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Posted June 25, 2007
If hiking the Appalachian Trail haunts your dreams, then Walkin' with the Ghost Whisperers is the book to buy. I'm bummed this book wasn't written sooner. Because if I had known J.R.Tate¿s tales behind the trail, my 1999 thru-hike would have been a much richer experience. Written by a three-time AT thru-hiker, Walkin¿with the Ghost Whisperers delves into the most intriguing events that have occurred along America's most famous trail. 'I hike. I see. I wonder.' is Tate's oft refrain as he takes us on a journey that is as entertaining as it is enlightening. For example, just off the trail, on a high ridge in Tennessee, Tate comes upon a mysterious tomb, reads the unbearably sad epitaph ¿Lived alone. Suffered alone. Died alone.¿ and writes: 'Three times I had stopped in the small glen, stared at the chimney-like protuberance, and wondered about the man buried beneath the aging concrete slab whose life had evoked the tragic words etched in the faded granite. The question flooded in like a rip tide, tugging at my imagination and thrusting my mind against an impenetrable barrier of ignorance. Who was this man? What events brought him to this lonely end?' Thus, Tate begins to pry from obscurity the story of Nick Grindstaff, a man once referred to as the South's most famous hermit and who kept rattlesnakes as pets. 'Most of Nick's life is hidden in the ground alongside his decaying bones and in the graves of folks now long dead who new him...Hard to believe that in this wild, forsaken place now broached by the Appalachian Trail, a man lived for nearly half a century isolated from the human race. Here, Nick eked out a meager existence in rocky soil hardly fit for earthworms, sharing his days and night with four-legged critters and slithering companions while the world passed him by.' Darn good writing, I must say. The depth of Tate¿s research is remarkable. His sense of humor is ever-present. And best of all, J.R. Tate aka ¿Model T¿ is the real deal, a seasoned long distance hiker with 10,000 miles on his feet. Chockfull of hiker lore and AT history, Walkin' with the Ghost Whispers is the book Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods should have been.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2012
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