A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson


What a treat this was, a laugh-out-loud recounting of Bill Bryson's assault on the Appalachian Trail.  He was accompanied by his high school friend Katz whose preparation involved having walked as a means of getting around Des Moines because his car had been repossessed.  In their first day on the trail Katz fell behind and lightened his pack by tossing out much of their food, including the spam. 

It was fun to read about their adventures in places I know (or knew), like Newfound Gap near Gatlinburg  and Pidgeon Forge, home of Dollywood.  While having a respite in Gatlinburg, they concluded they were not going back to the trail at Newfound Gap, but would drive up to Roanoke to skip a bit of trail.  He tells about the hike in Virginia and their time in Waynesboro.  They were picked up in Front Royal and hiked again later in the summer in New England.

We learn a bit about the beginning of the trail, the environmental threats to it, and interesting bits like this:  in 1850 New England was 70 percent open farmland and 30 percent woods and that proportion is exactly reversed today.  It turns out New England wasn't so good for farming after the McCormick reaper was invented which worked so much better on the big rolling land on the midwest than on rocky, steep land in New England. 

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