Alexei Lebedev’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail begins with a single snake. And it is angling for the hot stranger who seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Lex is prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he isn’t prepared for is Ben Caravalho. But somehow—on a 2,500-mile trail—Alexei keeps running into the outgoing and charismatic hiker with golden-brown eyes, again and again. It might be coincidence. Then again, maybe there’s a reason the trail keeps bringing them together . . .
Ben has made his fair share of bad decisions, and almost all of them involved beautiful men. And yet there’s something about the gorgeous and quietly nerdy Alexei that Ben can’t just walk away from. Surely a bad decision can’t be this cute and smart. And there are worse things than falling in love during the biggest adventure of your life. But when their plans for the future are turned upside down, Ben and Alexei begin to wonder if it’s possible to hold on to something this wild and wonderful.
I liked their dynamic together. Alexei’s interest in birds was a nice element. I enjoyed the brusque side character Ruby.
At their split, I didn’t think the second “reason” was necessary for Ben’s choice. I thought the epistolary segment worked well. This didn’t end how I expected, but I thought the ending worked. I think it would have been beneficial for Ben to have a little more of a *moment* of realization, but probably slow dawning is more realistic 😉 What he did for Alexei at the end was cute and was convincing that he’d begun his path of change.
As a backpacker who’s read and watched a lot about through-hiking, but hasn’t done anything longer than two weeks, this felt pretty true to my experiences and reflects what I’ve read. I appreciated that the author showed hikers of all stripes, reflecting the greater diversity of people enjoying the outdoors today.
Mild spoiler below the cut.