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The Things You Find on the Appalachian Trail: A Memoir of Discovery, Endurance and a Lazy Dog

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This upbeat nitty-gritty memoir, based on the author's 2001 trail journal, chronicles one man's hike the whole length of the Appalachian Trail, beginning just north of Atlanta and finishing six months later in Maine. The journey included adventures with a faithful and eccentric dog, a new romance, and the challenges and triumphs of walking 2167 miles in all kinds of weathe This upbeat nitty-gritty memoir, based on the author's 2001 trail journal, chronicles one man's hike the whole length of the Appalachian Trail, beginning just north of Atlanta and finishing six months later in Maine. The journey included adventures with a faithful and eccentric dog, a new romance, and the challenges and triumphs of walking 2167 miles in all kinds of weather.


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This upbeat nitty-gritty memoir, based on the author's 2001 trail journal, chronicles one man's hike the whole length of the Appalachian Trail, beginning just north of Atlanta and finishing six months later in Maine. The journey included adventures with a faithful and eccentric dog, a new romance, and the challenges and triumphs of walking 2167 miles in all kinds of weathe This upbeat nitty-gritty memoir, based on the author's 2001 trail journal, chronicles one man's hike the whole length of the Appalachian Trail, beginning just north of Atlanta and finishing six months later in Maine. The journey included adventures with a faithful and eccentric dog, a new romance, and the challenges and triumphs of walking 2167 miles in all kinds of weather.

30 review for The Things You Find on the Appalachian Trail: A Memoir of Discovery, Endurance and a Lazy Dog

  1. 5 out of 5

    Don

    I enjoy reading adventure journals, because I can experience them vicariously if they are written well enough. I've read other AT journals, and this one is excellent. It's the first journal I'd read that included a dog as a companion, and you quickly realize that the AT experience for the author (Kevin) is different from what others record. He had a lot more patience with the dog than I would have! And then of course there are the colorful people he meets and the interesting plots that are inter I enjoy reading adventure journals, because I can experience them vicariously if they are written well enough. I've read other AT journals, and this one is excellent. It's the first journal I'd read that included a dog as a companion, and you quickly realize that the AT experience for the author (Kevin) is different from what others record. He had a lot more patience with the dog than I would have! And then of course there are the colorful people he meets and the interesting plots that are intertwined during his journey north... including one of a potential love interest he meets on the trail. Overall, this is a well-written journal with some unique events that make it different from other AT journals. If you like reading about the AT, you should read this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Merrell

    I mean, I love all books about the Appalachian Trail, and I would read just about anything...which this book made plain. But it was horribly written, simplistic, and without any sense of depth or thought. In the last pages of the book, I was scanning to finish, and it even felt like Kevin himself was tired of writing about his own experience. Got through it, and still want to hike the Trail. That was worth an extra star.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    The 2,167 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mt. Katahdin, ME are not easy. One endures high rocky peaks, strong winds, lots of rain, mosquitoes, black flies, and lack of water. The AT is not one trail but individual trails running through 14 states, each state or park with its idiosyncratic rules and unique natural elements. Despite the hardships of the trail, the one commonality for thru hikers has been the kindness of strangers, called Trail Angels, who appear when m The 2,167 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mt. Katahdin, ME are not easy. One endures high rocky peaks, strong winds, lots of rain, mosquitoes, black flies, and lack of water. The AT is not one trail but individual trails running through 14 states, each state or park with its idiosyncratic rules and unique natural elements. Despite the hardships of the trail, the one commonality for thru hikers has been the kindness of strangers, called Trail Angels, who appear when most needed offering food, water, or shelter. What sets this book apart from other books about thru hiking the AT is the author’s endearing dog, Rufus. Part Shar Pei, part Chocolate Lab, Rufus is the antithesis of the perfect hiking companion. He’s described as a “lazy bundle of fear wrapped in fur” and is disinclined to hike. He hates the cold and the heat, the rain and the thunder. He has to be carried over stiles, and bridges, and fallen trees. During storms, Rufus cowers under the smallest plant and won’t budge, thinking he’s protected because a tiny fern is over his head. Rufus is a delight despite his flaws!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas Bergeron

    Very interesting book. Read it in less than two days. Looking forward to, in the future, attempt what the author accomplished.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Foster

