Awol on the Appalachian Trail
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Awol on the Appalachian Trail

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  2,252 ratings  ·  313 reviews
In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to fulfill a dream and hike the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller's account of this thru-hike along the entire 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine. On page after page, readers are treated to rich descriptions of the valleys and mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspirat...more
Perfect Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 30th 2006 by Wingspan Press (first published 2006)
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I'm a sucker for any long-distance hiking anything book. They give me a false sense of "I could totally do that," even though I get cranky if I don't shower every morning and the longest hike I've ever taken was 6 hours, and that was 16 years ago, and it was ONE time, and I'm pretty sure I complained the entire way.

His matter-of-fact style of writing was really enjoyable for this type of book. It threatened to get a little dry sometimes, but I never got bored. I appreciate not having to listen...more
The best thing about this book is that my son would easily fall asleep when I read it to him. He focuses on tedious descriptions of the less-interesting aspects of hiking while glossing over or ignoring the interesting locations and their history. There were not enough pictures and those included were of poor quality and in black and white (at least in the kindle version). His transitions were jumpy and sometimes confusing. It was really just a log of events lacking any meaningful insights or in...more
Nov 28, 2012 Todd rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hikers, Students, Nature - Fantasy - Literature - fans, anyone really
Recommended to Todd by: My eyeballs
Shelves: reviewed
I was bored waiting to give my mom a ride home from work and saw this somewhere on a kindle book list and checked it out. I live in Appalachia, East TN to be exact, the most beautiful part, and have friends that have hiked sections of the AT. I DL'd the sample chapters.

I was hooked. The author's prose is fun and addictive. He is informative but it doesn't feel like he's trying to be, and he entertains seemingly effortlessly. It's a dude, hiking a trail, and his experience. How interesting could...more
I love a good outdoor memoir, and this is an excellent account of a man who quit his job in 2003 to hike all 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. David Miller has a straightforward writing style and is blunt about how punishing the trail can be; his woes during the hike included a sprained ankle, infected blisters, knee pain and blackened toenails.

