Summoning the Mountains

Pilgrimage into Forty

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
310 Pages
Reviewed on 10/30/2013
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Author Biography

Amy Allen holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Appalachian State University (1987) designing her degree around her interest in Native American culture, combining Anthropology, Native American Studies and Social Work with an English minor. She went on to study at University of Oklahoma's Field School of Ethnography, living and working with the Southern Cheyenne.

Amy has been a backpacker for over 28 years. She has built and lived in a debris hut and spent a winter living in a tipi. She was a NC Governor's School graduate in Voice in 1983, and won the NC Federation of Women's Clubs Literature Scholarship for her poetry at age 16. Amy has journaled her life experiences since age 12, her enthusiasm for life apparent in an eclectic resume that includes logging with a team of draft horses, baling Christmas trees, tapping maple trees, making rawhide for local drum-makers as well as more conventional work such as technical support, human resources and data analysis. She has brain-tanned buckskins, been a baker in inner city Philadelphia, and picked blueberries in western North Carolina. Amy was a founding member of a small family community wilderness program whose goal was to foster a holistic relationship between today's families and the outdoor classroom. Her hobbies include organic gardening, yoga, sewing, canning and baking.

Amy lives in Western North Carolina with her husband. Her latest adventure was a year of team driving in an 18-wheeler with her husband.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite

In Summoning the Mountains, Pilgrimage into Forty, author Amy Allen treats the reader to a trek along the Appalachian Trail. Taking the trail name of Willow, the author arranges for her ex-husband to care for her two sons while she undertakes a six-month hike from Georgia to Maine, taking nothing but a backpack. Willow is approaching forty and she wants to find some type of meaning to life that has eluded her for years. The responsibilities of her job and her children have left her unfulfilled and she believes that by getting in touch with nature, she will again reestablish a sense of purpose to her life. He ex-husband drives her to Springer Mountain, Georgia, where she will begin the hike which she hopes will transform her view of life. She keeps a journal along the way and the journal has formed the basis for the book.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the sites along the trails as well as the people Willow met while hiking. The trials and tribulations of attempting to survive on rations and a small tent and minimal medical supplies were stories to which all serious hikers might relate. When Willow was forced to stop in order to heal a leg injury, readers will empathize and then cheer, as Willow again takes up the journey. I did find that I wanted more of Willow's inner thoughts about how the trek itself affected her. It was, after all, the basis of the book. But it appeared that at the end, many question remained unanswered. It was fun to see the sons enthusiastic about joining in the journey and, all in all, this was a book that many will want to read, hoping to find the motivation to begin their own journey into unknown fulfillment.