A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian TrailA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Originally published on August 12th, 2012
This made me want to hike the Appalachian Trail. And, at the same time, not hike it. Ever. Especially since I’m sure I’d feel compelled to finish the whole thing if I hiked any portion of it, and really, I don’t feel like driving repetitively to the states every summer for the rest of my life to hike chunks of what must be the longest hiking trail in the world. Twenty-two hundred miles is a staggeringly long distance. And it feels kind of rude to neglect all the kilometers of beautiful hiking trails in Canada and go straight to a rather lackluster trail in the states. Even if it is a whole 50 years old. Well, 60+ by now. It’s hard to believe that 60 some years is considered old for anything at all. But then, I have no idea how old any of the hiking trails in Canada are, so maybe it is quite impressive. More so when you read about how stupefyingly poorly managed large portions of the trail are and have been in the past. I’d be delighted to read an update from Bryson stating whether he did more hiking on the trail, and if any of the problems he noted (with shelters, etc) were ever repaired or improved. Did anyone ever do anything about the aphids killing all the hemlocks in the Blue Ridge Mountain section of the trail? Has anyone found a cure for the chestnut blight? Did the National Forest Service manage not to screw things up too badly? On that note, I really appreciated all of his historical, geological and environmental side notes. It added a depth to the book that I think would have been lacking if he had only written about hiking the trail, and not included its history; the creation of the Appalachians, the managing and funding and operating problems of the trails, and complaints (quite justifiable) about how bad the maps are. I’m making a personal note of that; the next time I go on a hike I am going to check the maps out very carefully, and only buy good ones. Assuming, of course, good ones are available. Oh, and I’ll learn how to cook something other than noodles.

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