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Southbound (The Barefoot Sisters #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  1,114 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
"Rarely will you find books that explore the human emotions of a long-distance trek so honestly and clearly." --Roger Williamson, Campmor, Inc. "Highly recommended."

From the book: "We stood for a moment before the venerable signpost marking the summit. Scored with graffiti and the constant onslaught of weather, it stands perhaps three feet high, a
Paperback, 474 pages
Published December 17th 2008 by Stackpole Books
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Sep 06, 2013 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: ebook
Book Info: Genre: Memoir/Autobiography
Reading Level: Adult (language, adult situations)
Recommended for: Those interested in hiking and hiking culture, memoirs, great stories

My Thoughts: This book is frequently quite hilarious, especially the bits about the Extreme Hiking Maneuvers, the squirrels, and Mr. Shaw's driving, just to name a few. I was initially interested in it because of the hiking barefoot thing; I have always loved to go barefoot, and when I was a kid, by the end of summer I'd have
Mar 05, 2014 Michelle rated it really liked it
I swear this took me forever to finish. For a while I thought it would take me as long to finish as it took them to get to Springer Mountain. The book was good, but it was quite long and could only be read in spurts. Lucy and Susan Letcher thru hiked the Appalachian Trail starting in Maine one summer day and emerged at Spring Mountain, GA in March. The girls, known by their trail names, Isis and jackrabbit (AKA The Barefoot Sisters) hiked most of the trail barefoot until winter weather forced th ...more
Jul 13, 2014 Jody rated it it was ok
I don't know how most books about doing long hikes (the AT, the PCT) make me really want to hike and simultaneously make me think that I'd hate everyone else doing it.

Lucy and Susan (Isis and jackrabbit) seem like a very particular type of girl you'd meet in college - pretentious, privileged, and pseudo-earthy. I enjoyed when I could focus on the descriptions of the trail and the hike without getting too much of their personalities in it.

Their trail romances or crushes were just icky to read abo
Nov 18, 2012 gnarlyhiker rated it it was ok
They should have added a subtitle: How We Were Looking for Love on the AT. They even ended the book with some other dude & chick getting hitched.
Dec 18, 2013 Angelina rated it liked it
I enjoyed the sisters account of their southbound hike. HOWEVER... It took me quite awhile to finish the story. I found myself a little (dare I say) bored toward the middle of the book. It's not that their adventure itself was boring, it was more in the details. When the weather started getting bad for them and they became depressed, I think I became depressed for them. Had I not known there was another book of their hike north, I would not have held out much hope for them to finish. They took a ...more
Jun 21, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite Appalachian Trail memoir that I have read yet. The Barefoot Sisters' experience was everything I expect my (hopefully future) journey to be. They were not know-it-alls, they weren't arrogant, they were just completely genuine and warm. I can't wait to read their NOBO journey as well!
Charles Daney
Feb 02, 2016 Charles Daney rated it it was amazing
I thought this was quite a good book, and can't wait to read the sequel (Walking Home). It's the personal journal of two young women, sisters, who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from North to South in 2000-2001. Both "Isis" and "jackrabbit" (trail names of Lucy and Susan) were fit, athletic, but without a lot of long-distance hiking experience. Their inexperience is fairly typical of many people who attempt "thru hikes" of the trail. However, unlike 80 to 90% of people who attempt to hike th ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Charity rated it really liked it
My seven-year-old daughter decided recently that she wants to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, and she wants to hike it from Maine to Georgia. Her reasoning is that then you get the toughest part of the trail out of the way at the beginning. She and I have talked about the extra challenges of the southbound route (not the least of which is beginning the trek with the Hundred-Mile Wilderness and running the risk of hitting winter in the Smokies if you don't hike fast enough), but she's undeterred ...more
Scott Foshee
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

"Southbound" is one of the best books I have read about long-distance hiking, and I think it is much better than "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. It not only goes into the accurate technical details of a full Appalachian Trail through hike, but also what the hikers go through during their adventure. We experience the ups, downs, background, and personal thoughts of the hikers, as well as the meaningful relationships they form on the trail, which make up so much of the t
Apr 01, 2014 Robyn rated it it was amazing
Oh, dangerous, dangerous reading for a former or wannabe Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. You are warned. This should be on the hiker's banned book list if you have the slightest aspiration or desire to abide by the requirements for living in mainstream society. If you do not, then read on with reckless abandon, be inspired and go forth onto that revered and unforgiving path.

