Time to lighten up. Many of you are struggling to get in shape for a spring hike, and doing this after a long hard winter isn’t easy. If you want to laugh, read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Whenever people learn that I’m a hiker, invariably they ask, with a grin, “Have you read that book with the bear on the cover?”
Bill Bryson is a popular writer who lives near the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. After learning about the A.T., he decides one day to attempt a thru-hike. He contacts his old buddy Katz, and right away you get the feeling that there is more enthusiasm than common sense, more winging it than careful planning. This is not a novel; it’s Bryson’s account of their intended hike from Georgia to Maine.
The hilarity begins when the overweight and bumptious Katz shows up at the trailhead in Georgia with donuts and the backpack from Hell. What ensues is a telling of their adventures and mis-adventures as they hoof it north. All kinds of crazy things happen, but this is not slapstick comedy. They try to make a go of it and, in their individual ways, come to terms with the wilds.
For reasons you will read about, they decide to occasionally hitch rides rather than walk. But they do (if memory serves) accomplish about 750 miles of actual hiking. If you want to relax and feel happy, pick up this book. Bryson is a marvelous writer with the perfect tone to give you an entirely new perspective about walking in the woods.