the Beaten Path
An Appalachian Pilgrimage
by Robert Alden Rubin
Lyons Press, 2009
I feel like one of those people who has had a near-death experience,
seen a bright light, and come back to this world estranged and
disappointed at having to take up the daily routine again. For six
months I had a glimpse of what it could be like to live simply, with a
clear goal in view, as part of a community that shared the same almost
religious sense of purpose and possibility."
||In the afterword to the second edition of his Appalachian Trail memoir,
originally published in 2001, author Robert Alden Rubin admits the
commercial success of the first edition was tempered by Bill Bryson's
hugely popular farce, "A Walk In The Woods,"
which went to print a few months earlier. Although Rubin's
chronological account of a successful "thru-hike" (a 2,160-mile
south-to-north trek) is more literary, lyrical, and does a better job
of capturing the spiritual side of the experience, Bryson's
self-deprecating humor and comical characterizations of a failed quest
saturated an already limited market for trail stories.
The first hint of spring has come to the hollows of north Georgia's hills near Amicalola Falls State Park like a Seurat painting, a dotting of yellow-green leaf tips, red buds and white dogwood bracts overlaying dry winter hillsides of sinuous tree trunks and gray-brown leaves. Snow has been forecast to the north along the Appalachian Mountains as a nor'easter skates up the coast, strengthening, gathering moisture from the ocean and whirling it counterclockwise into arctic air pushing down from midcontinent.
this new edition gives readers a second chance at Rubin's
well-researched and deeply personal account of a 1997 thru-hike,
Arranged chronologically like a diary, the six-month-long memoir offers
lush descriptions of the terrain and environments along the trail,
background history on the AT and locations along the route, and
engaging sketches of fellow
hikers and their adventures. Most importantly, Rubin's first-person
account chronicles his own transformation from a self-obsessed
overweight man in mid-life crisis to self-actualized thru-hiker and how his pilgrimage through nature effected that change.