    I LOVED this book! I didn't want it to end. Highly recommended! I LOVED this book! I didn't want it to end. Highly recommended!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I've become a bit obsessed with watching through-hike video bloggers on YouTube, and I read Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS way back when it first came out, so I thought I'd give this book a try. Using GOODREADS's own rating system, this book was "OK." It gave me a lot of what I wanted: a first hand, diary-ish account of what it's like to hike the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed the tidbits of hiking wisdom and anecdotes about trail experiences. What I didn't enjoy quite so much was the painful dia I've become a bit obsessed with watching through-hike video bloggers on YouTube, and I read Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS way back when it first came out, so I thought I'd give this book a try. Using GOODREADS's own rating system, this book was "OK." It gave me a lot of what I wanted: a first hand, diary-ish account of what it's like to hike the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed the tidbits of hiking wisdom and anecdotes about trail experiences. What I didn't enjoy quite so much was the painful dialogue: nearly every time someone speaks, they use the other person's name... as if we might get confused as to which of (usually) two characters was saying what. The romance that blossoms on the trail between the author and "Phoenix," while surely real, doesn't come across as such in the writing. To be fair, I don't believe the author is a professional wordsmith, so maybe some slack should be given. He did an interesting thing. He wanted to let others read about the interesting thing he did. He met those goals. I just wish it would have been a bit deeper and more reflective. If you're looking for one man's narrative of hiking the AT, then you'll enjoy it. If you're looking for Bill Bryson-level wordplay, you'll be disappointed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joel Schaefer

    The author opened up his adventure to us and gave us some insight into his adventure, his dog, his dog and his relationships. He expressed a youthful vigor and approach, which was quite humorous. At times I laughed out loud at some of the experiences, and also had a deep respect for the assistance he gave to other people and his acts of assertiveness. As it is with any adventure, they inevitably end, and it was a little sad to end reading this wonderful story. Given that the author exposed his i The author opened up his adventure to us and gave us some insight into his adventure, his dog, his dog and his relationships. He expressed a youthful vigor and approach, which was quite humorous. At times I laughed out loud at some of the experiences, and also had a deep respect for the assistance he gave to other people and his acts of assertiveness. As it is with any adventure, they inevitably end, and it was a little sad to end reading this wonderful story. Given that the author exposed his inner thoughts so clearly in the book, I was disappointed that he did not fill in the gaps in the epilogue to bring us up to speed with where he was at the time of writing the book. I wanted to know about Rufus, I wanted to know more about him and Teresa. I wanted to know more about how this adventure helped shape the direction of his life and career. I wanted to know why he waited 9 years to publish this book. I would have liked to see a more recent picture. It was just hard after feeling such a connection to have it end with an unsatisfactory resolution.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Great adventure and wonderful read. I loved Bill Bryson's account of the AT and thought this would not have the same feel. It is different but just as delightful. I may have to hike some of the AT trail now but not the whole thing. Maybe being a trail Angel is something I could do. Whether you are hiking the AT or just want to get a feel for it, the book didn't disappoint. And the dog is just icing on the book. Thank you! Great adventure and wonderful read. I loved Bill Bryson's account of the AT and thought this would not have the same feel. It is different but just as delightful. I may have to hike some of the AT trail now but not the whole thing. Maybe being a trail Angel is something I could do. Whether you are hiking the AT or just want to get a feel for it, the book didn't disappoint. And the dog is just icing on the book. Thank you!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    A New Favorite Appalachian Trail book I loved this book! It felt like I was hiking right there with the author! He's funny and a bit sarcastic. I didn't want it to end! I normally would not spend $8.00 on a kindle book but it was so worth it! A New Favorite Appalachian Trail book I loved this book! It felt like I was hiking right there with the author! He's funny and a bit sarcastic. I didn't want it to end! I normally would not spend $8.00 on a kindle book but it was so worth it!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Even though the author’s hike was 20 years ago, it is an interesting read. Down to earth, well thought out prep for hike and logical hiking. His dog, Rufus, part chocolate lab/part shar-pei, is lovable and makes a wonderful addition to the story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Down-to-earth, entertaining read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Marian VandenMeydenberg

    My 17th Appalachian Trail book. A wonderful read!! Clean and funny, while still feeling as being part of the hike! Much enjoyed the book!! Thank you!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marni

    I’m pretty sure I am well on my way to reading almost every book about the AT. I enjoyed this book mostly because of the author’s dog, Rufus, the most reluctant thru hiker of all time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jaya Verma

    Great read Love books on trail hiking and what all it takes to do it from the start to finish. As expected this was also extremely educative. Kudos to those who do the whole trail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Schlaudecker

    Enlightening I enjoyed reading this book. Only dream of hiking the AT, gives insight to the ups and downs of hiking.

