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Skywalker--Close Encounters on the Appalachian trail [Kindle Edition]

Bill Walker , Jerry Gramckow , Audra George
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Why would a middle-aged businessman who had never even spent the night outdoors, attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail? Bill Walker, a former commodities trader in Chicago and London, and an avid walker, had developed a virtual obsession to hike this historic 2,175 mile footpath in one hiking season. In the spring of 2005 he set off from his home state of Georgia, hoping to make it to Mount Katahdin in northern Maine before the arrival of winter. Immediately, he realized he had plunged into a whole new world. For starters, the Appalachian Trail has some ferociously difficult terrain, winding through dramatically diverse geography and covering the East's highest peaks.

Walker's 6'11' height earned him the trail name, "Skywalker", and drew envious attention from his fellow hikers. However, the height made him more susceptible to weight loss, cold weather, and crushing fatigue. An elemental fear of bears and snakes, as well as getting lost, also loomed large.
Skywalker was especially struck by the rich culture this jewel of a trail has developed over the years. Included is a history of how the Appalachian Trail has become such a stunning American success story over the decades. It is a model public-private partnership. As many as 4,000,000 people hike some part of it each year.

Mortals are compelled--or perhaps cursed--to relive their lifetime adventure. This is Bill Walker's unforgettable version, leavened with ruthlessly self-deprecating humor. Some have joked that the book is as much about what NOT to do, as what to do. Skywalker couldn't agree more!

Editorial Reviews


"Walker's description of his fellow hikers is the best part of this fine book. He has a real talent for capturing human foibles."  Smoky Mountain Book Review, Jeff Minnick

"Ruthlessly self-deprecating. It's a winning tone." Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tom Becnel

"I was surprised and frankly happy at his honesty. I respect his dealing with the subject of trail romance the way he deal twith it and not using graphic descriptions." Village Soup Republican Journal, Milton Gross

"This book is such a delight to read because of his fondness for people, his observation of their character, and his talent for capturing it all in words." The Appalachian Long-Distance Hiking Association, Linda Patton

From the Author

Some have joked that this book is as much about what NOT to do, as what to do. Skywalker couldn't agree more!

Product Details

  • File Size: 1251 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1460999428
  • Publisher: Create Space for paperback version; 2 edition (April 25, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Y6AGJ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great view of the AT June 22, 2011
By P.J.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First, imagine being 6 feet, 11 inches tall.

You live your life above most people and some tree lines. People ask you "How's the weather up there?"

Maybe you can even get some classic one-liners, such as:

"You're so tall that the giraffes got jealous!"


"You're so tall that even in the summer time you still have snow on your head!"

That last one might actually be a little more relevant to the book I'm reviewing. See, Bill Walker is 6-11. But the difference is, he set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, a trail that runs more than 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine. A novice hiker at the start, Walker, whose trail name is Skywalker based on his height and his last name, learns so much on this trail during his hike. He's funny, witty and, at times, puts himself in situations that you can't help but feel a bit sorry for him.

After all, it isn't easy doing something like this in the first place. But being 6-11 and barely 220 pounds makes it even harder.

Skywalker -- Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail is his story about his hike.

Bill's quest takes him through all sorts of weather and tribulations -- including trying to stay warm or even fit into tents and set up tarps. It shows the hard side of the trail, but it also shows the light side. His interactions and descriptions of the people he meets on the trail are excellent and well-done. He holds no punches, either, which I liked. More on that later.

This book is a perfect book about the trail. History, personal stories and description make this a fine read.

Now for my thoughts...


