Why would a middle-aged businessman who had never even spent the night outdoors, attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail? Bill Walker, a former commodities trader in Chicago and London, and an avid walker, had developed a virtual obsession to hike this historic 2,175 mile footpath in one hiking season. In the spring of 2005 he set off from his home state of Georgia, hoping to make it to Mount Katahdin in northern Maine before the arrival of winter. Immediately, he realized he had plunged into a whole new world. For starters, the Appalachian Trail has some ferociously difficult terrain, winding through dramatically diverse geography and covering the East's highest peaks. Walker's 6'11" height earned him the trail name, "Skywalker", and drew envious attention from his fellow hikers. However, the height made him more susceptible to weight loss, cold weather, and crushing fatigue. An elemental fear of bears and snakes, as well as getting lost, also loomed large. Skywalker was especially struck by the rich culture this jewel of a trail has developed over the years.
Included is a history of how the Appalachian Trail has become such a stunning American success story over the decades. It is a model public-private partnership. As many as 4,000,000 people hike some part of it each year. Mortals are compelled - or perhaps cursed - to relive their lifetime adventure. This is Bill Walker's unforgettable version, leavened with ruthlessly self-deprecating humor. Some have joked that the book is as much about what not to do, as what to do. Skywalker couldn't agree more!
©2008 Indigo Publishing Group (P)2014 Audible Inc.
No -- I wouldn't try another book from this author. While I'm sure the story is interesting, I couldn't get past how poorly the editing was. It felt like a good "how I spent my summer vacation" essay.
I only got about 45 minutes in and then had to quit. I couldn't take the adverbs: "He said forlornly."
The narrator has a thick Georgia twang...which I guess is okay, except he constantly sounds as though he's lining up the punch line of a joke. I'm not sure if that's intentional or not. I kept anticipating "You might be a redneck" coming at the end of every sentence. What was more detracting, though, was that the narrator didn't have a good sense of speed or intonation. It sounded very "read" instead of performed, as I have heard excellent readers do.
I love the topic, and I'm sure the writer/narrator is a great guy who did have a very memorable experience.
To sum up the other reviews this is a funny entertaining story. The narration is rushed. I kept checking to see if my speed was set correctly. At one point I even slowed it down to .75. Still Walker is difficult to understand as he slurs words and rushes his delivery. I suggest you pass on the audio and just buy the printed version.
The story is entertaining and l believe l would have enjoyed the story more had the author not narrated. l found that the accent distracts. l would have enjoyed this book as a printed version as opposed to listening to the Southern twang for hours on end.
I love first hand accounts of AT hikes. I was really looking forward to this - but I couldn't even finish it! First of all - writers rarely make good narrators - but sometimes they do. Not in this case. Next the narrative was jumbled and uninteresting. Bill Walker seemed more interested in himself than the trail or the people he met on the way. Listening to this was like being trapped in a room with a pseudo-friend who doesn't know how to have a conversation but will talk your ear off about stuff you don't think is interesting. It is definitely a "guess you had to be there..." story from start to the time I finally had to stop listening!
Skywalker's willingness to laugh at himself and the difficulties he ran into.
There are dozens of other books about hiking the AT. This is the most entertaining one!
Skywalker's slightly amateurish reading voice made this audiobook come alive. I wanted the book to keep going forever.
When his mom drove him to the trail...I loved it. (Mind you, he was in his forties.)
Looking forward to listening to his other audiobook(s).
That he narrated
I listened to this book on my evening runs and to and from work. It was like he was running with me and riding in my truck with me
Yes it was.
Not sure why all the 3 stars and less review. Oh well Hike your own hike and read your own read. Nope not kin to Sky Walker and don't know him personally so this my 5 star review.
I found this humorous, lighthearted. A good example of somebody in their mid life wanting to try a new adventure.
I really did try to get through this whole book & because I want to finish it I will... but... I needed a break from the narration. My son is on the AT at this very moment and I love reading everything I can get on the subject, but this book was difficult to listen to from the very beginning. Bill Walker was rushed in his narration, often flying through words so that they were "almost" mumbled which often caused me to focus more on that than the story line.
No. There are many more wonderful books that better convey the beauty, challenge and spirit of an AT thru-hike.
A different narrator who took their time to relish and live the words.
I read this after being so disappointed and disgusted by Oprah's recommendation of Wild. Skywalker is what I was really after in this classification of travel and adventure. Bill Walker's sense of humor and enthusiasm for lie and adventure have made this one of my Audible favorites.
"The narration is bad. It is to fast."
Very bad narration. To fast.
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"Should the author always read?"
Whilst I really enjoyed the story, and I still think that it's best to get the author to read the story themselves, there were plenty of occasions when I had to question that in this book. Walker's enthusiasm is great, but the speed he reads at fluctuates a lot, and many parts aren't clear to hear. Surely the producer should be listening carefully and redo sections that are mumbled and rushed. It did spoil the story quite a bit, but the actual content was very enjoyable and is the second of Walker's I've listened to.
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