During the 2020 pandemic, one thing held true: Scores of people headed out for a day hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) as if being in the woods, immersed in beauty and mystery, immunized them against an unseen enemy. The Appalachian Trail (AT) became a hospital for souls locked up in quarantine, needing to breathe, stretch, and be nourished by the earth beneath their feet.
For decades, the Appalachian Trail (AT) has been a sanctuary for seekers, the tired and the lost; those hungry for renewal, the broken and the grieving; and those who want to face and answer questions they have lugged around with them in invisible backpacks. Questions like, what is next for me? Is there a God? Should I live or end it all? How can I liberate my life from what weighs it down? How can I forgive God?
This book pays tribute to those who dare such a grueling and soul-satisfying adventure. It tells the tales of those on a pilgrimage through insightful conversations and encounters, exploring and revealing what angels the hikers wrestle with in the wilderness who call out to name them again. This collection unveils the spirituality of any such journey in sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching portraits.
Tales from the Trail explores what it means to be human.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to pay tribute to the hikers who dared to walk the 2200-mile Appalachian Trail, to strip their lives down to its bare bones, to forsake their conventional lives for months to complete. As a journalist, I wanted to investigate what drives someone to undertake this often-grueling adventure. Why are they doing it? What lessons have they learned by the time they reach the hostel that lies mid-way on the AT? Writing their stories was a way to investigate what it means to be human, and how being immersed in the cathedral of the wild heals the deepest wounds in us all, most that are invisible to the naked eye.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Tales from the Trail is more than a collection of stories drawn from the oldest, continuously running Appalachian Trail hiker hostel, located in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. It’s about the sanctuary people find in the great outdoors, about finding renewal, making transitions, grieving, reinventing a life. People come from all over the world to hike the trail and stay with us. Everyone is on their own soul-searching pilgrimage. This book shares their struggles and their longings, as well as their life-changing discoveries.
“The 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail starts at Springer Mountain, Georgia, ends at Mount Katahdin, Maine, and runs through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. On the map, the trail is drawn in red, perhaps as a way to speak for the sheer strength and determination required to walk it, for the blood that will be shed along the way, for blisters endured, and for blackened toenails lost. The trail wounds those who walk it with its demands and beauty, its wildness and solitude. It challenges hikers to know themselves as they have never known themselves before.”
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