Books Currently in the Burn Pile:
The Thru-Hiker's Handbook - Bob "501" McCaw
Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker's Companion - An Army of Dwarves
And without further ado, I present to you one more book of special magnificence, and by "magnificence," I mean to say that this book will never help you on the Appalachian Traile unless you are questing for certain doom!
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
No book has been more hated than The Road by would-be and will-is Appalachian Traile hikers than this supposed 2006 travelogue. Though the book won the festooned Oprah Winfrey Prize for Missing Punctuation and the Harvard Nugget, Cormac McCarthy clearly hasn't walked the Appalachian Traile ... at least not since the days of nuclear clean-up and world peace.
First off, McCarthy bypasses the normal shelters that are situated on the Appalachian Traile in favor of living in other people's bomb shelters and cellars, stealing their canned goods and potted meats. Not only is this illegal, but McCarthy is dragging an 8-year-old boy with him through his own mercenary fantasies.
Secondly, he teaches the boy how to shoot ... and not just at animals, but at homeless drifters. I suppose many hikers have had ideas of maiming the begging bums that litter the AT in its early days, the same ones that steal food and supplies out of Hiker Boxes, but few go through with such a plan. McCarthy, on the other hand, is singlehandedly responsible for the spike in bum assassinations, seen below:
McCarthy also has no concern for the majestic wilderness that surrounded him during the trip. Not once did he mention the Monarch Butterfly, the scented Dogwood blossoms, or the fields of vibrant coriander that are often found in Central Mexiginia. He did, however, detail his struggles with attempting to roll a shopping cart along the path. It is most obvious that if McCarthy did hike parts of the Appalachian Traile, he had done so in the days before backpacks, quite possibly in a primordial time or maybe even in the far-distant future, when ultralight space fabrics will have given way to the controlled chaos that is a wire-framed, steel grocery cart.
Finally, and this is probably one of the biggest problems with the entire book, McCarthy has lead many hikers straight into the ocean off the coast of South Carolina, which is far, far away from Mt. Katahdin in Maine or Springer Mountain in Northern Georgia - the actual end-points.
McCarthy, hallucinating and weary by only the third week of his attempted thru-hike, didn't really know where he was going, you see? Despite the book's title, McCarthy spends the last half of this piss-poor guidebook deviating from roads, trails, rails and footpaths altogether, bushwhacking his way (child in hand) to a beach, where he had hoped to find "sunlight." As you may or may not know, sunlight is a common term for Lortab or Hydrocodone. And he breaks into a sailing vessel to try and find some.
Disgruntled at the fact that he could only steal a copper spyglass (lots of money in copper these days), McCarthy attempts to barter the child away for drugs from a passing raver who stiffs him, takes the boy, and leaves him to die.
Unfortunately for the Traile community, McCarthy made it back home to his trailer park in Arizona and completed his work. The number of people who've died trying to follow this book's command is innumerable.