What some of the readers of Appalachian Odyssey say…
Jeffrey Ryan sets no speed records on the Appalachian Trail, unless it is for the slowest time ever recorded getting from Maine to Georgia. But in a world which sometimes seems obsessed with velocity and superficiality, Ryan’s story is a reminder that the long slow journeys taken with friends are the best—and the most memorable. His Appalachian Odyssey, destined to be a classic of nature and travel writing, will inspire a new generation of readers to follow in his footsteps. — Robert M. Poole, executive editor (retired), National Geographic
I‘m not much of a hiker, but I found a lot of similarities between what it took for Jeff Ryan and his buddy to hike the Appalachian Trail and what it takes to play a full baseball season, then go on to win a championship. Good health, strength and incredible perseverance can take us to heights we couldn’t imagine. And Ryan makes it feel like he is taking us along for the ride. It’s a home run. — Mike Timlin, four time world champion with Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox
This is an awesome memoir packed with 30 years of trail wisdom. It’s a great read for anyone interested in stories of friendship, perseverance and adventure—as well as hiking and nature enthusiasts. The original photography and sidebars make the book fun and engaging. Highly recommended! — Georgia B.
This is a great read. In an “ADD” world, the elements included in this book: story, humor, information and history, kept me fully entertained – and I don’t even hike. The point of the book isn’t “Hey man, look at what I did” like so many experiential memoirs – it shows how seemingly unachievable goals can be met one step at a time. In that way, this isn’t a hiker’s-only book. Read it. You’ll see. – Mark G.
While Appalachian Odyssey isn’t a “How-to” book per se, it infuses the narrative with enough information about the realities of hiking that it serves that purpose. It is a fun, fine read for the adventure and the musings alone, but add in the details about gear, weather, packing, etc. and it becomes more valuable and more “real”. Beyond that, you get the photos of a wide range of places along the trail, maps, graphs of the terrain, lists and pictures of the gear, etc. It doesn’t try to be A Walk In The Woods, and it doesn’t try to replace it. It stands up well on its own. Excellent read! — Sandy P.
T his is a lovely and warm account of one man’s Appalachian Trail journey, accomplished in intervals over 28 years, and told in a manner which is part trail map, part philosophy lesson=pack thoughtfully, then take it as it comes and be prepared to leave some too-heavy stuff behind. Because he has undertaken the trail over many years, with those stories making up unique chapters, you can appreciate this book slowly while you dream about your own journey. I am still reluctant to turn the last few pages, to be honest. The great fun is that the author is very much an expert hiker; you will pick up valuable tips to make your own treks safer and easier.
Who will love this book? Anyone thinking about hiking The Trail, full on or in sections. There are very important lessons and tips to be gleaned. Anyone who loves the outdoors, and articulate, light and vaguely Thoreau-esque descriptions thereof. Anyone who values friendships, relationships, and synchronicities. The author will invite you to get to know his hiking partner, Wayne, himself, and the many good people he stumbles across along the way. And anyone who might need some inspiration. I’m going to share it with a friend who is approaching a big change in her life. Taken in chunks, anything is possible. — Anne L.
Although I live near the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, I do not hike as much as I would like. This well- written book with beautiful pictures made me feel like I was doing it. I looked forward to escaping to the trail every time I read it. I don’t feel like the author lingered on the details too much and added just the right amount of humor. He actually made me think for a bit about hiking the trail! — Susan (via Books-a-Million website).
Jeff Ryan’s trail chronicle develops a rhythm and a lyricism that draws you in, as it carries you along. While he and his trail mate notch progress section by section, year over year, it’s hard not to ponder your own path: where you were, where you are, and where you’re headed. You also can’t miss all those climbs, dips, and turns along the way. But Ryan’s main message shines through the wit and gratitude in his prose: relish those hard-earned vistas and reap those unexpected rewards as you keep on keepin’ on. And make room for that next jaunt. — Michael P.
A Anyone who has not yet read Jeff Ryan’s book, this is no ordinary book. It is not what i was expecting. It is not a guide book nor an expeditioner’s recollection. The writing is phenomenal, every sentence is useful to the reader, no over embellishments of landscapes, personal hardships on the trail or long windedness that lose the reader’s attention. A vast audience of readers can easily fit into the boots and enjoy the hike. Humor, tips from the trail, personal experiences intersperse the AT geography, history and scenic pleasures well scripted. And be careful, before you know it, Jeff has squeezed in a few lines when you least expect it; introspection takes hold and the reader is looking at trail blazes of life.
Excellent work Mr. Ryan! — Stephen R.
I read this book at a friend’s suggestion and was surprised at how it drew me in even though I’m not a hiker. Ryan demystifies undertaking such a feat, and frankly inspired me to get outdoors. This is storytelling at its best. Somehow he makes it seem like walking 2,100 miles over a 28 year period with a 75-pound pack is doable. One would think that seeing pictures of some of the most beautiful places on earth would just be cool, but I am inspired to see some of these places first hand. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a great story, but also to anyone who could use a shot of inspiration in perseverance toward a long-term goal. — Myra O.
What some of the readers of Blazing Ahead say…
This book is makes an important contribution to our understanding of the origins and survival of the Appalachian Trail in its formative years. Just as important, however, is the light it sheds on the sometimes testy relationship between the two most important figures in the early history of the AT. Without the vision of Benton MacKaye and the often abrasive tenacity of Myron Avery, the Trail as we know it today would not exist. Trail enthusiasts and scholars alike will find a lot to love in this book and it should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand how such a visionary and complex project begins and survives. — Mills Kelly, Professor of History, George Mason University