Why would a middle-aged businessman who had never even spent the night outdoors, attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail? Bill Walker, a former commodities trader in Chicago and London, and an avid walker, had developed a virtual obsession to hike this historic 2,175 mile footpath in one hiking season. In the spring of 2005 he set off from his home state of Georgia, hoping to make it to Mount Katahdin in northern Maine before the arrival of winter. Immediately, he realized he had plunged into a whole new world. For starters, the Appalachian Trail has some ferociously difficult terrain, winding through dramatically diverse geography and covering the East's highest peaks. Walker's 6'11" height earned him the trail name, "Skywalker", and drew envious attention from his fellow hikers. However, the height made him more susceptible to weight loss, cold weather, and crushing fatigue. An elemental fear of bears and snakes, as well as getting lost, also loomed large. Skywalker was especially struck by the rich culture this jewel of a trail has developed over the years.
Included is a history of how the Appalachian Trail has become such a stunning American success story over the decades. It is a model public-private partnership. As many as 4,000,000 people hike some part of it each year. Mortals are compelled - or perhaps cursed - to relive their lifetime adventure. This is Bill Walker's unforgettable version, leavened with ruthlessly self-deprecating humor. Some have joked that the book is as much about what not to do, as what to do. Skywalker couldn't agree more!
©2008 Indigo Publishing Group (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Whilst I really enjoyed the story, and I still think that it's best to get the author to read the story themselves, there were plenty of occasions when I had to question that in this book. Walker's enthusiasm is great, but the speed he reads at fluctuates a lot, and many parts aren't clear to hear. Surely the producer should be listening carefully and redo sections that are mumbled and rushed. It did spoil the story quite a bit, but the actual content was very enjoyable and is the second of Walker's I've listened to.
"Liked the story, but the recording quality was fair."
I've been reading and listening to AT related stories as I prepare for my section hikes. I've been pleased with the personalities and perspectives of various authors, and Skywalker is no exception. The difference in speaking and writing style between AWOL and Skywalker is noticeable, and took a few chapters to embrace; however, I was able to quickly enjoy Walker's story telling style.
I was rather disappointed in the recording quality of the story though. It is obvious that parts of the story was recorded at different times and in different locations. Some sections echoed, and other sections are nasally.
Overall, I like the story, enjoyed the reading, and am glad I bought the audio book. I am interested in the PCT audiobook by Walker.
I would recommend this to any through/section hiker, or to anyone preparing for the AT.
"Good story, poor narration. "
I enjoyed hearing the stories, but it was a struggle to get thru the narration.
I love first hand accounts of AT hikes. I was really looking forward to this - but I couldn't even finish it! First of all - writers rarely make good narrators - but sometimes they do. Not in this case. Next the narrative was jumbled and uninteresting. Bill Walker seemed more interested in himself than the trail or the people he met on the way. Listening to this was like being trapped in a room with a pseudo-friend who doesn't know how to have a conversation but will talk your ear off about stuff you don't think is interesting. It is definitely a "guess you had to be there..." story from start to the time I finally had to stop listening!
To sum up the other reviews this is a funny entertaining story. The narration is rushed. I kept checking to see if my speed was set correctly. At one point I even slowed it down to .75. Still Walker is difficult to understand as he slurs words and rushes his delivery. I suggest you pass on the audio and just buy the printed version.
"Read His PCT book liked this one even more"
Listened to this one and the PCT trail book. As the author says it's hard for him to pick his favorite trail but it easier for me to pick my favorite story. They were both good - but this one was a little more exciting. Like 99.99% of his listeners at the beginning of this story Skywalker has not completed a through hike. At the end of it his listeners still haven't but at least we understand the accomplishment a bit more. His ups and downs, initial confidence, doubts and fears, and final photo documented triumph are a lot of fun to read.
Even more important for me was reflecting on the characters and group dynamic of the hikers. Anyone that completes a two thousand mile hike is a special character. And there are a lot of varied people and stiles on the trail. One thing that stuck with me was the line that everyone has to hike his own hike. Seems true to me on and off the trail both.
Side note - I generally listen to books on tape at 2x speed. Did so here as well. The author seems very clear and expressive at that speed so I'd give 1.5 or 2.9 a try see how you like it.
"Great Trail Hiking Literature! !"
I read this after being so disappointed and disgusted by Oprah's recommendation of Wild. Skywalker is what I was really after in this classification of travel and adventure. Bill Walker's sense of humor and enthusiasm for lie and adventure have made this one of my Audible favorites.
"Give it a try."
When downloading other AT books I left this one for last because of a couple negative reviews. I actually enjoyed his story. There's nothing wrong with the authors narration.
"Better than Bryson in some regard"
It's great to have the author himself not only narrate but also transmit his infectious good nature in a program.
There will inevitably be comparison to Bill Bryson's seminal work "A Walk in the Woods" So here it is...this is better. Bryson never really let you enjoy the experience. Every chance you start to enjoy this journey and being away from things...Bryson hits you with either teenage angst or factoid about how the planet is dying right now.
Walker give you the experience and you never want to leave. Sure, he does talk about the environment but it's a bit more down to earth. Great read.
This book is a breath of fresh air! I loved every moment of it 😊
"Great story told from a real person"
Bill Walker is an interesting character. He is over 7 feet tall and has a down home way of speaking. As he reads along, you find yourself correcting his pronunciation. One could chalk that up to Southern, but I am southern and do not mispronounce words. But, it is endearing and he weaves a funny and informative tale along the AT. I liked it.
It was relaxed and he tells of his mistakes as well as his triumphs.
He gave me good insight into my sections hikes of the trail.
Yes. Getting High. I plan to hike the Annapurna Circuit next year and I gave me insight into the challenges there.
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