I take your picture? A thru-hiker." I looked at the father
with weary confusion. Everyone I knew was a thru-hiker. I was
just the one who had gotten himself caught. Behind the parents
a little girl climbed unsteadily onto the rocks.
"Honey," said the father, bending over the girl
to speak softly, "this man is hiking 2,000 miles. How far have you gone
so far?" He looked up at me grinning. I looked down into the child's eyes,
and they seemed very real, like the wind and the mountains. She was smiling a
little and seeing me and the rocks and the sky without any filter or assumption.
"A couple hundred," I said, eyes still locked with
the child. She must be one of us, I thought. She’s really here, not back with
the car or the house or the T.V. or what someone said a few minutes ago. I could
feel her speak before the word came.
"Why?" she asked frankly. For the father I might
have tried to think of something clever. He would have laughed, or there would
have been ooh’s and hmm’s, and the family would have left with their experience
complete and compartmentalized, but for the girl, I answered truthfully.
"I don’t know.”
Critz has written a lyrical, joyful, evocative book---part travelogue,
part memoir, and part profound personal meditation on who we
become when we've walked far enough to meet ourselves face to
face. So clear is his gaze that after finishing this book I felt
I had experienced the Appalachian Trail firsthand."
The Brief History of the Dead
The View From the Seventh Layer
Things that Fall from the Sky