Book: Crossing Divides

This is the touching true story of Bozeman resident Kate Gibson's fight against cancer as told by her husband, Scott Bischke, and their 900-mile hike of Montana's Continental Divide Trail. Crossing Divides: A Couple's Story of Cancer, Hope, and Hiking Montana's Continental Divide alternates between episodes from the hike and Kate's days with cancer but tells both stories well. Bischke shows his unquestionable devotion to Kate in his detailed descriptions of Kate's cancer treatments, the overwhelming treatment choices, the life-long side effects, the waiting, and the emotional drain. The back-and-forth nature of the book creates suspense, and halfway through I realized I was more interested in how Kate was faring than the details of the hike.

But no matter, the story of the hike is interesting and entertaining by itself. One of my favorite passages is about the night Bischke and Gibson faintly hear a plane overhead while listening to an animal outside of their tent: "It's an odd dichotomy, this smashing together of modern technologies and caveman sensibilities. Far overhead people flying between meetings in Chicago and Seattle agonized over 'Chicken or beef?' There on the ground I wondered about grizzly bears and if one might make a meal out of us in the night." Episodes of ailing gear, bad weather, disappearing trails, and random wildlife encounters accompany beautiful imagery as Bischke dips a toe into local history, shares a little environmental wisdom, and acquaints the reader with characters met along the way.

Plenty of authors write about the connection between physical and emotional journeys, and it's true, one of this book's major themes is the parallel between cancer and a long walk in the wilderness. But Bischke is a passionate writer, and he is careful not to make his story sound contrived.