Jennifer's Reviews > On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage

On the Beaten Path by Robert Alden Rubin
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Dec 19, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction, travel
Read in February, 2004

** spoiler alert ** Another book about someone making the trek from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. This was the best out of the three I've read. Rubin chronicles his journey like a diary and doesn't include a lot of boring statistics like the others. He is more personal and includes more descriptions about his own journey and not the trail in general. He starts each chapter by telling what day of the hike it is, the date, his location, how many miles he's walked and how many he has left, the weather and the elevation. It gets exciting as it nears the end and I anticipated his ascent to Mount Kathadin. He completed his journey and you got the feeling that he had accomplished something really great. He definitely made some memories that will last a lifetime. He goes back to Damascus for trail days and meets up with some of the thru hikers from '97. He knows that time is over now and it's time to move on to something new.
"Then as I moved out of my twenties and into my thirites, six months became almost no time at all. Lately, a work week would blink by almost before I woke up - five days of struggling out of bed in the morning, sorting through bad manuscripts, churning out copy, making excuses, racing deadlines, asking favors, sucking up. The weekend would slip by too, and no book or movie or Internet chat session could slow it down."
"I don't hear voices, but during the past twenty years, when I wasn't engrossed in a project that required focus, sometimes a mental videotape would switch on and start playing over and over moments of my life from when I was a boy to the present day that haunt me: a conversation gone wrong, a missed opportunity, a moment of self-delusikon, a cowardly act, a trust betrayed, a mistake made, a promise unfulfilled. These are my demons. Over the past few years they'd multiplied until I could no longer simply will myself to turn the machine off and get on with the business at hand. More and more I found myself raging at the obligations, the failures, the fact that I couldn't stop repeating myself, couldn't leave the demons behind. It began poisoning the accomplishments I took pride in, the beauty I saw, the friendships I valued, the people I loved. That's one of the ways depression works, coming upon you gradually, like the night. Myself am hel, Satan says in Paradise Lost. He's right: hell is not a place. It's a darkness you carry with you, a darkness that burns. But for all that, mornings come, and with them, hope."
"Few visitors to Disneyland expect their lives to be changed by what they find there, and at the end of the week, after they've been beguiled, they climb back into their cars and rive home. I'ts about lal most of us have come to expect in the age of information and entertainment: a brief diversion."
"We came out here in the woods looking for something. We've found Katahdin: real, granite solid, solitary, and beautiful - so beautiful it can break your heart. No hype has manufactured it, no spin doctoring applied, no marketing necessary."
"Surely in the wild - even in this remnant - we have left ourselves as the old century winds down - surely here we can reinvent ourselves somehow, found anew, start afresh, begin again."
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