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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 necessarily huge and domineering. I think the reader will find this book interesting from the standpoint of presentation of the four 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 1940’s 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



The Canadian Penny

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On the thirty-third day of my road walk, 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 the swelling of my balky ankles ruled that idea out of consideration.

It was just plain odd that my motel was located right before the 50-mile marker on US 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 to my sweetheart by Valentine Day.

And most unusual, I found a Canadian penny on the pavement somewhere near that 50-mile marker. Of the several dollars of coins found during a month on the road, only this coin 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 p.m. the next day, after 30 miles, I took the decision to go for broke. Going 50 miles did not make me feel wonderful. I simply 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 once 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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