Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

( 23 )

Overview

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with ...
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Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

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Overview

After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Davis is the record holder for the women's supported hike (2,175 miles in 57 days, with someone carrying her supplies) in the Appalachian Trail, which runs between Mount Katahdin in Maine and Springer Mountain in Georgia. The A.T. is not only a hike, but a subculture: a community where everyone has a trail name, where there are well-placed hiker huts, trail-side towns whose main economy is supporting hikers, complicated trail etiquette, regular occurrences of trail magic, and a recurring cast of freaks and Christians, show-offs and loners, and experts and beginners. Though the book opens the night before Davis's record-breaking hike, this is actually the story of her first thru-hike, undertaken as a new college grad who, despite limited hiking experience, felt "called." It's the story of her becoming "Odyssa," her chosen trail name. These days, the word amateur is usually used disparagingly, and in some ways that applies here—the book feels homemade, and the writing is often clunky—but the root of the word is love: amateurs pursue activities for love, not money, and that's what shines through in Davis's record of a difficult, painful, and exhilarating world. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

"Many books have been written by thru-hikers, but none measure up to Jennifer Pharr Davis' epic. The Appalachian Trail speed record holder describes her journey from college graduate to a student of the trail in stunningly beautiful detail. Her tales from the trail are full of adventure and inspiration, and her writing is as lyrical as her Odyssey-inspired trail name. She offers concrete, trail-tested advice for aspiring thru-hikers, and she candidly shares her failures and frustrations along with her successes. If you're searching for the one A.T. book that best captures the spirit of the trail, follow in the footsteps of Odyssa." -- Bro Staff, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine

"This is the best AT book I have ever read. It doesn't matter if you are male or female, skinny or fat, outdoorsman or couch potato, if you've ever thought about doing a long-distance hike, then read Davis' book. I would rate this book as more essential to the mental preparation for a long-distance hike than anything else you could do." -Dr. David W. Powers, The Coffee Scholar blog

"As the father of daughters, I enjoyed Jennifer's story. If you're the father of a daughter who's wondering if she can achieve big things - and everyone has doubts from time-to-time, you might want to get a copy for her- it might help get her on the right trail for great things in her life, too." - Jim Shepherd, The Outdoor Wire

"It's refreshing. [Jen]'s very enthusiastic and she inspires other people. She's good for the outdoors." - Gary Eblen, Diamond Brand Outdoors

VOYA - Ruth Clark
Older teens questioning what they want to do with their lives will be comforted to realize that the author, as a twenty-one-year-old college graduate, pondered the same questions. Davis notes, "The trail provides a place to sort through the fact and fiction of our childhoods"—certainly a process many teens can relate to, even those who are not into backpacking or hiking. Davis embarked on a spiritual soul-searching quest, taking on the thru-hiker name of Odyssa, as she hiked the 2,175-mile-long Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2005. Within the dense descriptions of hiking conditions are snippets of spiritual and personal insights that make wading through the details worthwhile. The self-searching statements such as, "I wanted to retell my story and explain who I was until it made sense," addressing why she wanted to hike alone but meet as many people as possible, are thought provoking. Davis interacted with a wide variety of people on and off the trail during her four-month journey, from those who became friends to the creepy ones she quickly hiked ahead of to avoid. Welcomed or not, these encounters, including discovering a suicide victim in a park pavilion, resulted in further self-discovery. Her spiritual quest as Odyssa pushed the young Davis to her physical breaking point numerous times but resulted in a love of thru-hiking. Davis has since hiked more than 8,000 miles of trails in North America and trekked through six continents. Although not written for young adult readers, older teens who connect with Davis's spiritual journey may find answers to some of their own questions in these pages. Reviewer: Ruth Clark
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780825306495
  • Publisher: Beaufort Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 650,638
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Pharr Davis grew up in the North Carolina Mountains, where she developed a love for hiking at a young age. At age twenty-one, Jennifer hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as a solo female and fell in love with long-distance backpacking.

Since then, Jennifer has hiked more than 11,000 miles on six different continents, with North American hikes including the Pacific Crest Trail, Vermont's Long Trail, and the Colorado Trail, and completed three thru-hikes on the Appalachian Trail. She has hiked and traveled on six continents; some of the highlights include Mount Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and the 600-mile Bibbulmun Track in Australia.

