Ever since I first heard about it, I’ve wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. I know I likely won’t so now I say “If I win the lottery, I’ll hike the Appalachian Trail.” Regardless, this is a dream. So I’m very happy to read a book about someone who tried to do it.
Bryson is, as always, very, very funny, as he describes his trials and tribulations hiking the trail with his “friend,” but also in his encounters with the other characters who try to hike the trail. If you’ve never read Bryson before, he is perhaps the funniest American travel writer, able to mock both himself and everyone he meets – as well as the places he travels to – without seeming mean or cruel. This is, I think, the third book of his I’ve read, and it is as funny as the others.
As a completist, I can’t help but feel sad that Bryson was unable to complete even half of the trail. But one of the great things about this book is how it acknowledges the sheer physical toll of doing something like this, and how we should all be as gracious as Bryson appears to be in defeat, as the vast, vast majority of people who attempt something like this will not complete this ridiculously difficult feat.
So if you have any interest in hiking, or you just want to read a funny travel book, you owe it to yourself to read this book, certainly the most entertaining book about hiking I’ve ever read.
PS If I do win the lottery, I intend warm up hikes before attempting the AT. The Fundy Trail, the Pacific Rim Trail and the Bruce Trail are all way, way, way less ambitious challenges that I think I would try before ever attempting the AT.