Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Barefoot Sisters Walking Home


DISCLAIMER:  I bought my copy of this ebook with my own paycheck.  The following post is my own opinion and not one spoon-fed to me.

The next book on my proverbial shelf to be reviewed is Barefoot Sisters Walking Home by Lucy “Isis” and Susan “jackrabbit” Letcher.  This book is a follow up to their popular first, Barefoot Sisters Southbound.  (If you did not read my review of that, you can see it here.)  This second book follows the two sisters home during the summer of 2001, after they completed their southbound thru-hike, took a couple of weeks off, and then decided to walk the trail home instead of buying a used car as planned.

The writing style is nearly exact to the first book, with the two authors taking turns writing about their experiences.  Similarly, the story flows smoothly and quickly as they cover the nearly 2,200 miles back home.  It was especially entertaining to read about the differences between their two thru-hikes, and to watch as they further cultivate friendships and acquaintances that were first made on their southbound journey.  They even touched on what it was like to be on the trail during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and how it affected the trail experience.  Each author’s separate personality really shines through, and each acknowledges strengths and weaknesses within themselves… and each other.  Reading the two books so close together made them seem like one long story that was broken into two volumes, rather than two completely different books.  That said, they could each be read independently, with little loss in storyline.  By the end of this second book, I felt like I was right there with them, sharing the same scary storms and funny happenings, and like the first book, I had a hard time putting the Kindle down.

I highly recommend the book, if for no other reason than it is a good, entertaining read that is well-written and filled with humor, drama, insight and perspective, along with stunningly detailed descriptions of the flowers, towns and people they encountered.  I would easily read any book by this pair… perhaps of the Pacific Crest Trail or some other adventure completely.

I would love to hear from you, whether it is about this book or another one you recommend.  Please send me a comment below, or use the Contact Me page up top.

Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”



Book Review: Appalachian Trials

DISCLAIMER:  I bought my copy of this book with my own paycheck.  In fact, I bought two – one paperback, and one eBook.  And while I am scheduled to be a blogger on Zach’s blog by the same name during the 2015 season, I am quite certain he would prefer I give my full, unbiased opinion of his book here, rather than simply feeding the herd.


If you have been around the Appalachian Trail at all, I am quite certain you have at least heard rumors of the latest book I read, Appalachian Trials by Zach “The Good Badger” Davis.  If you have not actually read it, I urge you to do so!

In short, Appalachian Trials is a mental preparation resource for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.  While there are stacks of books on the physical preparation, the needed and unneeded gear, how to plan your food menu, and even how to poo in the woods, very few of them, if any, discuss the mental aspects of such a large undertaking.  During his own hike, Zach sat down with other hikers and support teams, discussing why so many attempts fail, and developed a working plan for the different scenarios that an aspiring thru-hiker should think about before hitting the trail to ensure success.  Using his own humorous experiences, with his unique writing style, Davis lays down a course of action to prepare your mind for this strenuous task.

I will admit, I was a bit skeptical when I first picked up the book.  After the first chapter, when I realized I had been highlighting and underlining and noting the margins a tad too much, I was sold.  I also decided maybe the eBook version would be a better match for me, as it would allow me to highlight without making the pages unreadable, make extensive notes wherever I pleased, and add multiple bookmarks for sections I want to go back to.  The paperback will be my loaner book and keepsake (note: no loans of this book, since I got it signed by Zach at Trail Days!), while the eBook is most definitely my “working version.”  Having read it twice – back to back – I can attest that this book, while aimed at Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, has many applications to the real world, and I have already seen some changes in the way I approach tasks at hand.

Taken from Amazon:

In Appalachian Trials readers will learn:

- Effective goal setting techniques that will assure you reach Mt. Katahdin

- The common early stage pitfalls and how to avoid them

- How to beat “the Virginia Blues”

- The importance of and meaning behind “hiking your own hike”

- 5 strategies for unwavering mental endurance

- The most common mistake made in the final stretch of the trail

- The top method for staving off stress

- Tips for enjoying rather than enduring each of the five million steps along the journey

- Strategies for avoiding post-trail depression and weight gain

In addition, the Bonus Section of Appalachian Trials includes:

- A thorough chapter on gear written by thru-hiker of the AT and Pacific Crest Trail, and professional backpack gear reviewer

- Information about the trail’s greatest and most unknown risk and how to guard against it

- 9 tips for saving money before and during your thru-hike

- A thorough FAQ section including information ranging from how to obtain sponsorship, to the best stove for the trail, to avoiding chafing, and much more!

The absolute only criticism I could find about this book – other than it was too short – is simply a pet peeve of mine:  The editing of the eBook was a bit lacking.  There were misused or misplaced words, and while you were still able to understand what was being said, I hope (and would volunteer to assist!) that the next edition would clean these up a little.  I have not compared the eBook to the paperback, so perhaps the errors were made when the book was being converted to digital, especially since Zach’s website is very clean and refined.  Accidents happen.  And again, this is not a big criticism, just a pet peeve (thanks to parents who were teachers!).

