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As Far as the Eye Can See

>     Just read "As Far as the Eye Can See".  Forgot the author's name, but it
>is a great, short account of a '79 thru-hike.  I hope all the magic hasn't
>been supplanted by the jaded irritation of locals and the rudeness of the
>ever increasing numbers of thru-hikers.  Just like everything else in life, I
>wonder if I didn't discover this too late.  I must admit, the horror stories
>of crowded shelters has me worried.  Oh well, I am sure these worries are

I read "As Far as the Eye Can See" just before I started my 92 thru hike.
It was written by David Brill, and I thought it was well written at that.
I had a chance to meet David when I was a senior at the University of
Tennessee in Knoxville (I started the trail 2 weeks after graduation). He
teaches creative writing at Roane State Community College.  David agreed to
come out and talk to our hiking club one evening.  Afterward, he came out
to have a few beers with us and tell more stories.  He's a heck of a nice
guy, much like he comes across in his book.

While I was on my hike, my father read David's book and I think it helped
him to appreciate and understand what I had set out to do.  And more
importantly, I think it gave him a sense of why I was out there.  It helped
him to realize that a thru hike is more than just a hike - it's a growing
experience. A thru hike really tranforms a person (to some degree), and
it's an excellent experiment in living.  I lived a new life on my hike, and
I have to say, I've never felt more alive than when I was on the AT for 6
months.  I think my father was able to get a sense of this by reading
David's book.

The point of all this is  that I think it's very hard to convey to loved
ones what you're doing and why you're doing it.  As a result, a thru hike
can be a frightening or stressful (and/or weird) experience for those at
home.  I strongly recommend leaving a book like "As Far as the Eye Can See"
behind for your loved ones and friends to read.  They'll feel better about
your hike and probably get more involved in sharing the experience from
afar.  When I got back home, I found that my father had marked the AT in
our Rand-McNally road atlas - state by state - and the locations and dates
when I had made phone calls home from the trail.  He also sent us care
packages along the way when he realized how much thru hikers eat.  I think
he enjoyed being able to share the hike with us this way.

Anyway, David's book is a good one.  His hike was in 1979, but he didn't
write the book until around 1990 (?) I think.  So he had a lot of time to
reflect on it, and his life in general.  It made for some nice meditations
on the trail experience.  Before my hike I also read Earl Schaffer's
"Walking with Spring", Ed Garvey's book, and that big 2 volume set (UTK
library had it!).  Also, the National Geographic book.  "As Far as the Eye
can See" is still my favorite - I need to get my copy back from a friend.
Has anyone read Larry Luxembourg's book yet?

Yikes - I wrote more than I intended! Good luck there Horus!  Drop me an
e-mail with some of your town stops and I'll send some goodies to you and
all the other thru-hikers!


"People who sacrifice beauty for efficiency get what they deserve."
                                                   -Tom Robbins, SLWW
Michael Roberts                    Graduate Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
mroberts@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu   Tulane University