Monday, July 13, 2009
A Walk in the Woods
I just read an amazing book. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail was an informative, funny, eye-opening experience. I say "experience" because Bill Bryson pulls you onto the trail beside him. I feel as if I truly understand the hard work and stamina required for such an endeavor and, although I admire what Bryson accomplished and even fantasize about doing it myself, I know, based on what I've read, there's no way I would try to hike the Appalachian Trail.
That's not true. I'm sure I could be persuaded by a hefty dollar amount.
While I enjoy hiking and experiencing nature and new things, from my own personal experience with hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains, I am very much an "indoor girl."
But that's what was so great about Bryson's writing. I could be inside in air conditioning, with a bottle of water next to me and absolutely no mosquitos, and still felt as if I was experiencing the trail with him. I felt as if I was there when he first set foot on the roughly 2,100 mile hike, felt exhilirated with the feeling of unknown adventure, terrified when his friend went missing, awed when he came face-to-face with a moose, and held my breath when something - or some thing - was just outside his tent in the middle of the night with nothing but a pair of staring, glowing eyes. I learned the importance of always packing (and double-checking that you packed) waterproof gear and how quickly the weather can change on a mountain. All of this took him months to learn and experience while fighting heat, exhaustion, rain, and wildlife. It took me just over 24 hours.
There are few books that I will read in less than 48 hours, and even fewer that I will read more than once. A Walk in the Woods has now fallen into both categories.
I enjoyed his wit (his humor is much the same as my own, which always makes a book more fun) and the hilarious banter between him and his friend Stephen Katz (who did most of the hiking with him). One aspect of the book that was incredibly informative but just as incredibly sad was the statistics that Bryson would seamlessly transition into when he reached a new part of the trail or came across a specific animal. I learned a lot about the different problems facing moose, bears (or the problems they present to us), and even specific species of trees.
This is a book I highly recommend. It's one I wish I hadn't waited to read.
Five out of five stars.