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AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  7,819 Ratings  ·  709 Reviews
“Makes you feel the pain and joy of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike . . . In vivid colors, David paints a picture of his memorable journey.”—Larry Luxenberg, president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society

In 2003, David Miller left his job, family, and friends to fulfill a dream and hike the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thr
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Mariner Books (first published 2006)
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Shane Campbell I'm not all the way through it but half way I would definitely say would be okay for a 12 year old, I really like this book. Your son will love the…moreI'm not all the way through it but half way I would definitely say would be okay for a 12 year old, I really like this book. Your son will love the "trail names"(less)
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Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for any long-distance hiking anything book. They give me a false sense of "I could totally do that," even though I get cranky if I don't shower every morning and the longest hike I've ever taken was 6 hours, and that was 16 years ago, and it was ONE time, and I'm pretty sure I complained the entire way.

His matter-of-fact style of writing was really enjoyable for this type of book. It threatened to get a little dry sometimes, but I never got bored. I appreciate not having to listen
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about this book is that my son would easily fall asleep when I read it to him. He focuses on tedious descriptions of the less-interesting aspects of hiking while glossing over or ignoring the interesting locations and their history. There were not enough pictures and those included were of poor quality and in black and white (at least in the kindle version). His transitions were jumpy and sometimes confusing. It was really just a log of events lacking any meaningful insights or in ...more
P.J. Wetzel
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
In 1981 Chris Miller, having graduated from High School and not ready to go to college, took off hiking around Florida. Then after a couple weeks he hitchhiked to Georgia and started hiking the Appalachian Trail--no tent, no stove, no money, no plan. When he got to Damascus, VA, having accomplished the first 465 miles of the trail, he decided to go on and do the whole thing. And he did. That's all we're told in his brother David Miller's book 'AWOL on the Appalachian Trail'. I want to know more. ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love a good outdoor memoir, and this is an excellent account of a man who quit his job in 2003 to hike all 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. David Miller has a straightforward writing style and is blunt about how punishing the trail can be; his woes during the hike included a sprained ankle, infected blisters, knee pain and blackened toenails.

Despite such setbacks, Miller was a strong hiker and often covered more than 20 miles a day -- an impressive pace considering he was carrying a 35-po
Marlene French
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! If you have ever wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail...or live vicariously through someone who has....this book is a must read! Mr. Miller gives so much information about so many things like the towns that are frequent stops for many thru hikers, keeping on the correct trail , safety and so much more! He lived his dream and even ended up writing "The AT Trail," which is updated yearly. It talks about his decision to quit his job and all that is associated with that and how hi ...more
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hikers, Students, Nature - Fantasy - Literature - fans, anyone really
Recommended to Todd by: My eyeballs
Shelves: reviewed
I was bored waiting to give my mom a ride home from work and saw this somewhere on a kindle book list and checked it out. I live in Appalachia, East TN to be exact, the most beautiful part, and have friends that have hiked sections of the AT. I DL'd the sample chapters.

I was hooked. The author's prose is fun and addictive. He is informative but it doesn't feel like he's trying to be, and he entertains seemingly effortlessly. It's a dude, hiking a trail, and his experience. How interesting could
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographical
This book read like a personal journal of one man's hike through the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed the straight-forward, non-sensational quality of the book. No hype or drama, but I felt like I was experiencing the hike with him.
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comparing this book to Becoming Odyssa, I just couldn't give it a higher rating. I don't think I gained any more real insight into the AT after reading this, but it definitely reinforced some of what I learned reading Odyssa and took me back to the trail in a good way. There was much less feeling and emotion in this book, though, except at the very end. I don't know if that is the difference between a man and woman author, but I felt like Odyssa did a much better job describing her emotions alon ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Listened to the audiobook via audible.

It was ok at best. I relatively bland telling of what should be a very exciting adventure. The author is all facts and lacks a writing personality. There is no humor or terror. Just "I did this" and "I arrived here". If he put a little more of something that's entertaining into the book I'm sure it would grab a lot more people.

