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A Child's Walk in the Wilderness: An 8-Year-Old Boy and His Father Take on the Appalachian Trail [Kindle Edition]

Paul Molyneaux , Asher Molyneaux
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Imagine a 7-year-old boy asking his father if they can hike the entire length of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail together. Then imagine that the father says yes. Now think "What are they getting themselves into?"

For the author of this deeply felt book, the planned hike is an opportunity to bond with his son and be what he calls "Barbarians"--in touch with natural processes far from the comforts of home. It's also a chance for nature to do some healing in his life, too.

For the boy, it's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

They start in West Virginia and head north, through cold and wet spring weather, carrying only what they need and picking up resupply boxes along the way. The boy is entranced by the freedom, asking questions nonstop and pointing out every interesting bug, bird, and blossom they pass. But he's also stubborn, sometimes scared, and occasionally too tired to trudge on.

Dad relishes seeing the natural world through his son's eyes, but he also struggles with the responsibility of keeping the journey going forward. By the time they reach Vermont, with aching feet and frazzled nerves, their plan to take a train to Georgia and hike north to where they started is in serious jeopardy.

But the trail beckons.

Closely observed, wonderfully described, and bracingly clear-eyed, this inspiring book will appeal to nature lovers and would-be AT hikers alike. It offers a vivid evocation of both the camaraderie and dangers of trail life--as well as the difficulties of modern child-rearing and the powerful lure of an untamed natural world.

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Editorial Reviews


"Put aside the electronics, hoist your pack, and join 8-year-old Venado on the journey of a lifetime--an Appalachian Trail thru-hike. The boy finds adventure everywhere along the trail as he peppers his family with questions and proves the worth of Benton MacKaye's 91-year-old dream." (Larry Luxenberg author of Walking the Appalachian Trail and president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society 2012-09-01)

"In surefooted prose, A Child's Walk in the Wilderness chronicles the remarkable journey of a father and son . . . If ever two hikers fulfilled MacKaye's vision of the A.T. as a place "to walk, to see, and to see what you see," it would be this wide-eyed and adventuresome duo." (Laurie Potteiger Information Services Manager, Appalachian Trail Conservancy 2012-11-02)

About the Author

Paul Molyneaux is the author of The Doryman's Reflection and Swimming in Circles. He writes about commercial fishing for the New York Times and other publications and won a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship to study sustainable fisheries in India, Chile, and Iceland. He and his family live in Maine and Mexico.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1392 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books (February 1, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CBX00NG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,476 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See the trail through the eyes of an eight year old boy February 13, 2013
By R. Bard
Color Name:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
People hiking on the Appalachian Trail ask eight-year old Venado (his self-designated trail nickname that means deer in Spanish) how he will make up all the school he is missing while spending more than half a year hiking the Appalachian Trail. His response? "This is school." Reading this book, we realize that Venado really is getting a fine education out on the trail. His patient father, answering endless questions about the animals, birds, plants and people they meet along the way, gets an education of his own. We all learn about the colorful individuals who inhabit the trail, and about the strength of character that drives a father to accompany his young son on a 2,000+ mile hike in the face of many obstacles.

This book is for anyone (like me) who once dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail but never quite got around to it, but it is also for any parent (also like me) who wishes he could drop everything and spend months with their kids out in the woods. In my opinion, this is a much better story than Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods."

The Bangor Daily News, a Maine newspaper, did a great article about the pair just as the book came out. Here is the link: [...] . There is also a Facebook page - search for The Barbarian Utopia.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Color Name:Hardcover
I grew up in Pittsburgh. The wooded hills and dales of western Pennsylvania are my "inertial reference frame," the real world as it were, and all the other landscapes that this good earth has to offer are, well, somewhat different, and a bit "exotic." Early on in life I set a goal of seeing the landscape that will always be "home," at the pace intended, walking, with enough time to "smell the roses" along the way, by hiking the Appalachian Trail. Naturally, it would have to be the whole trail, Georgia to Maine. I have had a few "distractions" along the way, and have never managed more than a one day portion, Blood Mountain, in Georgia. Realistically, gulp (!), at the current rate, I might never do it. So, when I discovered this book, about an 8 year old, who not only did it, but definitely wanted to do it, I decided it would be an essential read. And so it was.