In the summer of 2011, Jennifer topped her own 2008 Women's Endurance Record for the fastest thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, making her the overall record holder for both women and men. Jennifer is the first woman to hold the overall title.

Jennifer hiked from Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia. Her goal was to hike the entire 2,180-mile faster than the current overall speed record of 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes, which she did in 46 days.

To break the record, Jennifer hiked an average of 47 miles a day, camping along the trail. She had trail support from legendary ultra-runner and former AT and Pacific Crest Trail speed record holder David Horton, as well as veteran AT expert Warren Doyle and Davis' husband, Brew Davis. Her hiking and backpacking accomplishments, as well as her influence as an outdoor role model, are remarkable and momentous.

Jennifer is a 2012 National Geographic Top Adventurer of the Year nominee for her record-breaking thru-hike, has been on CNN, The Early Show, NPR numerous times, and was featured in Fitness Magazine and Shape magazine, among others. Jennifer has also written for Trail Runner magazine, Away.com, is a frequent contributor to Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, and has written three guidebooks. Jennifer lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, and is the owner and founder of Blue Ridge Hiking Co.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 21, 2012

    Very Well Written

    After reading Bryson's book (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail), I was hungry for another AT adventure. This book fit the bill. I think Davis is an excellent writer. She was able to capture her hike in a dramatic and interesting manner. The book does not bias toward the "always positive" or "always negative". Instead, she skillfully weaves the two states of mind together and does a good job of showing how her attitude changed along the trail. The other nice thing about the book is her description of the hikers she met along the way. She's not afraid to to say when she did or didn't like another hiker, but she does so respectfully. That was a pleasant surprise because respectfulness is increasingly hard to find in print today. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, I think Davis missed several opportunities to write more dramatically about some of the most incredible moments of her trip. For example, when she gets struck by lightning early in her hike, there was really no literary buildup to the event. It just sort of "happens" in the middle of a paragraph. I also wish she would have spent a little more time on the denouement. After 2,100 miles on the trail hiking toward Katahdin, I would have liked to read a little more about the finish. I felt it ended a little too abruptly. Davis' attitude throughout the book clearly says, "I can choose how I feel." I think it is also an empowering and encouraging book for women and is a great example for everyone--men and women alike--who may feel timid about certain challenges. It was quite refreshing to see Davis come to respect herself for what she could accomplish rather than how she looks. Finally, I would certainly call this a family-friendly book. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find printed matter that isn't full of profane vernacular, and just because I hear it all day long at work doesn't mean I automatically want to read it in my books. No worries here and no need to wonder if that next page will have an F-bomb on it. Becoming Odyssa is pleasantly free of profanities.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Jennifer Davis was a 21 year old graduate with a degree in ancient languages who planned to hike the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail. Early in the book she says many people talk about hiking the trail but never do it. I guess I'm in that category. She also mentions the trail will change you. And reaching the end, literally and figuratively, she has been changed.

    She says every day on the trail was an adventure. Not always pleasant with snakes, blizzards and encountering a suicide. But she tells the tale honestly. Anyone planning a 'thru-hike' as she calls it, could use this book as a resource. But the book is more important because of the theme of transformation.

    She was transformed and the reader would be also. I know I was. I've reread it twice. It's on a shelf with other book that I would never sell or trade or even lend to someone.

    Kevin O'Neall

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Very entertaining.

    Great story of personal growth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    I received this book as a gift from my husband, the fact that I

