Monday, February 27, 2012

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

At age 44, Bill Bryson decided he wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.  The Appalachian Trail spans fourteen states and some 2200 miles.  Bill is a first time backpacker who needs to get set up with equipment, check out maps and make a plan.  Hiking this distance takes time, preparation and skill.  Bryson is inexperienced and has no idea how to survive in the wilderness.  He spells out his goals, (to see a rare salamander) and his fears, (getting eaten by a bear) and sets off on the trail in Georgia with his friend Katz.

Katz, is Bill's over weight, out of shape, friend from 20 years ago, who agrees to hike the first part of the trail.  This "walk" will be a good way to invigorate their long lost friendship.  Georgia happens to be experiencing a record cold Spring as the two walk north to Maine.  The two survive by their wits, eating noodles, snickers, and slim jims.  They meet some interesting and annoying people along the way as they hike through snow, fog, rain, heat and humidity carrying everything they need on their backs.

A Walk in the Woods is a hilarious romp through the Appalachian wilderness.  Bryson details the history and geography of the trail.  He talks about landmarks, National Parks, the park service and describes the joys of a bed, warm showers, clean clothes and good food after the stress and hard work of back packing. 

I loved this book and could really relate to it as I am a backpacker.  I have only backpacked on The Superior Hiking Trail in Northern Minnesota which follows the ridge line of Lake Superior.  It is about 286 miles and I personally have backpacked about 60 miles of it.  It is so beautiful.  Last summer, I turned 44 and I took my 13 year old son and introduced him to the joys of hiking on the trail.  He loved it!   After reading A Walk in the Woods, I am seriously thinking I need to backpack a part of the Appalachian Trail.  It sounds so amazing and beautiful. 

A Walk in the Woods is a great way to participate in a journey into nature from your comfy chair.  I felt like I was right there with Bill and Katz as they experienced the trail for the first time and then became veteran backpackers.  A Walk in the Woods is a journey worth taking and one that will have you laughing all the way to your front porch swing.  Happy Hiking and Reading!

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