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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.
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on November 15, 2013
I love hiking and I love dogs and I was looking forward to this marriage of both. It was hard for me to get through the book because of the way the author treated or should I say mistreated his one year-old puppy. It was obvious when the dog had gained 20 pounds and didn't want to leave his friend's house, that he had been very unhappy trudging along behind his ex-marine master, who seemed to have no concern for his dog's welfare. Thank God his girlfriend had a bit more compassion for his dog. I sure hope they're still together so the dog can be treated as he should be.
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on May 2, 2013
Hiking the AT is one of my goals in life, and I decided to start researching the journey with this book!

For some strange reason, this book gave me hope. Hiking the AT is a feat of physical and mental endurance, determination, and willpower. At the beginning of this book, the author finds himself fresh out of the Marines, without a job, and has also recently been divorced. What do you do when life leaves you with so many loose ends? You adopt a dog and take the first step on a 2200 mile hike.

I looked forward to picking this book up every chance I got and was a little bummed out when I finished it. It seems strange that a book about someone walking through the woods would be so captivating, but it's fascinating to read about his experience.

The author began hiking the AT in early Spring of 2001. When I started reading the book, I did the math and realized that he would most likely complete the journey sometime after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Knowing how much the world changed after that day, I was intrigued to find out how this event played into his memoir.

My one criticism would be the way the author complains about paying "exorbitant" fees of $6 to set up his tent at various campsites along the trail. I understand why someone might complain when they can just find a patch of grass for free, but I think these fees probably go toward maintaining the trail and integrity of the landscape. When I visit a national park, I gladly pay the entrance fee, knowing that it will support the park and help preserve it for future generations. When I hike the AT, I plan to do so with enough funds that will enable me to pay for things without feeling the need to gripe and give the campground attendant a hard time. If you don't have enough money to afford an endeavor like this, I think you should wait a little longer and save more.

I would obviously recommend this book to anyone who is interested in hiking the AT, but I think it would also appeal to individuals who have recently gone through a difficult time in their lives. When life throws you a curveball, knock it out of the park.
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on May 15, 2015
One might think that a book detailing a person's hike, day after day of walking, walking, and more walking might become tedious. However, Runolfson does a great job of, rather than simply telling the reader what happened during the hike, taking them along the AT paths with him, Rufus and the interesting characters he meets on the trail. The fact that the 9/11 attacks occur during the waning days of his journey adds an interesting, and haunting, element to the story. If you are considering embarking on your own journey, such as hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or some other inspiring (some call it crazy) challenge, read this book first. The amount of information you will glean will be of more value than you can imagine.
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on November 5, 2010
Near the beginning of this book the author mentions, very briefly, meeting a woman named Teresa. He writes of meeting lots of other people too, before and after, but from the first encounter I could sense that he would hook up with her or at least try really hard. I don't know what gave me that impression and there were long pages when I feared the two would not meet again. But they do, more frequently as the miles accumulate and more intentionally. How does it all play out? It plays out very well indeed.

This is a book about a hike more than a love story, yet the love interest adds a wonderful extra dimension, especially is handled with taste and few words wasted. This is one of the best of the Appalachian Trail Books, nicely written and paced. When you read it you may fall in love with Teresa as I did, but I'll bet you'll fall for Rufus, the dog, first.
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on July 23, 2011
I picked up this book for my Kindle during a summer sale. I am a memoir junkie, and this is right up my alley - a regular person sharing a portion of their life that is extraordinary.

Kevin is in a transitional moment of his life. Having just been discharged from the marines and also freshly divorced, he seeks the trek on the Appalachian trail before starting the next chapter of his life. Little does he realize that the trail is the next chapter of his life.

I loved every bit of this tale, and was sad to see it end. I loved learning more about the trail (have walked on a few sections) and what it takes to make this journey. The trail etiquette, names, angels and other rituals are quite fascinating, along with the general variations from segment to segment. Where will they stay? What will the terrain be like? What will the weather be? What will the obstacles be? Every day was a new challenge, and the people were awesome. And of course, Rufas rocked! Love that dog. Kevin does a great job of telling this whole story.
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on June 12, 2013
I enjoyed this book very much. I'm an "armchair thru hiker" and read a lot of AT and PCT-related books. This is actaully the second book I've read via Kindle (on my Droid Razr HD) and I have to say it's a great way to take a book along. I can usually blow through a 200+ book in a couple days, so I reckon I'll be downloading more.

Now--on to the book. It's written in a very easy style, with no fluff, which is perfect for this sort of book. The story is engrossing and I found myself saying "just one more page" many times. If you want a synopsis of the story, there are plenty of reviews here. I'd just like to say it's an enjoyable and entertaining read, and might be a good one to read prior to doing a through hike to get an idea of what you're up against. I think many people have this idealize, unrealistic notion of what it's like to do a long hike like this. It's not for everyone, myself included. But I do love to read about it!

Check this one out--I think you'll enjoy it. It's not high art or lofty prose--it's down-to-earth, as-it-happened; which makes it work.
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on June 18, 2014
I have read quite a few books on hiking the AT and I rate this one as one of the best. It takes you through the 2000+ mile journey of someone who is hurting from the effects of a toxic divorce.and looks to the trail for some healing. Along the way he meets up with sorts of trail personalities, one of them a wonderful girl named Teresa, Together, along with his less then ambitious dog Rufus. they experience the through hiker life.

This is a wonderful blend of hiking, romance, humor, as well as the good things and the not so good things one will experience on a trek of this magnitude. Kevin is a good writer and keeps your interest from beginning to end. I wish that him, Teresa and Rufus get to take another long hike because I would look forward to seeing another book from him.
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on July 18, 2012
As stated by others, if you liked Bill Bryson's A Walk In The Woods, you'll love this one, too! Kevin, the author, gives a thorough account of life on the Appalachian Trail, complete with the ups and downs he encountered along the way. (I have never referred to the author of a book by their first name in a review, but after finishing the book I feel like he's a friend that I haven't seen in a while!) The tales of Kevin's dog, Rufus, make the story all the more enjoyable! Rufus' reluctance to hike, and his stubbornness when he decides he's had enough, leads to situations that are just hilarious! Rufus' antics, along with the recounting of all the other characters Kevin met along the AT, make this a very fun read!

While Bill Bryson's book was the best I had read about the AT, this one has taken it's place. Mr. Bryson's book was excellent, but I felt like I was outside of that one, watching the two men on their adventure. Kevin's rendition made me feel like I was there with him and Rufus, taking part in the hike along with them. His personal touch to the book made it all the better!

Highly recommended to potential AT hikers, and Armchair travellers!
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on December 21, 2012
Simply told account of Mr. Runolfson's hike, dog quirks, and budding romance. It's a quick and easy travel journal devoid of soul searching, with a smattering of scathing observations on some of the people he met in particular . As an AT section hiker for the past several years, I agree with many of his views of the laziness of American tourists and even some of the weekend hikers you encounter. I didn't mind the observations, although sometimes his descriptions and reactions approached condescension. His views on various topics related to the trail are clearly told however and you know where he stands. Hike your own hike is the maxim on the trail... as long as your practices don't take away the enjoyment of other hikers. For the price, it's a good read if you are interested in the trail or are considering an AT hike in the future.
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