I've hiked this wicked and powerful trail twice and am completely - and will forever be - under its spell.

When the chatter t
Review originally posted here:

The Barefoot Sisters account of their 2000 southbound thru-hike is one of my favorite trail stories I've read so far. Out of all the books on this list it's my personal favorite.

The takeaway I got from reading Isis & jackrabbit's account of their mostly barefoot thru-hike was a sense of "I can do this". Most trail stories I've read, and you can see from this list there's been a few, have inspired me, challenged me, and som
Robin Morris
Feb 11, 2010 Robin Morris rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: hikers
south - Maine to George; whereas the vast majority of hikers go North. Of course the primary reason for the migration north is the weather. Most thru-hikers walk with (or into summer) spring, avoiding the dangers of winter. Our sisters are starting in Maine in black fly season and hiking directly into winter. They're doing this with the added challenge of attempting to hike the trail barefoot - at least for "as long as it's fun". For me it would be comfortable for about two minutes and I'd have ...more
Mar 20, 2015 Linde rated it it was amazing
Wow. Okay. I just finished this book, so I'm still a bit breathless from the journey. Simply put, I loved it.

The first time I heard about the Appalachian Trail was in Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. It wasn't my favourite book of his and it didn't do much to capture my imagination at the time, but the more I read about the Trail, the more enticing it became. I stumbled upon a recent thru-hiker's blog and the seed was planted: One day, I want to thruhike the AT. Anyway, in one of my bouts of o
Gone Readin'
Nov 03, 2013 Gone Readin' rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Katie Lou

My best friend has walked the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, a small portion of the Appalachian Trail and I am green with envy. It’s been my dream since high school to at a minimum take a short jaunt on the Trail, looking for the white blaze marks or to sit for a spell in a lean-to. The next best option for me is to read about others who have spent a part of their life hiking the trail. Sisters Lucy & Susan, aka Isis and jackrabbit made the choice to put their life on hold for
Sep 08, 2012 Sue rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hiking-travel
Barefoot Siters Southbound is, by far, the best book on a hiker's personal experiences of hiking the Appalachian Trail and the fact that they did so for most of it hiking barefoot adds an interesting touch to the entire book. Starting in Maine, their home state, the book makes the reader feel like we are hiking the trail with them. Each sister, Lucy & Susan aka Isis & Jackrabbit, take turns telling their perspective of the hike the emotions of backpacking, highs and lows, the people they ...more
Dee Mills
Sisters hiking the AT. There's a sequel. At New Cumberland.

I enjoyed this rather long book. But it took me a bit to settle into it, and I actually had set it out to return to the library before I decided to give it another chance. Turns out the sisters were serious hikers on the trail, and they had many interesting experiences and some scary ones.

Because they hiked barefoot, they didn't hike fast. They did, however, make it through the sharp rocks and boulders throughout Pennsylvania easier than
Dec 18, 2011 Lindsey rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. It was pretty amazing to hear their story. I got a bit tired of all the flowery language. Honestly it felt like they picked up the thesaurus and used it waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. Sometimes the regular word is the best. It kind of detracted from the book as a whole. Also one of the sisters swore a lot and it made her sound less educated. So in short I loved the story but the language I could have done without.
Mandy Allbritton
Jul 15, 2012 Mandy Allbritton rated it really liked it

