Book Recommendation: Walking with Spring

It’s spring. So, here’s a spring book recommendation, whether you’re knee deep in mud season and can’t hit your favorite trails yet, or you need a good book for reading in the tent.

Walking with Spring by Earl Shaffer

Walking with Spring, Earl Shaffer’s memoir of completing the first continuous Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 1948, is a very enjoyable book. I’ve read a number of on-the-trail memoirs, but this is one of my favorites. Shaffer’s writing—like his hiking—is straightforward, unassuming, and evocative of why many of us hike in the first place—simplicity.

That’s not to say his trek was easy. Shaffer completed the hike solo over a trail that had been neglected during the WWII years, lacked a lot of signage, was partially rerouted in sections, and had had a large section lost to a New England hurricane. For some sections he only had a road map.

Shaffer and a close friend originally planned the hike as a way to help recover from their wartime service, but Shaffer ended up going solo after his hiking partner died in the war. And yet, his story avoids navel-gazing and he never seems to complain.

Reading Walking with Spring feels like following a good friend down the trail. Shaffer's story made me want to get down to Georgia and start hiking homeward today.

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