On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage

On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage

3.9 15
by Robert Alden Rubin
     
 

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For anyone who enjoyed Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods or has a love of the outdoors in general or the Appalachian Trail in particular, here is an eloquent, wise, and witty account of how one man's six-month, end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail led him back home.

Every year, a couple thousand would-be "thruhikers" set out to walk the entire

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Overview

For anyone who enjoyed Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods or has a love of the outdoors in general or the Appalachian Trail in particular, here is an eloquent, wise, and witty account of how one man's six-month, end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail led him back home.

Every year, a couple thousand would-be "thruhikers" set out to walk the entire 2,000-mile length of the Georgia-to-Maine Appalachian Trail. About one of every ten actually makes it.

Robert Rubin's chances did not look good. Thirty-eight years old, overweight, dispirited, and burned out by a job he'd once loved, he dreamed of leaving mortgage and wife and cul-de-sac life behind for a journey that could take half a year-or maybe never end. But what awaited him on the wooded ridges was not the solo trek he'd imagined. Rubin soon found himself part of a strange vagrant culture of pilgrims and dropouts, a world with its own rules and rituals. As the miles accumulate, Rubin must survive the path's physical and spiritual grind, and, even more daunting, confront what he's running from . . . and what he's searching for.

On the Beaten Path is not only a clear-eyed, loving look at the dwindling wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains, the history and landscape of the Appalachian Trail, and the remarkable hiker subculture that exists along it; it is also one man's captivating and beautifully written exploration of the wilderness within himself.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Depressed and tired of his dead-end life, 38-year-old Rubin (former editor of Carolina Quarterly) set out to walk the 2000-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, thereby becoming one of the elite "thruhikers." Reminiscent of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods (LJ 4/98), Rubin's account discloses the mystic aspects of the trail in even greater detail. Unlike Bryson's adventurous journey, during which he aimed to "rediscover" America, Rubin's is a six-month pilgrimage aimed at resolving personal issues and redirecting the author's life. The poignant tale of his predicament is well balanced with his descriptions of trail traditions, the thruhikers he meets on the trip, and various other experiences that only a thruhiker encounters. This engaging and enjoyable account is recommended for all travel collections.--Nancy J. Moeckel, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
School Library Journal
YA-Rubin recounts his 2000-mile journey from Springer Mountain, GA, to Mount Katahdin, ME. The journalist, whose trail name was Rhymin' Worm, began as an overweight, dispirited, burned-out urbanite, yet completed this feat in one season. This is not a "how to" book for thruhikers or a history of the AT, although bits of both can be found here, including maps of each section. It is really Rubin's reaction to the life and lore of the trail and his search for what is true and valuable about his life. He introduces readers to Rock Dancer, One Ramp, Loon, Bigfoot, Grizz, Java Joe, and a host of other muddy, sweaty, ragged but determined hikers. Through dialogue and description, he introduces the fellowship of the trail and throws in plenty of trivia without breaking stride. He talks about the fetish for fashionable hiking gear, quotes Henry David Thoreau, and explains "trail magic" and "slackpacking." With the finer but less esoteric details of life without baths, through days of rain and bugs, he helps readers understand why many thousands start the trail, but far fewer are true thruhikers. With finesse, Rubin succeeds as an informed journalist, a backpack-hoisting hiker, and a philosophical observer. Hikers, dreamers, and pilgrims of all sorts will find this an entertaining odyssey.-Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
From the Publisher
“A beautiful story.”—Esquire “A book for the rest of us, who will never climb Annapurna but still need to do something to test our own physical and mental limits.”—National Geographic Adventure “Delightful. . . . [Rubin] writes humorously and honestly.”—Seattle Times “Engaging and enjoyable.”—Library Journal “Rubin opens his heart to hikers, people in the nearby towns and the reader, inviting everyone along to share both hardship and discovery. ... [He] tells a human tale of the search for meaning and the understandable need to reduce a complicated life to a simple passage from white blaze to white blaze, from town to town.”—News & Observer, Raleigh, North Carolina

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599217437
Publisher:
Globe Pequot Press
Publication date:
03/03/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
131,879
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Franklin Burroughs
There are two models for Robert Reuben's book. One is pilgrim's progress, the story of the spiritually isolated and burdened traveler whose difficult outward journey is compelled by inward affliction. The other is the Canterbury tales: an account of a pilgrimage whose lofty purposes are constantly undercut by the rich, destructing variety of the human comedy. Reuben's book belongs to our historical moment, but he understands how his unique circumstances and singular fellow travelers are new expressions of old compulsions. Thruhiking requires strenuous exertion and a nearly obsessive commitment, but it also evokes, in this writer and this book, an acute and unconventional wisdom.
—(Franklin Burroughs author of Billy Watson's Croker Sack and The River Home)
David Hays
Walk with this man! Start to finish, the whole trail, is beauty from hardship—and its value to the men and women who challenge themselves to succeed. This is a beautifully written story about a man who dares set out to change his life, packing along with his humor and all the bunions of foot and soul.
—(David Hays, coauthor of My Old Man and the Sea)

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