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on May 19, 2012
Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman is the story of one man's journey on the Appalachian trail, through grief, and to understanding about God. Stutzman spent his life working at a restaurant to make enough money for he and his wife to enjoy when he retired. Unfortunately, his wife, Mary, died of breast cancer, and he was left along and struggling with guilt, grief, and depression. He decided to fulfill a life-long dream of hiking the entire Appalachian trail, all 2,176 miles and fourteen states as a way to find God and to spread his message to husbands to cherish their families and take time to enjoy them. God hijacked Stutzman's journey and gave him a very different message, one that the author shares with readers about hope and trusting in God. I've always had a fascination with the Appalachian trail, and as my illness keeps me from ever fulfilling it, I enjoy reading about others' experiences on it. Stutzman's writing is part travelogue, part journal, part devotional. He does a great job of allowing readers to see through his eyes the beauty he witnessed in God's creation: the storms, the butterflies, the majestic mountaintops. He doesn't just stop to smell the flowers; he tastes them! Stutzman shares many stories about small miracles on the trail, strange coincidences that have God's fingerprints all over them, and he encourages readers to seek out God on their own journey and see what He has to tell them. One of the most powerful messages Stutzman has for readers is that of trusting God in the midst of grief. Here's my own coincidence: I signed up for this blog tour months ago, never knowing that I would need to read a book on grief. But last week Saturday, my dog Cooper was hit and killed by a car. I would never consider weighing the loss of a dog with that of a spouse, but my grief and pain is very real, and I've been struggling all week with the question of "Why, God? Why?" Toward the end of the book, Stutzman stops writing about the trail and for a few paragraphs addresses this very question in such a way that I couldn't help but sob, and then began to feel some peace. He's a great plainspoken writer with a gift for detail and self-deprecation that keeps readers hooked for mile after mile. God gave Stutzman a mission on that trail, and he fulfills it well with this book. I hope he decides to take another journey someday and take the rest of us along with his again.
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on May 19, 2012
Paul Stutzman had always enjoyed hiking, and as a stress reliever he would often daydream about hiking the Appalachian Trail. So when after a four year battle with cancer he loses his beloved wife Mary. On the one year anniversary of her death he finds himself struggling with grief and loneliness, and after much consideration he decides to quit a job that he has held for over twenty years and pursue his dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Mr. Stutzman is a down to earth writer that immediately pulls you into his adventure.I found his back story interesting, and found his fascinating that he had Amish roots. As a nature lover the author's descriptive writing allows the reader to experience nature thru the eyes of the author.The pictures the author includes really adds to the visual aspect of the story. A story that reminds the path toward healing is taken one step at a time. Overall, a great book for anyone who is dealing with grief, Nature lovers and anyone who has ever thought about hiking the Appalachian Trail will also find this book hard to put down.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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VINE VOICEon April 21, 2010
Normally when I discover that a book has no negative reviews, I'm very skeptical. I know how unrealistic it is to think that every reader will adore every book the same way. When it comes to Hiking Through, however, I can understand why every review I've seen, so far, has been 4 or 5 stars. It's terrific.

I'm not an outdoorsy person. I hate camping and I hyperventilate at the thought of aerobic exercise, although I do enjoy walking. I've done, and mostly enjoyed, short hikes here and there over the course of my life, and I walked all over Rome and Florence and Paris, but I cannot fathom hiking 2,220 arduous miles over mountainous terrain. Yet, Paul's account of his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail makes me want to go hiking myself. (My boys will be so happy!)

I could not put this book down. To say it was engrossing is an understatement. It was absolutely enthralling. Reading Hiking Through was like sitting with Paul and listening to him tell his story. He's a captivating, articulate, storyteller and his writing style is easy and comfortable. There are no pretenses, no airs. He's straight-forward about his experiences, he's honest in sharing his grief over losing his wife, he's open about his faith in God, and he paints a fascinating picture with his words. I enjoyed his ability to weave his life experiences into the account; they weren't digressions, they were natural additions to the flow of the story.

Paul is honest about his regrets and realization that he needed something to help him move past his grief and find himself and his purpose again. On the trail, he realized that his purpose is to share his story and to remind people that God is very much aware of them and not to take their wives and families for granted. This is such an important message and one that is easy to overlook.

I loved the commentary, I loved the descriptions. I found hope in so many ways, one of which was in the assurance that there are so many, many good people in this world and that when we judge others from appearance or first impressions, we often miss the opportunity to know wonderful, kind people. Paul shares his experiences with those he met and traveled with on the trail, their camaraderie and friendship, and the joy in finding trail magic. I think that if we could apply the concept of trail magic and helping others, into our own lives, we would be so much richer and happier.

