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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 (284 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $10.95
Kindle Price: $4.95
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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: 1239 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:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,720 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 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.
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been reading first-hand accounts written by through-walkers of the Appalachian Trail for quite some time now and have quite a large stack of them. The trail and the folks who hike it rather fascinate me. There is an old saying that "Everyone should hike their own Hike," which is often used by through hikers. Well the same could be said about these hikers who write books about their experiences - "Everyone should write there own story." I say this because I am not one of those people who constantly compare one hiker's book to another. I feel it is not really fare to compare this author to say the work of Bill Bryson's, "A Walk in the Woods." Hey, Bryson is a best selling professional author. Bill Walker is a professional accountant. Each through walk is an extremely, and in many way, intimate experience and each account is written by folks with different writing skills, styles, thoughts, goals and dreams.

Anyway...I found this account, which is written by a middle age man with little to no hiking skills and who had never spent a night alone in the woods, to be absolutely fascinating. Walker, when he started his walk, was almost absolutely clueless. This takes guts. Granted, some might call it recklessness but still and all I had to admire the guy. This is a very long hike which starts in Georgia and ends in Maine. It takes several months for the average hiker to complete and the trail passes through a wide variety of terrain, most of it on the hostile side. To complete this hike; and few actually accomplish this goal, one must have an iron will and be extremely physically fit. While the hike is completed by people in many age groups, it is usually the younger hikers that complete the trail.

My wife and I have been hiking for over 50 years now.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I have read this book twice, the first time several years ago. Bill's down to earth storytelling and easy going style makes this one of my favorite AT books.
Published 13 days ago by Tom & Cathy Titus
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed his story
I enjoyed his story, as I have others....for some reason, I enjoy reading about people's journeys on the AT. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Claire G.
5.0 out of 5 stars that's the best part of hiking the AT
I'm actually a character in the book (but I won't say who). A lot of other AT books are how-to, or the hiker writes at length of the day-to-day mundane. Read more
Published 24 days ago by game05
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! Will read again several times
Loved it! Will read again several times.
Published 27 days ago by Nana Nitter
4.0 out of 5 stars nice read
Always enjoy book about a thru hike. My son is 6'6" so I can relate to the finding of gear that Bill had to deal with.
Published 1 month ago by Ann
5.0 out of 5 stars good read and also a well written book
as a person who loves to hike i found this book great. it actually makes me want to try to hike at least some of the Appalachian trail. Read more
Published 1 month ago by L. johnston
3.0 out of 5 stars Only if planning to....
Difficult to make this experience interesting to someone who has not done it, or is planning on actually tackling the trail. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bevan
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best "Trail" reads I have read
One of the best "Trail" reads I have read. Thanks skywalker, I hope to be on one of the long trails one day to have my own adventure to tell.
Pipe dream.
Published 1 month ago by Simon Reece
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Totally enjoyed every page. So much for a thru hike for me. :(
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
loved it, if you have any interest in hiking, get it!
Published 1 month ago by Gary T.
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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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