Monday, February 14, 2011

"AWOL on the Appalachian Trail"

Pertinent topic + Kindle sale + "2 books a week" challenge and I ended up totally immersed in David Miller's book: AWOL on the Appalachian Trail - his account of thru-hiking the trail.

I could not put down the book. Finished in it an evening and the next morning. He has such an engaging, conversational style of writing and I liked the topics he focused on.

He writes about the reasons behind his decision to take on the journey; the relationship with his wife and how he missed his children; and the people that came in and out of his life along the trail - in particular, this gave me a good perspective on the type of people you meet long-distance hiking, the correct etiquette for interactions, and how safe one may feel.

He provides great color around the trail conditions and the type of terrain and forest cover you'd walk thru. For instance, I had no idea how steep, rocky, exposed sections of the trail are.

He describes, without being repetitive, daily life on the trail: planning for food, "heading into town" days, dealing with injuries, and why hikers take "zero" days. I almost felt as if I was trudging alongside him - getting hungry. Or wet. And being thrilled by "trail magic" - goodies left by other hikers.

Because I enjoyed his writing style, I wished he had offered up more reflections on how the thru-hike changed his life. But maybe that's the takeaway. Many people do a thru-hike like this with the expectation of problems being solved, resolutions achieved, and life-changing outcomes. But that's not necessarily the case. It's just one event, in a lifetime of many. Maybe your life evolves in more subtle ways.

I was fascinated by his account. Prior to reading it, I had no interest in spending 5-7 months hiking alone on the AT. And after reading the book, I still have no desire! I'm perfectly happy just reading about it. I'll stick with my mini-adventures :)

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