“Bill and his friend Katz decide they are going to walk the 2000+ mile Appalachian Trail and to say that they bit off more than they could chew is an understatement of majestic proportion. From Bill's first experience with a sporting goods outfitter (way too much stuff for way too much money) to the last steps he took on the AT, I was entertained. Bryson is quick to poke fun at himself and his, at times, woeful attempts to be one with nature. I enjoyed the stories of the people he met along the trail; the constantly lost 'Chicken George', a pack of inept boy scouts, a group of partying young people who take over the sleeping lodge. Along the way Bryson and Katz learn a lot about themselves, one being that they are not AT hikers. When they look at a scale map of the trail and realize that after walking for weeks they had only covered about 2" of the map they rethink their hiking strategy and start picking and choosing different parts of the trail to visit. No, they did not complete the trail but Bryson managed well over 800 miles and was justifiably proud of that.
Bryson gives a lot of history and well researched information about the Trail, famous hikers and the areas the trail crosses. Growing up in Eastern Massachusetts I am well acquainted with some of the mountains he mentions. Mount Washington in New Hampshire is exactly how Bryson describes it with the wind at hurricane speed and temperatures that can drop treacherously within a matter of minutes. And how beautiful it is to look out over a forest of trees that were many shades of green and are now blazing reds, oranges, yellows and golds.
This was my first experience with Bryson and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm so glad that there are several more that I can delve into.