A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on July 7, 2008

Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is a New York Times National Bestseller for good reason. While I am not the outdoorsy hiking type, I most certainly enjoyed and was able to relate his tale, particularly that of his part time hiking partner Stephen, the even less inclined hiker.

Their mission to hike the entire Appalachian Trail is one of immense proportions (2,200 miles), a hike predicted to take anywhere from 6 months to a year, that this reviewer would never attempt in the first place but can certainly appreciate the efforts of those that try. I highly recommend this memoir for anyone who also is not much of a hiker themselves but can find humor with their trials and tribulations. (Particularly Bryson’s continual paranoia of bear attacks.)

The pair meet many characters along the trail, from the super annoying, the helpful and the overachievers. They struggle through the weather, maps, blisters and packs too heavy to carry except for the essential Snickers bars of course. In addition, Stephen’s propensity towards trouble makes for additional unseen issues ranging from the sad to downright hilarious.

Initially I thought their journey was a straight through hike, but it’s actually broken up into several segments over time, where Bryson does some solo day hikes and does a few legs of the trail, days at a time with his companion in tow. The best part being of course when they would come out of the wilderness and into whatever little town or store had situated itself along the trail. The descriptions of showers, real food and clean clothes will leave you clinging to your own at the very thought of going without for a week!

On the Bookalicious scale: 4- Satiated! A most tasty read, yet not overfilling.

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