Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-Year Hike on America’s Trail

Two friends, two thousand miles and a lifetime of stories

Unlike through-hikers that complete the Appalachian Trail in one several month trip, Jeffrey Ryan took a different approach. Grabbing weeks here and days off there, it took Jeffrey twenty-eight years to finish the trail one section at a time. Along the way he learned much about himself and made many new friends, including his best friend, Wayne, who made the journey with him from start to finish. Including 75 color photos, this engaging book is part memoir, part natural history and lore, and part practical advice. Whether you've hiked the AT, are planning to hike it, or only wish to dream of hiking it, this is the book to read next.

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About the Book


When a new hiking companion and I went for a one-day hike in Maine in 1985, we had no idea we were actually starting a 2,100 mile, 28-year adventure. 

Inspired by my trail journals, I wrote this book in the spirit of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Each chapter covers a different segment of the trail in the order we hiked it, getting back on the trail in whatever state and place beckoned at the time. Each chapter has a distinct theme, some historical, some hysterical.

Appalachian Odyssey is not a “how to” guide. It also is not a “we ate oatmeal and walked 15 miles” account of life on the trail. Instead, I sought to create an enduring and endearing story told through a refreshing blend of history, photography and humor — an uplifting reminder that life’s most meaningful accomplishments rarely happen overnight, but are achieved by making steady progress toward our goals.

Genre: Memoir
Tag: Recommended Books
Publisher: Down East Books
Publication Year: 2016
ISBN: 9781608935789
"Every person who punches a clock can understand Ryan’s realization that “my greatest challenge in getting to the trail wasn’t the travel, it was carving out the two week chunk of time I would need to make the trip happen.” But Appalachian Odyssey shows a blueprint for finding a balance between the things we must do, and those we dream of doing."
"I'm not much of a hiker, but I found a lot of similarities between what it took for Ryan and his buddy to hike the Appalachian Trail and what it takes to play a full baseball season, then win a championship."
– Mike Timlin, four-time baseball championship pitcher
"Appalachian Odyssey, destined to be a classic of nature and travel writing, will inspire a new generation of readers to follow in [Ryan's] footsteps."
– Robert M. Poole, Executive Editor (retired), National Geographic
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