Friday, December 3, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

I have a Goodreads account; I think every one who knows me best was shocked that I chose to do a blog about hiking/outdoor adventures over books. I suppose I like that people get to follow me as I learn about hiking and backpacking, that there is a sense of progress to it. I wasn't an English major, so I never feel comfortable advertising my thoughts on books when there are so many higher, more qualified authorities.

Today, however, I will! I just finished reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and wanted to share my Goodreads review. My parents had lent me the book after they both read it, and were pretty excited about it! I think my Dad especially may be a bit disappointed with my thoughts on it, as he enjoyed it so.

Disclaimer: I love hiking, even for its occasional discomforts. Keep that in mind, and remember that my opinion is never to be taken too seriously!

Bryson describes his (and others') experiences along the Appalachian Trail with smart wit and breathes of cynicism, explaining that as with any other government organization, the Park Services (National or State) aren't incredibly logical agencies, however idealistic some in their employ may be. 

I enjoyed the blend of history, geology, ecology, and anecdotes, but really had a hard time truly losing myself in this book as Bryson comes across as a bit of a whiner sometimes. When he's giving you all the information, its really fun and easy to get sucked in to the topic at hand. Thing is, we're talking about someone who says they are going to hike the AT, has the time and (apparently) the money to do huge chunks of it as a thru-hiker, yet gives up at Gatlinburg only to take smaller day chunks out of the New England sections with his car, then meet up with his original trail buddy in Maine to finish the Hundred Mile Wilderness in one shot... that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. At that point, they're out of shape and no longer conditioned to be comfortable carrying their packs, as well as beginning the hardest, longest stretch of uninterrupted wilderness.

It goes back to my problems with Eat, Pray, Love. The whole world does not have the time or the money to drop their day to day lives to go travelling, despite their personal aspirations. What Gilbert did that Bryson does not do, however, was discuss her gratitude for the opportunities, and try to do justice in her rhetoric to the beauties she witnessed. Bryson just plods along, complains a bit, enjoys a hot meal at a rest stop when possible, and gets sardonic about... well, everything.

Sometimes this book made me want to read his other travel books. Sometimes this book made me anxious to start the AT myself. About half the time, though, I just wanted more information, and less Bryson muttering.

Thank you all for your continued support of this blog! I appreciate it beyond belief.

I will be headed to England in a few days to stay with family. This will be my first trip back to the Mother Land in over seven years. It's going to be very bittersweet as those that know what is going on in my family can attest to; forgive me for not discussing details online. Just know that any thoughts and prayers are appreciated, and when I return to South Cackalacky there will be many more trail posts! Patience is appreciated!

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