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Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail [Hardcover]

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Item description for Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker...

Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker

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Item Specifications...

Pages   221
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 30, 2008
Publisher   Indigo Custom Publishing
ISBN  1934144266  
ISBN13  9781934144268  

Availability  0 units.

More About Bill Walker

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mr. Walker is a retired senior instructor with over 25 years of experience teaching English at San Francisco State University in California, in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Qatar) and at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. He has specialized in teaching reading and vocabulary. He has done extensive research into vocabulary acquisition and supplemented his research readings with a great deal of practical classroom observation. In addition to teaching, he has worked as a journal editor, has written research articles, and made many professional presentations at TESOL and other conferences in the United States and abroad. He is also the author of "Academic English for International Students."

Bill Walker currently resides in Los Angeles Macon, in the state of California. Bill Walker was born in 1960.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Regional U.S. > Mid Atlantic
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Self-Help > Personal Transformation
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure
5Books > Subjects > Outdoors & Nature > Hiking & Camping > Hiking > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Personal Transformation

Reviews - What do customers think about Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail?

A very relaxing read  Aug 30, 2008
I have read most of the essay books about the AT here on this site. This particular book is one of my favorites. I don't know about you guys, but I can "feel" an author's personality exude from the pages. In Bill Walker's case, his narrative is one of a fun easy read, while at the same time interesting and informative. You can literally feel his passion for the trail pop off the pages. What's more, I actually called his number from his webpage...and he indeed matched my expectations of him. A truly nice guy. I can't wait for his book to come out on his hike in '09 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My ONLY "gripe" is that I wish there were more pictures and that the book were a little bit longer. I still give it 5 stars.
professional review  Jun 23, 2008
Close encounters
By Jeff Minick


Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Walker. Indigo Publishing, 2007. 224 pages.

Bill Bryson's account of his time on the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods, revealed that the chief amusements of the Trail are not the flowers, trees, peaks or bears, but the other human beings encountered on the trail. Katz in particular, Bryson's fat and funny companion on the trail, stays in the minds of readers longer than the descriptions of the weather or history of the Appalachian Trail.

Bill Walker's Skywalker: Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail (Indigo Publishing Group, ISBN 1-934144-26-6, $19.95) follows this same path -- forgive the pun -- but with even more of an eye for his fellow hikers as opposed to the terrain. In his description of his own hike -- unlike Bryson, Walker hikes the entire trail -- Walker does tell us much about the flora and fauna of the trail (he understandably seems concerned about bears). He gives us, as did Bryson, information about the building of the Trail and its history to the present. He tells us how miserable the rain can be, of sleet storms in North Carolina in late April, of steep climbs and rocky beds.

Despite such hardships, the Appalachian Trail attracts more hikers with each passing year. Near the beginning of the book, Walker points out that the annual hiker population by 2005 had reached five million people, a figure which readers are left to assume includes day hikers as well as thru-hikers. Walker likes company on the trail, and few days seem to pass when he must hike alone. He gives us a sense of how crowded the trail can become with passages like this one:

"Stories abounded on the trail of shelters so densely packed that everybody has to sleep sideways ... I never got in one that completely crowded, but this evening was the closest thing to it. We looked like circus clowns we were so packed in, with the hoods of our sleeping bags cinched in the cold."

Walker's descriptions of his fellow hikers are the best part of this fine book. Most of them have nicknames -- Camel and Bear, Pee Wee, Study Break, Nurse Ratchet -- that sum up part of their character. In describing them, Walker gives a sense of the comradeship that builds on the trail, of impromptu groups that form and then disintegrate, with companionship often determined by the pace set by different hikers. Some of these hikers have walked thousands of miles on the Trail, and from them readers receive good advice. "You can never go too slowly up a hill," one of them says.

One of the funniest scenes in Skywalker occurs in Hot Springs, N.C., when Walker is approached by Tanya, "a tall, leggy brunette." In the first few minutes of their meeting, Tanya explains why she receives her motel room free of charge, saying of the owner: "The deal is, and this is the third time I've stayed here, but he gets to feel my breasts for five minutes." Walker and Tanya then go for supper at the Bridge Street Café, where Tanya calls out lewd jokes to the entire restaurant until asked to leave by the manager. Walker finally manages to slip away from her and go to his own bed.

Other encounters are equally amusing. Walker describes a group of nine males in their 20s who have acquired the nickname "Sleazebags."

"Finally, I came upon the infamous Sleazebags. They were milling around Brown Mountain Creek Shelter, girding for the climb that lay ahead. Sure enough there were nine males, just as advertised. They had picked up the Sleazebags moniker because of the extra-short shorts they wore and because of their cavalier attitude toward women. One trail wit had even described them as `a posse of hikers' ... All night I felt like I was in a junior high school locker room. Every girl on the trail was analyzed from head to toe."

Bill Walker is himself as eccentric as the people he describes. He is a man named Walker who loves to walk, a living reproof to Shakespeare's negatively-answered "What's in a name?" He is 6'll," which surely makes him one of the tallest hikers ever to make the trail (Skywalker's cover is a camera shot of Bill Walker standing atop a mountain with his upper body split by clouds, an eye-catching photograph that also reveals the author's delightful sense of humor). He is a middle-aged businessman who had never spent a night outdoors before making the hike. Finally, he has a real talent for capturing the people he meets on the trail.

