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AWOL on the Appalachian Trail [Kindle Edition]

David Miller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,087 customer reviews)

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"Natural Born Heroes" by Christopher McDougall
Just as "Born to Run" inspired readers to get into the natural world, this book will inspire them to leave the gym and take their fitness routine to nature. See more

Book Description

In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to fulfill a dream and hike the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller's account of this thru-hike along the entire 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine. On page after page, readers are treated to rich descriptions of the valleys and mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the life-changing moments that can only be experienced when dreams are pursued. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about safety and proper gear, with a view into a professional hiker's preparations and tenacity. This is not merely a travel guide, but a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man's adventure and what it means to make a lifelong vision come true.

Editorial Reviews Review

David Miller's Top Five Items You Might Not Think to Pack for a Long-Distance Trek (But Will Wish You Did)

Scissors: Scissors are better than a knife for common tasks like opening food packaging, cutting moleskin, or trimming your mustache. I carry the Leatherman Micra, which has a very functional pair of scissors and a knife blade.

Suntan Lotion: The AT is known for rain, cold and for long walks through the "green tunnel." Yet every year, especially before the trees regain their leaves, hikers will get sunburned.

Chafing powder: Hikers disagree about whether hiking uphill or downhill is more demanding, but they all agree that hiking with chaffed, burning skin is less tolerable than the ups and downs. Body Glide is another popular treatment.

Trash Bag: Pack it in; pack it out... and remember to have something to pack it out in. A gallon-sized zippered bag usually suffices.

Belt pouch: Backpack manufacturers have caught on, and many now offer packs with accessible pouches sewn onto the straps on their packs. If your pack doesn’t have belt pouches, buy add-ons. Keep your camera in your belt pouch, and you’ll take many more pictures than you would if your camera was in your pack. Also keep your spoon at the ready; you never know when your hiking partner might leave his food unattended.

Photos from the Appalachian Trail

Click to see larger images


Miller is a wonderful writer who...puts such thoughts on paper about as well as anyone. -- Robert Hughes, Florida Today Newspaper, July 10, 2006

Product Details

  • File Size: 1405 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1595941096
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; 2nd edition (October 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,540 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cubicle dweller finds freedom on the Appalachian Trail February 26, 2007
Format:Perfect Paperback
In 2003 David Miller is 41 with a wife and three young daughters. He rejects his computer programming job, and with the consent of his family, starts up the AT. Thus the title.

Near the midpoint of the story, there is a quote: "too much hard work, too much pain, too much time away from my family ..." but he continues. This is a success story. Though he does not say so, David is one of the stronger AT thru-hikers, big miles, day after day. All the usual injuries occur, but these are endured, rather than used as a reason to leave the trail. There is a community of hikers, and the sharing of intense experiences day after day is almost addictive

The reader begins to get a feel for the rituals of shelters and in trail towns. After reading the book, a potential AT hiker should feel much more comfortable with what they are going to encounter. As I read the book, I kept visualizing the AT trails vs the ones I have hiked in California and in Europe - the AT seems much more difficult, though you have more frequent opportunities to get off the trail.

The overall tone of the book is strongly positive. That's a little difficult to explain, since there is a lot about hardship, but trust me, you will understand when you read it.

I recommend this to any long distance hiker, and particularly to someone planning to walk the Appalachian Trail.
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207 of 215 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading September 11, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Awol on the Appalachian Trail' is, quite simply, a wonderful book from start to finish. I have to say that it is one of the most enjoyable, honest, and inspiring accounts that I have read in a long time. This is the best book on the AT that I have yet found.

David Miller / Awol describes his thru-hike on the trail from Georgia to Maine in vivid detail; you really do feel like you are on the trail with him, sharing the highs and lows of the challenge. The conditions of the hike, the fascinating people that he met, the personal and physical challenges, and the gorgeous scenery are all poured into the pages for the reader to soak in.

Although I have not hiked the trail myself, I imagine that this book is as close to doing it yourself as it comes. His ability to narrate the trials and tribulations without downplaying or changing the finer details was appreciated, especially for someone like myself who aspires to one day rise to the challenge of the AT.

The companion web site is fantastic, putting the book in perspective with a wide array of dazzling photos. I found myself referencing them many times as I read new sections of the book.

This book inspired me to take the challenge of hiking the AT and change my life. How many times can a book do that?

Final thoughts -- highly recommended. 5 stars.
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146 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
and have found this to be one of the best among them. Strong writing and accounting from all of the parts of the trail make it a great book for those armchair AT Hikers like myself. It is a nice mix of everyday life and what it takes on the trail, trail relationships (some good, some bad), and various observations on life and the trail. What makes it all that more surprising is it is a Self-Published book. It is definitely worthy of a more tangible publishing house.
I have read other books that generalize large parts of the trail and spend more time on the spiritual, philosophical part of why they are doing the trail but David Miller does not make this a predominant part of the book. Additionally I appreciated hearing about parts of the trail that most books seem to skip and it is a timely account from the year 2003.

