In 2005, Pharr Davis was just out of college and not sure what to do with her life. All she knew was that she wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, solo, and she had a vague idea that once she reached the end, she would have her life figured out. And while things may not have worked out exactly as she wanted or expected, she did indeed hike the entire 2175 miles of the AT. This book is about her time on the trail, both the lows and the highs of that adventure, and the journey to embody her chosen trail name: Odyssa.
Things I learned from this book:
- I want a trail name.
- Maybe I would actually like to try backpacking and camping.
- The AT sounded really great until we got to the mosquito bit in Massachusetts. Just another reason to never want to go to MA again!
- Trail magic is awesome and I think it’s now become a bucket list goal of mine to deliver trail magic to thru-hikers on the AT (or another tough long trail).
I really enjoyed this book. I like the Pharr Davis didn’t sugarcoat the rough stuff, from getting struck by lightning to coming across a suicide victim. She never said any of this was easy, even during the times that were easier. I loved the stories from along the way, and the connections she made, and the visuals she drew of the world around her along this four-month, cross-country hike.
The only thing I wasn’t really fond of was the inherent biases that she showed. Pharr Davis is a very religious person, and she talks a lot about faith and God and her religious beliefs. That was fine, but every once in awhile, something would slip out that showed some severe bias (like calling non-Christian hikers on the trail a bunch of “left-wing anti-fundamentalists”). It was cringy. So fair warning to others who may read this.
I doubt that I’ll ever hike the AT. Time, money, and family obligations would prevent me, and if not for those, there are my born-crooked feet that are prone to injury (in addition to the whole chain of injuries that feet tend to set off in knees, hips, back…). But I’ve thought about hiking parts of it, and this book made me think about that even more. It was nice to read along with someone else’s journey, and I’m inspired to maybe step out of my comfort zone just a little.