Monday, October 10, 2011

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

For years my sister has been telling me to read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. She knew of my love for outdoorsy books (most notably Into the Wild) and knew I would just love this one. Alas I kept putting off procuring my own copy.

About a month or so ago, my friend and I were perusing our favorite used bookstores, despite us both being horribly broke. I came across a copy of the book for $2 and couldn't resist. But then I brought it home and just let it sit for a while.

Upstate New York's weather decided to turn back to summer-like temperatures with full sun. A warm sunny day causes the hiking trails to beckon. Now, I am not a hard-core hiker and haven't been camping since one weekend in college. But I do have dreams of doing something more. I decided that a good time to read the book would be in the car on our way to Letchworth State Park over Columbus Day weekend.

I am a very fast reader, particularly if the book is entertaining. I easily devoured 100 pages in our hour-long drive. E would ask me a question or try to point out something along the road and I would completely miss it. I think he felt a little put out that I wasn't paying much attention to him. But Bill Bryson's account of hiking the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz was much more entralling at that moment.

On Sunday I went down to the southern part of Canandaigua Lake, seeking the waterfalls at Onanda Park. I also explored a bunch of other random paths, totally over two hours of hiking. I was exhausted and drove home. I spent the rest of the evening sipping on chai latte reading more of the book. Today, Columbus Day, I had planned to go hiking in Ithaca, but a horrible sinus headache kept me home. Instead, I finished the book. And now I wish I had more of it to read.

Bill Bryson not only shares his own story about his trek along the Appalachian Trail, but also a wealth of history, science, and hiking tips. I really did not appreciate the scope of the AT nor all of the wildlife along it. I also did not realize that conservation efforts are abysmal at best. I am fully aware that forests are deteriorating and endangered species are disappearing. I know the landscape of the United States is constantly evolving. But Bryson brings all of this to startling attention as he weaves anecdotes and facts into his tale.

As he does this, he is not being preachy. He is sharing pertinent information and fun facts that he has accumulated in his research. He is an info junkie, just like me.

A Walk in the Woods is honest. Bryson shares his triumphs and failures, as well as those big decisions that could go either way. I know that I could never pull of such a feat, but I am truly inspired to keep pushing my hiking abilities. Perhaps one day I will do parts of the trail?

Read your own copy of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson by clicking on the picture below.

Another great book about the Appalachian Trail is A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt.

Bill Bryson has written other books, as well. No, I have not yet read them, but they are definitely on my list. Happy trails!


  1. Sounds like a good story.

  2. Sounds like a good read! Thanks for the suggestion. We, too, appreciate nature, though we don't get out much in it! Your post encourages me to think about getting out there more and "experiencing" nature. :)- Katwin2010


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