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Taking the High Routes: Documentary Explores Addictive Nature of Thru-Hiking

Follow three friends as they embark on a 400-mile journey linking several of California's 'high routes' and hike and fish their way through in just 35 days.

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Ask any thru-hiker, and they’ll tell you that the experience of completing a long-distance trail can be addictive. Our bodies crave the freedom of backpacking, the daily exercise of hiking, the camaraderie of trail life, and the simple pursuit of a destination. It’s what draws people back to the trail again and again. And it’s the subject matter of the documentary The Range of Light.

Shot by Paul “Pie” Ingram (aka @pieonthetrail) in 2019, this film follows him and his two friends, Danielle “Sonic” Vilaplana and Josh “Cheesebeard” Tippett, as they embark on a journey through California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. They link together several “high routes” and create their own 400-mile thru-hike, which they complete in just 35 days.

The full-length documentary explores the addictive nature of hiking. But it’s also about the environment, the issues facing some of the regions they pass through, and the history of the high routes they’re taking. It premiered in 2023 and won the Best Cinematography award at the Lyons International Film Festival.

Produced in association with Gossamer Gear, Bearvault, Enlightened Equipment, and Altitude, The Range of Light is a spectacular watch. It’s the perfect primer to get stoked for hiking and camping season. So sit back and settle in if you’ve got an hour and 20 minutes to burn.

Runtime: 1:19:04

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