An All Around Good Read

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail (Updated Edition)
By: David Miller

This review is for the Updated Edition of ‘AWOL on the Appalachian Trail’. Having never read the original version I can’t comment on any changes between the editions.

I’ve read quite a few books about people’s hikes (as opposed as books on hiking) the majority have been tales of the AT. Some were great, books I come back to every couple years to reacquaint myself with, others, well, let’s just say some would serve better as kindling than as literature.

Miller’s AWOL fits snugly near the first category rather than the latter. He pulls no punches in his tale; expounding not only on the joys and enlightenments but also exposing the pains, loneliness and hardships that one encounters while attempting to walk two thousand plus miles up (and down) the Appalachian Trail.

I very much liked Miller’s linear story telling of his hike on the AT. The book begins where he begins at Springer Mountain and each chapter covers the sections of trail he encounters on his journey north to Maine. Some stories I’ve read seem to jump around, shoe horning in bits of story that took place weeks or even months before or after what you’ve just read about. Here you follow Miller from start to finish in a logical manner and I very much appreciated that.

Miller does a good job describing the not only the trail and conditions he encounters along the way but also the people he meets along his way. I really got a feel for what he experienced on his trip.

This is a long book but never becomes tedious or boring. If I had one complaint (and it’s really not a complaint) it would be unfinished anecdotes throughout it’s pages. As examples; at one point a child asks why the author, in the middle of summer, has ski poles, in another he’s ‘menaced’ by a squirrel who is upset at being rousted from his perch and then the story moves on never really satisfying the moments with a resolution.

If you’re a hiker or interested in hiking or know someone planning a long distance hike I happily recommend this book.

Four Stars

Hawk (got all choked up reading about the CT section…)

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