A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson, is officially, my 2nd favorite book. (The #1 slot still remains occupied by Cormak McCarthy's The Road) This book is about hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) as well as its creation, beauty and dangers. The trail, 2100 miles in length, runs from Maine to Georgia, across 14 states and through several beautiful mountain ranges to include: the Smokies, Green Mountains, Cumberlands, and the White Mountains. Though the author did not complete the entire AT (Known as “thru hiking” the AT). He did hike 870 miles worth, in sections here and there (Known as “section hiking” the AT), and shares the experience with witty humor and extremely interesting historical information. The book mixes the perfect balance of comical misfortunes and learning experiences with sociopolitical information and back-story. Here's a sample of typical Bryson humor:
Literally unimaginable things could happen to you out there. I heard of a man who had stepped from his tent for a midnight pee and was swooped upon by a short-sighted hoot owl - the last he saw of his scalp it was dangling from talons prettily silhouetted against a harvest moon - and of a young woman who was woken by a tickle across her belly and peered into her sleeping bag to find a copperhead bunking down in the warmth between her legs. I heard four separate stories (always related with a chuckle) of campers and bears sharing tents for a few confused and lively moments; stories of people abruptly vaporized ("tweren't nothing left of him but a scorch mark") by body-sized bolts of lightening when caught in sudden storms on high rigelines; of tents crushed beneath falling trees, or eased off precipices on ballberings of beaded rain and sent paragliding on to distant valley floors, or swept away by the watery wall of a flash flood; of hikers beyond counting whose last experience was of trembling earth and the befuddled thought "Now what the ---?"