laconic Solo, one of the few thru-hikers from my age group. It seemed that thru-hikers were generally younger or older than us. He wryly commented that younger thru-hikers should do a better job of holding their liquor at town stops.
At some point I heard the Warrior incredulously ask, “Why didn’t he just break off a piece of it?” SlowRide had placed a big rock on the picnic table, claiming that he had carried it all the way from Mt. Katahdin. It was round, like a dinosaur egg, but imperfect at one end. It had to weigh AT LEAST 7 pounds! I was astounded.
In fact, for the remaining 1,139 miles of the Appalachian Trail, I told everyone about this incredible wrestling champion from Indiana and the rock he carried. It was the stuff legends are made of.
Early the next morning, Solo and I departed with our flashlights in the dark. As I prepared my pack near the fire ring, I brushed away some curious daddy-long-leg spiders. Nobody told me until much later that SlowRide got the rock from that fire ring.
The joke was on me! SlowRide must have taken pleasure on many occasions at my legendary gullibility. Not me. I say he got that rock on Katahdin. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.


Chapter 6, Reflections on the Circle, page 36:

The Canadian Penny

On the thirty-third day of my roadwalk, I planned two more days of hiking to reach the Southernmost Point. I had always secretly wished to complete a 50-mile distance in one day, but my balky ankles ruled that idea out of consideration.
It was just plain odd that my motel was located just before the 50-mile marker on Route 1 in the town of Marathon, and that I walked past that marker several times on the way to buy groceries and dine. Further, it was odd that my Chinese fortune cookie predicted I would get my heart’s desire. What was my desire? Maybe to get home safely by Valentine Day.
And most unusual, I found a Canadian penny on the pavement somewhere near that 50-mile marker. I had found several dollars of coins during a month on the road, but only this one had been Canadian. I prized the symbol of my long walk.
As for my heart’s secret desire, I did walk 50 miles all in one day. At 2:00 pm the next day, after 30 miles, I took the decision to go for broke. Going 50 miles did not make me feel wonderful. I just wanted to say I had done it at mid-life.
I also made it home in time to give Tricia a pair of conch shells for Valentine Day. My ankles healed, and I have since learned to keep my physical build in hiking form. The Trail has not beckoned again.
Six months after getting home, the phone rang. It was my friend Darek, who had sat in council with the Chiefs of the Lakota Sioux. When I described how some events in my walk seemed to take place on a spiritual plane without my planning them that way, Darek commented,
“Don’t you see? The coin was a gift from Pamola. That Old Spirit was saying you passed the test.”

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