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AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

Written by David Miller

Narrated by Christopher Lane


AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

Written by David Miller

Narrated by Christopher Lane

ratings:
4.5/5 (53 ratings)
Length:
10 hours
Released:
Nov 20, 2012
ISBN:
9781469242972
Format:
Audiobook

Description

In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller's account of this thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. Listeners are treated to rich descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the rewards of taking a less conventional path through life. While this audiobook abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about hiking gear and planning. This is not merely a travel guide; it is a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man's journey and the insights gained by abandoning what is comfortable and routine.

"David Miller's AWOL makes you feel the pain and joy of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike...In vivid colors, David paints a picture of his memorable journey." - Larry Luxenberg Director of the Appalachian Trail Museum

Released:
Nov 20, 2012
ISBN:
9781469242972
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

David A. Miller is the vice president of Slingshot Group Coaching where he serves as lead trainer utilizing the IMPROVleadership coaching strategy with ministry leaders around the country. He has served as a pastor, speaker, teacher, and coach in diverse contexts, from thriving, multi-site churches to parachurch ministries.

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What people think about AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

4.5
53 ratings / 21 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    There is a library full of books about hiking the Appalachian Trail, David Miller's 2003 account is the first one I've read. It's well written, I felt I was hiking alongside Miller sharing the strained ankles, blistered feet, constant hunger, wet, beautiful views and feelings of elation and freedom. Nothing particularly exciting happens that is out of the ordinary for a hiker, but it's never boring and gives an accurate sense of what it is like.Like all good travel literature, the journey is both literal and allegorical, there is the physical conquest of space, and an internal journey of growth. In taking the trip Miller is seeking an escape from his ordinary life as a 9-5 cubicle worker, as he says early in the book, "I see a benefit in thru-hiking. It is an escape from me." Yet hiking the AT nowadays, while laudable, is also very ordinary, accomplished by hundreds every year. Miller hikes the trail in a very ordinary way, sleeping in shelters, hiking northward, not diverging from the white blaze or missing any step of the trail, sleeping and eating in towns. Is it any surprise when Miller finds in the end that "there has been no epiphany.. I have no insight in how I can return [to the real word] and avoid the doldrums that brought me here." Perhaps this is the books inner message and lesson, that seeking the extraordinary in an ordinary way leads to more of the same; to experience true change we have to step beyond boundaries, off the beaten track. Miller touches on this again when he says, in what I thought was the most insightful quote of the book, "the perception of disadvantage is more debilitating than disadvantage itself", that is, perception creates limitations, the key to freedom comes from within. They are just words easy to understand (and just as quickly forget), but to really absorb that lesson is well worth a few months on the AT.
  • (2/5)
    poorly written, with super awkward transititions that made it extremely difficult to tell whether time had passed between one event and another.

    the writing was also very dry and blunt, which would have been fine if the author didn't the habit of going on long tangents about how his old life was so awful and boring. did not finish
  • (4/5)
    I started this book about a year ago when I was hikign every weekend and driving an hour or more to trailheads, but put it down at some point and only recently picked it back up again. I'm glad I did. I will most likely do a tru-hike sometime in my life and this book got me very excited about it. It inspired me to go find a bunch more books about tru-hiking. If you're not a hiker, this book is not for you. Not much happens - it's more about the trails of long term backpacking, the people David met on his hiking, and some hiker humor. As a hiker, I enjoyed all the inside jokes and could relate to his advice and accomplishments.
  • (3/5)
    My first AT journal and much of it sounded like travelogue drivel...places I've never been and won't go explained in detail. However, I suppose that if you're a hiker, it makes sense to talk about such details. I'd have like the book best if he talked more about the people involved: those he met on the trail, follow up with those he met on the trail; family coping with his departure, etc. I particularly enjoyed the parts of the book where something unique happened: sprained ankle, a new joint he explored, Eldon's adventures. And, what ever happened to his best hiking buddies?
  • (4/5)
    This was an interesting memoir of the author under his "trail-name" of AWOL making a "thru-hike" on the approx. 2,200 mile route of the Appalachian Trail. I think the year was 2003 and the book originally appeared in 2006 but has had an epilogue and update added in this 2010 edition which was also made available as an audiobook.For actual hiking tips and detailed trail information the same author's "The A.T. Guide Southbound" (2017) & "The A.T. Guide Northbound" (2015) sound like essential take-alongs.Generally speaking there is nothing very dramatic about the events in the A.T. memoir. Encounters with bears are probably the most fraught with possible danger but fortunately the author was able to avoid any actual confrontations, despite several close sightings and encounters. Apparently only a few hundred people are able to complete the thru-hike each year despite a few thousand who start it. The dropouts due to exhaustion and injury take a toll. Miller wore out 6 pairs of shoes/boots on his trek and lost 8 toenails (which of course grow back, but still the idea of losing nails due to walking is somewhat gross).The Appalachian Trail is considered one of the Triple Crown of American long distance hikes of which the others are the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. The latter was famously written about in the memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" which was made into a film. Cheryl Strayed's book had more of an emotional personal struggle attached to it, but David Miller's memoir was just as engrossing and can serve as a similar inspiration for people who are seeking to achieve something outside of the norm and to take a risk in life.
  • (3/5)
    This book could have been much better if Miller spent more time describing the hiking trail, the equipment, the do's and don'ts and less time naming other AT hikers. OK we get it, people take on pseudonyms but do we really need to get everyone you passed into the book or was that a way of selling more books? How did he prepare and get in shape for this? He said he rarely hiked and wasn't in shape but I find it hard to believe he went from the couch to the trail the next day. All that said I still found Miller's writing style easy and enjoyable. However I was always left wondering if the next passage would include equipment descriptions or some helpful information about the next segment of the trail. Instead the book is little more than a story. You might say so what, but the book is advertised as the manual for hiking the AT.
  • (5/5)
    Another great book about hiking; my third in two months. This one is by a man and his solo adventure of five months on the AT. It convinced me that I'm not interested in doing such a long and arduous hike myself, although I would like to do a much less challenging one myself someday. David Miller had an incredible supportive wife, as he quit his job and left her and their three young daughters in order to do this hike. I liked his writing style and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I vicariously hiked along with him, lol, the length of the trail. I recommend this book, especially if you enjoy travel adventure as I do.
  • (3/5)
    Miller's book kept me entranced from the first chapter and I read non-stop for a couple of hours. Not only was the description of the sometimes colorful characters he ran into on his sojourns amusing and poignant but his thought process appealed to mine as it bought to mind my own thoughts while I was out there. The first three chapters were particularly appealing to me as I had been out there in the same region and it seemed, like just yesterday that I too had walked this way. When he says "Alone, cruising serenely through the woods, is a situation that nurtures emotional liberation. In the bustle of everyday life there is no time for frivolous thoughts", I recalled the stressful time that I was going through with my divorce prior to my hike and remember how the AT was my head clearing mission.

