Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Review: Hiking Through by Paul V. Stutzman

Title: Hiking Through
Author: Paul V. Stuzman
Publisher: Synergy Books
ISBN-13: 978-0984076055
Release Date: April 6, 2010

Summary (from author's website):
"After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacular scenery and trail camaraderie.

With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how immersing himself in nature and befriending fellow hikers helped him recover from a devastating loss. Somewhere between Georgia and Maine, he realized that God had been with him every step of the way, and on a famous path through the wilderness, he found his own path to peace and freedom."

This is a great book! This is a book that everyone should read. It is a book not only about hiking, not only about dealing with cancer, but a book about living each day as if it is your last. Paul V. Stutzman stresses the importance of never taking anything for granted and realizing the importance of our words. Those harsh words could be the last we speak to that person.

Stutzman has a way of writing that brings his characters to life. You really feel as if you are meeting these people as you hike the Appalachian Trail. Another great thing is that while you are reading about the amazing descriptions of scenery and people, you can go to Hiking and see his photos from his 5 month trip through the AT. Once Stutzman begins the AT, every chapter has photos (except Chapter 4) that you can view. They really bring the book to life. By the end you feel as if you hiked the AT with Stutzman, and that you two have become best friends.

He does a great job of weaving background into his trip on the trail. The narrative flows seamlessly from past to present and back again as he attempts to explain why he gave up everything to hike the trail. And how by giving up everything he found something even better: peace and hope. He hikes through snow and rain and sleet. But he keeps hiking. His journey itself is one that should remind us all how we should never give up. Many of us back down from difficult tasks but we should all strive to tackle these tasks head on.

I can't begin to imagine how hard it would be to lose a spouse after 32 years of marriage. I really admire Paul for having the courage and enough faith, to quit his job and hike the AT. I live about 10 minutes from Erwin, TN, one of the many points that the AT crosses. I have never been up there, not even for a day hike. Granted I was born and raised in San Diego, CA but I have lived in TN almost 2 years. That will change this summer. I was so touched by Paul's story and the random acts of kindness, or Trail Magic, he encounters that I want to make some trail magic of my own. And maybe one of my gifts of magic will end up making all the difference for a thru hiker.

I highly recommend this book for everyone, religious or not, married or not, hiker or not. It is a must read that will remind us all how fragile life is and how any day may be our last. It is also a book about hope and that everything happens for a reason, and that God is still relevant in our lives even after a tragedy.
Rating: Photobucket

*As a side note, I have received many books to review, most from PR companies or publishing companies but a few come directly from the author. When Paul V. Stutzman sent me my copy of his book he wrote a personal message inside for me, thanking me for my interest in his book and his life. I think that his story is amazing mainly because he is an extraordinary man. I wish him good luck, not that he needs it, and can't wait to read his next book about his cross-country bike ride.*

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