When author Robert Alden Rubin takes on the Appalachian Trail from start to finish he puts many things on hold in his life including his marriage and career. Adopting the trail name Rhyming Worm (which he signs into trail books and registries along the way), he sets off from Springer Mountain outside of Atlanta, Georgia on the arduous 2,100 mile trek northbound to Katahdin, Maine through the remainder of the primordial forestland of the Eastern US. Thirty eight-years old and not in great physical condition at the beginning of his adventure Rubin loses 50 pounds and whips his body into shape. He muses about the quirky individuals he encounters who take on the trail and their various reasons for undertaking this endeavor. For some hikers it is the challenge of walking the length of the path and testing their abilities, while for others it is escape from the routine of their lives or current circumstances.
Rubin holds up well despite the great hardships of trail life: bugs, cold, rain, heat, chafing, muscle soreness, etc. to find camaraderie with his fellow hikers and self satisfaction for sticking with his goal. He takes several sabbaticals from his quest to meet and reconnect his wife as well as rest from the daily grind of the trail. Rubin writes about his own journey and that of others he meets, but it is his love for the trail and it's history that are most enjoyable to read. He is especially smitten by the portion of the hike that leads him through Harpers Ferry, WV where abolitionist John Brown stormed the Federal Armory there in the 1850's to protest the government's policies. He makes note of the beauty and peacefulness of the wilderness he is traversing. Rubin wearily takes up the remainder of the hike, although his final miles seem anything but glorious, more like the stubborn desire to win an ill-advised bet. His perseverance pays off by trails end as he comes away changed for his experience, no longer questioning the life he will return to.
This report prepared by David Fletcher