  16. 5 out of 5

    gbl

    Great book!!! Keeps you interested.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shelly♥

    This was a fantastic book. I'm a memoir junkie, and there is nothing I love better than some ordinary joe (or in this case, Kevin) tell me about one of the coolest things in his life. The story starts in Georgia at the base of the Appalachian trail, where Kevin will start the 2200 mile hike to Maine. He's an ex marine and a recently ex husband. In taking the time to figure out the next chapter of his life, his next chapter actually finds him. "Fruit Pie" (his trail name) joins up with a whole hos This was a fantastic book. I'm a memoir junkie, and there is nothing I love better than some ordinary joe (or in this case, Kevin) tell me about one of the coolest things in his life. The story starts in Georgia at the base of the Appalachian trail, where Kevin will start the 2200 mile hike to Maine. He's an ex marine and a recently ex husband. In taking the time to figure out the next chapter of his life, his next chapter actually finds him. "Fruit Pie" (his trail name) joins up with a whole host of real-life characters as he makes his trek with not-always-so-faithful canine companion, Rufus. It's comical at times, yet heart-warming, inspiring and eye-opening, as we the reader began to understand this enormous undertaking and all that it takes. Not everyone who joins in the trail is even aware of these things. All and all, it is an enjoyable tale. I am so thankful for a chance to read this wonderful book - something that most probably would not have happened had I not had a Kindle!

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is the 7th Appalachian Trail travel journal I've read and one of the best. The best trait is that he paces the book well, with several plot lines and informational items stretched through the book. Most books in this style tend to be chunky, with themes living and dying in a matter of pages and the first 2 chapters being a crash course in everything AT. Instead Kevin has some great themes throughout-- such as "boy and his dog", "man versus nature", "man trust/distrust of man", and, of cours This is the 7th Appalachian Trail travel journal I've read and one of the best. The best trait is that he paces the book well, with several plot lines and informational items stretched through the book. Most books in this style tend to be chunky, with themes living and dying in a matter of pages and the first 2 chapters being a crash course in everything AT. Instead Kevin has some great themes throughout-- such as "boy and his dog", "man versus nature", "man trust/distrust of man", and, of course, "boy meets girl". He doesn't dwell on his personal demons, but explains them simply. And then he moves on to the positive and happy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is a fun read. The author shares his experience hiking over 2000 miles in 6 months - sometimes through grueling weather and/or terrain. He meets a number of great characters along the way, but the best character is Rufus the dog. The author does a great job writing everything except dialogue. It kind of gets in the way sometimes, but if you're willing to let that slide, it's a fun adventure to tag along on from the comfort of your easy chair. I got this from Amazon for my Kindle a week ago f This is a fun read. The author shares his experience hiking over 2000 miles in 6 months - sometimes through grueling weather and/or terrain. He meets a number of great characters along the way, but the best character is Rufus the dog. The author does a great job writing everything except dialogue. It kind of gets in the way sometimes, but if you're willing to let that slide, it's a fun adventure to tag along on from the comfort of your easy chair. I got this from Amazon for my Kindle a week ago for $3.99. Today it's $9.99 on Amazon. If there is a method to their pricing system, I sure don't know what it is.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Great Story This is the third book I've read written by someone who has thru-hiked the AT and this is the best written one so far. I'm as far as someone can be from being a hiker but I love reading the stories of those who are. I did laugh to myself when Kevin told about a woman who walked a few feet and said that now she can say she's hiked the AT because that's about what I said many years ago (that woman was not me!). I don't know if she was serious but I wasn't! Rufus is so cute! I was surpri Great Story This is the third book I've read written by someone who has thru-hiked the AT and this is the best written one so far. I'm as far as someone can be from being a hiker but I love reading the stories of those who are. I did laugh to myself when Kevin told about a woman who walked a few feet and said that now she can say she's hiked the AT because that's about what I said many years ago (that woman was not me!). I don't know if she was serious but I wasn't! Rufus is so cute! I was surprised he made it as far as he did. I liked the way Kevin gave history and background info on the different places he hiked. I was happy that he found the love of his life, too!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    my husband had mentioned hiking the AT on a couple of occasions, and I'd always said, "yeah, maybe one day." Truth be told, I'd never really given it much thought... And then I found Kevin's account of his trip. This is the story that changed my opinion from yeah, maybe to LET'S GO! I laughed heartily at some of the pages (especially when Kevin is describing all of the things that Rufus the dog is afraid of--water, fire, snow, hot, cold....basically everything). I found the book helpful and hone my husband had mentioned hiking the AT on a couple of occasions, and I'd always said, "yeah, maybe one day." Truth be told, I'd never really given it much thought... And then I found Kevin's account of his trip. This is the story that changed my opinion from yeah, maybe to LET'S GO! I laughed heartily at some of the pages (especially when Kevin is describing all of the things that Rufus the dog is afraid of--water, fire, snow, hot, cold....basically everything). I found the book helpful and honest, while entertaining and easy to read. A definite must for the trail community or anyone interested in hiking!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rrshively

