This book transcends just hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
It takes you through a journey of a young woman growing over her time on the trail. It shows different sides of her. Style. Belief. Growth. Fears. Hopes. The whole nine yards.
This isn’t a normal play-by-play book about the Appalachian Trail.
The true different side to this is that this book is written by a woman who was hiking the trail alone. All of the other books I’ve read about the Appalachian Trail are written by men. So this book really gives one a different side of the story, so to speak.
Jennifer Pharr Davis brings a good writing style to the table and knows how to tell a story. She talks about encounters with nature, people, trail towns and more. She gives strong details about her thoughts and interactions with other people. Davis also gives you her beliefs and faiths, which to some might be a little too much, to be fair.
Still, in the end, it’s a good tale of her trip in growth — physically, mentally and spiritually. The book wasn’t perfect — as I’ll share below — but overall it was a solid read and quite enjoyable.
Now for my thoughts…
The big winner in this book is that it comes from the eyes of a different gender. Reality is, a woman hiking 2,200-plus miles solo on a trail with many men would open a lot of eyes. Especially a young female. Men routinely grow their beards and almost become “mountain men” while on this trails, so I’m sure that alone could give a young solo female hiker the chills.
Her fears seem to match many, but put yourself in the shoes of a young female hiker, making a trip like this on her own and detaching herself from what she really knows for the first time.
Her stories make you smile. They make you cringe. They make you wonder. She finds a wonderful way in weaving it all together to make sure things make sense and flow well.
She also wasn’t afraid to show her flaws. In the book, she’ll readily admit her hike was less than perfect. And for that, she’s to be commended. She had an unorthodox way of competing her thru-hike, but I’ll let you see if for yourself. She also shows the benefits of being a female on the trail (easy hitching into towns, for example), which is a different view from many AT books out there.
Though I have no issue with the reality of her beliefs, I do think we get a little too much about God in this book. As someone who doesn’t often share his beliefs with people, I sometimes find having to hear about or read about other people’s beliefs overbearing. Still, I didn’t have an issue with it in the short-term. I just thought that she hit upon it a little too much. And she had no problem talking about how she’d share her thoughts and all with others. To me, that was a little too much at times as, in a few places, it seemed to disrupt the flow of things.
This isn’t all bad, however. This helps her be more at free with how insecure she got at times. It helped her along the trail, thus turning it into a positive. I just have to mention these things as for some others, it might be a turnoff when reading. So be prepared.
Remember, too, that most books I read are on the Kindle. This one had several words that should have been capitalized and weren’t; had a few silly grammatical issues and a couple of style issues. Being I didn’t see the printed version, I’m not sure if this is just the one for the Kindle or both. I’ve seen other books that made it to Kindle that had these type of mistakes but didn’t in the print edition.
Not too shabby. I really like the different vantage point for the book. It makes me happy to know that some people don’t think of this trails as a way to prove manliness (to be fair, most of the AT books I’ve read are not like this, but some trail journals are). That this book comes from the perspective of a young female is excellent. It shows a different side of the trail. The female side. The side of someone who can’t walk two feet off the trail and relieve themselves next to a tree. It’s a good look at how hard of a trail this is for many people, especially females.
On a side note, Odyssa returned to the AT this year and set the record for the fastest thru-hike, male or female. She completed the trail in 46-plus days. Amazing. She even had a day where she hiked 60 miles. SIXTY miles! Wow.
I give this a solid 4 out of 5 stars. It was a quick read and I found myself getting through it easily. Her style is good, her stories are engaging and she has a colorful way of telling her tale. Highly recommended, especially if you are a fan of the Appalachian Trail or hiking in general.
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