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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Jane Congdon's How the WILD EFFECT Turned Me into a Hiker at 69: An Appalachian Trail Adventure is Congdon's memoir of her Appalachian Trail hikes, particularly in 2015. She was inspired by Cheryl Strayed's memoir "Wild," an account of Strayed's 1995 hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Congdon writes of Strayed's significant influence on her, and hence the phrase "the WILD EFFECT" in the memoir's title. In March 2015, the 69-year-old retired editor set off from Georgia on her first Appalachian Trail hike. By July she had trekked over 800 miles, through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia, meeting many different hikers along the way. She trekked stretches of the Trail with a more experienced hiker, and long stretches alone. Congdon describes in-depth her hikes up and down many mountains along the Trail.
I enjoyed reading Jane Congdon's memoir because, throughout her account, she writes of her physical journey on the Trail and also her inner journey. Congdon's experiences became part of an amazing quest; to take on a new and difficult journey, to find her own spirit of adventure. I loved her reflective tone and the honesty with which she describes the challenges she faced as an inexperienced hiker. I liked her sense of humor as she finds her hiker's pace and deals with her fears of heights, bears, and storms. I liked the thoughtfulness with which she shares her appreciation of the quiet of the woods or a sunny day, and of finding the courage and determination to go on. A memoir that is truly enjoyable to read and appreciate for its many inspiring lessons!