    As his journey along the trail we feel the distance he has put between him and the distant outside world, and how satisfying it is to sometimes put all our worries aside, and just live for today when he confides "In suburbia the din of traffic, machines, and the voices of other people were the norm. I didn't feel harassed by noise. In the forest I appreciate the quiet and the clarity of thought that it induces. It is a welcome unanticipated benefit. I feel unstressed, fit, alert and invigorated ..." He goes on to reiterate these thoughts a little later when he adds "...I have come to recognize that most of what is memorable and pleasing about my time on the trail are ordinary moments in the outdoors......It is fulfilling to be saturated with the sights, sounds and smells..."

    For those uninitiated in the AT, and for those that have hiked on it themselves, the book captivates and enthralls, and we are as excited as Miller is when he reaches his goal at Mt. Katahdin and completes his 2170 mile thru-hike from Georgia to Maine.
  • (4/5)
    tough trail that many hickers love, to hate ,its cool.
  • (5/5)
    The real journey as it happens, an unembeished AT experience. I was 100% immersed.
  • (5/5)
    The experience of hiking the AT without the blisters. Honest, interesting and relaxing.
  • (5/5)
    I have read several books about thru-hiking the AT - this is my favorite one. I feel like I learned more about what it is really like on the trail than I have through other accounts and guides. If I were to attempt even part of the trail, I would certainly get the guide that Miller has since written. I could imagine what it was truly like on the trail: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I also greatly appreciate his doing it at the time of life that he did, leaving a job to do the hike with the support of his wife and daughters. This is an encouraging read, not only about the AT but about persistence, perseverance, and reward in the end.
  • (5/5)
    Wonderful and colorful tale of endurance, beauty, friendship and hardship.
  • (5/5)
    I have always had a fascination with the Appalachian Trail. When my oldest son was in boy scouts he and I made a pack to hike the trail some day. He is now a grown man with a career and family and I am middle aged and hate to exercise. Hmmm....we still claim we'll do it some day but for now I entertain myself reading every book that comes across the desk about the trail. Miller aka AWOL is a father with a wife, young children and a job who decides to thru hike the trail. With the support of his wife he quits his job and fulfills his dream. This books is his journey and it is full of information about the trail and the people he encounters. I enjoyed this book because he wasn't on a spiritual journey or in any way preachy about his adventure. This was the right thing for him and he shares it with the reader.
  • (5/5)
    David Miller, packed up his things and prepared for the 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The chronologically written, non-fiction story, AWOL on the Appalachian trial by hiker himself, is written to show his day-by-day experiences on the trail. In order to fulfill his dream, of covering every mile from Georgia to Maine he must endure happiness and pain to reach bliss. David Miller, also known by trail name 'AWOL' began the trail as an unfit man in a cubicle. He is a very spur of the moment type of guy and does not back down to the many struggles the trail has to offer. AWOL is simply a thru hiker, one that does all 2,000 or so miles in one stretch of time. He is known as a purist, because he believes every part of the trail must be walked upon in order for the title of 'thru hiker' to remain true. The book is based on his highs and lows of the green tunnel (Appalachian trail). He does the hike on his own, however he has the privilege to meet many great people, hikers and hostel owners along the way. The book A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson is a book that can be compared to this one. They both take place on the Appalachian trail, and take you on the journey following the white blazes. However, Bills journey is a little different, and is also accompanied by someone as he tells his story of the riveting experience. David Miller's informational foot notes and scattered pictures keep you even more mesmerized by his accomplishment of hiking the AT. This book, for me, was an udder inspiration. Every free chance, this book would be in my hands. The uplifting way he comes through such struggles, leaves you hooked and wanting to know more. Although he faces mental and physical downfalls, I always wanted to be on the trail following in his foot steps. Mature, readers with an eye for travel and adventure should read this book, to see a precisely written journal of a man dedicated to fulfilling his dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
  • (3/5)
