Post inspired by Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson.
“A terribly misguided and terribly funny tale of adventure…choke on your coffee funny.” - Washington Post
Okay this may be a bit against the norm here, but, reading that quote above talking about Walk in the Woods, you would expect a more comedy-like book, right? Walk in the Woods for me though was more…depressing…than comedy. Bill Bryson paints a wonderful picture of what life on the trail is like, but he sprinkles his story with the problems and failings of those in charge of the trail and the history. To be brutally honest, I’m not sure I laughed once. Not even close to “choke on your coffee funny.” Walk in the Woods falls more on the satire train than comedy (as another review notes).
Why did I find it more depressing than funny? What you learn about the Appalachian Trail does not give you hope for the future. Bryson consistently mentions the problems and ailments of it all - species going extinct, plants and forests disappearing, commercialization, and park rangers that “don’t care.” His stories revolve more around what could have been instead of appreciating what is currently there. It all seems more like a story of complaining about what those in the past did instead of offering a solution for the future. Farmers took down a patch of trees that now lays barren? What can you do to see the positive instead of sit and complain? Maybe it’s more of a realist approach, but after reading Walk in the Woods, I would say I was convinced more to not hike the Appalachian Trail instead of inspired to see its wonders.