Received the 2016 Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research from the National Recreation and Park Association
The most famous long-distance hiking trail in North America, the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail-the longest hiking-only footpath in the world-runs along the Appalachian mountain range from Georgia to Maine. Every year about 2,000 individuals attempt to "thru-hike" the entire trail, a feat equivalent to hiking Mount Everest sixteen times. In Walking on the Wild Side,
sociologist Kristi M. Fondren traces the stories of forty-six men and women who, for their own personal reasons, set out to conquer America's most well known, and arguably most social, long-distance hiking trail.
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 volume illuminates the intense social intimacy and bonding that forms among long-distance hikers as they collectively construct a long-distance hiker identity. Fondren describes how long-distance hikers develop a trail persona, underscoring how important a sense of place can be to our identity, and to our sense of who we are. Indeed, the author adds a new dimension to our understanding of the nature of identity in general.
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.Author:
Kristi M. FondrenPublisher:
Rutgers University PressPublished:
9.00h x 6.00w x 0.38dISBN:
9780813571881Review Citation(s): Library Journal
11/15/2015 pg. 89
About the Author
KRISTI M. FONDREN is an associate professor of sociology at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia.