AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

David Miller

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0547745524

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“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.

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studded with enough rock to give me hope of crossing without getting wet. I progress stepping from rock to rock, easily at first, then having to make longer jumps. I come to an impasse tantalizingly close to the far shore. I backtrack and then try to advance picking rocks a bit more upriver. Again, I am thwarted just fifteen feet from the north shore. I return all the way to the shore where I started, change into my rubber clog camp shoes, and begin to wade across. The water is numbingly cold,

back toward the trail. From above, Bigfoot tells me about the views, and how the last bit of climbing was tricky. I can sense a little fear in his voice, so I wait for him. Bigfoot climbs down without incident, and we walk the rocky trail together. The descent from Dragons Tooth is steep, often made by sliding down rocks on hands and butt. This descent is steeper and longer than the climb up Albert Mountain. From the rocky ridge, we see where we are headed: it is a house in the valley with four

I’ll need when I get to a store. Most pressingly, I need another fuel canister. For all the towns I’ve passed in Pennsylvania, I’ve not been to an outfitter. I’m lucky to have stumbled into a free dinner tonight because I only have enough fuel to cook one more meal. There is a mailbox with “register” written on the side, oddly placed on this inconsequential peak. Registers away from shelters are rare. I open the box to sign the register and find that someone has left behind more trail magic—a

slack-packed with less than twenty pounds. I hitch back to North Woodstock, satisfied with my two sorties into the White Mountains. Tomorrow I will take on the bulk of the Whites with a full pack, spending four nights before my next resupply. I wake up sore and worried that I am getting sick. My soreness is status quo, and a big breakfast in town eliminates my malaise. Conditions, crisply cold around sixty degrees with clear skies, are perfect for a foray into the mountains. I’m eager to go, but

Smoky Mountains come close; they may be equated to one- or two-day-old mountains of sand. I’ve been doing less than two miles per hour on the days in the Whites, and fourteen miles is a full day. Most everywhere else on the trail I would plan to hike about twenty miles a day, and in a pinch I could hike faster than three miles per hour. My feet hurt with renewed intensity now that there is more rock walking and steep, toe-jamming descents. There are a number of section hikers on this strenuous

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