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Between a Rock and a White Blaze: Searching for Significance on the Appalachian Trail [Kindle Edition]

Julie Urbanski , Matt Urbanski
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $4.79
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Book Description

Four years removed from her first long-distance hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, Julie, aka Stopwatch, is ready to embark on another thru-hike, this time following the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail, a 2181 mile continuous footpath from Georgia to Maine. She is accompanied by her husband, Matt, aka Optimist, for whom it is his second thru-hike of the AT. They are both burnt out from stressful jobs and are both hopeful that the simplicity of the trail life will recharge their batteries, especially since they have experience on their side.

For Julie, it is a chance to improve the person that she came to be and came to dislike, and for Matt, it is a chance to relive old memories while living the trail life he’d come to love. While they could never predict all that would unfold over the months ahead, with volatility in the weather and in their moods, they expect the trail to change the way they see themselves and the world around them. They are also not alone on the trail. Each day they are presented with new perspectives from the varied cast of trail characters hiking alongside them, a few of which have a lasting impression on their hike.

This book is for those that appreciate challenges that lead us down the path of self-honesty, who are willing to join Matt and Julie as they make their way through rainy weather and rocky terrain, as expectations meet reality, as they meet new people along the way, and as they search for meaning in it all, all the while following the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Julie has traveled through much of the U.S., whether on foot, via bicycle, or in a car. She has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Colorado Trail (2007, 2011, 2012), and bicycled down the Pacific coast from Portland, Oregon to the border of Mexico. In addition to living in Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, California and Washington, she and her husband have lived abroad in Spain, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Guatemala, and hope to have many more worldly experiences. She is an avid runner, always chasing a faster time or a longer distance, having completed one 100 miler, one 50 miler, a 50K, and 19 marathons, including the Boston marathon. Her husband is the force behind her and the impetus that lands her in unique, challenging, and otherwise dreary situations that always seem to end on a positive note of self-realization, mental strength, and the desire to do it all over again. Julie and her husband currently live in Seattle, Washington. To read more about their past, current, and upcoming adventures, visit their website at urbyville.com. Her other work includes The Trail Life: How I Loved it, Hated it, and Learned from it, a book about her first long-distance hiking experiences on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

Product Details

  • File Size: 502 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ANIRFH0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,778 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self Absorbed Thru Hiker does the AT February 28, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the story of a fast thru hiker (96 days on the trail) who tells us she really isn't a people person, does not paticularly like hiking the trail, isn't into nature, does not like to waste energy on side trails, just to look at vistas, did not take any zero days off the trail. This self absorbed, bored hiker, irritated us all through this narrative, with her constant whining. She was so focused on self that she seldom mentioned any of the truly amazing features on along the trail that other authors took paragraphs or even pages to describe for us. I am left with 2 questions, why does she spend so much energy doing what she doesn't seem to enjoy and why does she think the reader wants to hear her whining almost every page in the book?

If she left out 90% of her negative narrative on self and If a second edition, in which she edited out her constant whining, it would be a good book. She is a good writer, she has hiked the PCT and the AT and more than likely will hike the CDT, as well as other trails. She could be an interesting, informative author. Her husband Matt, aka Optimist deserves a gold metal. I would love to hear his story of the AT trail, which he has hiked twice.

Read the excerpts and the reviews before buying this book. Would I buy another future book of hers, about the CDT? Yes, if the reviews indicated she has learned to not be so self absorbed and self centered and if I had the chance to see that positive change in her writings for myself. I hope that happens!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Title a bit misleading February 21, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First off, I want to say that the writing style was good and very easy reading, flowed nicely. I bought this book mainly because the author stated that she didn't like herself very well and wanted to improve. So the subtitle of "searching for significance on the Appalachian Trail" , leads you to believe she did find personal growth on trail--she did not.

I kept waiting for some moment when I would see personal growth, but it never came. Even the author admitted that there was none and she finished the trail the same way she started. They left the fast paced corporate world for a face paced, practically a race to finish the AT. Over and over she says she regretted not stopping to do something her husband wanted to do, yet after over 1000 miles, this got a little old .

I did take issued with a few things. I am saying up front I am not a hiker so this is from a non-hiker perspective. They existed on junk food, admitted their eating was poor, fairly early on, yet continued to eat pizza, ice cream, candy and chips. Why not buy an apple at the grocery instead of candy bars and chips? How anyone can hike like that on junk food is beyond my comprehension. Maybe because they were so young.

When her husband was rather sick and I believe they were staying in a church rectory for nearly 2 days while he slept, she didn't seem so concerned with his health as she was at having to sit alone and not wrack up the miles they (apparently SHE) decided on each day. She did not seek any medical help for him, which I think was totally selfish and stupid. At some point, he admitted he thought he had Lyme but decided to continue without getting tested. Stupid on both their parts.

