Wednesday, July 29, 2015

AWOL On The Appalachian Trail by David Miller

In 2003, frustrated with his software engineering job and bored with his life in general, David Miller made a decision.  After consulting with his wife who would be left alone with their three children and getting her support, Miller quit his job and dedicated the next half year to hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail, all 2, 172 miles of it.

The trail runs from Georgia to Maine when hiking northward as most travelers tend to do.  Those who complete the entire journey are called through hikers.  Miller gives the reader a day by day description of the life of a through hiker. 

There were beautiful scenic views, stupendous wildlife and many new friends met along the way.  There was also pain, boredom at times and discouragement.  Miller wore out six pairs of hiking shoes on the trip.  He had a bad sprained ankle, an infected foot from a blister that went septic and lost multiple toenails.  He lost an enormous amount of his pre-hike body weight.

What he gained was a new perspective on life and a sense of accomplishment at reaching the goal he had set for himself.  At the end of the hike, he found himself more likely to take chances in his life and much less attached to material things.   He was more outgoing and more patient.  He made friends that still check in with him years later.

I listened to this book while walking at the gym which was probably the perfect place for it as it made the miles I was walking seem more relevant.  Having retired from an IT job and married to another IT person, I could relate to Miller's job frustrations and desire to break away from the office life to experience more and different things.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers, anyone contemplating the A.T. hike, and anyone interested in life challenges. 

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