Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman


About Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail

After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacular scenery and trail camaraderie. With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how immersing himself in nature and befriending fellow hikers helped him recover from a devastating loss. Somewhere between Georgia and Maine, he realized that God had been with him every step of the way, and on a famous path through the wilderness, he found his own path to peace and freedom.

Pack up your bag – we are going hiking!  I recommend that you pack Kleenex, as Paul’s book took me to the high points and also to low points, almost right from the beginning of the book:

My wife Mary called me at the restaurant I had managed for seventeen years. Her strained voice said, “It’s malignant.” My mind raced—benign, malignant—which is good news, which is bad? I couldn’t remember.

“What does that mean?”

“I have cancer.” The words jerked out between sobs. I told Mary I was coming home, hung up the phone, dropped my head into my hands, and for the first time in years, wept.

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And this is where Paul and my journey together began.  In the wrenching months that stretch to years that follow,  Paul and Mary cling to their Faith in God.  Mary does pass away from this horrible disease and Paul finds himself alone.

When Paul makes the decision to hike the Appalachian trail I actually get tingles.  I love adventure and this is a big one.  Over 2,000 miles and through 14 states, this is not a task to be taken lightly.  As Paul prepares he mentions that if he would have known ahead of time what a difficult journey this would be – he probably would have backed away from such a challenge.  Of course he admits, he would then have missed out on an incredible journey and an incredible healing.  And we, as readers, would have missed out as well.

As I read these pages, many times through tears, my heart soared for Paul’s strength.  Throughout the trail there are so many emotions and senses that I feel…. I think it may be safe to say that I hit every one of them from anger, to sorrow, to passion, to laughter, Paul’s journey is one I am so glad I was able to be a part of and I highly recommend this book.

About The Author

After Paul Stutzman’s wife died, Paul quit his job to hike the Appalachian trail to give himself time to think and to heal. Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail is his story. A former restaurant manager, he is now retired and planning his next big adventure: a cross-country bicycle trip. Stutzman currently lives in Berlin, Ohio. To see pictures of his hike or to find out more about Paul and his book, visit his website at http://www.hikingthrough.com.

Pauls Blog

My Amazon Rating

I received my review copy from Pump Up Your Book Tour

15 thoughts on “Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

    1. Natalie I just am amazed at what people overcome… Paul’s story fascinates me. I know personally how hard it is to pick yourself up after tragedy and Paul is truly an inspiration.

  1. kadybug

    Sounds like my kind of book. Not only do I love hiking, I love adventure books! Thanks for the great review!

    1. I dont think I have Esme…. I would have to look that up to be sure. I would be interested though as Paul’s book just made me want to be adventurous….

  2. librarypat

    I will definitely be getting this book. We live near the AT and have done section hikes for the last 20+ years. The library where I used to work is a stop off point for the hikers. We were voted one of the 10 friendliest places along the trail. I loved visiting with the hikers as they stopped in to check their emails, update their on-line journals, or looked for another paperback in our used book area. You meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Most are on a journey of some type and many are looking for something within themselves.

    My son and husband hope to through hike one day. I’ll end up with my usual job of drop off, pick up, and resupply. I do hope to do some section hiking with them. Our son is in good shape, but my husband an I have a ways to go. I met a 65 year old gentleman last summer who decided to through hike and had never hiked before. He had been on the trail a bit over a month and lost over 35 pounds and was getting in better shape every day. Most hike South to North. I talked to a ranger in NH about the hikers and she said by the time many reach there, their mood has changed. Many expect some life altering change and clarity of purpose and if that hasn’t happened by then, they are getting a bit crabby.

    Whatever the reason to hike the trail, it is beautiful no matter what section you choose to hike. Each stretch has its own beauty and character. Even if it will only be a day hike there are many stretches accessible to people of varying hiking abilities. We have taken Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts (the girls did much better by the way. The girls backpacked for 3 days on multiple trips and the boys barely made it through a day hike.), our grandsons, and of course have gone ourselves.
    I hope Mr.Stutzman does well with his book. Thanks for letting me know it is out there.

    1. Pat this is a fascinating post! Wow – how exciting to live near the trail. I want to now come and hike with you! 😀

      I think it would be an incredible experience!

  3. I think what he chose to do is a perfect reaction to grief and a wonderful way to begin the healing process. I’m going to look for this book.

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