Also, for the audiobook, please consider a different narrator as it was incredibly monotone and hard to get through.
The good: David Miller seems like a regular middle aged dude who sets out to hike the Appalachain Trail, instead of a young trust fund mountain climber. He is detailed in his account of supplies and the ins and outs of hiking, both glorious and exceptionally mundane (diarrhea and lost toenails!). This is a hiking tale from someone who is missing his family, worrying about money and trying to find gear that works for him.
The bad: David Miller is a computer programmer and this book has about as m
Ian Duncan
Highly esteemed by AT thru-hikers, "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail" is the trail-journal of a software engineer that quit his day job to hike 2,127 miles from Georgia to Maine. While not as comical or artfully written as Bill Bryson's "Walk in the Woods," "AWOL" more authentically describes the actual experience of a dedicated thru-hiker: blisters and bunions and sodden footwear, debilitating injuries, lightning perils, insatiable hunger, and long days roller-coastering endless hills in an existe ...more
Jun 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having just finished the book, I'm willing to over look how poorly it was written because I am now so completely inspired to attempt something as remarkable as David Miller did when hiking the Trail. I realize it would have been very dull and mundane to account for every single day, but sometimes I got a little confused as to how much time and how many miles had passed. And while I realize I'm not 7 years old any more, I wish there had been more pictures. The Appalachian Mountains are home to so ...more
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure-true
“The forest looks ancient. Bark on the trees has accumulated moss and has deep fissures, akin to the age-spotting and wrinkling of aged humans. The added texture gives the trees character with no loss of vitality. They look like survivors, resilient and deeply rooted.”


This was an interesting read as the author is a very good writer, but for a while I rather got stuck on the issue of his painful feet in the beginning of the book, even dreaming one night that I was walking the trail and my own fe
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Awol' is one man's story about his decision to quit his job and hike the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Told chronologically, the book follows his day-by-day exploits as he deals with the physical, mental and emotional challenges the feat imposes. From the get-go, the tale is gripping. Not so much because it's action packed - "action" is mainly limited to a too-close encounter with a mamma bear - but because it provides such insight into "thru-hiker" culture, something of which most of u ...more
What can I say? Ive got a terrible case of wanderlust right now. It’s the middle of winter, life at a law office is always exhausting in December, and I enjoy torturing my stuck-in-doors self with accounts of adventures amongst trees and mountains. Hiking one of the long trails is an idea I’ve been tossing around, though I have no actual plans, and it’s the dream of it that’s fun for now.

I picked this book up specifically because it was auspiciously on sale on Audible during my current 2015-2016
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. I got it for free from the Kindle library! It really appealed to my secret, inner desire to just say 'fuck it all' and take off for the wilderness. Needless to say, it was pure pleasure reading Awol's day to day adventures as he hiked the 2,100+ miles of the Appalachian trail from south to north. I could only imagine myself doing the same thing, preferably with my partner and/or a good friend. I feel like Awol downplayed how difficult it truly is to backpack alone. Howe ...more
Mark Brown
I had a hard time rating this book. It was very inspiring and now I really want to try out the AT. However, there were a lot of tedious details throughout each chapter about things he passed as he hiked. I could see this appealing to people who have hiked the AT or are planning on doing it and are using this book as a sort of guide but for those who are casually reading the book, it may be a little too much. 3.5 stars!
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been an armchair traveler for most of my adult life. Money, jobs and family have kept me from exploring- along with my own fears.

One area where I have traveled to and hiked many times along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee (Smoky Mountains.)
This is the third book I've read about hiking the AT. Miller is a native Floridian from Titusville who chucks his job and attempts a thru-hike along the AT.

His observations and encounters along the trail
Mike Schneider
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating insight into the travails of an Appalachian Trail "thru-hiker", this book convinced me that such a hiking journey is not necessarily "fun" due to the harsh physical toll such an effort imposes. It is a great accomplishment, but when I put myself in his place, I had to ask why would I do this?
Oct 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read about the author's hike, south to north, up the Appalachian Trail in 2003. While I admire those who have taken on and completed this and similar hiking challenges, this book did NOT leave me desiring to put my life on hold and go do it myself. The author focuses on the physical hardships (blisters, rain, aggravated tendons, more rain, less than ideal food, foot infection, and even more rain) and the mental weight of being away from his family and unemployed during his 146 day j ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The Appalachian Trail goes from Georgia to Maine and this book is David Miller's account of his 2003 hike on the AT.

