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The Things You Find on the Appalachian Trail: A Memoir of Discovery, Endurance and a Lazy Dog Paperback – January 27, 2010
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In this work I not only had the pleasure of a very well documented hike (Kevin was a through walker), but I also was treated to a very nice love story and a most wonderful dog story. Hiking, love and dogs...it does not get much better than that for me.
Kevin Runolfson had just been discharged from the Marine Corps and had just gone though what was apparently a pretty rough ending to a marriage. He made the decision to become one of the people who hike the Appalachian Trail from the southern end all the way through Maine. Unlike many hikers of this trail he chose to take his dog Rufus along on the trip. This canine companion added a new dimension to this difficult endeavor and we readers reaped the benefits of Kevin's decision.
Along the trail the author met a young lady and they became hiking companions; Kevin, Teresa and Rufus...quite a team. Of course as the miles went by it became quite evident that Kevin and Teresa were falling in love. What you are getting here is really three stories in one.
Trail life is well documented by the author and I must tell you that this guy has an acute sense of humor...is actually quite funny in a quiet sort of way. His humor differs from that which we find in Bill Bryson's work in that the humor of Runolfson does not spend time putting down his fellow hikers and everyone else he meets throughout his journey. Bryson can be funny, but he can also be rather arrogant and down right mean at times. None of this was displayed in Kevin's book. I was very impressed that the author was able to laugh at himself as much as anyone else...more so in most cases. This young man is a gentleman through and through. His stories of Rufus were an absolute delight and dog lovers and even to those who are not fond of dogs will find themselves smiling and grinning as we read of this rather uniquely lazy and most eccentric dog...you just gotta love Rufus!
Even though this is not a novel by any means, you will find that the author is quite skillful in character development. As you travel with him you get to know his friend Teresa quite well along with a number of other hikers they encounter. The author's descriptive abilities are excellent...very pragmatic and you feel you get to "know" the trail. Over the years - many years ago - I had the pleasure of hiking small portions of the AT and the author is spot on in is observations and descriptions.
I like books that give us an account of an individual's life; books that allow you to see inside, if only briefly, the workings of a fellow human. I like books that share. I got all of this through the pages of this work. I need to strongly note here that the author is a very skillful writer - one of the best I have read in this particular genre.
If you like first hand accounts of adventure and travel, then this is most certainly a book you want to put on your "to read" list. It is one I have every intention of reading again on down the road.
My thanks to the author for sharing this part of his life.
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.
It is about growth and endurance and friendship. It is also about putting with some pretty
significant discomforts and inconveniences with good humor and stoicism.
I highly recommend it.