Thursday, May 27, 2010

“Live Free or Die” – Review of Dead Men Walk No Trails by Rick McKinney

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“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” -- Paul Dudley White


Dealing with suicidal depression after a friends suicide, the author’s self prescribed treatment is to hike the Appalachian Trail (GA>ME 2004) writing this book as he goes uploading a bit at a time.

Blue blazing, aqua blazing (a canoe trip through Shenandoah) , yellow blazing. listening to the radio most of the way.  The author writes more about heavy drinking, ‘self-medicating’, and taking weeks at a time ‘off-trail’, than he does about the actual hiking - not your typical Appalachian trail thru-hiker.  White-blaze purist would be incredulous. And yet, even though in large parts of the book he spends obsessed with chasing this girl or the other girl (some parts more like an adolescent romance novel than a trail journal) there is still deep insight into our motivations and desires to be ‘free’.  At times, freedom from loneliness seems to be his main concern.

His writing style at first appears a bit choppy, jumping about through time and from subject to subject. After a few chapters it takes on a certain rhythm and it holds the readers interest.  He has a humorous way of ranting about life, fits in meaningful discussions and gives us some understanding of why people choice to go on long distance hikes.  For Rick is it mostly about freedom. 

The author is a talented writer who hiked the AT, not an AT hiker who decided to write a book.  The difference in the quality of the writing is clear.  And as this writer walked he came to grips with the boredom of long-distance hiking and developed a love of the trail.

Rick is currently walking the PCT (2010); is blog on the PCT hike is at: http://whodaresdomoreisnone.wordpress.com/

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