Despite such setbacks, Miller was a strong hiker and often covered more than 20 miles a day -- an impressive pace considering he was carrying a 35-po...more
PJ Wetzel
In 1981 Chris Miller, having graduated from High School and not ready to go to college, took off hiking around Florida. Then after a couple weeks he hitchhiked to Georgia and started hiking the Appalachian Trail--no tent, no stove, no money, no plan. When he got to Damascus, VA, having accomplished the first 465 miles of the trail, he decided to go on and do the whole thing. And he did. That's all we're told in his brother David Miller's book 'AWOL on the Appalachian Trail'. I want to know more....more
M. L.
There is a lot of expectation of authorial skill I'm willing to suspend for the sake of enjoying a hiking memoir, but this just didn't do it for me. While I'm sure completing the Appalachian Trail was a tremendous experience for the author, the only just competent conversion of his trail journal into a memoir made for a plodding, awkward read (hello persistent present tense), and the occasional peppering of it all with the philosophical musings of a middle aged white guy searching for a path to...more
I really loved this book. I got it for free from the Kindle library! It really appealed to my secret, inner desire to just say 'fuck it all' and take off for the wilderness. Needless to say, it was pure pleasure reading Awol's day to day adventures as he hiked the 2,100+ miles of the Appalachian trail from south to north. I could only imagine myself doing the same thing, preferably with my partner and/or a good friend. I feel like Awol downplayed how difficult it truly is to backpack alone. Howe...more
Having just finished the book, I'm willing to over look how poorly it was written because I am now so completely inspired to attempt something as remarkable as David Miller did when hiking the Trail. I realize it would have been very dull and mundane to account for every single day, but sometimes I got a little confused as to how much time and how many miles had passed. And while I realize I'm not 7 years old any more, I wish there had been more pictures. The Appalachian Mountains are home to so...more
'Awol' is one man's story about his decision to quit his job and hike the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Told chronologically, the book follows his day-by-day exploits as he deals with the physical, mental and emotional challenges the feat imposes. From the get-go, the tale is gripping. Not so much because it's action packed - "action" is mainly limited to a too-close encounter with a mamma bear - but because it provides such insight into "thru-hiker" culture, something of which most of u...more
Comparing this book to Becoming Odyssa, I just couldn't give it a higher rating. I don't think I gained any more real insight into the AT after reading this, but it definitely reinforced some of what I learned reading Odyssa and took me back to the trail in a good way. There was much less feeling and emotion in this book, though, except at the very end. I don't know if that is the difference between a man and woman author, but I felt like Odyssa did a much better job describing her emotions alon...more
An enjoyable read about the author's hike, south to north, up the Appalachian Trail in 2003. While I admire those who have taken on and completed this and similar hiking challenges, this book did NOT leave me desiring to put my life on hold and go do it myself. The author focuses on the physical hardships (blisters, rain, aggravated tendons, more rain, less than ideal food, foot infection, and even more rain) and the mental weight of being away from his family and unemployed during his 146 day j...more
The good: David Miller seems like a regular middle aged dude who sets out to hike the Appalachain Trail, instead of a young trust fund mountain climber. He is detailed in his account of supplies and the ins and outs of hiking, both glorious and exceptionally mundane (diarrhea and lost toenails!). This is a hiking tale from someone who is missing his family, worrying about money and trying to find gear that works for him.
The bad: David Miller is a computer programmer and this book has about as m...more
Ian Duncan
Highly esteemed by AT thru-hikers, "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail" is the trail-journal of a software engineer that quit his day job to hike 2,127 miles from Georgia to Maine. While not as comical or artfully written as Bill Bryson's "Walk in the Woods," "AWOL" more authentically describes the actual experience of a dedicated thru-hiker: blisters and bunions and sodden footwear, debilitating injuries, lightning perils, insatiable hunger, and long days roller-coastering endless hills in an existe...more
This is the "trail narrative" for a reader who thinks that most hiking travelogues are too bogged down in self-indulgent rants about the circumstances that compelled their authors to take to the trail. Miller focuses less on himself and more on the trail itself and the people he meets, which is refreshing -- the kind of book that will actually inspire people to hike and appreciate nature. In turn, his own personality and experience shine through on their own. He's a sparse writer (very unlike Bi...more
I was hoping for some good stories about hiking the AT, but that’s not what this book is about. It’s really a good journal that explains about what a hiker goes through when tackling the entire AT. It explains what the hiker is going through, what he encounters and what it’s like day in and day out on the AT. While that’s interesting it didn’t really keep my attention that well. Since he’s talking about every day on the trail he doesn’t go into detail about the places (until the very end), which...more
This was a really fun read, with lots of information, but also true discovery of the journey. I've read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and Eddy Harris' Mississippi Solo. Both of them annoyed me as the authors set out to do something extremely challenging extremely ill-prepared. One had the stuff to finish, the other did not. David Miller has none of this nonsense. He is well aware of the challenges he will face and steps forward to greet each and every one with grace. If you are interested i...more
Another great book about hiking; my third in two months. This one is by a man and his solo adventure of five months on the AT. It convinced me that I'm not interested in doing such a long and arduous hike myself, although I would like to do a much less challenging one myself someday. David Miller had an incredible supportive wife, as he quit his job and left her and their three young daughters in order to do this hike. I liked his writing style and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I vicariously hike...more
Helen Dunn
This is the second memoir about hiking the AT that I have read in the last few weeks and this second title was worlds better than the first.