I wish that I'd read this with a high-lighter. There were so many times I read a passage or thought that I wanted to mark and remember. I know that I will definitely reread this and next time I will have that high-lighter handy. I just have to wait until my 11-year old son finishes reading it first!
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on May 23, 2010
Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes after his wife Mary died from breast cancer. Twelve months after Mary's death, Paul quit his job and set out on a through hike of the Appalachian Trail - a 2176 mile journey spanning fourteen states.

The physical journey took almost five months; I suspect that the spiritual journey will never end. During his journey, Paul battled difficult trail conditions and experienced periods of overwhelming loneliness. He also enjoyed spectacular scenery and the camaraderie of the trail, and along the way he found peace.
Paul tells his story with grace and good humour. He started his journey as a man trying to come to terms with a devastating loss. He finished his journey, with a renewed passion for life, and much more aware of his relationship to others, to nature, and to God.

I enjoyed sharing Paul's journey through reading this book and looking at the photographs on his website. The history of the places along the Appalachian Trail is fascinating, as is Paul's recounting of his own personal journey through life.

`Dreams can come true if you allow them to.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on April 21, 2010
We, my wife and I, met Paul at a book signing in Hartville, Ohio. We visited and he came across as sincere and open about his journey. The book was purchased and my wife and I have traded the book back and forth so we each have read the book essentially together.
As far as the hiking goes, I can testify to the difficulty involved, as we have hiked only a small portion of the AT in GA to date. He has inspired us to become thru-hikers and fulfill our dreams. His writing style is open, honest, down-to-earth, and his faith in God is real.
This is a book worth owning and keeping. I also look forward to his second book he plans to write about an upcoming bicycle trip and his exploration of America's front porches and the families living on their porch.
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on February 15, 2015
Over the last 2 years I have read 7 books on hiking the A.T. This was my most uninteresting. Having emotional issues dealing with grief, the book seemed to be driven more by religion, and less about the feeling of walking the AT, with an appreciation for it. Having read all other 6 books, the others go into deep detail about the people they meet, their lodging/shelter accommodations, weather and terrain conditions, etc. In the other books I felt I was walking right along side them, stumbling, feeling the cold of the rain and snow, walking thru the small towns, stuffed in a sleeping bag, etc. I felt that I actually knew these people that I was walking with. That's what made for good reading. I actually felt that I was hiking with the groups, which made it so real because their detailed and interesting stories really pulled me in, and that's what actually walking the AT is all about. I was born and raised in the same area as the author...it is a religious community, so I suspect his book was well received within that community. .
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on October 14, 2014
I love long distance hiking books, but this one fell short for me. I will be the first to admit that I didn't read the back cover as well as I should have. If I had I probably would have passed on this one. I wasn't ready for how much God would be a major character in the book. A small amount of God talk is ok with me, but it was overly prevalent in this book.

My other issue was it felt like all the characters he met along the trail were underdeveloped. Even the people he spent week hiking with.

Stutzman's writing style does make for an easy and quick read. Just ok though.
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2010
Paul Stutzman had always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but life and everything else that goes with it always got in the way. Just like all of us he was to busy to do some of the things he always wanted to do. When Paul's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer all of that changed. Paul finally hiked the Appalachian Trail and this book is a sort of "diary" of his hike. He quit his job and changed his life - even as it had been changed for him.
If you have ever done anything like this you know that it changes you, changes your outlook and how you feel and deal with the world once you return. If you are a hiker or nature lover you will find inspiration in this book and will be able to relate. Paul hiked close top 2,200 miles from Georgia - a hike that changed his life inside and out. This book will do the same for you.
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on October 12, 2014
Mr. Stutzman writes well. He tells a good story. I give it three stars because the book is sort of a walking religious sermon. I wanted to read about hiking the trail, not be preached to. If you are a religious person looking for an outdoor church service, then you might give this book a higher rating. I don't mind, and I do understand, how an outdoor adventure can cause some to feel closer to their faith, but Mr. Stutzman goes way off the deep end here. Other than that the book is very well written. Just not my cup of tea.
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on May 19, 2016
I should have done more research on this book. I was really just hoping for a story about a guy's journey on the Appalachian Trail. This book is inundated with religious overtones, and is loaded with references to god, prayer, and giving thanks for god's gifts. If you aren't a religious person yourself, it's a bit much, and really detracts from the book. I know the man lost his wife and was on the trail to heal, and I was hoping this would end a bit into the book and just focus on his journey. It didn't. So if you are a religious person and want to read about a man's spiritual journey and god telling him to go hike the trail, this is for you. If you're not religious, you probably won't like it much.
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