At 73% on my Kindle, something happened that nearly made me quit reading.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not fond of the author April 20, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book but just couldn't get into it. Even though we're all supposed to HYOH and there is no "bad" reason for hiking a long trail, I couldn't accept Julie's reasons for hiking. The Appalachian Trail is "a footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness," but Julie doesn't like the wilderness. She doesn't like trees or flowers, or butterflies or even wild ponies. And although the AT is a "social" trail, Julie doesn't much like people, either.
Julie hiked the AT because she was failing at work. She was failing at LIFE. She hiked the trail because she wanted it (the Trail) to make her a better person. But that's one of the few things a long trail cannot do for a hiker--each hiker has to do that on her own. Julie had previously hiked the PCT and regretted the kind of person she became on that trail, so when she was failing in life she decided to quit her job and hike the AT with her husband.
Julie's treatment of the people around her, especially her husband, was despicable. Even she admits it. She writes of all her bad behavior and says she regrets it, as if her regrets cancel out the behavior. Not so, especially when you repeat the same mistakes over and over. She never learned from her mistakes and she never learned from the Trail.
And she comes away from both long trails (the PCT and the AT) with a superior feeling of "special-ness." She's special because she hiked 2,600 miles in three months. It's a huge accomplishment--I don't deny her that. But what is special about devoting three months to yourself without learning anything or giving anything back? Her husband was special because he put up with her negative attitude--her whining and crying and hating the trail--without leaving her behind.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Contradictions March 24, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
She did write about the entire trail end to end and I like that. However her negative attitude was difficult to read about. She also contradicts herself a lot in the book. She says in the beginning she had a mid to high level position at work then three pages later says she had an entry level position. These type of contradictions are through out the book. She is amazingly honest about her shortcomings on the trail. A lot of them are from poor planning or an unwillingness to spend just a small amount of money compared to the comfort it would bring. It was frustrating to read they hated the rain, but wouldn't buy a rain coat or rest in a shelter during a down pour. Matt is a saint!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bluntly honest
If you want inside someone's head then this is the book to read. Tells you of the physical aspect of the trail along with what you encounter within yourself.
Published 21 days ago by Carin Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Thru-hiker Wannabe reading yet another hiking tale
Another enjoyable read, this one somewhat different. Julie's raw soul-searching was very thought-provoking. You can follow her growth as she walks through her hike. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Delbert J Wyss
3.0 out of 5 stars Walk the Appalachian trail
This account of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail comes with both bragging and whining. I guess after walking from Georgia to Maine the author is entitled to both.
Published 2 months ago by Jeanne
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt like I was on the trail
I really enjoyed reading Julie's encounters on the trail. I felt like I was getting to read her blog posts as she was hiking. Read more
Published 3 months ago by K. Belcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully straddling the line of continuing and not continuing is the...
I read Julie’s first two books back-to-back while snowed-in to a barely warm cabin and laughed and cried with every page. I learned oh so much that I wish I had known for decades. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kirk Nichols
4.0 out of 5 stars A very honest look at the AT and the Author
“Between a Rock and a White Blaze” well written, honest look at what it’s like to hike the Appalachian Trail. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Drew (@drewsant)
4.0 out of 5 stars An important glimpse into the "negatives" and "realities" of...
Full disclosure: I thru-hiked (much more slowly) northbound on the AT the same year the author did. Read more
Published 4 months ago by William Holland
3.0 out of 5 stars Miles and food?
This was one of the least enjoyable books on hiking the AT for me. So many descriptions of miles, pushing and food. Little detail about the beauty of the trail. Read more
Published 4 months ago by marysimmons64
5.0 out of 5 stars Between a Rock and a White Blaze - how to succeed
PLEASE DO NOT PUBLISH MY SURNAME

Julie Urbanski's book "BETWEEN A ROCK AND A WHITE BLAZE" is essential reading for anyone contemplating the Appalachian Trail. Read more
Published 4 months ago by barrie ridgway
3.0 out of 5 stars This account of a thru-hike not for everyone
Julie Urbanski tries to find meaning in the successful thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail with her husband. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Daniel
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More About the Author

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Julie has traveled through much of the U.S., whether on foot, via bicycle, or in a car. She has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Colorado Trail (2007, 2011, 2013, 2012), and bicycled down the Pacific coast from Portland, Oregon to the border of Mexico.
In addition to living in Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, California and Washington, she and her husband have lived abroad in Spain, Ethiopia, Mexico, Italy, Thailand, and Guatemala.
She is an avid runner, always chasing a faster time or a longer distance, having completed one 100 miler, three 50 milers, two 50Ks, and 20 marathons, including the Boston marathon.
Her husband is the force behind her and the impetus that lands her in unique, challenging, and otherwise dreary situations that always seem to end on a positive note of self-realization, mental strength, and the desire to do it all over again.
Julie and her husband currently live in Seattle, Washington. To read more about their past, current, and upcoming adventures, visit their website at http://urbyville.com/.

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