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A Couples' Story of Cancer, Hope, and Hiking Montana's Continental Divide


CROSSING DIVIDES artfully blends Scott Bischke and his wife Katie Gibson's agonizing struggle against Kate's advanced, recurrent, "terminal" cancer with the story of their three month, 800+ mile hike along the Continental Divide Trail across Montana. Numerous themes and parallels weave through the book. Several encounters with grizzly bears, for example, provide an avenue for metaphorical comparisons between the fear of grizzlies and the fear of cancer. Similarly, Kate's ability to persevere through the toils of a long- distance hike provides a constant parallel to her ability to persevere against cancer. Other themes include the importance of a dogged spirit in battling cancer and the importance of wild country in revitalizing the soul.

And one thing more!

MountainWorks Press expects to republish CROSSING DIVIDES soon. For now, we can get you a copy directly, just click here.

Available from Amazon (Kindle or paperback) or direct from Scott , just click!

Author comments

CROSSING DIVIDES speaks to two defining events in Kate and my life. The first, Kate's recurrent cancer, continues to be a focus of the life we live, and to provide the limitations and opportunities we are blessed to live within. The second, long distance hiking, walking 800+ miles across Montana, was a direct outgrowth of our desire to live live substantial lives again once the moment-by-moment ravages of cancer had abided. The book has been an incredible rallying point for us, a way for Kate and me to meet and talk with others fighting to live on in the face of cancer. And we have continued to hike, completing the full Continental Divide Trail now from Canada to Mexico, working on the Pacific Crest Trail, and building almost every time of travel we have—be it Down Under, Europe, England, South America, and beyond—around a long distance backpack trip.

We—largely I—have given talks across the country, to groups ranging from two to 7,000 people, the latter being at an American Cancer Society rally on the Mall in Washington DC. Every single time we talk, I pray for one thing: that our words, that our story, that Kate's indomitable spirit may help one person listening deal with how cancer or some other strife is impacting their lives. I pray that Kate's story might give them hope.

Special notes

CROSSING DIVIDES has brought some unique happenings to our lives. Here's one that was truly unexpected: Because of our great difficulties with health insurance, Kate was asked to introduce President Obama at the Healthcare Town Hall he held in Bozeman in 2009.

Quite an honor, quite a man, and later she was invited twice to attend health-care associated presidential events, including sitting behind Michelle Obama as the President addressed a Joint Session of Congress.

After that address, President Obama showed great presence, introducing Kate to Michelle without any help from an aide, including saying (and how can such a man have room in his head to remember these things?!), "Michelle, this is Katie Gibson. Her husband wrote a book about their experience with her cancer."


Every life has its mountains to climb. Read on and find the inspiration to reach your summit.
— Bernie Siegel, author of LOVE, MEDICINE, & MIRACLES

CROSSING DIVIDES is a story of determination and love. Take a trip along the Continental Divide and at the same time through the wilderness of cancer treatment. It's the tale of a spirited woman struck down with a life-threatening disease, and her sure-footed climb back to good health. The human spirit rides again! This book proves that focusing on each day, and just putting one foot in front of the other, CAN get you to your goal. It's a ray of sunshine and a boost of hope for us all.
— Walkin’ Jim Stoltz, Nationally renowned folk singer and long-distance hiker

Scott Bischke has given us a celebration of wild places where the strenuous effort of the long-distance hiker is rewarded with peace and beauty. In the same package, he reminds us that the condition of human life can be precarious. His description of Montana's Continental Divide wilderness is graceful. His account of helping his partner Kate Gibson fight cancer is terrifying. CROSSING DIVIDES is about the challenges we choose and those forced upon us. Read it for a reminder that our health, like our wild lands, is fragile and endangered, and that we keep both only with determination. If you have known anyone who has fought for survival against strong odds, you will appreciate this guide for patients and their friends. If you hope for a walk in the wilderness anywhere, walk first with Scott and Kate to learn about endurance.
— Ross Rodgers, President, Montana Wilderness Association

Thank you so much for giving me with the opportunity to read a pre-press copy of your fine book, CROSSING DIVIDES. “[I read] it without pause. I couldn't help it; it drew me in and held me. I cried, I laughed, and I delighted in travelling known and unknown trails with [Scott] and Kate through our beloved Montana. But [the] maps, observations and adventures paint the glorious and complex panorama of Montana's high country whether or not the landscapes are familiar. It truly was a gift. CROSSING DIVIDES is a must-read for anyone facing a critical physical or emotional challenge, especially cancer. Even sitting here presently healthy and happy, [the] story has better prepared me to face even devastating future challenges. Your and Kate's generous sharing of your peaks and valleys—as extreme as they were—gives us all cause to celebrate the power of love and desire. I thank [Scott and] Kate for reminding us to be more thankful for each breath, each smile and each mile we travel in life.
— Gloria Flora, Former Supervisor of the Lewis and Clark and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests

The challenges of confronting the dangers and frustrations of the wilderness become a metaphor in this fascinating book for facing the challenges of a cancer illness. As Scott and Katie...simultaneously face the existential issues of cancer and endeavor to deal with the hazards of walking the Trail, the reader is helped to find his or her own path, and importantly, to draw hope and strength to not be afraid. Love of life and love of nature are fused into a remarkable human experience that ensures the reader will find new meaning in juxtaposition with illness.
— Jimmie C. Holland MD, Chair, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Scott Bischke is a gifted author who inspires us with a heart-rending story of courage, hope and a determination to live with a capital L. By overcoming the daunting challenges of life-threatening cancer Kate and Scott prepared themselves well for the formidable challenge of hiking more than 800 miles along Montana's rugged share of the Continental Divide. Underlying it all is the power of their unconditional love for each other, and of their deep love for wilderness, as exemplified by the Great Divide. With the aid of Scott's precise, beautifully descriptive prose you'll walk with them along the serpentine Divide, watching for grizzlies, elusive trails, firey sunsets and flat tentsites. Their journeys, through cancer and beyond, and on foot from Canada to Yellowstone, are artfully woven together in a series of compelling analogies. Defeating cancer may well derive from the power of the human spirit in concert with the restorative health of Wild Country. Indeed, their intimacy with wild nature was one of Kate's most powerful therapies in her unrelenting battle against cancer. With emotions laid bare, CROSSING DIVIDES is a grand celebration of life in its fullest expression.

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