AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
“Makes you feel the pain and joy of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike . . . In vivid colors, David paints a picture of his memorable journey.”—Larry Luxenberg, president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society
In 2003, David Miller left his job, family, and friends to fulfill a dream and hike the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thru-hike along the entire 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine. On page after page, readers are treated to rich descriptions of the valleys and mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the life-changing moments that can only be experienced when dreams are pursued. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about safety and proper gear, showing a professional hiker’s preparations and tenacity. This is not merely a travel guide, but a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man’s adventure and what it means to make a lifelong vision come true.
my hike was questionable due to injury strengthened my desire to finish. Where you ever bored? Yes. In part, that is the purpose of doing a hike. I keep myself too busy. As I said in chapter 5, hiking was a “forced simplification of my life.” We are in an era when the demand for our attention is exploding. TV, e-mail, and the Internet had blossomed before my hike, and in the short time since I’ve finished, smart phones, Facebook, and Twitter have been added to the roster. There is a danger
which begins after I’ve already hiked eighteen miles. I crawl ahead and rest frequently, not caring how late I’m on the trail today. I take my pack off and sprawl out on a boulder, waiting for energy to return to my body. I see Bigfoot hiking by, so I put my pack on and follow him to the top. We both take a short side trail to Dragons Tooth, a spectacular pointed monolith jutting more than thirty feet high. He climbs the rock, but I’m too tired for the diversion. I want to move on, and I meander
Europe. Virginia is less physically demanding than the first three states. Hikers celebrate upon reaching the town of Damascus, then move into Grayson Highlands, with open grassy ranges and wild ponies. By the middle of Virginia, hikers have walked off the enthusiasm they had at the start of their journey, and the end is still nowhere in sight. One quarter of the AT is in Virginia. The ten miles of trail in West Virginia are notable for passing through the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail
trail. Worthington’s Bakery is right on the trail at Culvers Gap. The store is a heralded trail stop but has an insolvent aura, as if the owners are no longer restocking. There is a foot-long gap between the lone bottle of ketchup and a few loaves of bread. I browse the sparse shelves and cobble together a lunch. The young pierced-navel girl behind the counter, talking on a cell phone, probably would have been happier if I didn’t bother her to buy food. She rings me up without saying a word to
southern half of the trail in 2002 and is doing the northern half this year. Buckeye is also in town to escape the bad weather. “If we were paid to do this, we would have quit by now,” he says. Obviously his joke rests on the fundamental enigma of the trail: why do we voluntarily, happily (mostly), submit ourselves to tribulation? Aside from the spectacular moments, aside from the gratification of working to accomplish a goal, there is ownership. This endeavor is much more endurable because we