Before You See the Movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon, Check Out “Tell It On The Mountain” As Billygoat, Eagle-Eye and Jackalope Tackle 2,600 Miles on the Pacific Crest Trail and Suck You into Their Honest, Emotional Stories. On DVD. REVIEW

Pacific Crest Trail Movie Review: Tell it on the Mountain
As I crash on the couch and gobble popcorn with one of my nine year olds, our eyes are wide as we watch each person in the gently absorbing “Tell It On the Mountain” bend and sway both physically and emotionally with the high water crossings, high snow pack trekking, crappy weather, gorgeous vistas, disgusting ingrown toenails, and other life shaping moments that the Pacific Crest Trail, the “PCT”, throws at them for 2,663 miles.

A lean, intense, uber-hiker “Scott” breaks Pacific Crest Trail records with his average 40 miles a day. Literally stomping through forest fires while saying merely: “OK, NOW, it’s starting to get hot.” And sweating through stomach-churning giardia attacks – while we watch in horror and admiration. I feel like grabbing his arm through the screen to advise: “Dude, take a nap!” Not this guy.
Pacific Crest Trail Map & Stats from the DVD cover
A young, endearing, engaged couple hikes from Mexico to Canada, and halfway through, stops to throw a full-blown wedding. The bride wears her traditional white, puffy dress and, I kid you not, her PCT backpack. Their honeymoon? The rest of the PCT to the Canadian border.

Grey-bearded, trail-name Billygoat lives on the PCT April through September because his wife, Meadow Mary, “lets him” – wink – and because it is where he feels most at home. You will fall for this scruffy sage, as Billygoat hikes not for the records or the numbers, but because of his pure, you-can-touch-it, soulful love of the trail.

There are other leading characters in the movie including Mother Nature, Trail Angles, and the PCT itself. How could they not play a leading role? And watching this group of hikers bump into them makes it an emotional and sensory evoking drama that has me burst: GET ME ON THE TRAIL, stat, people!

Our tripping-up-note was that the subtitles often went lower than our normal, wide-screen TV….? A technical note, possibly self-inflicted, that was really no big deal. Also, the movie can feel a little long. So we chopped it in half between two nights.

Overall, this movie will inspire experienced hikers and backpackers to get out on the trail again. And it will show less experienced outdoor folks the normal, grubby, real side of backpacking, with it’s peaks and valleys both mentally and physically and, for sure, geographically. 

I see the Pacific Crest Trail in my future, in my family’s future. Though maybe not the full 2,663 miles that spans from Mexico’s “Hola!” to Canada’s “Eh?” …. But I do think a High Sierras, Yosemite PCT section-hike is calling my name. 

Now, I just need to find a wise old sage named Billygoat or an ultra-intense Scott to guide me along the way. Or, maybe, maybe i'll just trek it solo...

“Tell It On The Mountain, Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail” $23-25
Released February 2013. Documentary. Available on DVD. 122 minutes.

-Outdoorsy Mama
PCT in your future?

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Disclaimer: Tell It On the Mountain was sent to me at no cost for review. Opinions, as always, are my own.


  1. This is a great idea - to suggest people see Tell It On The Mountain as a sort of requisite for watching Wild. It just gives such good perspective of the Pacific Crest Trail. PCT hikers can appreciate this film; whereas I anticipate Wild will be a little trickier to stomach because it's purported to be about the trail but really isn't. It's about a woman, and was hardly filmed on the real PCT. Tell It On The Mountain is a film that I know all my hiker friends enjoyed. And my mother loved it, too!

    1. hey Caroline! thanks for such a thoughtful comment. i've now seen both films (and will weigh in on Wild soon) but definitely agree that this movie is ABOUT the Pacific Crest Trail. period. that the main character, in fact, IS the PCT. which is why it made me - and it sound like all of your friends and MOM, too ;) - excited to to hop on the gorgeous trail. and, indeed, it did help me have perspective when i watched ReeseW get all outdoorsy on the trail. cheers and excellent to hear from you! write more often -OM

  2. Complex and compelling, this visually appealing narrative peels back the layers of a protagonist who is at once challenging yet identifiable. One woman's inner struggle fuels her trans formative outer struggle to complete the thousand-mile Pacific Crest Trail hike alone.