Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

After finishing Into Thin Air, I needed to read something a little less harrowing. Sure, nature can be scary, but there have to be a few great pursuits that anyone with a little free time and a backpack can do, right? I picked up A Walk in the Woods because the premise sounded interesting and because Bill Bryson is a pretty amusing dude. I wasn't disappointed.

A Walk in the Woods follows Bryson and his friend Katz, an overweight, outgoing loudmouth, on their attempt to walk the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. The A.T. is a huge undertaking, 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine, requiring 6-8 months, lots of food, and some good boots. Bryson and Katz start out as complete amateurs and end feeling like grizzled mountain men.

Although the trail itself was very interesting, some of the anecdotes not directly related were most interesting to me. For example, there's a town somewhere in the States (I can't remember which state and don't have the book handy) where, 80 years ago, a coalfire began underground. The heat caused the ground to begin cracking and collapsing, eventually turning Coalville into a vertual ghost town. The fire is still burning beneath it, and a few hearty souls still live there.

I don't really know what to say about this book. I enjoyed it and it had something of a surprise ending (SPOILER: They quit before the end of the trail), but mostly what I got out of it was an appreciation for nature and for the scale of the United States. Unlike Into Thin Air which probably put me off mountain climbing forever, A Walk in the Woods made me want to take a hike myself. Anyone want to be Katz?


Christopher said...

Not fat enough. Try Nathan.

Meagan said...

this is one of my favorite books. i just told billy to read it so maybe we'll have another review soonish