books Hiking Through: One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail –

After Paul Stutzman lost his wife to breast cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream Paul left his stable career, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the Appalachian Trail What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life and will change readers' lives as well.In Hiking Through, readers will join Paul on his remarkable 2,176 mile hike through fourteen states in search of peace and a renewed sense of purpose, meeting fascinating and funny people along the way They'll discover that every choice we make along the path has consequences for the journey and will come away with a new understanding of God's grace and guidance Nature lovers, armchair adventurers, and those grieving a loss may not be able to hike the AT themselves, but they can go on this spiritual pilgrimage with a truly humble and sympathetic guide. Mr Stutzman faced one of the biggest fears we married people face; he lost his beloved wife far too soon They worked hard They had plans for retirement Big dreams But because of cancer Mr Stutzman was left with an overwhelming feeling of loss, of why and of not having appreciated his wife nearly enough So with not just a little bit of fear but a lot of faith in his God he set off on one of his biggest dreams a hike through of the Appalachian Trail.I think this book appealed to me because when I was in my late 30ies I discovered I had a brain aneurysm Fortunately for me, doctors were able to operate and I am still here Another progressive brain abnormality was found (yes, I have a bad brain) and I have lots of problems now but I am alive It caused my hubby and me to totally rethink our retirement plan This is why I am now on a goat farm in Montana instead of living in Hawaii but that is another story.Mr Stutzman's writing style is very easy He is honest about himself and the characters he meets along the trail His mission is to spread the word to men appreciate your wives while you have them because they can be taken in a heartbeat He learns so much on his seemingly endless hike about life, about himself and about his faith.I have been to several of the stops along the Appalachian Trail that are described in the book and this made the book all theinteresting to me It brought back some great memories of my travels around in the fifthwheel with my hiking hubby He did several sections of the trail He also read the book and enjoyed it I can tell you that he does appreciate me very much.This is an amazing book with a powerful message I am very thankful to have read it. I'm being generous with the three stars I feel like I'm somewhere between 2.5 and 3 on this book However, the problems I had are my own and mostly due to the fact that I didn't read the back cover closely before buying the book and so I wasn't prepared for how much of it is about the author's relationship with God.I'm fascinated by long distance hiking and I have read many books on this subject The people who tend to go on these adventures are usually driven by something other than love of the outdoors (at least the ones who decide to write books about the experience) so there is always an undercurrent of something in the books In this case, I expected it to be about grief (author's wife had recently died) and it was but it wasabout him learning to talk to God and seeing God in nature A small dose of that is OK but by it became a bigger focus eventually.Stutzman's writing style is easy and quick but focused mainly on where he was going to eat next There is some description of the trail and a few photos but not as much as I would like When he does decide to spend time talking about nature (describing fog and bad storms and even snow) I found the book excellent Unfortunately, those times are few and far between He also makes reference to his "purist" style of hiking He doesn't explain much why this matters so much to him and he is quite critical and condescending of others who decide to blue blaze or slackpack sections of the trail He comes off as completely condescending especially because it seems to me that he took a rather cushy approach to the hike spending many many nights in hotels in a warm, dry bed He spends time with other hikers, and we get to know them a bit, but I found those sections to be under developed (Marathon Man and Sailor), annoying (Fargo's words always written phoenticly so you could catch his Wisconsin accent) and mildly offensive (his efforts to "trick" the Catholic priest into saying someting incriminating about Catholicism).Some of his religious revelations gave me insight into how so many days on the trail can change a person but by the time those came, I think I had come to dislike Stutzman enough to not appreciate them.As I've been writing, I've decided to downgrade from three stars to two FYI: I'm planning to start reading "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail" by David Miller next to do a direct comparison of the two books. This book appealed to me for so many reasons I don’t even know where to start First of all, I love memoirs, they are all I read before I got hooked on Christian fiction Second, I love to read books about nature and adventures I’ll likely never see I also love books about healing that are written by people who have experienced the very healing that the book is about Hiking Through was exactly the book I was hoping it would be I have had a difficult time watching my dad deal with the grief of my mom’s death in 1997 and reading Paul’s experience and his journey to healing was very therapeutic and inspiring I admired his bravery to give up what was comfortable to pursue a dream His reflections on faith, his wife’s memory and the healing he experienced on the AT makes this book a wonderful read for anyone who has ever suffered a loss.Not only is Hiking Through an inspirational memoir, but it also introduced me to an entirely different culture that I knew nothing about I have no desire to hike the Appalachian Trail (I like comfort and warmth way too much), but I find it fascinating and to read a book about it and the subculture and details of the journey, kept me glued to the book Of course, Paul’s writing was terrific He is very down to earth and friendly with his writing I always felt that he was very much a human being who only wanted to share the wisdom he learned from God with the rest of us, because we can all benefit from it.There is definitely something for everyone in this book because we have all experienced a loss or we know someone who has I am thankful that Paul decided to share his loss and healing with us I really didn’t want this book to end because there was so much comfort and inspiration on these pages I highly recommend Hiking Through. I really enjoy autobiographical accounts like this one That's the only reason I gave it 2 stars Other than enjoying the account of one man's journey along the Appalachian Trail, this book had another purpose You learn of the author's religious background as a Mennonite which is an interesting account Around midway through the book, however, things start to take an odd turn and it's clear that the author's religious base is becoming very mystical Unfortunately, this is not too far afield from where the majority of American Evangelicalism is headed According to how he wrote the account, he begins to rely on what God is saying directly to him, without a Bible in view Towards the end of the book, the auther makes a stunning claim that he was given a message by God Himself to deliver to everyone who reads the book I'm curious, should I include Hiking Through after Revelation or after the maps in my Bible?He lost me after that point.