Embrace The Brutality: A Continental Divide Adventure is the second backpacking documentary that was recorded, directed, and edited by Triple Crowner Shane “ Jester” O’Donnell. Released in 2013, it follows up Jester’s initial “big screen” production- “Wizards of the PCT”.
Definitely check this DVD out. Let Jester take you through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana over some 3,000 miles on a 5 months roller coaster of a hike that he eventually completes with friends. Where else can you view a forlorn middle-aged man whine about losing twenty five pounds, with a sincere promise to try and eat more – “somehow”, in order to prevent further weight loss. Seriously.
After two viewings ( I bought the DVD), the most striking impression about their journey is the positive tone conveyed by this DVD. These folks just keep laughing and smiling as they experience the most challenging terrain and weather in this ” Walk in the Non Woods”.
Crawling over sand and cactus needles while wriggling under barbed wire fences? No problem- let the gang show you two useful techniques to make it happen. Rain on successive days in Colorado, where the trail is generally up over 10,000 feet? Let’s crack a few jokes and move on. Falling down while filming- feature it!
Lost? Jester gives new meaning to the term, which is parsed out and redefined in fresh new terms like “ off trail but not lost”, I empathize with Jester’s episodes of hiking and camping alone at altitude- it’s definitely a task to get back to your hiking mates after wandering off-trail, and once you are back on trail, you then realize that you don’t know if your peeps or partner is ahead or behind you. Do you speed up or slow down? You’ll see.
Included are the obligatory gross-out clips of hikers pointing to the incomprehensible clusters of bubbles of blisters on their feet and the subsequent gushers that occur when such painful blisters are pierced and drained by sewing needles.
There are no teaching segments, no gear reviews, no recommendations for outfitting your self for such a unusual life pursuit. That’s best left to other film makers who are focusing in on the How-To’s of pulling off this ultralight backpacking thing these days. (For that, check out Dave Collins’ Clever Hiker tutorial series.) What’s left is the experience of what it’s like to hike- all day every day- for 5 months straight- no matter if it’s raining, snowing, or a blowing sand in your face.
I definitely recommend viewing this DVD if you are considering hiking a long-distance National Scenic Trail. If you are not sure about whether you want to hike for 5 months straight, you may think twice after seeing some of the real-life challenges faced by these members of The CDT Class or 2012.
The DVD can be purchased from Amazon ($24) or directly from Jester for $20, which includes domestic and international shipping. An even better deal is $36 and free shipping for both DVD’s. Trust me, if you have seen one, you want the other.