Cover image for A walk in the woods : rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Title:
A walk in the woods : rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Author:
Bryson, Bill.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, [1999].

©1998
Physical Description:
276 pages : map ; 21 cm
General Note:
First published: 1998.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1210 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.6 16.0 35586.

Reading Counts RC High School 11 21 Quiz: 20910 Guided reading level: NR.
ISBN:
9780767902526

9781101905494
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Alden Ewell Free Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Eden Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Orchard Park Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Dudley Branch Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Clarence Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Reading List
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Clarence Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Reading List
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Clarence Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Reading List
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Clarence Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Reading List
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Clearfield Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Marilla Free Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Lancaster Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Concord Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Oversize
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City of Tonawanda Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Williamsville Library F106 .B92 1998C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes -- and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.

For a start there's the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz's overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson's acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America's last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.


Author Notes

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa on December 8, 1951. In 1973, he went backpacking in England, where he eventually decided to settle. He wrote for the English newspapers The Times and The Independent, as well as supplementing his income by writing travel articles.

He moved back to the United States in 1995. His first travel book, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, was published in 1989. His other books include I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Made in America, The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson's African Diary, A Short History of Nearly Everything, At Home: A Short History of Private Life, Walk About, and Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, the Genius of the Royal Society. A Walk in the Woods was adapted into a movie starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.

Bryson's titles, The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, Notes from a Small Island and Neither Here Nor There made the New York Times bestseller list in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

After living abroad, Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with America by walking the famed Appalachian Trail, which traverses 14 states and stretches 2,100 miles. Bryson's book offers a marvelous description and history of the trail and the mountains.


Publisher's Weekly Review

Returning to the U.S. after 20 years in England, Iowa native Bryson decided to reconnect with his mother country by hiking the length of the 2100-mile Appalachian Trail. Awed by merely the camping section of his local sporting goods store, he nevertheless plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance. Bryson (The Lost Continent) carries himself in an irresistibly bewildered manner, accepting each new calamity with wonder and hilarity. He reviews the characters of the AT (as the trail is called), from a pack of incompetent Boy Scouts to a perpetually lost geezer named Chicken John. Most amusing is his cranky, crude and inestimable companion, Katz, a reformed substance abuser who once had single-handedly "become, in effect, Iowa's drug culture." The uneasy but always entertaining relationship between Bryson and Katz keeps their walk interesting, even during the flat stretches. Bryson completes the trail as planned, and he records the misadventure with insight and elegance. He is a popular author in Britain and his impeccably graceful and witty style deserves a large American audience as well. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This funny book has been well represented on radio and television talk shows, with Bryson presenting humorous and often poignant observations about his overweight, ex-alcoholic hiking partner Stephen Katz and their experiences along the Appalachian Trail (AT). Bryson had moved to England and gained most of his hiking experience along that country's friendly trails from village to village and pub to pub. An experienced travel writer (The Lost Continent, Audio Reviews, LJ 9/1/93), he decided to tackle the 2200-mile trail from Georgia to Maine‘and then discovered that wilderness hiking and British hiking are two very different things. Ultimately, Bryson and Katz struggle along a part of the southern trail and then abandon the whole idea. Bryson drives down and samples parts of the remaining AT, such as the Pennsylvania coal country, and finally he and Katz decide to give it another chance and set out into the 100-mile wilderness of Maine‘and quickly drop out again. The book's value lies in its humor and its trenchant observations on the environmental damage along selected portions of the trail and on the history both of the trail itself and the areas of the eastern mountains through which it winds. The author is often hilarious, his companion Katz is an entirely sympathetic character, and one learns a lot about those subjects Bryson touches upon. Fortunately, William Roberts is an excellent reader; his voice is alternately sardonic and matter-of-fact, just like Bryson writes. This will be popular in public library collections especially.‘Don Wismer, Cary Memorial Lib., Wayne, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

YA-Leisurely walks in the Cotswolds during a 20-year sojourn in England hardly prepared Bryson for the rigors of the Appalachian Trail. Nevertheless, he and his friend Katz, both 40-something couch potatoes, set out on a cold March morning to walk the 2000-mile trail from Georgia to Maine. Overweight and out of shape, Katz jettisoned many of his provisions on the first day out. The men were adopted by Mary Ellen, a know-it-all hiker eager to share her opinions about everything. They finally eluded her, encountered some congenial hikers, and after eight days of stumbling up and down mountains in the rain and mud, came to Gatlinburg, TN. Acknowledging they would never make it the whole way, they decided to skip the rest of the Smokies and head for the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia-by car. Late that summer, for their last hike, the pair attempted to hike the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine, near the trail's end. They got separated and Bryson spent a day and night searching for his friend. When they finally were reunited, "...we decided to leave the endless trail and stop pretending we were mountain men because we weren't." This often hilarious account of the foibles of two inept adventurers is sprinkled with fascinating details of the history of the AT, its wildlife, and tales of famous and not-so-famous hikers. In his more serious moments, Bryson argues for the protection of this fragile strip of wilderness. YAs who enjoy the outdoors, and especially those familiar with the AT, will find this travelogue both entertaining and insightful.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

