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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail Mass Market Paperback – December 26, 2006
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Bill Bryson has made a living out of traveling and then writing about it. In The Lost Continent he re-created the road trips of his childhood; in Neither Here nor There he retraced the route he followed as a young backpacker traversing Europe. When this American transplant to Britain decided to return home, he made a farewell walking tour of the British countryside and produced Notes from a Small Island. Once back on American soil and safely settled in New Hampshire, Bryson once again hears the siren call of the open road--only this time it's a trail. The Appalachian Trail, to be exact. In A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson tackles what is, for him, an entirely new subject: the American wilderness. Accompanied only by his old college buddy Stephen Katz, Bryson starts out one March morning in north Georgia, intending to walk the entire 2,100 miles to trail's end atop Maine's Mount Katahdin.
If nothing else, A Walk in the Woods is proof positive that the journey is the destination. As Bryson and Katz haul their out-of-shape, middle-aged butts over hill and dale, the reader is treated to both a very funny personal memoir and a delightful chronicle of the trail, the people who created it, and the places it passes through. Whether you plan to make a trip like this one yourself one day or only care to read about it, A Walk in the Woods is a great way to spend an afternoon. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Returning to the U.S. after 20 years in England, Iowa native Bryson decided to reconnect with his mother country by hiking the length of the 2100-mile Appalachian Trail. Awed by merely the camping section of his local sporting goods store, he nevertheless plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance. Bryson (The Lost Continent) carries himself in an irresistibly bewildered manner, accepting each new calamity with wonder and hilarity. He reviews the characters of the AT (as the trail is called), from a pack of incompetent Boy Scouts to a perpetually lost geezer named Chicken John. Most amusing is his cranky, crude and inestimable companion, Katz, a reformed substance abuser who once had single-handedly "become, in effect, Iowa's drug culture." The uneasy but always entertaining relationship between Bryson and Katz keeps their walk interesting, even during the flat stretches. Bryson completes the trail as planned, and he records the misadventure with insight and elegance. He is a popular author in Britain and his impeccably graceful and witty style deserves a large American audience as well.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I wonder how Bill plans these things. He had a big bold and also naive plan to maybe hike the whole trail, announced it, spends tons of money on equipment, studies up . . . and then is happy to have a complete non hiker and wild card (Katz) go with him. Maybe he was planning for comedy all along . . .
Well he got it. And adventure. And although yes I did feel like they were wimping out the first shortcut they took – They both became hikers, walkers – going hundreds of miles that I never have.
I was personally insulted that he skipped Maryland – since I grew up about a mile from the trail there. He could have seen our mayonnaise jar shaped stone monument to George Washington (the first one we claim) and that might have put him in a better mood for Pennsylvania!! Being that this book is now 20 years old, I wonder if the PA Trail has improved, or if AT use has increased just because of this book. I hope the trees aren't all dead. Jeesh I need to get out more.
Despite some of the reviewers here labeling Bryson as a “liberal” I didn’t get that. Vulgar? Yes, got that. He comments in passing that the national dialog on the outdoors seems to be so polarized that the only two official positions seem to be over deification of nature or outright hostility to nature. That is so true. Has our discussion improved? No but hey our maps are better!! And we have cel phones and Fit Bits!
For me the sad/funny highlight of the book is when Bill is reading the park information sign in Shenandoah National Forest pointing out that the nearby hemlock trees are all dying from aphids that the park service can’t do anything about it - but “The good news, according to the board, was that the National Park Service hoped that some of the trees would stage a natural recovery over time. Well, whew! for that.”
Whew for that! I’m still laughing at that phrase! Whew for this book!