Hiking with Bill Bryson
Stretching from Maine to northern Georgia, the Appalachian Trail runs about 2,100 miles along the East Coast of the United States. It takes you through 350 mountain tops and beautiful valleys; it features deep woods and glittering streams.
Hiking the entire trail takes about five months.
No, I am not planning on going for a hike - Bill Bryson is. Or rather, he was. He already took the hike, back in 1996, and then he wrote a book about it.
In his usual fashion, Bryson intrigues me immediately. I can totally picture this slightly goofy, middle-aged man sitting on his New Hampshire couch thinking one day, "I'm gonna hike 2,000 miles!" His wife, of course, thought it a bad idea from the start.
From the adventure of buying expensive equipment that may or may not be neccessary to finding a friend and partner in crime to share the experience with, Bryson's story brings me along for the ride (For me, it is actually very comfortable. I don't have to lift more than my arms to hold the book up, and most of the time it is resting against the bed anyway).
The story feels like it could be my own. Not that I would ever go for such a long walk. But if I did, similar things would happen (is it really such a good idea to leave food on the ground when camping in bear territory?). I just wish I could write about them like Bryson does.
Bryson uses humor in ways other writers can only dream of - maybe it's his honesty that's so appealing.
I've often pondered dropping by Hanover, New Hampshire, to see Bill Bryson. It's a small college town. If I ask people where Bill Bryson lives, they might just tell me.
I'm not quite sure how well my visit would go over, though. Although I feel like I know Bryson from reading (most of) his books, I am quite certain he would stare blankly at me and say "who did you say you are again?" and "you are writing an article about me for WHAT paper?"
Hope is still alive and well that I will get to meet him one day. For now, though, I still have his books. And we've got lots of miles left to hike together on the Appalachian Trail.