    David is a programmer, not a writer. The only bit of interesting style he injects are several witty comments, which had me chuckling. The rest is a very dry journal. Still worth reading if you like trail stories and are obsessed with the AT like I am, but not practically useful as a reference (as the back of the book alludes to) or particularly inspiring as a story.
  • (5/5)
    'Awol' is one man's story about his decision to quit his job and hike the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Told chronologically, the book follows his day-by-day exploits as he deals with the physical, mental and emotional challenges the feat imposes. From the get-go, the tale is gripping. Not so much because it's action packed - "action" is mainly limited to a too-close encounter with a mamma bear - but because it provides such insight into "thru-hiker" culture, something of which most of us aren't aware. It's a treat hearing about the various individuals author Miller – AKA "Awol" – meets during his travels, and its easy to come to care for them as well. One individual with whom Miller had long-since parted ways makes a sudden reappearance near the end of the book. It's a surprise and a happy one, for Awol and readers alike. Through the tale we hear of the author's lows - his injuries, dealing with endless rain, running out of food, running out of water. At times it sounds abjectly miserable. But we also hear of the high points. Stunning scenery, friendships, interesting wildlife encounters, random acts of kindness by strangers ("trail magic.")It's a whole different world from the "get up, go to work, go home, go to bed" schedule many of us follow. Minor caveats: Miller does repeat himself a number of times. In some instances, particularly regarding the large number of other hikers he encounters, this is useful, helping readers keep track of some details. Other times it's vaguely irritating. Also, some of his paragraphs aren't terribly well constructed, seeming almost stream-of-conciousness. Fortunately, there aren't too many of these, and overall the tale he has to tell is intriguing enough to set these small issues aside.
  • (2/5)
    Another AT "journal" type book. The writing is pretty dry and mundane. He does a good job of conveying the struggles of an AT hike and being apart from family, but there is nothing particularly unique about this story compared to the many other AT books.If you're really into the trail, I'd suggest this as one to add to the collection.
  • (3/5)
    Although the writing was somewhat uneven at time, this was a fascinating account of David Miller's hike of the Appalacian Trail and why he decided to do it.
  • (5/5)
    If your into hiking, this would be an excellent book to read! A day by day account of AWOL's, aka David Miller, hiking adventure. He talks about why he changes his life to hike the Appalachian trail, what he does to prepare and his plan for the hike. As he hikes, he goes into detail about the view, the trail, the people he meets. He even talks bout his gear, what works for him, what doesn't and the one problem he has throughout his hike. I thought it was so interesting that each hiker creates an Appalachian trail "nickname" and what they mean. Even for a non hiker this was a very interesting story and it makes me want to try do the hike! I highly recommend this book to hikers and non -hikers!
  • (4/5)
    Of the half dozen or so accounts of Appalachian Trail (AT) thru hikes that I have read, this is the best one so far. David Miller manages to avoid the pitfalls typical of these accounts: too much exposition, too many tangents, too much introspection, and too much unnecessary personal detail. Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" is a good example of a too discursive approach - often regaling the reader with just too much wikipedia-ish AT lore. Thru hikers turned authors will also often layer spiritual or personal development narratives on top of their hike, and these layers can be tougher slogging than hiking through the Mahoosuc Notch. Another element that gets tiresome is the guilt trip that hikers will lay on themselves for leaving the family and responsibility behind. In "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail", though, Miller takes few tangents, is economic with his introspective moments, and does not dwell too much on the personal issues. His account is very much a "white blaze" account - he sticks to the trail and the tale. His prose style consists of straightforward, declarative sentences laid end to end from Springer Mountain to Katahdin. At first I found his language clipped and unnatural, but soon it seemed the most fitting way to tell the story. It mirrored the simple but compelling step by step progress that he made through each state. His momentum often takes him farther in a day than he should go, and similarly I would read this book later into the night than I should have. I also appreciated that he managed to simultaneously describe the incredible achievement and hardship of thru hiking without either romanticizing or exaggerating them for effect. At one point he quotes Churchill, and the quotation seems particularly apt in this regard: Churchill says of himself that "he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened".