Hiking Through ~Paul Stutzman {Book Review}

The Appalachian Trail. Have you heard about it? Up here in Canada maybe we’re not so familiar.  But I was immediately taken with this book’s premise: “One man’s journey to peace and freedom on the Appalachian Trail”  Why?  Well, a couple of reasons.  First of all, my brother in law’s parents are taking several months to challenge and conquer this daunting trail right now.  They left on their journey about 3 months ago and they are journalling as they go.  I am smitten by the sheer determination and complete faith in their own 2 legs to carry them the approximately 2180 miles. Yes, that’s really how long it is. Winding through forests, streams, rough terrain, a few towns, MOUNTAINS and valleys. Every type of weather and the intention is that you carry all of your gear on your back. It takes months of planning.  Food drops, campsites along the way and  hiking knowledge are essential.  But beyond all of that, there’s the camaraderie of other hikers and the adventure. Oh….the adventure.

From Paul’s website: 

When Paul’s wife Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer, life as he had known it began to disintegrate. When she died, there was no way to make life “normal” again.

Paul had often dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Hiking through the beauty of nature had always brought him solace; so, after a year of trying to continue his life and work through his grief, he made the decision to quit his job, strap on a backpack, and walk the legendary trail through wilderness from Georgia to Maine.

The journey was more difficult than he had ever imagined. A thru-hiker walks the entire length of the trail in one season. In most years, less than 20 percent of all thru-hikers who begin actually finish. Paul encountered all of the things that drive people off the Trail: loneliness, discouragement, homesickness, physical injuries, exhaustion, extreme weather. He had vaguely expected such trials, but he was ambushed by the ferocity of these hardships.

And there was that lingering question: Am I crazy to give up a good job and do this? What am I doing out here?

God walked with him on the trail, throughout four and a half months, over two thousand miles, through fourteen states. This book is much more than a retelling of the adventure, people, and sights of the Trail. It is the story of God creating a new life for Paul Stutzman.

Hiking Throughwas written for all of you who have known the sorrow of losing someone dear and for all of you who still have time to cherish the ones you love. It was written for those who question whether God has any hand in our lives, and for those who believe God walks with us every step of our journeys. And, of course, it was written for anyone who dreams of hiking                                                the great Appalachian Trail.

So, Paul Stutzman, not a hiker and probably an unlikely adventurer talked himself into doing this trail after the death of his wife. The first few chapters are the story of how he came to that point and his wife’s illness and ultimate death.  I fully intended to skip through the “boring” parts. Let me just tell you : there are none.  Paul Stutzman is an amazingly gifted writer.  I tried to read faster. I tried to skim.  I could not.  He is absolutely engaging with words.  The imagery that he presents makes you feel like you are on the trail. You see the trees, the skies and the flowers.  You meet the characters along the way~ and there are many.  This is not a memoir.  This is an adventure and it is riveting.  I loved it and highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in hiking, outdoorsmanship, camping, roughing it, the App.Trail and anyone who loves GOOD writing.

This is not a tear-jerker novel that is only for the soft-hearted. It is the type of book you read to be inspired and motivated and who doesn’t need that?

I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this!

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

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