The author shares his experiences hiking the entire AT, albiet split over two years. He's interrupted by the need for heart surgery - the 300 zero mileage days referenced by the title. Along the way he encounters something like 38 bears and nearly steps on 3 rattlesnakes. He struggles with a drought on the first year of his hike and frequent storms on the second. All the while he carries two unusual items: the Purple Heart medal from his brother's death serving in Vietnam and a self-built miniature ham radio.
Blanchard is colorful and cheery. He writes well and focuses on his experience, with some good self-reflection. The chapters are all broken up into short sections, making for ease of starting and stopping your reading. I'd say it's definitely better than "Skywalker" and "A Journey North" (the two non-Bryson AT books I've read).(less)
Short but good story of the author thru-hiking the entire Florida Trail. A somewhat quick read but well written and reasonably detailed. It could have...moreShort but good story of the author thru-hiking the entire Florida Trail. A somewhat quick read but well written and reasonably detailed. It could have used some maps and details about his planning for the hike. Given the mediocre maps in his book on Florida kayaking I feel Molloy isn't big on maps...
Compared to the two books I've read about people hiking the Appalachian Trail: this book is more informative if less entertaining than a "A Walk In The Woods" and more informative and more entertaining than "A Journey North". It may be worth noting that Bryson and Molloy are experienced writers which helps their books.
The most interesting thing about this book was the comparison between the AT (Appalachian Trail) and FT (Florida Trail). The comparison is not made by the author but is a comparison I can draw myself from this book and the aforementioned books I read about hiking the AT.
First off, the FT is surprisingly long: contained entirely within the state of Florida it is still more than half the length of the AT, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The FT is 30 years younger than than the AT (1960s vs 1930s) but much farther behind it in terms of completeness. The AT succeeds in being mostly rural with shelters along its length. Many parts of the FT still cross land that is still privately owned or send hikers along roads because cross country hiking land hasn't been acquired; shelters are seriously lacking. The AT has the ruggedness of mountains, the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine, and snowfall during some months. Numerous parts of the Florida trail such as the Everglades and Bradwell Bay in the panhandle are NEVER dry, whole sections of the trail close frequently due to rainfall, hikers in the winter can experience temperate variances between 80s and 30s in the same week, and mosquitos rarely ever stop biting.
The FT is a great way to experience the beauty of rural Florida but after reading this book it seems quite apparent why nearly 10,000 people have thru-hiked the AT while the number of thru-hikers for the FT is measured in hundreds. Despite hiking in the driest and coolest time of the year in Florida (i.e. the best time to hike the FT), Molloy barely encounters more people maintaining the trail than hiking it during his journey.(less)
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 aut...moreThe 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 experience' book I've read after A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail and A Journey North: One Woman's Story of Hiking the Appalachian Trail. "Skywalker" lacks the background info and trivia of "Walk in the Woods" and isn't quite as entertaining, but since Walker actually completed this thru-hike it has more of a full experience to it. Unlike "A Journey North", "Skywalker" has no axe to grind nor any professional insight on the environment. But since it manages a longer page count while staying focused on the AT experience without straying much onto tangential issues, it makes for a better read about the experience of the trail and its hikers.(less)
Being a AT thru-hiker (someone who hikes the Appalachian Trail from start to finish) should be interested by itself. And when you're one of the few wo...moreBeing a AT thru-hiker (someone who hikes the Appalachian Trail from start to finish) should be interested by itself. And when you're one of the few women to do it and you're thru-hiking with your boyfriend and the two of you get engaged at the end of the 6 month hike (not a spoiler - it's spoiled in the blurb) surely it's going to be interesting stuff?
Not so much. The book is short (under 200 pages) and more time is spent talking about the environment and issues relating to the trail than the actual experience of the trail. Which ultimately amounts to a rehash of Bill Bryson's "A Walk In The Woods" but with more success and a hippie-esk slant to the non-hiking parts, which all makes it less interesting to me.(less)
Bryson mixes his experiences on the Appalachian Trail (alleged by some to be exaggerated) with background on the AT. It makes for a neat read and I th...moreBryson mixes his experiences on the Appalachian Trail (alleged by some to be exaggerated) with background on the AT. It makes for a neat read and I think serves as a good warning to anyone foolish enough to think hiking the AT is easy. The fact that he doesn't complete the trail is a bit of a downer.(less)