This book was a page-turner.
Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Appalachian adventure for the 21st Century. March 20, 2008
What is the proper protocol when confronting a bear in the wild? Does one run, play dead, or talk the bear into leaving? SKYWALKER leaves one convinced that Bill Walker could not only convince the bear to stick around, he could probably talk it into sharing a beer with him. This wonderful read is down-to-earth and connects the readers with the reality of what it takes to walk 2,200 miles through the Appalachian region in a summer.
His story is engaging and quite funny.
Mr. Walker sets out on this journey as most do, with little experience and way too much information. It seems everybody he deals with is an expert on how to hike the trail, even if they have never set foot in the woods.
His personal encounters with the variety of folks on the trail make for a very intriguing story, one that captivates the reader, right from the first page. Hikers get "trail names", or nicknames, and some of his friends can make you really wonder about the folks on the trail: "Nurse Ratchet, "The Gang Of Ten", "Mayfly", "Crucible", and "Colonel Mustard", just to name a few, give a "Disneyesque" atmosphere to the every day grind that is a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. As for Bill's name "Skywalker", at six-feet, eleven-inches, and a last name of "Walker", it was a natural!
Allow some time to sit down and really enjoy this adventure, you'll be glad you did.
Oh, and as for the bear, you'll have to read the book to find out for yourself!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skywalker December 2, 2011
We encountered Skywalker early on in his 2005 Applachain Trail hike and enjoyed his company as we leapfrogged each other for about a week. We were delighted to later read his book. Skywalker's story telling is quite entertaining, factual, and a true-to-life experience all hikers go through don the trail. His account of the trail accurately describes the friendships made, the hardships endured and spiritualness discovered from long-distance hiking. It is worth reading for those interested in hiking all or part of the Appalachian Trail.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lisa Rogers May 25, 2008
Bill Walker tells an interesting tale of his adventures of hiking the Appalachian Tale. Sounding more like a "how NOT to" book than a guidebook is appealing and gave an incredible look at the characters of the people who take on the adventure of the AT. With the stories of his life on the trail and the people he meets he brings to reality the determination and commitment it takes to take on an adventure of this magnitude.
His vivid descriptions of life on the trail is informative and entertaining for the armchair adventurer like myself, tantilizing a wonderlust for hiking.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Narative, Horrible Conversations November 9, 2008
Walker does a wonderful job in describing his trip along the AT. He is gifted at maiking you feel as if you are walking along with him on his trek.

However, he needs to work on his conversations. Mr. Walker must REALLY like his nickname, Skywalker, becuase he uses it in just about every conversation. A paraphrased example...

"So Skywalker, how far did you hike today? " said person X.
"About 20 miles", I said.
"Wow, that's a long way Skywalker".

People just do not talk like this. I found myself really enjoying this book until the writer tried to recreate a conversation. It was just very unnatural.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a documentary on the trail itself February 11, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I really liked the inclusion of descriptions of the folks who hike the trail. It takes all kinds!
If one ever thought that thru-hiking was a piece of cake, this book told with self-effacing realism should change that perspective.
I highly recommend the read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about the AT
I liked the way 'Skywalker' takes you with him on this trail of adventure. It was the special way of writing and the humor that he has to describe his encounters that made me want... Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not appreciate the foul language It was not necessary It shows...
Did not appreciate the foul language It was not necessary It shows lack of education with language
Published 3 days ago by Gwen
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Summer Read
I thought the author was very descriptive about the trail. He showed the trials and tribulations of being a thru hiking.
Published 6 days ago by Canlei Wick
5.0 out of 5 stars As I have gotten older I like books written by people who can give me...
I have met the author Bill Walker and he is the real deal. As I have gotten older I like books written by people who can give me a first hand account of their honest experiences. Read more
Published 7 days ago by john Lampe
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed Review Of The Appalachian Trail
I am a thru-hike hopeful for hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) one day. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Rick Seals
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I absolutely loved this book! It makes me look forward toward my thru hike someday! This book is a great account of an epic journey!
Published 20 days ago by Seth
4.0 out of 5 stars He created an aspiration
I am not a hiker and never will be but I do reside in North Carolina, which contains a small portion of the Appalachian Trail. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I actually read this one after his later book, walking the Pacific Crest Trail. Both were extremely informational, good fun, and made you want to try this.
Published 1 month ago by N. F. Duncan
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable book
well written, informative, above all entertaining. i read it in non-stop and have downloaded his other books also. must read for travel fanatics. Read more
Published 1 month ago by neelima bhatia
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it
Done a good job, I enjoy reading about the AT.
Would recommend it to my friends.. Good that he told of the good & bad of the trail.
Published 1 month ago by Freckles
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More About the Author

Bill Walker attended the University of Georgia where he received a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Accounting. He spent the two most boring years of his life as a tax accountant at Arthur Andersen in Atlanta.

Walker then became a commodities broker for the next fourteen years, first at the Chicago Board of Trade, then at the London International Financial Futures Exchange. That was anything but boring. But in 2001, the entire business was computerized. It was again time to sharply change course.

Walker became a VISTA volunteer and was the welfare-reform coordinator for the South Texas region. He then moved to Latin America where he taught English as a Second Language in five different countries.

In 2005, he thru-hiked the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail. Upon completion, he wrote Skywalker--Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail. This book has sold steadily on In 2009, Walker hiked the 2,663 mile Pacific Crest Trail. He recently published a narrative of that journey called, Skywalker--Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is the number one selling book on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Walker, who is 6'11", is currently working on a book on the subject of height. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.


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