    I received this book as a gift from my husband, the fact that I am a hiker and he went out of his way to pick what he thought was the perfect book thrilled me.
    Up until she reached Massachusetts I found very few problems with Odyssa, Jennifers, hiking. She seemed a little bit of a snob because she chose to travel differently. Mop stick instead of hiking pole, sneakers instead of hiking boots. Whatever. The moment she hit New England this girl started to whine. She whined for almost 670 miles. She came across in NE, as a self-centered spoiled brat, at the huts she acted because she was a thru-hiker she deserved special treatment, more food then everyone else that paid for their visit, she put down the tourist, the cog railroad and the mountains.
    As a middle aged mom with some limitations, multiple surgeries on my right knee for severed cruciate ligaments, I feel I have more of a right to whine and yet ... I hiked up Moosilake stayed at the lean-to and then hiked back down. I hiked in the rain from Beaver Brook to Franconia Notch with way too much in my backpack without even one self rightous whine.
    I have section hiked from CT to ME. And I have been appreciative to every single rock and ledge, and at 5'4" I didn't have the long legs Odyssa had so most of my hikes were on my hands and knees it seemed like, and yet I laughed most of the way. And for fun when I'm not section hiking the AT in NE, I'm just hiking (crawling) up to the top of those beloved mountains on other trails to hit the 4000 ft mountains, to enjoy the view and the thrill of being on top of the world.
    Maybe Jennifer has grown up since her whiney trip through New England, I hope so. But because of her whining, selfcentered spoiled brat attitude, I could never recommend this book to friends. If you do choose to buy this book, rip out anything after Connecticut unless you want to feel like you're in a middle school listening to little drama queens whine.
    Seriously if New England is that rough on her then when I flip flop down to Georgia my section hike down there , life and my trip will be a cool-breeze

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Great book, well written, always wanted to keep reading and not put it down.

    Great

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    wonderful

    I read this book in a day and a half and didn't want it to end. What an amazing portrayal of her hike. I felt like I was watching her make this journey.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2012

    Good book

    Well written

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Awesome! Great read!

    Along with Brysons A Walk in the Woods, this is a must read for AT enthusiasts

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 20, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Well Written!

    After reading Bryson's book (A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail), I was hungry for another AT adventure. This book fit the bill. I think Davis is an excellent writer. She was able to capture her hike in a dramatic and interesting manner. The book does not bias toward the "always positive" or "always negative". Instead, she skillfully weaves the two states of mind together and does a good job of showing how her attitude changed along the trail. The other nice thing about the book is her description of the hikers she met along the way. She's not afraid to to say when she did or didn't like another hiker, but she does so respectfully. That was a pleasant surprise because respectfulness is increasingly hard to find in print today. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, I think Davis missed several opportunities to write more dramatically about some of the most incredible moments of her trip. For example, when she gets struck by lightning early in her hike, there was really no literary buildup to the event. It just sort of "happens" in the middle of a paragraph. I also wish she would have spent a little more time on the denouement. After 2,100 miles on the trail hiking toward Katahdin, I would have liked to read a little more about the finish. I felt it ended a little too abruptly. Davis' attitude throughout the book clearly says, "I can choose how I feel." I think it is also an empowering and encouraging book for women and is a great example for everyone--men and women alike--who may feel timid about certain challenges. It was quite refreshing to see Davis come to respect herself for what she could accomplish rather than how she looks. Finally, I would certainly call this a family-friendly book. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find printed matter that isn't full of profane vernacular, and just because I hear it all day long at work doesn't mean I automatically want to read it in my books. No worries here and no need to wonder if that next page will have an F-bomb on it. Becoming Odyssa is pleasantly free of profanities.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 4, 2011

    Great book

    This is a great book, very strong story

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 6, 2011

    Good read

    Such courage and determination. I could only imagine. Very compelling and easy read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2011

    Good Read

    I enjoyed every book I've read about the AT and this one is no exception.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2011

    I Loved this book!!

    This is one of the best AT books I have read!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 31, 2011

    I Highly Recommend This Book

    Even if you did not follow Jennifer on her epic speed hike of the AT, you will enjoy this recount of her first NOBO. She started out not real sure of herself or what she was doing, but ended up confident and experienced enough to make her passion her everyday life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 4, 2011

    Highly Recommend "Becoming Odyssa". A Must-Read for Everyone!

    I just finished reading this book and I am sad that it is over. I already want to pick it up and read it all over again. Jen takes you on the journey with her. Her adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail made me laugh out loud, tear up, and made my heart swell. The text flows so smoothly and you really don't want to put the book down.

    This book is for all ages, no matter if you're a thru-hiker or not. I've only hiked a couple miles on the AT, but I loved reading through Jen's adventures. I loved reading not just about her external hiking experience, but about what she dealt with internally too, both the serious and the hilarious.

    You will LOVE reading this book and if you're giving this book as a gift, your friend will be thankful for it. It is truly one of the best books I have read. I recommend it especially to book clubs. You will not regret buying this book and you'll keep it in your library for years to come.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

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    Posted March 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews

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