Showing posts with label Appalachian Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appalachian Trail. Show all posts

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hiking Through Book Review


Hiking Through
Hiking Through is a bitter, sweet, and victorious story of Paul Stutzman's new beginnings on the Appalachian Trail. He had dreamed of hiking the trail and after the death of his wife, he began that hike. As someone who has worked to continue living during the dark hours of profound grief and loss, who has questioned the presence of God, and who believes nature heals us, I found this book to be both entertaining and soothing.


One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail


Paul Stutzman was raised in an Amish and Mennonite community. He attended church regularly and lived a quietly Christian life. Paul married a "liberal" Mennonite gal named Mary, raised a family, and was successful in the restaurant business. Life rolled along as expected until Mary passed away from cancer. She lost that battle and his faith in an active God was shaken.

He chose the trail name Apostle Paul and began the 2,176 mile hike from Georgia to Maine. When asked about his trail name on that first day he replied, "Apostle Paul. I'm hiking to Damascus, hoping for an enlightening experience. Damascus, Virginia, that is. Then on to Maine."


Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail


I have read several AT thru-hike memoirs.  They have been decent reads. But there is something about Paul's story-telling and documentation of the trail that I found interesting.  I have a basic understanding of protecting your food supply by hanging it in the trees, trying to pack the lightest pack possible and yet have sufficient supplies, and pitching a tent in the rain. Even so, I had imagined the AT as an arduous but well-kept, longer version of other park trails.  

I was wrong.

Paul's descriptions of the wide variety of shelters, weather, and trail conditions kept me engrossed in this book.  He described fording rivers, slipping from narrow board walkways into mucky bogs, and scrabbling over house-sized boulders.  I am certain I have a more clear understanding of the AT trail after reading his descriptions.  I am more familiar with the terms blue blazing, slack-packing, and hike your own hike. 


God and Faith


I do not typically read Christian literature and at the first sign of bible thumping or attempts to save my soul from the fire and brimstone I run the other way. I have beliefs and a certain level of faith, but I have no desire to be lectured by other humans who are as flawed as I am. Typically, as soon as I understand that a book is "religious", I shut it and put it aside.

Some reviewers make statements along the lines of 'I didn't realize God was going to be a main character in this story' (paraphrased). Apostle Paul makes frequent references to his conservative up-bringing, his understanding of the church the requirements to avoid sin, and his questioning of God. After all, why does God let our loved ones suffer and die? And do nothing to stop it?  Paul looked for signs of an active God along the trail.

However, I didn't feel lectured or Bible-thumped. I felt fully as though I were watching a man find his way. And in his search I learned a thing or two.  At the one point in the book that he summarizes his thoughts on God and the trail, he gives the reader permission to blue blaze, and skip that section. Oddly enough, I read every word.

Paul did find his signs that God exists and is active. He found those signs in the dancing of the leaves on the trees. And in the earth-shaking storm that threatened to take his very existence. 
"I was terrified of the storm but I was not terrified of dying. I actually felt at peace with the possibility. I clung to the tree, on my knees in streaming water, wind tearing at my body, rain and hail pounding me. I hung on. I knew God was there."

A Good Read About One Man, One Long Hike, and Faith


If a memoir (not a technical how-to) about the Appalachian Trail interests you, if you have ever lost a loved one and questioned the existence of God, or if you have ever struggled with living a more peaceful life, you will likely enjoy this book as much as I did. 


Other Thru-Hiking Memoirs and Trail Resources:


Paul Stutzman -- The official website of Paul Stutzman. Read about what he's done since thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. 

Trail Journals -- an online community of hikers as they prepare and hike. Read about their hiking gear, their preparation, and their journal entries while on the trail. 

Movie Review of Wild -- The story of Cheryl Strayed and her thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Another hiker in search of something. Watch as Cheryl finds herself. 











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Monday, March 10, 2014

The Squidoo Community Sharing Mid-Atlantic Tales

When I was an “aspiring writer” I imagined writing as a solitary endeavor.  That image in my mind has changed from pecking away at a clacking typewriter to the quiet whispering clicky-click of a laptop. But the image of the tousled-haired hermit bent over a desk has continued in my mind.

Since discovering the Squidoo community, I am learning that writing does not have to be a solitary thing.  Sure, I can’t chat away while doing the actual writing of a piece, but I know that my fellow Squidoo writers are only an instant message or email away.  It’s an amazing feeling to have all of this support while writing. I highly recommend that writers join the Squidoo community.

While I currently hold the title of Mid-Atlantic States Travel contributor on Squidoo, there are plenty of other writers who write amazing lenses about the area. While it’s hard to know exactly where to start, I’d like to share a few of these remarkable lenses with you today.

I’d like to introduce you to Ramkitten on Squidoo.  She is also known as Deb Kingsbury and is a hiking expert.  I have been interested about the Appalachian Trail and have read a variety of articles and books about the subject over the years. Some weren’t helpful and some were helpful but weren’t very entertaining.  Ramkitten gives information with a sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud for real.  I especially like her descriptions and humor in her lens Hiking the Appalachian Trail: What You Really Need to Know.

While lighthouses are not limited to the mid-Atlantic region, you can find Chesapeake Lighthouses by mbgphoto on Squidoo.  I had a hard time choosing just one of her lenses to share because she is an accomplished writer and photographer. All of her lenses are beautiful..

Angelatvs on Squidoo made me feel like a very happy writer when she jumped on my Review Your Favorite Assateague and Chincoteague Island Items and did a wonderful book review of  Aassateague Island of the Wild Ponies. If you like wild ponies, you should definitely check out this book review.

Speaking of Chincoteague, I am hosting a Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry book giveaway at my blog to help celebrate the magic of the islands. You can enter by filing out the raffle form on my blog until March 14th.

Until next Monday, happy and safe travels to you all. 


Image Credit: ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)






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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
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