Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Hiking Through

My Synopsis:

Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul V. Stutzman

(For review from Phenix Publicity)

"I grabbed my food and headlight and followed the direction of his voice. He was perched on the rocks with the world stretching out far below. I found my own seat in the grandstand, an indention in the stone that fit my body and still held lingering warmth from the day's sunshine. We sat and watched in silence, two wanderers on a lonely trail, both on our own quest for peace. There may have been billions of humans on earth that night, but only we two had front row seats for this show as earth moved from day to night." (pg. 159)

When Paul. Stutzman lost his wife Mary to breast cancer he knew his life would never be the same. Though he made it through the first year without making any life changing decisions, a plan was taking route in his mind. While praying for his wife and family at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, Paul walked a little way into the woods on the Appalachian Trail and promised himself that one day he would come back and do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

Now that Mary was gone there was little to stop him. He quit his job, as a restaurant manager of over 17 years and started out on a quest to find peace and healing on the Appalachian Trail. He wanted to remind other men to appreciate their families and spouses because you never know how long you have. He braved over 2, 176 miles of grueling mountains, cold that seeps into the bones and rain that seemed to never stop. But, through it all Stutzman, met many hikers along the trail that helped to change his life. He found peace and freedom in the face of his loss.

My Thoughts:

Paul Stutzman does a wonderful job of making the reader feel like they are right there with him as he climbs each mountain and listens to the stories of all the hikers he meets. The Appalachian Trail isn't a cake walk by no means. It took over 5 months to hike the 2,176 mile trail and Stutzman seems to have learned something just about every day.

I usually have a criteria for deciding whether a book is good. If it makes me cry or laugh or makes me want to get up and do something. Despite the conditions Stutzman hiked through, the rain, the cold and the constant tiring walks, this book made me want to hike The Appalachian Trail. The story was so compelling that it made me want to have my own adventure. Given the fact that I'm out of shape and a diabetic, I don't think I will be able to tackle it, but this book really made me want to.

Stutzman set out to show men the need to appreciate what they have with their spouses and families and really believe he accomplished that, not only be writing this book, but by talking to hikers along the way and telling his story and hearing theirs. I really enjoyed the book and look forward to a book about his bicycle ride across the country and the people he meets on America's front porches.

Hiking Through is available NOW from your favorite bookseller!

Paul's website has some wonderful pictures taken during his adventure on The Appalachian Trail, check it out!

Buying Guide:


- You love to read memoirs or true stories
- You love to hike and read books about the adventures of other hikers
- You are dealing with grief and want to find ways others have dealt with it


- Your idea of a good book has to be filled with romance
- You don't like to read books that are very descriptive of the scene
- You prefer fiction as opposed to non-fiction

I give this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Here is some more information about the author, Paul Stutzman.

In a recent interview, I was asked how I wanted to be remembered and what Iwanted my obituary to say. Asking myself the same question in the fall of 2007 was one of the factors that pushed me to make the drastic decision to leave a secure job and do nothing but walk for almost five months.

I admit it—I’d pretty much fallen into the trap of the rat race, running as fast as I could to make as much money as possible. That didn’t leave much time in my life for living. Wife, family, God—they pretty much had to settle for whatever leftover bits of time I could find in my busy days.

Then my wife died of breast cancer in 2006, and dying suddenly forced me to think about living. Two-thirds of my life was probably already gone—what had I done with it?

How would my obituary read?

It’s too easy to let the hours slip away without evaluating how we’re spending our allotted days. We make decisions based on the immediate need or want. We put off until tomorrow attention to the most important ingredients of life. We try to ignore our mortality and the fact that our days are indeed numbered. We forget that today determines tomorrow.

This talk of mortality is not meant to be morbid—instead, I want to encourage you to find the best ways to live today! Today is your life.

I did quit the job that had consumed my days. I undertook a long and extremely difficult journey to living. But now I have a firm answer to the question. When folks remember me, I hope they say, “He enjoyed the journey.”


Mystica said...

Dont hike but like to read other people's adventures!

justpeachy36 said...

This is such a great book, I can't say enough about it!

Llehn said...

I don't think I'll ever hike but I don't mind living vicariously through other people's adventures especially if they do a good job in bringing you there with them through their words.

Shy said...

Astounding, that's perhaps the best way to describe how I feel as I read your review on this book. Would be really interesting to read how others go through the hard period in life and knowing that someway, somehow, there's strength in us that will allow us to do just the same. Great review. Wish I could read this book too =)