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A Walk in the Woods


It feels like a crime to re-read a book, at least for me. My reading
list is as long as my arm (actually, about five times longer than my
arm). I’ve got stacks of books that I want to read and haven’t cracked
the spine of yet. So, when I think of taking time from all those
neglected books to re-read a book I’ve already read, I feel bad. It’s
like I’m neglecting all those other great texts. However, it couldn’t
be helped in this case. I had to re-read A Walk in the Woods.

I read this book the first time a few years ago and just loved it. Bill Bryson
is a stunningly good author and very, very funny. I highly recommend
all of his books, they are extremely enjoyable. Walk in the Woods is
exceptional though even for Bryson.

The subject of the book is the Appalachian Trail.
First, for those that don’t kow about this trail, it is a 2,175 mile
hiking trail that extends from Georgia to Maine. Every year people
attempt to hike it’s length, called “thru hikers”, only a small
percentage of those that start make it all the way to Maine.

Walk in the Woods
is Bryson’s attempt to hike the trail. His is joined by a very
non-hiker friend of his, Katz, and you are treated with laugh-out-loud
humor as you trek through the woods with these two.

I would like to hike the AT at some point. It takes about five months
to hike completely, starting in early spring in Georgia and ending in
fall in Maine. Until then, I’ll just have to join Bryson and Katz on
the trail every few years.

3 Comments

  1. charlie arehart

    July 28, 2005 at 4:38 pm

    Funny, I had the same thought just this week and went and got the book on tape. I loved it a few years ago, and after recommending it to a friend looking for a good summer read, I decided to get him the book and me the tape from the library. Loving it! Like you, it’s a guilty pleasure doing it again with so many other books to read, but I did it with Tolkien and am doing it with the 4th Harry Potter in anticipation of the movie (sorry if that just cost me respect among readers. Don’t knock them till you’ve tried them.)

    The reason I found your entry was I was googling to find if anyone had created a Google Earth overlay tracking the AT (or specifically Bryson’s path). If anyone learns of one (particularly if someone else finds this entry and my comment and adds another here), I’d appreciate a note to me directly: charlie (at) newatlanta.com. Thanks

  2. Hey Charlie,

    Someone _should_ make a Google maps application of the AT, that would be very cool. I’ve seen some great demos of Google Maps online, including the one for my hobby site at http://www.roadsignmath.com/. I’m thinking of tackling a little project to make a map of the bike trails in the Minneapolis metro area.

    Anyway, I do know that NASA’s WorldWind program _does_ have a route for the AT on it. You can show the AT trail as a highlight on the globe. It’s pretty neat, and the program is in some ways much coolor than Google Earth, particularly if you like to look at weather systems. You can see more at http://worldwind.arc.nasa.gov/.

  3. charlie arehart

    July 29, 2005 at 9:27 am

    thanks very much for that, Jamie. I do have worldwind, but to be honest I’ve never found it effective. Indeed, I just tried to use the "find places" feature, searched for the AT, found several links for it of type "trail", yet when I followed them, there was no sign of the trail. It only zoomed in (very close) to the spot. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to zoom out (hold both mouse keys and move down—a hassle if you have only a laptop with a glidepoint-style integrated mouse pad. I love Google Earth’s keystrokes of ctrl-up/down arrow instead. Anyway, once I zoomed out a little I thought there would be a trail overlay, but don’t see one. I don’t mean to turn this into a Worldwind bash or tech support forum, but on th off chance that others may see this in the future, are you saying that one should be able to see the trail outlined in WorldWind? Any thoughts on why the default interface and simple steps followed above would not show it? Thanks for the follow-up.

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