    This book tells the story of the long hike through the personal voice of the author, different from other accounts I have read. There are many trail characters in this book including the reluctant dog. One of the things I liked best about this author's version of hiking the Appalachian Trail is that he tells of the hardships, but doesn't dramatize them or whine about them. Early in his hike he meets Teresa. Will their trail friendship turn into romance, or will they part as friends on Mt. Katahd This book tells the story of the long hike through the personal voice of the author, different from other accounts I have read. There are many trail characters in this book including the reluctant dog. One of the things I liked best about this author's version of hiking the Appalachian Trail is that he tells of the hardships, but doesn't dramatize them or whine about them. Early in his hike he meets Teresa. Will their trail friendship turn into romance, or will they part as friends on Mt. Katahdin?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan I Kane

    Fantastic journey of one man's discovery of what life has to offer away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Finding himself with his dog on the trail of nature, each day and night brings new awakenings with the land and animals that have become his city of choice. Excellent descriptions of life on the trail, people who thrive and those that it defeats. Excellent read, I felt as if I was there walking with him through it all! Fantastic journey of one man's discovery of what life has to offer away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Finding himself with his dog on the trail of nature, each day and night brings new awakenings with the land and animals that have become his city of choice. Excellent descriptions of life on the trail, people who thrive and those that it defeats. Excellent read, I felt as if I was there walking with him through it all!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cabracrazy18

    I've read several AT hiking memoirs and this one keeps to the hike really well. Not many tangents to take away from the story. Although the writing itself is on the elementary side, I enjoyed the authors account of his hike. I feel like he gave a realistic picture of what it would be like to attempt this challenge. It also helped me realize that when I attempt this hike myself, I will not be bringing my dog. I've read several AT hiking memoirs and this one keeps to the hike really well. Not many tangents to take away from the story. Although the writing itself is on the elementary side, I enjoyed the authors account of his hike. I feel like he gave a realistic picture of what it would be like to attempt this challenge. It also helped me realize that when I attempt this hike myself, I will not be bringing my dog.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I have a real fascination with the Appalachian Trail and that is why I selected this book to read. It did not disappoint me. The book included humorous stories of hiking the Appalachian Trail with a dog in tow. If you have any interest in hiking you will enjoy this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Barreca

    The author hikes the AT with his reluctant dog Rufus, and his new friend Teresa. This is the second AT book I've real (the excellent A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson was the other). A fun read with lots of human interest besides the hiking stuff. The author hikes the AT with his reluctant dog Rufus, and his new friend Teresa. This is the second AT book I've real (the excellent A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson was the other). A fun read with lots of human interest besides the hiking stuff.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kara Marie

    Loved this! A personal narrative of Kevin's journey through the Appalachian trail. After a breakup with a girlfriend, he reevaluates his life and decides to spend the next few months training to hike the entire trail. Loved this! A personal narrative of Kevin's journey through the Appalachian trail. After a breakup with a girlfriend, he reevaluates his life and decides to spend the next few months training to hike the entire trail.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robb Landon

    From what exposure I have had to the trail, a very good description of life on the trail. Would have liked more detail of the equipment used. Interesting frame of time. Ending during September 2001 and all that meant to a shocked world.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Runolfson's AT memoir is unusual because his dog accompanied him on the majority of the trek. The dog is reluctant, and Runolfson is sometimes impatient, but the furry companion's presence is a nice touch in an already engaging memoir. Runolfson's AT memoir is unusual because his dog accompanied him on the majority of the trek. The dog is reluctant, and Runolfson is sometimes impatient, but the furry companion's presence is a nice touch in an already engaging memoir.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Enjoyed this. Not spectacular writing, but decent story-telling. A bit repetitive at first, but as the characters showed up again in the book, it got more entertaining. Simple read, won't take long. Nothing revelatory Enjoyed this. Not spectacular writing, but decent story-telling. A bit repetitive at first, but as the characters showed up again in the book, it got more entertaining. Simple read, won't take long. Nothing revelatory

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