A sociology professor went hiking for an in-depth, fascinating study of the subculture of the thru-hiking community and the culture of identity more broadly. This is more study than memoir, and traces the stories of forty-six men and women who chose to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.
From the back cover:
In this fascinating in-depth study, Fondren shows how, once out on the trail, this unique subculture of hikers lives mostly in isolation, with their own way of acting, talking, and thinking; their own vocabulary; their own activities and interests; and their own conception of what is significant in life. They tend to be self-disciplined, have an unwavering trust in complete strangers, embrace a life of poverty, and reject modern-day institutions. The book illustrates the intense social intimacy and bonding that forms among long-distance hikers as they collectively construct a long-distance hiker identity.
Anyone who has hiked – or has ever dreamed of hiking – the Appalachian Trail will find this volume fascinating. Walking on the Wild Side captures a community for whom the trail is a sacred place, a place to which they have become attached socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Kristi M. Fondren. 2016.
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