Loved this book and the portrayal of various relationships of everyday hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Made me email my BFF and ask her if she would hike it with me when the kids are grown. :)
Apr 15, 2012 Tracy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't finished this book and I probably won't. The writing style bothers me - feels immature, with forced dialogue, and too detailed. It's a shame really; I'd like to read the story - but not as it's currently told
May 14, 2011 Deb rated it liked it
A little silly and drawn out, but a good hiking story.
Nov 26, 2012 Casey rated it liked it
Interesting and entertaining, but not one of my favorite AT through-hiking chronicles.
Nancy N
Jan 16, 2017 Nancy N rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read quite a few books about hikes on the AT but this was definitely one that really took you into the heart of it. There were quite a few nights I read it before bed and upon falling asleep, dreamt I was right there in the woods with the sisters. To the point of waking up and thinking "I just went through that!" before I came fully awake. There were a few sections of the trail I wish they had spoken about in their barefoot adventures (namely Stairway to Heaven in NJ) but overall, this is a ...more
Andrea Robinson
Dec 20, 2016 Andrea Robinson rated it liked it
I was hoping for more something. I found some of the details didn't seem quite right and some great parts of the trail were missed altogether. I don't think I will read the next one.
Teri Pre
Jan 08, 2017 Teri Pre rated it really liked it
Shelves: jan2017
4.5 I really enjoyed reading about the sisters and their hiker friends.
Whistlers Mom
Sep 24, 2016 Whistlers Mom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every year hundreds of hikers start the AT at Springer Mt. in Georgia and attempt to stay the 2,000 mile course all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. A major controversy is whether to hike in boots (protect the ankles, but heavy) or athletic shoes (light weight, but wear out fast.)

Hailing from Maine, the Letcher sisters decided to be SOBO's - southbound hikers. And having grown up playing barefoot in the Maine woods, they skipped the Great Footwear Debate altogether by hiking barefoot.

The siste
Karen M
Jun 28, 2012 Karen M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, ebooks
This was one of those books that I just didn't want to end. I have, however, discovered the adventure did not end with this book. There is a sequel.

Initially I was drawn to this book because of the Applachian Trail which is the star of this book. At one time my family owned a couple of acres of woods in the northwest of New Jersey where we had a summer home and we were very close to the AT. So close, in fact, that we once had some AT hikers turn up and ask if they were on the AT or lost. They we
Aug 29, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing
Barefoot Sisters: Southbound Co-Authors Susan Letcher & Lucy Letcher
and Barefoot Sisters Walking Home
I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed reading of the Appalachian Trail hiking adventures of “Jackrabbit” and “Isis”. Once I started reading, I was hooked and did not want to stop!
I am one of four sisters and I enjoy to read books which feature the interaction of sisters. I must admit I downloaded this book when it was offered as a free Kindle book through one of the free books of the day
Jan 07, 2012 Sandy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
My own sister got me turned on to the adventure of hiking the Appalachian Trail - she has a real fascination for the possibility. I've discovered that I like reading books about this while sitting in my warm house in my comfy chair or bed. I'm enthralled with what thru hikers endure - and why in the world they would want to!

Hiking the Trail barefoot wasn't a possibility I had ever considered before reading this book, but evidently it's not all that rare - there are associations of barefoot hike
Sep 25, 2009 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Actually, this book is by Lucy Letcher and her sister Susan Letcher. Isis and jackrabbit. The lower case J is intentional. Susan went to Carleton College with Maggie. I met them at The Gathering in WV in 2000. I met them again at The PA Ruck at Pine Grove Furnace State Park in 2001. I was absolutely amazed at how good this book is. Each voice is identified at the beginning by their trail name. In a back and forth style, they've done an excellent job of explaining and describing their Appalachian ...more
Pat Bretheim
Jul 17, 2015 Pat Bretheim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you love adventure but prefer it from your own comfy chair, with a glass of wine at your side? This book is great for that!
It is the story of 2 sisters who decided to hike the Appalachian Trail southbound from Maine to Georgia. Only, they did most of it barefoot! They became known on the trail as the Barefoot Sisters.
The book goes step by step along the trail, describing each section and what they encountered along the way. There were many colorful characters they met and some they hiked w
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Goodreads Librari...: Multiple editions of two books 3 21 Mar 27, 2014 12:35PM  
  • As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker
  • In Beauty May She Walk: Hiking the Appalachian Trail at 60
  • Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail
  • Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail
  • On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage
  • Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail
  • The Things You Find on the Appalachian Trail: A Memoir of Discovery, Endurance and a Lazy Dog
  • Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
  • A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160 Mile Expedition for Charity on the Appalachian Trail
  • Walking with Spring
  • Stumbling Thru: Hike Your Own Hike
  • Big Backpack - Little World
  • Appalachian Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking The Appalachian Trail
  • Walking Home: A Woman's Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail
  • AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
  • Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America: Wanderlearn Book 1
  • A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft and Ski
  • Just Passin' Thru: A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters

Other Books in the Series

The Barefoot Sisters (2 books)
  • Walking Home (The Barefoot Sisters, #2)

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