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Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  948 Ratings  ·  80 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
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Hardcover, 221 pages
Published January 5th 2008 by Indigo Publishing
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Hal Brodsky
Aug 07, 2012 Hal Brodsky rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, kindle
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
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Carolyn
Jun 27, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was ok
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
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P.J.
Jun 22, 2011 P.J. rated it it was amazing  ·  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!”

Or…

“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
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Jessica
Sep 29, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Bill Walker is more like me than I ever thought a 40 something year old, 6'11" guy could be. His experience doing the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail rang resoundingly like what I think mine would (will?) be. He was slightly quiet and a little socially awkward like me, and felt blindingly unprepared. Hiking the AT is a huge dream of mine, but my current circumstances in life would never allow it, so I can just continue to dream for one day! I also loved this so much more than A Walk in the Woods becaus ...more
Josh Liller
Apr 27, 2012 Josh Liller rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hiking
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
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Christopher
A fun, simply told narrative of the Appalachian Trail. Not nearly as expansive, informative or wondrous as Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, but good nonetheless.
Cass
Walker is a decent writer but he needs a better editor. Someone to tell him to remove the sexism, and the racism.

Every time he meets a women he comments on the way she looks (despite being 20 years older then many of them). At one point, as he is waving goodbye to his mother who has dropped him off at the start of the hike, he derisively comments on a 22yo women leading her two sisters on the trek. The woman has experience but her sisters do not. He is appalled and smugly comments that they neve
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Jen Pyne
Aug 07, 2014 Jen Pyne rated it really liked it
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
Jun 15, 2012 Janell P rated it liked it
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
Apr 05, 2014 Mikey Sklar rated it it was amazing
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'.
Lizz
Jun 10, 2012 Lizz rated it really liked it
This was a great read.... even if I did spend the entire book wondering why in this WORLD anyone would want to attempt this!!!!!
Ellen
Aug 18, 2014 Ellen rated it really liked it
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
Kathryn Kennedy
Apr 27, 2016 Kathryn Kennedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Admirable adventure

This memoir was an intimate look into what it is like to undertake a full length hike of the Appalachian trail. It was full of humor and was a rather clear sighted remembrance of how the author saw his failures and triumphs. It shows the endeavor as a composition of helping and accepting help, but the book mostly highlighted the differences between our daily lives and how close is the wildness that exists just outside of it. I found the telling a fascinating look into a worthw
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Adam
Mar 06, 2014 Adam rated it liked it
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
Canyon
Mar 29, 2016 Canyon rated it liked it
After reading several other thru-hike books, this one was OK. The only glaring error I noticed (which made me wonder if he really did hike the entire trail without skipping parts) was when he mentioned that he dropped down 2,000 feet in elevation off the summit of Mt Washington in NH. Having hiked the Presidential range dozens of times, I can assure him that there is no "2,000 foot drop" between the summit of Washington and the saddle of Mt. Clay and Mt Jefferson. Maybe he was just over dramatiz ...more
winnie kunkel
May 22, 2016 winnie kunkel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book very much I,I, Did the author ever get in touch with any of the people he walked with at a later date I would like to know if the two people left on the mountain govt. Off ok the information about some of these states really was amazing of course you probably

Would only know if you walked the trail. I would definitely give the book a five star rating for adventure.
Kelly Tarr
Apr 22, 2014 Kelly Tarr rated it really liked it
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
Mar 22, 2014 Daniel Brandt rated it liked it
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
Jul 21, 2014 Lori Donehower rated it really liked it
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).
Greg
Oct 03, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Hikers, especially long distance hikers
Really enjoyed this book! If you are looking for a primer in what to bring with you, or how to hike the Appalachian Trail, this isn't it. There are bits and pieces of wisdom and advice, but, Walker talks more about his fails than the things he did right. It is, however, an honest, positive, and entertaining account of this newbie's thru hike of the AT. Well done!
Bob Wallner
Jan 03, 2016 Bob Wallner rated it liked it
Shelves: hiking, audible
This was an OK book at best. At times I felt the author was trying to impress us with his vocabulary rather than focus on the story.

The story is pretty good and his account of what happened on the trail along with people he met was good. I just wasn't real fond of his writing style, maybe it was just me.
Michelle
Mar 30, 2016 Michelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction
I wanted so bad to like this book, but it wasn't to be. I felt like the story was all over the place. One second he would be talking about one subject, then quickly change to a piece of history, and onto something else. None of which were connected.

I think it's awesome he made it through the entire trail, not something to be taken lightly. At the same time, I felt he had no right being out there on the trail, and could've put lives in danger because of his ineptitude. Luckily that didn't happen
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Craig Hall
Jun 30, 2015 Craig Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Down to earth reading.

Skywalker may be 6'11" but he doesn't have his head in the clouds. He just tells it like it is when you're out there on the trail for months on end. You never get the feeling he's trying to stretch the truth or hide what it's really like. Just keeping it real.
Brittany
This was an entertaining account of life on the AT. I like that the author stuck to the highlights and didn't detail every little thing that happened on every day that he was on the trail. He told us about his ups and downs and it felt real, not overly dramatized.
Myra L Rice
Skywalker's Amazing Hike

I am amazed that a person with very little hiking experience would make it all of the way! Such determination! I enjoyed his account of his thru-hike!
Marilyn
Jul 08, 2015 Marilyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was really good. Especially if you are planning on back packing this summer. I dont know if I could walk 171 days on mountain trails and all. But I really enjoyed readiing about his journey.
Ryan C Johnson
Feb 16, 2015 Ryan C Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great read for any past or future thru hikers

Planning on a 2016 thru hike...this is a great read that brings out the trials and tribulations of the AT! Highly recommended!!!
Margaret
Feb 15, 2015 Margaret rated it really liked it
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
P
May 15, 2012 P rated it really liked it
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
Tara
Aug 02, 2013 Tara rated it really liked it
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
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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
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