Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Another excellent travel type book from Bryson. This time he "rediscovers America on the Appalachian Trail". Bryson seems to be the type of person who just decides he needs to visit somewhere and goes. For this endeavor, he sees a path that marks an entry point to the AT and decides he needs to hike it. Although no one knows for sure, it's estimated the entire AT is over 2,100 miles long and takes you through all the states between Georgia and Maine. Personally, this would be my idea of hell. But Bryson, along with his old friend Stephen Katz, head down to Georgia and begin their journey.

They are not trying to be thru-hikers, people who hike the entire trail at one time. They are day hikers, people who do the trail in spurts. Several weeks at a time or just day hikes. As with Bryson's other books, he's well read on the AT and gives us all the statistics on how you can die out there. And those don't include the 9 murders that have taken place on the AT.

What starts out as a whim with determination ends with a "yeah, this is enough". Overall Bryson hiked 870 miles of the trail, a pretty awesome feat. He encounters wildlife but not the deadly ones he was hoping for (with a written guarantee of survival, mind you).

Even though I have no desire to ever hike, this book did make me want to head out to some National Parks and appreciate them while they are still here. Acid rain, loggers, developers, lack of funds to the Park Service, all these are threatening what wilderness we have left. It will be good to see them before they are gone.
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