As you can see by the many posts I have much time on my hands. So while reading one book, I've decided to get Bryson's book on CD and listen to it on my MP3 player. Rob McQuay is reading the book and it is very entertaining. Funny at times and informative. Great insite on hiking the AT. Has anyone read this? How accurate is this account? I would like to use some of this information to section hike parts of the AT someday.
Loc: Fredericksburg, VA
I've read many of Bryson's book. He is a great author; very entertaining and well written. From the bits and pieces of what he describes that I've experienced myself, everything is accurate. However, it's not everything you need to know to hike the AT. It is an excellent companion piece, and his historical research and stories are wonderful.
Why am I online instead of hiking?
So how accurate is the information about Centrailia PA? In the book there was a fire some 34 years ago (longer now) that is still smoldering. Is there still an underground fire that will burn for a thousands years. I really know nothing about this area, only what I read in the story/ account. I have been to the white mountains in NH and experienced the sudden weather changes. We were there in July and they were predicting snow flurries. You can really get caught off guard and unprepaired in that region.
Bryson's Book is comedian's guide to the AT. A lot of what is writes is, in fact, based on fact (pun intended).
Most of the businesses he blasts can't tell you about his visit, because they have since gone OUT of business. Some blame Bryson. Some blame the fact that the charges he made were true enough that other hikers chose to bypass those services.
It's also worth noting that Bryson's book probably reflects the majority of those who attempt to thru-hike. They don't make it all the way either.
As for the Centralia fire, I can't tell you much. No thru-hiker goes near the place. But since Bryson had to write a book that filled x-number of pages, local folklore can fill quite nicely. But it's NOT a trail issue.
Just remember, how accurate do you expect Carlos Mencia or the Daily Show to be in their routines? Not all that much. Well, Bryson's book should be taken with a grain of salt too. It doesn't change an underlying layer of truth: many potential thru-hikers grow to hate the AT while they are out there. This is why they quit. Many successful thru-hikers grow to hate the trail while out there and they suffer through a few hundred more miles and go home to do other things.
Then they miss the trail a couple of months later.....
Good for a giggle perhaps, but read elsewhere for reliable info on the AT.
I agree, It was entertaining with Katz throwing stuff out of his pack to save weight. I did think that some of the discriptions of various sections may have given a glimps of what they may be like. I would like to section hike some of those. Mostly starting around the Smokeys.
Supposedly the Katz character is based on a real friend, the same person he travelled Europe with as a teenager many years before, and recounted briefly in Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe, written twenty years after his youthful backpack.
I just finished reading Notes from a Small Island written 3 years before A Walk in the Woods. It's another fun read about his trek (using public-transportation almost exclusively) to the furthest points of Great Britain. His humorous musings are mostly about urban England, but in it he takes many rambles across the countryside, although none so far that he doesn't find a warm (though sometimes shabby) B&B and a pub (often serving him many pints) each night. But in the book he tells of how he became infatuated with hiking (on a trip to a peak in the Lakes district long before this nostalgic trek.)
I think his popularity has come from his affable, self-deprecating nature that comes out so well in his books, yet he seldom pulls his punches in his criticism. And face it, we'd all love to get a big, fat advance to do something like hike the AT and then write down our thoughts on it.