We hiked till five and camped beside a tranquil spring in a small, grassy clearing in the trees just off the trail.  Because it was our first day back on the trail, we were flush for food, including perishables like cheese and bread that had to be eaten before they went off or were shaken to bits in our packs, so we rather gorged ourselves, then sat around smoking and chatting idly until persistent and numerous midgelike creatures (no-see-ums, as they are universally known along the trail) drove us into our tents.  It was perfect sleeping weather, cool enough to need a bag but warm enough that you could sleep in your underwear, and I was looking forward to a long night's snooze--indeed was enjoying a long night's snooze--when, at some indeterminate dark hour, there was a sound nearby that made my eyes fly open.  Normally, I slept through everything--through thunderstorms, through Katz's snoring and noisy midnight pees--so something big enough or distinctive enough to wake me was unusual.  There was a sound of undergrowth being disturbed--a click of breaking branches, a weighty pushing through low foliage--and then a kind of large, vaguely irritable snuffling noise. Bear! I sat bolt upright.  Instantly every neuron in my brain was awake and dashing around frantically, like ants when you disturb their nest.  I reached instinctively for my knife, then realized I had left it in my pack, just outside the tent.  Nocturnal defense had ceased to be a concern after many successive nights of tranquil woodland repose.  There was another noise, quite near. "Stephen, you awake?"  I whispered. "Yup," he replied in a weary but normal voice. "What was that?" "How the hell should I know." "It sounded big." "Everything sounds big in the woods." This was true.  Once a skunk had come plodding through our camp and it had sounded like a stegosaurus.  There was another heavy rustle and then the sound of lapping at the spring.  It was having a drink, whatever it was. I shuffled on my knees to the foot of the tent, cautiously unzipped the mesh and peered out, but it was pitch black.  As quietly as I could, I brought in my backpack and with the light of a small flashlight searched through it for my knife.  When I found it and opened the blade I was appalled at how wimpy it looked.  It was a perfectly respectable appliance for, say, buttering pancakes, but patently inadequate for defending oneself against 400 pounds of ravenous fur. Carefully, very carefully, I climbed from the tent and put on the flashlight, which cast a distressingly feeble beam.  Something about fifteen or twenty feet away looked up at me.  I couldn't see anything at all of its shape or size--only two shining eyes.  It went silent, whatever it was, and stared back at me. "Stephen," I whispered at his tent, "did you pack a knife?" "No." "Have you get anything sharp at all?" He thought for a moment.  "Nail clippers." I made a despairing face.  "Anything a little more vicious than that?  Because, you see, there is definitely something out here." "It's probably just a skunk." "Then it's one big skunk.  Its eyes are three feet off the ground." "A deer then." I nervously threw a stick at the animal, and it didn't move, whatever it was.  A deer would have bolted.  This thing just blinked once and kept staring. I reported this to Katz. "Probably a buck.  They're not so timid.  Try shouting at it." I cautiously shouted at it: "Hey!  You there!  Scat!"  The creature blinked again, singularly unmoved.  "You shout," I said. "Oh, you brute, go away, do! "  Katz shouted in merciless imitation.  "Please withdraw at once, you horrid creature." "Fuck you," I said and lugged my tent right over to his.  I didn't know what this would achieve exactly, but it brought me a tiny measure of comfort to be nearer to him. "What are you doing?" "I'm moving my tent." "Oh, good plan.  That'll really confuse it." I peered and peered, but I couldn't see anything but those two wide-set eyes staring from the near distance like eyes in a cartoon.  I couldn't decide whether I wanted to be outside and dead or inside and waiting to be dead.  I was barefoot and in my underwear and shivering.  What I really wanted--really, really wanted--was for the animal to withdraw.  I picked up a small stone and tossed it at it.  I think it may have hit it because the animal made a sudden noisy start (which scared the bejesus out of me and brought a whimper to my lips) and then emitted a noise--not quite a growl, but near enough.  It occurred to me that perhaps I oughtn't provoke it. "What are you doing, Bryson?  Just leave it alone and it will go away." "How can you be so calm?" "What do you want me to do?  You're hysterical enough for both of us." "I think I have a right to be a trifle alarmed, pardon me.  I'm in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, staring at a bear, with a guy who has nothing to defend himself with but a pair of nail clippers.  Let me ask you this.  If it is a bear and it comes for you, what are you going to do--give it a pedicure?" "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it," Katz said implacably. "What do you mean you'll cross that bridge?  We're on the bridge, you moron.  There's a bear out here, for Christ sake.  He's looking at us.  He smells noodles and Snickers and--oh, shit." "What?" "Oh.  Shit." "What?" "There's two of them.  I can see another pair of eyes."  Just then, the flashlight battery started to go.  The light flickered and then vanished.  I scampered into my tent, stabbing myself lightly but hysterically in the thigh as I went, and began a quietly frantic search for spare batteries.  If I were a bear, this would be the moment I would choose to lunge. "Well, I'm going to sleep," Katz announced. "What are you talking about?  You can't go to sleep." "Sure I can.  I've done it lots of times."  There was the sound of him rolling over and a series of snuffling noises, not unlike those of the creature outside. "Stephen, you can't go to sleep," I ordered.  But he could and he did, with amazing rapidity. The creature--creatures, now--resumed drinking, with heavy lapping noises.  I couldn't find any replacement batteries, so I flung the flashlight aside and put my miner's lamp on my head, made sure it worked, then switched it off to conserve the batteries.  Then I sat for ages on my knees, facing the front of the tent, listening keenly, gripping my walking stick like a club, ready to beat back an attack, with my knife open and at hand as a last line of defense.  The bears--animals, whatever they were--drank for perhaps twenty minutes more, then quietly departed the way they had come.  It was a joyous moment, but I knew from my reading that they would be likely to return.  I listened and listened, but the forest returned to silence and stayed there. Eventually I loosened my grip on the walking stick and put on a sweater--pausing twice to examine the tiniest noises, dreading the sound of a revisit--and after a very long time got back into my sleeping bag for warmth.  I lay there for a long time staring at total blackness and knew that never again would I sleep in the woods with a light heart. And then, irresistibly and by degrees, I fell asleep. Excerpted from A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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