Miller is a 40 something cube dweller who decided to quit his job and thru hike the AT. He's a regular middle class guy with a wife, three kids, and a normal "happy" life. But he's miserable and he needs a shakeup and his wife agrees to let him go on this mid-life adventure. I admit, that as a 40 something cube dweller, I was sympathetic and invested in his...more
This book was the east coast version of Cheryl Strayed's "Wild". AWOL (the author's trail name) describes his walk along the Appalachian Trail and the people he meets while discussing his reasons for taking 5 months out of his life, away from family and job, to do this for himself. The story is broken down into his travels on specific portions of the trail. I really enjoyed that device as it allowed me to get to know the geography of each of the states and mountain ranges he traversed. He did in...more
Mark Bordeaux
This book gives a realistic and insightful view into what it truly means to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. As someone that has recently taken up backpacking, I was impressed by the sheer will and determination it takes to hike nearly 2,200 miles. Through numerous injuries and ER visits, David Miller takes the reader through each section of the trail without getting lost in what must be a monotonous ordeal after some time on the trail. He describes the "Virginia blues" (the over 400 miles of th...more
I love hiking. I love the outdoors. I love adventure. I love the idea of just abandoning my job and my responsibilities temporarily in order to pursue a once-in-a lifetime goal. So, I should have loved this book. It was okay, but it just didn't quite do it for me.

The writing was fine. The descriptions of nature and of the author's ideas and feelings were really good. But, the real problem I had with this book was that it made me less interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail than before I had s...more
Fred Forbes
I've read several books on the AT. Probably most astounding is "Blind Courage" by Bill Irwin, the story of a blind man hiking the trail with a guide dog. While this one is no where near that level of accomplishment any one who makes it through is worthy of praise. I like them since I am familiar with many of the areas described - Northeast Georgia, Skyline in VA, Harpers Ferry and the White Mountains of NH where I have sectioned hiked so enjoy other's viewpoints. But, I guess I am a bit of a fai...more
Gods, what a self-satisfied, insufferable writer. Do not read for tips on how to hike for longer periods of time.
This is a hiker's book and not a literary piece. Initially I was put off by the matter-of-fact writing style, especially after reading WILD, but it is percisely that style that kept me reading about my beloved AT. AWOL describes the trail in detail including the harships that we all tend to oversee for the benefit of the experience. He provides insight into towns and shelters, food, mileage, good practices and mistakes. Thoroughly enjoyed it!
Michael Kingswood
As a Boy Scout, I went on a bunch of camping trips along the Appalachian Trail in western MD and northern VA. I recall those trips fondly, and over the last few year the better half and I have talked about how cool it would be to do the entire trail. I read A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson a couple years ago and dug it. I went into this one thinking it would be similar. Nope. AWOL makes Bryson look like a wannabe, and with good cause - Bryson didn't actually hike the whole trail. But it's more...more
Heather Richard
It was interesting, but because it was a loan I wasn't able to finish it. The story kind of plodded along for me (and I did sneak some peeks into later chapters) - of course, I am so used toa plot that this felt like I was just reading his blog posts...

At least it left me feeling healthy and lucky not to sleep in those conditions!
Enjoyed it very much. It was inspiring that he quit his job to go after his dream.
Don Rice
Great story of a 41 year old computer software engineer with a wife and three daughters who goes AWOL, he quits his job to hike the AT. I enjoyed the descriptions of the trail, the shelters, and the overall experience. Will have to get a copy of his "AT Guide" which he updates yearly.

Though much of the book is a description of what he encounters on the trail and not about "soul searching", in his epilogue he does write about the hike meant to him. He writes that as a result of his hike he is "mu...more
This isn't a map or a guidebook to the AP. This is an essay about a man that quits his job to hike a trail by himself for several months to get some perspective. I found it an excellent read, and it will appeal to anyone that has to suppress the urge to roam.
Brandon Cahall
This book along with Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods has inspired me to thru-hike the AT. An interesting narrative with a great deal of information about thru-hiking the AT.
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David "Awol" Miller

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about David Miller...
The A.T. Guide 2012 The A.T. Guide Southbound 2013 Appalachian Pages: A Handbook for Hiking the Appalachian Trail

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