Admittedly one of my life goals is to hike the AT and this book was a birthday present from a friend who also dreams of hiking the AT and it also means that I'm the target audience for this book.

It was good. We get to follow one persons hike over a five month period covering 2,172 miles. There are ups and downs, injuries, trail magic, towns, bears, rattlesnakes and lots of hiking p
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the "trail narrative" for a reader who thinks that most hiking travelogues are too bogged down in self-indulgent rants about the circumstances that compelled their authors to take to the trail. Miller focuses less on himself and more on the trail itself and the people he meets, which is refreshing -- the kind of book that will actually inspire people to hike and appreciate nature. In turn, his own personality and experience shine through on their own. He's a sparse writer (very unlike Bi ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for some good stories about hiking the AT, but that’s not what this book is about. It’s really a good journal that explains about what a hiker goes through when tackling the entire AT. It explains what the hiker is going through, what he encounters and what it’s like day in and day out on the AT. While that’s interesting it didn’t really keep my attention that well. Since he’s talking about every day on the trail he doesn’t go into detail about the places (until the very end), which ...more
Sandra Heinzman
Another great book about hiking; my third in two months. This one is by a man and his solo adventure of five months on the AT. It convinced me that I'm not interested in doing such a long and arduous hike myself, although I would like to do a much less challenging one myself someday. David Miller had an incredible supportive wife, as he quit his job and left her and their three young daughters in order to do this hike. I liked his writing style and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I vicariously hike ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really fun read, with lots of information, but also true discovery of the journey. I've read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and Eddy Harris' Mississippi Solo. Both of them annoyed me as the authors set out to do something extremely challenging extremely ill-prepared. One had the stuff to finish, the other did not. David Miller has none of this nonsense. He is well aware of the challenges he will face and steps forward to greet each and every one with grace. If you are interested i ...more
Carol Wakefield
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved every mile of Awol's hike. Sorry to end thebook. As a westerner who has hiked bits of the Pacific Crest Trail the AT does'n actually sound appealing. My hikes have been destinations promising spectacular views of snow covered peaks or multiple ranges of mountains fading into the distance. Not much of that I the east. However all my long distance and through hiking has been done vicariously and this was a very satisfactory journey to read about.
Rebecca Chiffelle
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MUCH better than Wild by Cheryl Strayed...the guy actually learns and grows and isn't a total dick at the end (not that he ever was actually).
That being said, it gets slow because he is incredibly descriptive. Like, every step he takes is talked about in this book...can get tedious.
Debbie Reschke Schug
I commend this guy for slogging through the AT and basically accounting for almost everyday he spent on the trail, pre-cell phone connectivity. So good on him.
But it was an odd experience for me because interest in the topic motivated me to read this, not the author or the writing. And to be completely fair to the guy, he's not a writer. He's a software engineer, and he very much writes like one. Everything is grammatically correct, but it took me about three-fourths of the book to find the best
Briar Rose
I am not a hiker. I picked this up because I was keen to learn more about the Appalachian trail after reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. There's no history or wider view, just a guy describing his hike and his reasons for doing it in great detail. It's a lovely read. It's more enjoyable than it has any right to be. All the stories about the various people on the trail are the best part.
Katie Rhue
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
As someone who is about to start a thru hike, I appreciate this book for the perspective it gave me. Awol is honest about the highs and lows of his trip and writes in a rather concise manner that avoids being dry. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to gain a greater understanding of what a thru hike on the AT entails.
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Librarian Note: There are more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
More about David Miller...
“When I look back on all the worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.”—Winston Churchill” 6 likes
“Our vision becomes so narrow that risk is trying a new brand of cereal, and adventure is watching a new sitcom. Over time I have elevated my opinion of nonconformity nearly to the level of an obligation. We should have a bias toward doing activities that we don’t normally do to keep loose the moorings of society.” 5 likes
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