A Walk in the Woods and my wilderness experiences…

Posted on March 17, 2008. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

By Joy A. Kennelly

Finished reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson the other night and realized I never have to walk the Appalachian Trail now. LOL

What was fun was remembering all the backpack and camping trips my Dad used to take us girls on while we were very young. The older I grow, the more I love my parents. I wonder if that happens to everyone?

I just have really good childhood memories that are starting to come out now that some of the bad ones have been dealt with.

Dad took each of us individually on our own little back pack trips when we were six or seven. For mine, we drove past Jinx Lake near Big Bear and went on up San Gorgonio Mountain– the highest peak in CA, (Dad’s hiked it 7 times and I only did it that one time) and it’s 11, 499 feet.

My youngest sister was so little when she went she only carried her sleeping bag when they went on their trip. She still hikes to this day, only now in Colorado on 14 teeners. (sp?)

Bryson’s book was a very interesting read because he adds a lot of historical and ecological information that makes you understand the entire experience better. I was getting tired of hiking by the time the book was over, but the people he met and his walking companion were very entertaining which made me continue on.

Then it reminded me of hiking when I was going to school in Montana. I distinctly remember hiking 16 miles one day and bathing in the rivers. Very special memories.
The school I went to was called Montana Wilderness Bible College – that give you any indication of what it was like? Can’t believe it’s still around! I should see if there’s anyone there I remember, or get their alumni newsletter!

We used to have the best times. Because everyone thought Californians were out there to begin with I could do anything and blame it on being from CA. I wore the wildest clothes too.

I used to sew and created this bright red and white Norma Kamali two piece outfit which I ended up wearing in the school brochure promotional picture. You should have seen me. Too funny.

I did a lot of hiking that year and just loved it. I also planned lots of silly events because it was so isolated you had to make your own fun. We always did pranks on each other (guys vs. the girls) and it was so crazy.

We would have mud and snow fights outside and food fights in the cafeteria. I guess I can say I have mud wrestled before in my lifetime. 🙂

I organized a group of us to all wear purple to go watch a movie. The man who owned the camp was so wealthy he rented out an entire gym and took us all out to dinner (all thirty of us) on the town before turning us loose on the gym for all kinds of sports and activities.

I’ve had a good life looking back.

I also skiied a couple of times while I was there which was a blast even though I’m not the greatest skiier. Had crushes on boys who ended up getting taken away by girls who claimed to be my friends (no wonder I don’t trust very easily!)

Learned my foundation of the Bible that I know today. Made some great friends, heard new music, saw what hippies from CO lived like because one was my roomie.

My other roomie was this prissy, sissy blonde girl from MN, Pam. She and I were chosen to work with the Dean of Students and became fast friends. The Dean ended up having an affair with one of the dark-haired students and we always wondered if he had chosen us to work for him with the same intent in mind. We’ll never know.

I saw my first R-rated movie while away at Bible School, drank my first drink, and lived through the scandal of my Dean of Students’ affair. A little shocking for little sheltered me, but I came back to the beach a stronger person for it.

I love the mountains. I just can’t do the same type activities any more because of my back. Plus, I’m not into cold. I’d rather vacation at the beach any day. Could be why I love living back near the beach now!

Can’t wait for it to become warm enough to go swimming in the ocean. That’s my favorite – to battle against the power of the sea. When I come out all exhausted it’s a great feeling. I just need to be more careful around the sun now since my family is prone to skin cancer.

One of the things that drew my sister and I back together is when I found out she’d had a surgery on her back because of a skin cancer spot and she hadn’t called me about it. That crushed me and made me realize how foolish our disagreement really had been.

I think that’s what A Walk in the Woods did for me too. At a certain point, the two men decide they’ve done their part and decide to stop. I could so relate to that feeling and sentiment. Now that I think about it, I really, really enjoyed that book. Can’t wait to read another of his!

Every time a book ends I feel like I’m closing the last chapter on a good friend. May you feel the same way when you read my blog. I try.:)

Okay, that’s all for now. Got to plot next week’s priorities tonight so I hit the ground running. Oh, but one last thing. You know what’s funny about putting something out there you want to happen?

Remember how I said I like to work with creating a community of women, rather than beat down the boy’s club? Well, two very empowered business women I’ve known invited me to join their networking circles after I blogged about that. Isn’t that cool? I don’t think they read this blog either.

I guess I’m following the verse, Ask and it shall be given unto you! Try it sometime. You might be surprised at the results!

Take care and have a good one!


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One Response to “A Walk in the Woods and my wilderness experiences…”

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Thanks for the review, and for sharing your hiking experiences. I find that anything nature related, whether it be hiking a trail or wandering along a beach is such an intensely individual experience. It seems that no two people have the same insights and experiences even though they may have walked the same path.

A good example of this is the difference between Bryson’s book and Eric Kampmann’s Trail Thoughts: A Daily Companion for the Journey of Faith. For one, hiking the trail inspired an entertaining and humorous work, and the other a daily devotional and a deeper look into our place in the world. I’ve never been much of one for reading too much faith-based writing, but I’m really enjoying making my way through this one.

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