Go for A Walk in the Woods with Bill Bryson

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                                     Published by Broadway Books. They own all rights to this image

I was recently introduced to Bill Bryson’s adventure on the Appalachian trail. I was at home one Sunday afternoon when a trailer for the newly adapted movie with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte came on the TV. I was immediately interested in this story and so I bought the book and began reading. A Walk in the Woods is the story of Bill Bryson and his friend Stephen Katz’s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail back in 1998. The Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail that runs across the Eastern Seaboard in the U.S. It goes from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. It was founded by two Americans, MacKaye and Avery in the 1920’s. In spite of a fractious relationship between these two men the trail has not only survived all these years, it has thrived.

It is approximately 2,200 miles long, although this number fluctuates a little bit every few years as the trail gets modified or rerouted. The A.T. as it is often called, is the oldest of the many hiking trails in America. Others such as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) have surpassed it in length over the years but it still remains the most celebrated. It is managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who are a non-profit organisation. It is said to be the largest volunteer run under taking on the planet. As a result it is completely free from commercialism. Every year around 2000 people start off from Springer Mountain intending to hike all the way to Maine. These are called through hikers but less than 10% of them make it all the way. Bryson just happens upon the trail one afternoon shortly after his family moved to New Hampshire. He noticed a footpath that wandered into the woods and discovered it was part of the A.T. After this chance encounter the idea of hiking the trail began to percolate and Bryson couldn’t get it out of his head. It was as though the trail was inviting him on a great adventure. He decided to accept this invitation and thus began the journey. Continue reading

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Cecil The Lion

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The recent death of Cecil the Lion has sparked media outrage and I have watched the story unfold with keen interest. I have been very curious as well as saddened, to learn the facts along with all sides of the argument. For those of you who are not familiar with this story Cecil was a 13 year old Lion who lived in Hwanga National Park in Zimbabwe. He was a kind of celebrity and favourite tourist attraction to those who visited the park over the years. Both because of his indifference to people who were driving by wanting to take pictures of him and because of the story of how he came to be there.

Cecil, named after Cecil Rhodes, and his brother became known to the National park in 2008 when they got into a fight with another pride of lions. This fight resulted in the death of his brother and in Cecil being seriously injured. After that he was forced out of his own pride and so he teamed up with another male lion called Jericho. Together they created their own pride comprised of about a half a dozen female lions and a dozen cubs. Cecil and Jericho became part of a Wildlife Conservation Study run by Oxford University. They both have GPS collars that track their whereabouts. Out of sixty-two lions that are involved in the study, which began in 1999, thirty-four have since died. Cecil was particularly identifiable however due to his black mane. Visitors to the park knew him well. Continue reading