Skywalker does have mistakes. In referring to the Sleazebags, Walker writes that "hanging out with the Sleazebags was like a modern-day rendition of Hemingway's famous short story, Men Without Women, which was not a short story, but a collection of stories. He later writes of Antietam, the Civil War battlefield which is a part of the Appalachian Trail, that 25,000 soldiers died there on Sept.16, 1862; he clearly mistakes the word casualties -- killed, wounded, and missing -- for deaths.

But these are small details that have little to do with the Appalachian Trail. Priced in hardcover at only $19.95, Skywalker is a bargain. Even more, Skywalker's humor, its delight in human foibles, and its observations about human nature should appeal to a broad audience.
Lisa Rogers   May 25, 2008
Bill Walker tells an interesting tale of his adventures of hiking the Appalachian Tale. Sounding more like a "how NOT to" book than a guidebook is appealing and gave an incredible look at the characters of the people who take on the adventure of the AT. With the stories of his life on the trail and the people he meets he brings to reality the determination and commitment it takes to take on an adventure of this magnitude.
His vivid descriptions of life on the trail is informative and entertaining for the armchair adventurer like myself, tantilizing a wonderlust for hiking.
An Appalachian adventure for the 21st Century.  Mar 21, 2008
What is the proper protocol when confronting a bear in the wild? Does one run, play dead, or talk the bear into leaving? SKYWALKER leaves one convinced that Bill Walker could not only convince the bear to stick around, he could probably talk it into sharing a beer with him. This wonderful read is down-to-earth and connects the readers with the reality of what it takes to walk 2,200 miles through the Appalachian region in a summer.
His story is engaging and quite funny.
Mr. Walker sets out on this journey as most do, with little experience and way too much information. It seems everybody he deals with is an expert on how to hike the trail, even if they have never set foot in the woods.
His personal encounters with the variety of folks on the trail make for a very intriguing story, one that captivates the reader, right from the first page. Hikers get "trail names", or nicknames, and some of his friends can make you really wonder about the folks on the trail: "Nurse Ratchet, "The Gang Of Ten", "Mayfly", "Crucible", and "Colonel Mustard", just to name a few, give a "Disneyesque" atmosphere to the every day grind that is a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. As for Bill's name "Skywalker", at six-feet, eleven-inches, and a last name of "Walker", it was a natural!
Allow some time to sit down and really enjoy this adventure, you'll be glad you did.
Oh, and as for the bear, you'll have to read the book to find out for yourself!
Have you ever wanted to walk across the sky?  Mar 13, 2008
It's said that books can take us anywhere we want to go. Have you ever wanted to walk across the sky above it all? Gaze down upon the earth's majesty like a bird? Come along with "Skywalker" and you can.
Have you ever imagined yourself a story-hero pitted against the mighty forces of nature and exotic beasts and emerging the victor? Or beaten by the folly of your own limitations? Come along with "Skywalker" and you will.
Have you ever dreamed of experiencing a deeper understanding of mankind's role in the Nature we reside in? Walk along with "Skywalker" and you have. Walk in the sky, stand on a mountain summit a while, and against all odds, realize the power held in a desire, a fantasy, or a dream, and acting upon it.

The Appalachian Trail is 2,175 miles of mostly rugged, rocky, and hostile terrain. It is consistently more inclined then the Rockies or the Sierras. It stretches from Springer Mountain, Georgia across fourteen states to Mount Katahdin, Maine. It's described by the author as "a fairyland of of silvery summits that overlook shimmering bodies of water nestled deep in the forests of solitude, where moss and lichen floors stir the depths of even the most hard bitten souls."
To walk it, is a feat for even the most experienced hiker. To 'thru-hike' it, is accomplished by few of the many who try. When Bill Walker, a southern Georgia flatland native, challenged this mountainous spine that runs nearly the length of the east coast less Florida, his hiking experience consisted of ten years on the streets of Chicago where he walked to and from work to avoid the paralyzing rush hour traffic. Which is not such a feat at all for a man almost seven feet tall. Not to mention that his experience in sleeping under the stars consisted of one night in his sister's backyard as a 'practice' run.
Having walked on this trail myself in the mountains of North Carolina, I wondered, would his 6'11" height help or hinder him climb a mountain? Would his inexperience with the great outdoors force him to an early exit? Or would pure will and determination carry him to unknown heights? I was soon to find out.
Skywalker's ( Bill's so apt 'trail' name) journey is a page turner that will have you entranced even if your greatest outdoor adventure has been an afternoon nap in the hammock under a shade tree.
You will shiver from the bone chilling cold, feel the agony of bruised and bleeding feet, swat at imaginary mosquito swarms around your head, jump at a sudden loud noise in the back yard, and throw any Poptarts that may be residing in your cupboard to the backyard critters.
You'll envision a mountain ledge where one misstep could end in tragedy, traverse fields of rocks so plentiful each pace could be an injury. You'll almost smell swamps almost primeval. You'll become one with the elements, literally absorb them into yourself and hope you survive. You'll live with the wildlife in their territory, where they rule! You'll forge raging whitewater rapids, yet swear to never waste another drop of water in your life.
Between the covers of this book, you'll experience what it is to really live life. To go the extra mile, to dig one gasp deeper. You'll gain an awe for the majesty, and the mystery, of the Orb we tred upon. But best of all, you'll learn the power held in a dream. And in a man courageous enough to dream one and act upon it.

Susan Haley, Author


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