How one man’s six-month, end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail led him back home with a new afterword by the author.Leaving mortgage, wife, and cul-de-sac life behind to walk the Appalachian Trail, Robert Rubin found himself part of a strange culture of pilgrims and dropouts, a world with its own rules and rituals. With eloquence and humor, he recounts his 2,160-mile-long trek—the people he met, the landscapes he passed through, and the spiritual and physical endurance involved. On the Beaten Path is a wise, witty look at one of the few remaining pilgrimages in our disillusioned age.
In the thick of a midlife crisis, 38-year-old book editor Rubin decided to quit his job and hike the entire Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. Rubin is the first to point out the selfishness of his whim, which very likely cost him his career and his marriage. Not to mention that Alden was at least 75 pounds overweight at the beginning of his 2,000-plus-mile hike, "an athlete gone to seed." Nonetheless, the author set out, stubbornly walking off years of stress and confusion. Over the past 30 years, hiking the Appalachian trail has become something of a counterculture ritual, and Rubin both mocks and reveres his cohorts. He has plenty of vitriol for weekend RV adventurers who "would never get any closer to the wilderness than the blacktop out of town," for college kids who blow their trail money on beer and pot and for hikers whose "fastidiousness, organization, unceasing questions, discussion and analysis began driving quietly nuts." The author is no less critical of himself, documenting his own unglamorous moments, which include foul moods, falls along the trail and a bathroom "accident" along the trail. Yet Rubin also cherishes the trail, and his honest, fast-paced account should inspire others to try hiking "the beaten path."
Well written, introspective
I've read at least 10 books chronicling an Appalachian trail through hike. This one is more introspective than most. I guess that's to be expected from a writer turned through hiker rather than a through hiker turned writer. If you're looking for a detailed journal of daily hiking misadventures, keeping looking. If you enjoy a glimpse into someone else's struggle for meaning and fulfillment, you've found the right book.