I also recommend Mic Lowther's book, "Walking North" for another nice combination of trail accountability and philosophy. Bill Schuettes "White Blaze Fever" is good for a great "nuts and bolts" account of the trail.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stepping Out Without Skipping Out February 18, 2007
Format:Perfect Paperback
To read this story is to live a vicarious adventure. Pick up the book, and boom, you're there. You feel the mist in your face, the cold mountain air in the morning, the sights and sounds of the wilderness, the rough, uneven terrain over root and rock, the smell of plants and earth, the taste of spring water, the setting sun chucking its final spears of the day into pastel clouds on the horizon, the taste of camp food, the familiar smell of sleeping bags and drying socks, and the weariness of body that imparts a sound sleep (or not).

At times you're a solitary soul traversing the length of the Colonies from South to North, alone but for the company of your thoughts, and the family back home that is pulling for you, waiting for you, loving you from afar. Other times you feel the comraderie of intersecting lives on the same trek, and the shared experiences along your way. "Oases of civilization" dot the journey, replete with many ordinary and some strange characters, and urban adventures that stand in stark contrast to the life that lies just beyond the town, where the trail picks up and nature reigns again.

The book is this and more. You finish the book and the pervasive thought that transcends even the wonderful story, the description of Pop Tarts surviving a nasty fall, the love of nature and humanity, and the overpowering sense of accomplishment but not wanting it to end, is the thought that this was an ordinary person stepping out without skipping out. This thought that a regular person with a regular life and responsibilities can accomplish this extraordinary thing, starting with resolve and a few unsure baby steps, is a thought that lingers long after the book is back on the shelf. This thought is like a small voice telling you that he did it and I can do it, too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar. An inspiration for me to get out and ...
Stellar. An inspiration for me to get out and try at least a section of this staggering trail.
Published 7 hours ago by Tito
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good read. Enjoyable
Published 1 day ago by Dennis
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest journal about the good and the bad of hiking the AT
If you have any interest in hiking the AT, this is a must read. It is really a journal, and by far the most honest and transparent I have seen.
Published 1 day ago by Muddy Boots
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty darn good
A good read about the Appalachian Trail. The author could have told us much more about his interior self before the last chapter. Not a "Zen and the art of... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Timothy C. Zeddies
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this story. Upbeat and honest.
I hiked NJ in 93 and Ct 14. Will do more hiking in the near future. Gear sure changed in 11 years!!
Published 2 days ago by Lois
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a trail this book had its twists turns and climbs
Great read I did enjoy the people that David encounters on the trail and friendships made
He has inspired me to take on a few sections this year
Published 2 days ago by siferryguy
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I really enjoyed this book. Hard to put down! Makes me want to hike the trail! Plan to do it in the future.
Published 3 days ago by Gloria D Myles
4.0 out of 5 stars A middle aged man finds the going difficult on the Appalachian Trail.
I had read Bryson's A Walk in the Woods and my nephew had just completed the Trail. I did appreciate that for someone over 40 who is not used to hiking this can be hard on your... Read more
Published 3 days ago by G. G. Lutkenhaus
3.0 out of 5 stars Documentary
I got interested in reading about people who have done thru-hiking after I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. AWOL is a journal, written by a cubicle type worker. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Barbara L. Costello
5.0 out of 5 stars This is good book, BUT it is DRM locked
This is good book, BUT it is DRM locked. You can't convert it over to an EPUB format and read it on you iPad.
Published 4 days ago by John C. Yeargin
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More About the Author

David Miller is the author of "The A.T. Guide," a guidebook for hiking the Appalachian Trail that is updated annually, as well as "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail," a narrative of his own journey hiking all 2,172 miles of the famous trail. David has worked as a software engineer, handyman, and writer. He lives in Titusville, Florida with his wife and three children.

For more information about hiking the Appalachian Trail, please visit

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Future Appalachian Trail Hikers
My fiance and I aren't doing a through hike but are planning on hiking state and national parks all across America over the next four months, and one book you need to get for sure to get you in the right state of mind is Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Another one to bring with you on ANY... Read More
Oct 13, 2012 by R. Lynch |  See all 2 posts
"Chaffing" powder?
Maybe you should look it up in the dictionary. It is from the word chafe which means to irritate. Ever had an irritation on your skin? A small spelling mistake, should be chafing.
Jun 5, 2012 by Lisa Literature |  See all 2 posts
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