Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail
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Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  428 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Why would a middle-aged businessman who had never even spent the night outdoors, attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail? Bill Walker, a former commodities trader in Chicago and London, and an avid walker, had developed a virtual obsession to hike this historic 2,175 mile footpath in one hiking season.
So in the spring of 2005 he set off from his home state of Georgia...more
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published January 30th 2008 by Indigo Custom Publishing
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(showing 1-30 of 784)
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Hal Brodsky
This is a fun, light book about an average guy thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Unlike Bill Bryson in his classic "A Walk In The Woods", Bill Walker (alias "SkyWalker")paints his journey as a positive experience, one full of adventure, hardship, and fellowship. There is humor here, not the belly-laughs of Bryson and his inept buddy Katz, but rather chuckles usually at the author's expense.

This Kindle edition is fairly well-edited and the writing is fair.

Primarily this is an armchair journey...more
Jun 22, 2011 P.J. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hikers, outdoors people, fans of the AT
First, imagine being 6 feet, 11 inches tall.

You live your life above most people and some tree lines. People ask you “How’s the weather up there?”

Maybe you can even get some classic one-liners, such as:

“You’re so tall that the giraffes got jealous!”


“You’re so tall that even in the summer time you still have snow on your head!”

That last one might actually be a little more relevant to the book I’m reviewing. See, Bill Walker is 6-11. But the difference is, he set out to hike the Appalachian Tra...more
This is the memoir of Bill Walker's through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He meets some interesting characters along the way and his struggles and experiences along the way were somewhat interesting.

But it was not terrifically compelling and I had some issues with the writing. He made allusions at the beginning of the book to things that would happen later, but then the later happenings seemed to be missing. Or maybe I just didn't keep track of the various characters that he ran into well enoug...more
Josh Liller
The experiences of a 6'11" guy who'd never camped in his life thru-hiking the AT. The book is a fast, fun, light read. Walker's inexperience as an author does shows a little and it could have used better editing. There is a little too much self-deprecating humor to the point where thru-hiking becomes a little disenchanting. Of course, this may be a result of what sounds like a rough experience for Walker: lanky to start, he ended underweight and looking and feeling gaunt.

