In the middle of her life in 1993, Jean Deeds decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, a rugged path over mountains and wilderness spanning more than twenty-one hundred miles from Georgia to Maine. She was inspired one day by an article in the Indianapolis Star which told of a young woman’s journey on the trail. From that moment, Jean was fascinated and decided that that was what she was meant to do. Her desire to attempt this feat sprang not from displeasure with her job or dissatisfaction with her life, but rather a need for a new challenge. This is the story of Jean’s experience on the trail, how she got there, and how she maintained the energy and willpower to complete the arduous trek. Her story proves that people can truly do anything if they put their minds to it. For Jean, this meant not quitting even after breaking her leg only 300 miles from the end. Months of rest and recuperation helped her to gain her strength and allowed her to reflect on all that she had accomplished. Most importantly, however, it gave her the emotional strength to finish what she had started, and one year after her fateful fall she resumed her journey, hiking once again to Mt. Katahdin, the end of the Appalachian Trail. To be sure, her journey did not end the day she completed those 2155 miles; she continues to reflect upon her daring undertaking. As for what is next in her life, Jean writes "It doesn’t matter. In ways I’m just beginning to comprehend, it will include this journey, this quest, and its completion."
This is an incredibly inspiring book! Jean’s easy-to-read narrative, pieced together through her own letters sent to family and friends while she was on the trail, strives to capture the essence of her life as a "thru-hiker," one of those exceptional people who are determined to complete the entire trek. Even though there were days when she thought the constant pain in her knees, as well as the cold, rain, heat, and insects would do her in, she always persevered, in large part thanks to the other thru-hikers and adventurers she met along the way. Most inspiring was that she decided to just do it, and after a year of training embarked on her life-changing journey. Jean lives in Indianapolis and continues to do local speaking engagements. Most recently, she climbed Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.
Reviewed by ls, 6/99. Other reviews by ls.