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who Kevin falls in love with on the trail
on December 18, 2014
This is an enjoyable book with an engaging style. Rufus, Kevin Runolfson's dog, adds much to the storyline as does Teresa, who Kevin falls in love with on the trail. Four stars as a trail narrative. My only issue with this account is the long standing (and mostly dormant) debate about what constitutes a thru-hike. Runolfson, aqua blazes, canoes 40 miles of the Shenandoah River paralleling the trail in Virginia. He, yellow blazes, hitchhikes, 13 miles in Pennsylvania. In Vermont, he blue blazes, a more convenient and easier side trail to the Long Trail Lodge and than decides to walk on roads for while rather than follow the trail into Norwich. At the top of Moosilauke, another piece of footpath is overlooked when he takes the wrong trail down the mountain. He misses an entire section of the White Mountains, due to a hangover, and curtails another piece of the Whites hiking down a side trail and hitching a ride to Gorham. In the 100-Mile Wilderness, Runolfson decides on a detour along miles of logging roads to get ahead of the crowd. The rationale for this is "hike your own hike" but Runolfson mentions, with some apparent resentment, a northbound who "has traveled 400 miles, yellow-blazing half of it." The reader is left to ponder what exactly constitutes a thru-hike.
Throughout the account there are numerous references to prices that are charged for goods and services along the trail. This is understandable as hikers are taking six months off to hike the trail and are on a budget. Runolfson complains about the $20 cost for a campsite and lambasts one individual who is charging $12 for a $10 phone card. He resents the AMC (called the Appalachian Money Club in the book) and paying $6.00 to sleep on a tent platform. Conversely, when things are inexpensive or free, Runolfson is delighted. I have no problem with any of this. However, the price of his book ($30, when a comparable volume is $15) may be a bigger rip-off than anything mentioned in the book. Why so much? There's nothing to suggest any of the proceeds are going back to the trail or a charity.