This is the third 'AT ex...more
Jen Pyne
Back in the summer of 2013, I remember reading an article in the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine entitled, "Meet The Best Athletes In The Blue Ridge." The article included a story about a guy who hiked the entire AT straight through. He was a guy who had no experience long distance hiking and had never been camping in his entire life! I was in a state of awe. A couple weeks later, I realized the guy in the article was my neighbor! I had no idea the nice guy who lived across the street had accomplis...more
Janell P
Not the greatest writer however the subject is interesting. One thing he wrote several times in this book was for example 'these bear stories are *legion* among trail hikers' so he'd misuse the word legion instead of using legend. Every time I read legion I'd cringe. Maybe he just needs a more qualified editor. Still an interesting version of adventures on the AT.
Mikey Sklar
Bill's humor comes through so strong I found myself constantly chuckling. His story is just as fun as Cheryl Strand's 'Wild' without all the drama. If you haven't read either, read them both. I am looking forward to reading his follow on book Skywalker - Highs and Lows of the Pacific Crest Trail'.
This was a great read.... even if I did spend the entire book wondering why in this WORLD anyone would want to attempt this!!!!!
This is the first in Bill Walker's "hiking" books. I read about his PCT hike first and realized that his AT hike was actually his first. I saw growth both as a hiker and as a writer from the first book to the second. He gives enough detail about the terrain and what it's like to take on such a venture and adds some self-depracating humor and stories of the many people he meets that add color. For anyone who enjoys a "physical journey as metaphor for life" type read, or if you are considering a h...more
I really enjoyed this one. I had read 2 of his other books (Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail and The Best Way(El Camino de Santiago)) and found both fascinating(although his book on the El Camino Trail became a bit preachy in places). This was his first book and he clearly had less of a clue what he was doing than when he walked the PCT. I found it humourous and interesting. He was an underdog to finish the thru-hike from the beginning, so it was interesting to read about his trials, tr...more
Kelly Tarr
I really liked this book. Many times I would think: "I wanna be a thru-hiker, I'm gonna do it too" but then I would remember that it took him 6 months and he got caught in scary weather and he got very cold (I hate to be cold!) It was amazing that he didn't have any real outdoor experience before this adventure. The book was fun, exciting and I looked forward to reading it nightly. What a cool experience! Anyone up for a hike??
Daniel Brandt
The author's personality is a little lack-luster. I didn't find him humorous, but bland. Interesting journey, but the flat demeanor of the author can lead to the reader being as worn out from the uneventful read as Skywalker himself is physically by the end of the book. Nothing exceptionally special about his journey. By the end you should be cheering the author on to finish, yet I wanted him to just end his misery.
Lori Donehower
I have had a long term fascination with hiking the Appalachian Trail. I don't really want to do it but I wish I was one of those people who did. I would be thrilled if my husband did it - even a portion of the trail. I think it would be a fantastic experience. I have read quite a few books published by hikers and this is a good one. They are all different styles and and are all basically judged against the standard which is Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods (which is still my favorite).
I've read at least a dozen hiking memoirs now and this one was a different perspective. (And it was the very first Appalachian Trail memoir that didn't mention rhodadrens!) He seemed to focus more on the "characters" that he met on the trail more than previous memoirs did. He also had a bear phobia, so bears got a much bigger mention than any other memoir that I've read so far. What I did like was that when he passed through areas that have a significant historical past, he would talk about that...more
This book was enjoyable. It wasn't as funny, at all, as some reviews commented on-at least my husband and I didn't find it to be. It did have some humor, however, I think it was more humor of a "how many times are you going to make the same mistakes in this journey before it kills you?" kind of thing. His adventure was fun to read and I really did enjoy that. There was just a point where I wondered "did he actually learn anything from his repeated mistakes, seriously?" His story intrigued me and...more
One thing I loved about this hiker memoir was that he also gave background about the trail and interesting facts along the way at appropriate times. Sometimes, these would occur as I was wondering about how many people usually did this or how did that get started. I liked Skywalker's style of writing as well as how he explained what he was thinking during specific points on the trail. It occasionally bothered me when he foreshadowed too far in advance and I would be thinking, "when is he going t...more
Jun 04, 2012 Bria rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Not a literary masterpiece by any means, this book did what I yearned for it to: bring me back to place that holds a special place in my heart-- the Appalachian Trail. This is the tale of "Skywalker" a thru-hiker class of 2005. A true novice, the reader watches sometimes with eyes closed and a grimace as the author figuratively and literally stumbles along learning about long distance hiking. From learning to pick out the gear to summiting Mount Katahdin, Skywalker does all 2,174 miles and the r...more
Apr 30, 2014 Nick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: kindle
easy to read and a very relatable story about an Appalachian Trail thru hiker named Skywalker
This is a good record of hiking the Appalachian Trail but a bit dry.
Brett Anderson
Skywalker — Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail is the humorous and humbly-told account of this first-time backpacker learning his way on a 2,175 mile thru-hike. The name of the book, Skywalker, comes from Bill’s trail name, which referenced his distinguishing height of 6’11″ (2.10 meters). In addition to an entertaining narrative, Skywalker — Close Encounters on the AT yielded some great lessons, which are detailed here.
Christy Lou
Needs an editor. Stat. However, I am fascinated by the AT, and it was enjoyable.
The honesty and comfort of the writing in this book as well as my interest in the Appalachian trail combined to make this a fantastic read for me. Walker's style is not fancy or beautiful-except in its simplicity. The book reads like field notes that have been compiled and strung together with connective memories and supplementary information about things such as trail etiquette, trail history, general social interactions, and psychological taxing of undertaking such an endeavor.
Kevin Runyon
I liked this book a lot. I hope to hike the trail and found the book to be an honest account. Bill Walker doesn't over romanticize the achievement nor does he brag. His self deprecating humor is one of the most charming parts of the book. Reading his account I get a feel for the difficulties of the weather and the effects on the hiker. A worthwhile read for anyone interested.
I'm currently planning a hike of the AT for next year, and have read (even re-read) several first hand accounts of thru hikes or thru hike attempts. Mr. Walker paints a decent picture of the thru hiker community and the AT itself, but I found his self deprecation brought the story down too many times. All in all it was a good story, but far from the best I've read.
I'm a big fan of Skywalker having read two of his other books:Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail and The Best Way,El Camino de Santiago. He is a gifted storyteller blending just enough trail trivia, technical information and the drama that occurs between hikers. He tells his story in a way that makes you feel that you are hiking along side of him.
Lacking the usual 'blister' stories (thank heavens!) this is a down to earth regular guy's story of his thru-hike of the AT back in 2005.
Interesting characters, humorous and often touching this book reads as a boy's own adventure and for his first book, Bill 'Skywalker' Walker has created a very pleasant read. Better than Bryson's account of the AT!
This was one of my favorite thru-hiker stories...and I have read quite a few! It was funny, suspenseful, and inspiring. This guy had never done any backpacking or spent the night in a tent while hiking before he decided to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail(sounds familiar!)'s stories like his that give me hope for our attempt!
This was a super quick read (one day) and it was pretty interesting. He provides background information about the AT and a little history. I would have liked more commentary on the places/people he encountered. A more in depth ending would also have been nice. Overall, it makes me want to hop outside and take a hike. :)
Jun 22, 2012 Charlene rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Molly
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought that the information in the book was good, but it was easy for me to put it down until I got toward the end. I did enjoy the writers easy style, but I found myself bored a few times and hoping to move a little faster. Overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it to someone who is interested in the outdoors.
Brenda Copeland
Great book. Learned that I will walk the dog and take a short stroll through the woods. Walking 2,175 miles, drinking dirty water, eating cold or packaged food, sleeping or walking in wind rain and sleet is not my thing. He has thrown in history, nature (of course), and bits of different authors.
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Bill Walker was raised in Macon, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Accounting. He traded U.S. Treasury Bonds at the Chicago Board of Trade for 10 years. He then moved to London where he traded German Bonds for Nomura International at the London International Futures Exchange for four years.

Upon leaving the trading business, Bill too...more
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