That said, I still give this as many stars as the judges will allow me!  Pick up a copy.  Borrow a copy.  Do not steal one, because Zach would not get royalties that way (not to mention the legalities…), but any other way you can obtain a copy, do it.  You will not be disappointed with Appalachian Trials at all.

I would love to hear from you, whether it is about this book or another one you recommend.  Please send me a comment below, or use the Contact Me page up top.

Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”


Book Review: Timberrr!!!

(Note:  I was unable to find the link for this book again, although I know I got it during one of the “special free offers” from Amazon.com.  You may have to search for it…)


I just finished reading the ebook version of Timberrr!!!  Or, How I Fell Down the Appalachian Trail by Amy “Timber” Hiusser.  This was an interesting book to read, as it is essentially a copy of the author’s travel journal while she attempted her Thru Hike of the A.T.  Yes, I said attempted.  More on that later.

The book is a bit odd to read in one respect, though.  It starts out with a journal entry, which introduces you to the author’s style of writing and a bit of her personality.  Then the book ventures off into the realm of the how-to, as Timber describes her preparation tactics, choices she made (or did not make…), and some of the factors she considered when selecting her gear.  Note to self:  These chapters, while interesting, do not really apply to me, as I do not live where she lives and have more access to stores than she had.  Then there are a few chapters on each item of gear – one on backpacks, one on sleeping systems, one on shelters.  An entire chapter on her clothing choices, and the difficulty she had in finding suitable items.  Some of it was interesting and informative, but again, it seems it was aimed at a complete newbie.  Nothing bad to say about it, just not what I needed.

The book then takes you through its guidebook course, covering pretty much every topic from first aid and flora/fauna to weather and crime.  I will be honest – I skipped through much of this.  I have never liked reading page after page describing animals, plants, bugs and such, unless I had a need to learn one specifically.  Timber does do a good job of researching and describing each item, but this information was not what I was looking for.  Perhaps later, I will reference back to it.

Finally, after about half of the book, Hiusser starts to give her account of her hike.  This was the “meat and potatoes” I was looking for!  I hope I am not alone when I say that reading other people’s travelogues is very similar to living vicariously through them.

As I mentioned earlier, this book covers an attempted thru hike.  The author is up front and honest about not making it the entire way, which is very refreshing.  Not that there is anything wrong with the books out there, but many are books of success.  Timberrr! is an account of a valiant effort of which the ultimate goal changed, resulting in a shortened hike.  It was thought provoking to read the mishaps and thought processes that she underwent, bringing forward a few of my own insecurities and, dare I say, fears that I have for my own Thru Hike attempt.

The next book on my “read now” shelf is Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis.  I have been anxiously waiting to read this, so I am sure I will zip right through it.  Probably more than once, before my Thru Hike is started.

I would love to hear from you, whether it is about this book or another one you recommend.  Please send me a comment below, or use the Contact Me page up top.

Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”


Book Review: Barefoot Sisters Southbound

In an effort to keep active on the blog in between gear testing and weekend trips, I thought I would add a few book reviews into the mix.  While I plan to limit the books reviewed to those that are somewhat applicable to an Appalachian Trail Thru Hike, I do have an extensive library, and am constantly adding to it, so if there is a specific book you would like me to review, send me a message or comment on this post, and I will be sure to get a review added as soon as I can.

Barefoot Sisters Southbound


To start out this series, I thought I would review a book that I just finished, as it is still fresh in my mind.  That book is Barefoot Sisters Southbound by Lucy “Isis” and Susan “jackrabbit” Letcher.  My initial reaction is that this book is an amazing read.  It follows the authors from Maine to Georgia during their Summer of 2000 (and Spring of 2001) Southbound hike of the A.T.  The two Barefoot Sisters acquire their nickname due to their love of walking sans shoes, and each author takes turns writing about their Thru Hike, with each clearly labeled so you know who is “talking.”  It does take a bit to get used to the back-and-forth writing styles, but once you do, the book flows smoothly and you get a real sense of each author’s personalities and perspectives.  Once I got into the storyline, I had a hard time putting down my Kindle!

Anyone who enjoys reading a travel journal will enjoy this book, as it delves into both the actual activities (aka town shenanigans) and the mental thought processes that one goes through while attempting this long-term trek.  While not really meant to be an instructional book, it is peppered with tidbits of information that will prove helpful to anyone planning a Thru Hike.

I highly recommend the book, if for no other reason than it is a good, entertaining read that is well-written and filled with humor, drama, insight and perspective.  The moment I finished this book, I ordered their second, Barefoot Sisters Walking Home.  Look for a review on that soon.

I would love to hear from you, whether it is about this book or another one you recommend.  Please send me a comment below, or use the Contact Me page up top.

Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”