I want to start off first by apologizing for the lack of recent posts. I haven’t been able to get out of my house in over a month due to the foot surgery I had on Dec. 14. To make up for my winter break of house-arrest and one-foot hoppin’, I decided to travel in my mind. One of the most prominent, if not THE most prominent, travel writers of my generation is Bill Bryson. He has written books such as In a Sunburned Country, which discusses his time spent in Australia, and Neither Here Nor There, which is about a backpacking trip he took in Europe. In total, Bryson has written about eight travel novels.
The book I read was, A Walk in the Woods. This book is all about Bryson’s decision to reacquaint himself with his home-country after having lived in Europe for so many years–20 to be exact. His long-time friend Katz decides to join him and after quite an investment on the correct equipment, they set-off for Georgia to begin the trail, which ends in Kathadin, Maine. Throughout their journey there is a mix of humor (provided mostly by Katz and the interesting hikers they run into) and education (on the forests and Bryson’s dire request for conservation). The only upsetting part about this entire book was the small–well, huge–fact that Brsyon and Katz never completed the entire trail.
After running into a large-than-life map of the AT (Appalachian Trail) they realized they would never be able to complete it, blaming it on their size (these are two large, adult men). They skip a pretty large portion of the trail and then decided to leave the more rough terrain and return a couple months later at the 100-mile Wilderness Trail to finish it off in Maine. During their break, Bryson has the urge to continue hiking, so he drives to certain sections of the trail and explores those paths in daily section hikes.
When the two months ends, Bryson and Katz are at the Maine trailhead eager and ready to begin. However, Katz and Bryson soon become split-up after a rest on top of a mountain. After a day spent alone, Bryson runs into a beaten-up Katz who exclaims his wandering in the trees that scratched and tore at him. After Bryson asks Katz if he wants to quit, Katz immediately replies YES and they find a road, get a ride and go to their meeting point with Bryson’s wife who drives them home. To make this whole trip meaningful, Bryson comes to a deep, thoughtful conclusion that they didn’t need to hike the trail from beginning to end. That they had indeed hiked the Appalachian Trail, which is a true statement indeed.
The book is a quick, easy read and the relationship between Bryson and Katz gives it a human-touch–as if the fact that you feel like you are experiencing all those steps through snow, taking those deep breaths as they ascended a mountain side, wishing you could eat real food and seeing all those views from Bryson’s great imagery-filled words are not enough, I highly recommend taking A Walk in the Woods yourself.