Who could have guessed that an out-of-the-blue reunion with a long lost cousin and a subsequent “mountain climbing” adventure with him in the Berkshires and a post-surgical recovery book gift would lead me to a walk on the Appalachian Trail. When the gift book is Bill Bryson’s informative and always humorous book, “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail,” a reader will stand up and flex his leg muscles. The next thing is to start thinking about doing a day hike on a portion of the Trail as it crosses from Connecticut through Massachusetts and on to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I found the book highly readable and engrossing as it described the ordeals and delights of walking along the wilderness trail, the eerie nights camping out in pitch darkness with bears in the area, and some of the characters met along the Trail and in the nearby towns. Best of all for me was reading a good deal of history about the development of the idea for the Trail and the history of the Trail since it was officially opened in the 1930s. Bryson also relates many, many stories about legendary hikers and, unfortunately, some of the fatal incidents that have taken place over the years. But best of all are his anecdotes about his hiking buddy, Steven Katz, who certainly adds a great deal to the adventure and to the contents of the book. When spring comes, I will be looking at library guides to walks in New England to find a nice and easy part of the Trail where my wife and I can “hike the Appalachian Trail” somewhat like Bill and Steve. We’ll let the rest of the Appalachian Trail wait until after our first foray on the Trail.
RATING: * * * * Very, very good
Reviewed by: EJW
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