A Walk in the Woods Essay - Critical Essays

Bill Bryson

Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson is the noted author of such charming travel memoirs as THE LOST CONTINENT (1990), NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (1993), and NOTES FROM A SMALL PLANET (1996). He also has written about language in MOTHER TONGUE (1990) and MADE IN AMERICA (1995). For twenty years, Bryson lived in England. Deciding to move back to his native country, Bryson, his wife, and four children settled in Hanover, New Hampshire. In a bold attempt to reacquaint himself with America, Bryson decided that he would hike along the Appalachian Trail. Spanning more than two thousand miles and running through fourteen states, the Trail is the world’s longest continuous footpath. Leaving behind his wife and children, Bryson and an old high school friend, Stephen Katz, began their journey at Springer Mountain in Georgia. Novices to hiking in the woods, these two middle-aged men set off on an adventure that would contain many missteps amid the breathtaking beauty that surrounded them.

Possessing a mischievous dry wit, Bryson seemingly found humor at every turn. In the face of bad weather, ravenous insects, and a companion not always convinced that the trek was worth the effort, Bryson’s sense of irony flourished and helped him to hold on to his very sanity. In addition to the wild creatures they encountered, Bryson and Katz also crossed paths with some eccentric people.

A WALK IN THE WOODS: REDISCOVERING AMERICA ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL is more than just a humorous romp. Bryson takes the time to reflect on the Trail and all of the issues that surround its future survival. While the hikers only completed roughly 870 miles of the Trail’s two thousand, their efforts are to be commended and Bryson must be praised for the funny and wise book he was able to create out of such a chaotic adventure.