I recently read Bill Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail' (1998), and was immediately struck by the desire to walk our own West Coast Trail. Of course, every time I read a book or article or travel guide that outlines one of these long trek-type journeys, I get the itch. The big difference is, Bryson tells his story with such self-effacing humour that even his pain is a joy to read about.
Bryson outlines his struggles finding someone to accompany him on his quest, and then further regales us with his struggles coping with his new-found trailmate. Along the way we learn a lot: about the history of the trail, the numbers and types of songbirds that used to inhabit the East Coast, the vagaries of the climate of each particular region he passes through, the death of many of the native trees, deaths and murders on the trail, and so on. It is a fun, fact-filled book that made me want to read more Bryson.
And read I can - I currently am part way through a copy of 'The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way' (1990), but Bryson is even better known for the following works: 'Notes from a Big Country' (1998); 'Notes from a Small Island' (1995), and'A Short History of Nearly Everything' (2003).
I predict there will lots to read in my near future...
image from riannanworld.typepad.com/