Paul Molyneaux, at the age of 52, and with the trail name of "Tecolote," which means owl in Spanish, sets off on the approximate 2,200 mile hike, with his son, who was only 7 when the hike commenced, and who is known only by his trail name, Venado, which is deer in Spanish. (They live in Mexico for half the year). Usually "thru-hikers," those in for the "long-haul," start in Georgia and go north; fewer, but a still sizable percentage, go from north to south. The author, and his son start in the middle, at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, in March, and head north. They are immediately confronted with the cold, the rain, and flooded creeks they must try to ford, or by-pass via a nearby bridge. The reason for this, and it is an important takeaway from the book: Molyneaux called it the "anti-Lyme Disease" hike.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Color Name:Hardcover
I like the straightforward writing style. The story has several themes woven throughout that kept me interested and I wanted to keep reading the book to find out how it was going to end. He shares the physical and mental challenges, the communal stories, the history, and describes the variety of trail conditions of the AT all in an entertaining and delightful way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! July 28, 2013
By JuneauB
Color Name:Hardcover
The AT, for those that have traveled any of its miles; can be described in countless ways. Its vastness, compelling lure and unique culture keep both ends (and the middle) of the trail alive for past, present and future travelers. This book describes a path of history, not just for the trail, but that of a father and son and the qualities of human nature and how a family forges the bond to keep one foot in front of the other...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read July 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What an amazing family--what an amazing child. I really enjoyed the author's intelligence, writing style and personality. You would think a child would hold you back on such a long hike but he was always ready to go and with a good attitude. I thought it would take away from the hiking story but it added to it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experience the AT through the eyes of a child June 28, 2013
Color Name:Hardcover
I received this book directly from the author, in exchange for writing a review. But with a life-long fascination with the Appalachian Trail (AT) I couldn't wait to read it.

Paul Molyneaux, a middle aged father of two with a shaky marriage, decides to take his 8-year-old son on a thru-hike of the AT. He is a fan of Benton MacKaye's writings about the trail and how nature restores our souls. But he's as jaded as most cubicle-working, middle-aged adults, and he's searching for the meaning of his life.

The two take trail names (Paul = Tecolate, Son = Venado), shoulder their backpacks and head out. Venado is thrilled by the freedom of the trail, and spends his time asking a million questions and examining insects, animal tracks and streams. Tecolate frets about his marriage and job prospects, and worries about getting to their next food drop before they are hungry.

Over the months on the trail, Tecolate starts to see the trail (and the world) through the unbiased and curious eyes of his son. Even during the hardest parts of the trail - endless rain, mosquitoes, vertical climbs, a vicious dog running loose, filthy shelters - Venudo never loses his optimism. Among a thousand hikers focused on making it from Stone Mountain Georgia to Katahdin, Venado is focused on the joy and beauty of the walk itself.

It would be wonderful if every child had the opportunity to spend time on an adventure like this one. But it would also benefit every adult to go on the adventure with the child and re-learn how to really live.

For anyone who enjoys reading about the AT, I highly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, but wish the loan-to-a-friend feature was enabled!
Loved this book, but wish the 14-day loan-to-a-friend feature was enabled! (You know that feature? Had to add more words.)
Published 5 months ago by Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you wish you were eight again
Not your usual, "here's" what I did book about the AT. Venato is quite a kid.

I recommend this book.
Published 6 months ago by North Country Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!
I thought it would be like bill Bryson's a walk in the woods, which I also enjoyed, but it's much better. Read more
Published 7 months ago by wannabe1987
4.0 out of 5 stars A Child's Walk in the Wilderness
Wish I'd done that! This is a story of an 8-year-old boy who hiked the Appalachian Trail with his "Poppy" accompanying him most of the way. Read more
Published 8 months ago by 1OLD MAN
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice story
Always like reading about AT folks . I'm a section hiker that wished I had hiked it 20 yrs ago
Published 8 months ago by Dale and Ginger Hughes
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Sounded interesting, but I Did not get very far in this book. It just did not hold my interest at all.
Published 8 months ago by lisston1127
2.0 out of 5 stars Through the eyes of the child
From the title I thought this would be from the eyes of the child. It was what the child did through the eyes of an adult. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dan Maynard
4.0 out of 5 stars realistic, warm outdoor adventure
You will enjoy this book if you are now or have ever been a backpacker or hiker with your children. Not a literary classic, it will bring back memories of both good times and bad... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Hiking the AT is no Childs Walk
Excellent easy read, from a fathers perspective; yet the spotlight is on his son and family while using Benton MacKaye's writings as a backbone for weaving the story. Read more
Published 9 months ago by gbolt
5.0 out of 5 stars Top shelf AT Narrative. One of my favorites!
Several years back, as my son Josiah was approaching graduation, I became enamored with the idea of he and I doing an AT thru-hike together. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
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