Review of AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
As promised, here is my brief review of AWOL on the Appalacian Trail by David Miller. I’ve also gone ahead and included other great outdoors-related books that I have on my list to read right now in case you want some other choices.
I’m going to start with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
Hiking the AT is ‘pointless.’ What life is not ‘pointless’? Is it not pointless to work paycheck to paycheck just to conform? Hiking the AT before joining the workforce was an opportunity not taken. Doing it in retirement would be sensible; doing it at this time in my life is abnormal, and therein lay the appeal. I want to make my life less ordinary.
Whether you read this quote and are inspired to quit your job to go thru-hike the AT, like author David Miller did, or not- I think that there still is an important message and point that he makes. Many people are so comfortable with conforming to norms and standards that are set forth by society. As a college student myself, I am constantly surrounded by this sort of phenomenon.
People always ask what you’re studying and what you plan to do with said major once you graduate and enter the “real world.” Everyone seems to want to tell you what you should do: that you can’t do anything with an English or history degree, that you need to get an internship so that you can have experience on your resume. Your peers have a similar effect, but more indirectly because when you simply see other people do certain things you wonder if you should be doing them as well.
I’ve followed the typical life path thus far; I worked hard in school growing up and was able to go off to college. The next, traditional steps for me to take after graduating would be to get a job, perhaps move into my own place nearby, eventually get married, and start a family. Seeing the people you know do these things, it can be easy to think that it would be okay and normal for you to do the same. However, in my opinion, that sounds like the most boring life in the world.
I believe the problem is that people are scared to go outside of what has been proven to be safe and successful. Failure is a scary prospect, but isn’t that when you are able to learn and grow the most? It is not my intention to knock down this common lifestyle that many people live. If you are able to put food on the table for your family and have a steady job, you are much more fortunate than so many people. I just think that those individuals who are professional whitewater kayakers, or artists, or surfers, or musicians seem to lead the most exciting lives. People are quick to condemn these unusual lifestyles because they may not have the biggest paychecks or consistent schedules, but they are living their lives out pursuing their passions. So why should any of the rest matter if they are doing what makes them happy? Consistency is boring.
Now to get back on topic- AWOL. I was a huge fan and highly recommend the book. I elaborated so much on that particular quote because I think that it is a very important ideology that is part of the foundation of our company and is reflected in what Vestigo does. We encourage people to go explore their outdoors, especially for those who don’t have much experience and thus are willing to do something out of the ordinary for them. It is exciting to push yourself beyond the boundaries you, or society, sets up for you. This book is a great read to get an idea of what life is like on the trail during a thru-hike. The uphill battles, literally and figuratively, experienced by Miller and almost all thru-hikers tell a great story of human perseverance. I thought that Miller presented a very fair representation of the trail; he didn’t sugarcoat the bad times, but also didn’t fail to describe the rewarding times in great, beautiful detail. I felt like I was on the trail with him during many sections.
For those with little hiking experience, do not be scared away. He hiked the entire AT, which is a total of 2,175 miles. You can experience similar mountains and views in a day hike not over 2 miles and without the blisters or knee pains. I don’t want to give much away so that’s all I’ve got. I hope some of you read it! It isn’t too long either I promise. As mentioned at the beginning, though, here are some other books that are on my list to read that are related to the outdoors.
- A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
- Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration- David Roberts
- The Vast Unknown: America’s First Ascent of Everest- Broughton Coburn
- Rock, Paper, Fire: The Best of Mountain and Wilderness Writing
- A Blistered Kind of Love- Angela & Duffy Ballard
- Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail- Ben Montgomery
- The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon- Colin Fletcher
- A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft and Ski- Erin Mckittrick
By: Maddie Anderson