The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Eager, determined, and woefully unprepared, forty-something amateur hiker Bill Bryson and his even more inexperienced college pal Stephen Katz set out to walk the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail from Florida to Maine. The writer’s wonderfully written account of this ill-fated quest is as hilarious and educational as his less athletic travel books, moving effortlessly from the pair’s well-meaning ineptitude to fascinating historical and environmental details about the trail itself. Bryson’s warmhearted reading brings to life moments of jubilation, fear, frustration, and failure. This audiobook is a wonderful companion for your own wanderings.
Informative, honest, modest and true.
Solid read. I myself am an AT thru-hiker and this book exemplifies with utmost clarity the simplicities and turmoils of life on the trail. Very entertaining and packed with interesting history and scientific facts meshed in with the narrative. Worth the buy.
I've read the hard copy about three times and have now listened to the audio version at least three and counting! Get's me going in the mornings. Hilarious, informative, inviting and real. I'm about to read Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country." I am led to understand it is excellent as well. Thank you Bill!
Do yourself a favor and buy the abridged audiobook. Unless, that is, you prefer half-chapters devoted to the 250 million year old geological history of the Appalachians, Civil War history, why the American Chestnut isn't around, why there aren't any songbirds on the AT, etc.
Further, if it weren't for Katz, this book would be unreadable. I hope Bryson gave a lot of the proceeds from the book to him, because without Katz, this would be a long journalism piece with no emotion or story involved.
Bryson is quite contradictory in his writing, which was very frustrating. In one chapter alone, he derides hikers with technology (GPS devices, cell phones, laptops) but later extols the virtue of Burger King's air conditioning while slurping a "bucket-sized" Coke! For all his complaining about trails, the National Park Service, and lack of conservationism, he doesn't offer any solutions. He didn't volunteer to update Pennsylvania's maps, and didn't joint a conservation group, or even go outside and plant a tree.
If you want a good account of a hiker's journey on a long trail, seek out Backpacker Magazine's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Scott Williamson.
It seemed like Bryson didn't have enough of a "book" based on just his AT hiking experience and padded it with a ton of filler. He also comes across very misogynistic, with very few sympathetic/intelligent/important characters. If you've ever thought about hiking the AT, don't read this book, since through all his complaining you may be discouraged.